Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to a Dock Replacement Project in Unalaska, Alaska, 78969-78993 [2016-27119]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 218 / Thursday, November 10, 2016 / Notices by the existing antidumping and countervailing duty orders on crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells, whether or not assembled into modules, from the PRC.7 Also excluded from the scope of this order are modules, laminates, and panels produced in the PRC from crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells produced in Taiwan that are covered by an existing proceeding on such modules, laminates, and panels from the PRC. Merchandise covered by this order is currently classified in the HTSUS under subheadings 8501 .61.0000, 8507.20.8030, 8507.20.8040, 8507.20.8060, 8507.20.8090, 8541.40.6020, 8541.40.6030 and 8501.31.8000. These HTSUS subheadings are provided for convenience and customs purposes; the written description of the scope of this order is dispositive. Initiation of Changed Circumstances Reviews, and Consideration of Revocation of the Orders in Part asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Pursuant to section 751(b) of the Act, the Department will conduct a changed circumstances review upon receipt of a request from an interested party8 which shows changed circumstances sufficient to warrant a review of an order.9 Based on the information provided by PulseTech, the Department has determined that there exist changed circumstances sufficient to warrant changed circumstances reviews of the AD order on certain crystalline silicon photovoltaic products from Taiwan, and the AD and CVD orders on certain crystalline silicon photovoltaic products from the PRC. Also, because this changed circumstances request was filed less than 24 months after the date of publication of notice of the final determinations in the investigations covering certain crystalline silicon photovoltaic products from the PRC and Taiwan, pursuant to 19 CFR 351.216(c), the Department must determine whether good cause for the conduct of these reviews exists. We find that Petitioner’s affirmative statement of no interest in the Orders with respect to solar panels 7 See Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaic Cells, Whether or Not Assembled Into Modules, From the People’s Republic of China: Amended Final Determination of Sales at Less Than Fair Value, and Antidumping Duty Order, 77 FR 73018 (December 7, 2012); Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaic Cells, Whether or Not Assembled Into Modules, From the People’s Republic of China: Countervailing Duty Order, 77 FR 73017 (December 7, 2012). 8 PulseTech stated in its Request for CCRs and its May 2, 2016 entry of appearance that it is an importer of subject merchandise and as such is an interested party pursuant to 19 CFR 351.102(b)(29). 9 See 19 CFR 351.216. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:46 Nov 09, 2016 Jkt 241001 78969 incorporated into certain batterycharging and maintaining units, as described above, constitutes good cause for the conduct of these reviews. Section 782(h)(2) of the Act and 19 CFR 351.222(g)(1)(i) provide that the Department may revoke an order (in whole or in part) if it determines that producers accounting for substantially all of the production of the domestic like product have expressed a lack of interest in the order, in whole or in part. In addition, in the event the Department determines that expedited action is warranted, 19 CFR 351.221(c)(3)(ii) permits the Department to combine the notices of initiation and preliminary results. In its administrative practice, the Department has interpreted ‘‘substantially all’’ to mean producers accounting for at least 85 percent of the total U.S. production of the domestic like product covered by the order.10 Petitioner states that it agrees with the exclusion request; however, because Petitioner did not indicate whether it accounts for substantially all of the domestic production of certain crystalline silicon photovoltaic products, we are providing interested parties with the opportunity to address the issue of domestic industry support with respect to this requested partial revocation of the Orders, and we are not combining this notice of initiation with a preliminary determination pursuant to 19 CFR 351.221(c)(3)(ii). As explained below, interested parties will have an opportunity to address the requested partial revocation for solar panels incorporated into certain batterycharging and maintaining units, described above. information are filed.11 All submissions must be filed electronically using Enforcement and Compliance’s AD and CVD Centralized Electronic Service System (‘‘ACCESS’’).12 An electronically filed document must be received successfully in its entirety by ACCESS, by 5 p.m. Eastern Time on the due dates set forth in this notice. The Department will issue the preliminary results of these changed circumstances reviews, which will set forth the factual and legal conclusions upon which the preliminary results are based, and, in accordance with 19 CFR 351.221(c)(3)(i), will include a description of any action proposed because of those results. Pursuant to 19 CFR 351.221(b)(4)(ii), interested parties will have an opportunity to comment on the preliminary results of these reviews. In accordance with 19 CFR 351.216(e), the Department intends to issue the final results of these AD and CVD changed circumstance reviews within 270 days after the date on which the reviews are initiated, or within 45 days if all parties to the proceeding agree to the outcome of the review. This initiation is published in accordance with section 751(b)(1) of the Act and 19 CFR 351.221(b)(1). Public Comment RIN 0648–XE988 Interested parties are invited to provide comments and/or factual information regarding these changed circumstances reviews, including comments concerning industry support. Comments and factual information may be submitted to the Department no later than 14 days after the date of publication of this notice. Rebuttal comments and rebuttal factual information may be filed with the Department no later than 10 days after the comments and/or factual Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to a Dock Replacement Project in Unalaska, Alaska 10 See, e.g., Certain Cased Pencils From the People’s Republic of China: Initiation and Preliminary Results of Antidumping Duty Changed Circumstances Review, and Intent To Revoke Order in Part, 77 FR 42276 (July 18, 2012), unchanged in Certain Cased Pencils From the People’s Republic of China: Final Results of Antidumping Duty Changed Circumstances Review, and Determination To Revoke Order, in Part, 77 FR 53176 (August 31, 2012). PO 00000 Frm 00003 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Dated: November 2, 2016. Paul Piquado, Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance. [FR Doc. 2016–26985 Filed 11–9–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–DS–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice; proposed incidental harassment authorization; request for comments. AGENCY: NMFS has received a request from the City of Unalaska (COU), for authorization to take marine mammals incidental to construction activities as part of a dock expansion project at the SUMMARY: 11 Submission of rebuttal factual information must comply with 19 CFR 351.301(b)(2). 12 See, generally, 19 CFR 351.303. E:\FR\FM\10NON1.SGM 10NON1 78970 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 218 / Thursday, November 10, 2016 / Notices asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES existing Unalaska Marine Center (UMC) Dock in Unalaska, Alaska. Pursuant to the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), NMFS is requesting comments on its proposal to issue an incidental harassment authorization (IHA) to the COU to incidentally take marine mammals, by Level B Harassment only, during the specified activity. DATES: Comments and information must be received no later than December 12, 2016. ADDRESSES: Comments on the COU’s IHA application (application) should be addressed to Jolie Harrison, Chief, Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service. Physical comments should be sent to 1315 EastWest Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910 and electronic comments should be sent to ITP.Fiorentino@noaa.gov. Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be considered by NMFS. Comments received electronically, including all attachments, must not exceed a 25megabyte file size. Attachments to electronic comments will be accepted in Microsoft Word or Excel or Adobe PDF file formats only. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on the Internet at www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/ incidental/construction.htm without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address), confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: John Fiorentino, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, (301) 427–8401. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Availability An electronic copy of the COA’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: http:// www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/ incidental/construction.htm. In case of problems accessing these documents, please call the contact listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT. National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) NMFS is preparing an Environmental Assessment (EA) for the proposed issuance of an IHA, pursuant to NEPA, to determine whether or not this proposed activity may have significant VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:46 Nov 09, 2016 Jkt 241001 direct, indirect and cumulative effects on the human environment. This analysis will be completed prior to the issuance or denial of this proposed IHA. We will review all comments submitted in response to this notice as we complete the NEPA process, prior to a final decision on the incidental take authorization request. The EA will be posted at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/ permits/incidental/construction.htm when it is finalized. 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. 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 these prescriptions 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 PO 00000 Frm 00004 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 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).’’ Summary of Request On March 22, 2016, we received a request from the COU for authorization to take marine mammals incidental to pile driving and pile removal associated with construction activities that would expand the existing UMC Dock in Dutch Harbor in the City of Unalaska, on Amaknak Island, Alaska. The COU submitted a revised version of the request on July 30, 2016, which was deemed adequate and complete. In August 2016, NMFS released its Technical Guidance for Assessing the Effects of Anthropogenic Sound on Marine Mammal Hearing (the Guidance, available at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/ pr/acoustics/guidelines.htm) which provides technical guidance for assessing the effects of anthropogenic sound on the hearing of marine mammal species under the jurisdiction of NMFS. The Guidance establishes new thresholds for predicting auditory injury, which equates to Level A harassment under the MMPA. The COA was able to update relevant portions of their application to incorporate recalculated Level A harassment zones for vibratory and impact pile driving activities based on the updated acoustic thresholds described in the Guidance. The results of those calculations (i.e., revised distances to Level A harassment thresholds) were provided to NMFS by the COU in September 2016 and have been included in this proposed IHA. The COU proposes to demolish portions of the existing UMC dock and install a new dock between March 1, 2017 and November 1, 2017. The use of both vibratory and impact pile driving during pile removal and installation is expected to produce underwater sound at levels that have the potential to result in behavioral harassment of marine mammals. Species with the expected potential to be present during all or a portion of the in-water work window include Steller sea lion (Eumetopias jubatus), harbor seal (Phoca vitulina), humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae), and killer whale (Orcinus orca). E:\FR\FM\10NON1.SGM 10NON1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 218 / Thursday, November 10, 2016 / Notices asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Description of the Specified Activity Overview In order to meet the increasing needs of the international shipping industry and increase vessel berthing capacity, a substantial upgrade of aging UMC facilities is necessary. The proposed project will replace the existing pile supported docks located at UMC Dock Positions III and IV with a modern highcapacity sheet pile bulkhead dock that extends from the existing bulkhead dock at Position V to the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) Dock. COU port operations saw numerous factory trawler offloads occurring at Dock Positions III and IV in 2013. These operations require more length at the face of the dock and greater uplands area than is available with the current infrastructure. The existing pilesupported docks are aging structures in shallower water that no longer meet the needs of the Port and require increasing levels of maintenance and monitoring costs. Both docks are also severely constrained by the limited uplands area available for offloading and loading operations. Dock Position III is a timber pilesupported dock with approximately 160 feet of dock face that was constructed in the 1960’s by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). This dock has been used for the Alaska Marine Highway System, vessel moorage, and factory trawler offloads. However, use of this structure is severely limited due to the low load-carrying capacity of the dock. The bullrails, deck surface, and bollards have deteriorated with age and the entire structure is in need of replacement or extensive renovations. Dock Position IV is a steel-pilesupported, concrete deck structure with an approximate length of 200 feet that was constructed in the 1980s by the State of Alaska. Similar to Dock Position III, use of this dock is limited due to the low load capacity of the structure. Erosion has damaged an abutment underneath the dock, which is very difficult to repair and has the potential for further damage to adjacent portions of the dock. The dock face of Dock Positions III and IV does not align with the larger sections of the UMC facility, significantly limiting overall usable moorage space. The proposed project aligns the new dock structures with the adjacent facilities, eliminates two angle breaks, provides substantially more usable moorage, and provides much deeper water at the dock face. The sheet pile dock will encompass the area between Dock Position V and the adjacent USCG Dock, providing VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:46 Nov 09, 2016 Jkt 241001 maximum use of the available berthing area and upland storage space. The new dock alignment will allow larger, deeper vessels as well as simultaneous use of the other UMC facilities. Dates and Duration In-water and over-water construction of Phase 1 (all sheet pile installation, all in-water pipe pile installation, most upland pipe pile installation, and fill placement) is planned to occur between approximately March 1, 2017 and November 1, 2017. Phase 2 is planned to occur between approximately May 1, 2018 and October 1, 2018. Some of the upland pipe pile for utilities may be driven in upland fill away from the dock face during Phase 2. The COU proposes to use the following general construction sequence, subject to adjustment by the construction contractor’s means and methods: Construction Phase 1 (2017): • Mobilization of equipment and demolition of the existing dock Positions III and IV and removal of any existing riprap/obstructions (March– May 2017). • Development of the quarry for materials. • Installation (and later removal) of temporary support piles for contractor’s template structures and barge support. • Installation of the new sheet pile bulkhead dock. This includes driving sheet piles, placing fill within the cell to grade, and compaction of fill • Installation of fender and platform support piles in the water adjacent to the dock and miscellaneous support piles within the completed sheet pile cells. • Installation of pre-assembled fender systems (energy absorbers, sleeve piles, steel framing, and fender panels). • Installation of the crane support piles • Installation of temporary utilities and gravel surface to provide functional dock capability for the 2017/2018 season. Construction Phase 2 (2018): • Installation of concrete grade beam for crane rails, utility vaults, and dock surfacing. • Installation of electrical, sewer, fuel, water, and storm drainage utilities. Pile removal and pile driving is expected to occur between March 1 and November 1, 2017. In the summer months (April–September), 12-hour workdays in extended daylight will likely be used. In winter months (October–March), shorter 8-hour to 10hour workdays in available daylight will likely be achievable. Work windows may be extended or shortened if or when electrical lighting is used. The PO 00000 Frm 00005 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 78971 daily construction window for pile driving or removal will begin no sooner than 30 minutes after sunrise to allow for initial marine mammal monitoring to take place, and will end 30 minutes before sunset to allow for pre-activity monitoring. It is assumed that sound associated with the pile driving and removal activities will be put into the water approximately 50 percent of the total estimated project duration of 245 days (2,940 hours for 12-hour workdays). The remaining 50 percent of the project duration will be spent on activities that provide distinct periods without noise from pile driving or drilling such as installing templates and braces, moving equipment, threading sheet piles, pulling piles (without vibration), etc. During this time, a much smaller area will be monitored to ensure that animals are not injured by equipment or materials. Specific Geographic Region The UMC Dock is located in Dutch Harbor in the City of Unalaska, on Amaknak Island, Alaska (see Figure 5 of the application). Dutch Harbor is separated from the adjacent Iliuliuk Bay by a spit. The dock is located in Section 35, Township 72 South, Range 118 West, of the Seward Meridian. Tidelands in this vicinity are owned by the COU. Some of the adjacent uplands are owned by the COU and some are leased by the COU from Ounalashka Corporation. Adjacent infrastructure includes Ballyhoo Road and the Latitude 54 Building in which the COU Department of Ports and Harbors offices and facilities are currently housed. Neighboring docks include the USCG Dock and the existing UMC OCSP dock positions. Other marine facilities within Dutch Harbor include Delta Western Fuel, the Resolve-Magone Dock, North Pacific Fuel, the Kloosterboer Dock, and the COU’s Light Cargo Dock and Spit Dock facilities, as shown in Figure 5 of the application. APL Limited is located within Iliuliuk Bay, and the entrance channel to Iliuliuk Harbor is south of Dutch Harbor. Detailed Description of Activities The COU proposes to install an OPEN CELL SHEET PILETM (OCSP) dock at UMC Dock Position III and IV, replacing the existing pile-supported structure and providing a smooth transition between the UMC facility and the USCG dock. The OCSP dock will be constructed of PS31 flat sheet piles (web thickness of 0.5 inches and width between interlocks of 19.69 inches). In order to replace the existing timber pilesupported dock, the dock construction E:\FR\FM\10NON1.SGM 10NON1 78972 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 218 / Thursday, November 10, 2016 / Notices would include installation of the following: • Approximately forty (40) 30-inch diameter steel fender and transition platform support piles; • Approximately thirty (30) 30-inch diameter miscellaneous steel support piles • Approximately one hundred fifty (150) 30-inch diameter steel crane rail support piles (approximately 25 of which are above the high tide line (HTL)); • Approximately two hundred (150) 18-inch steel piles (H or round) used for temporary support of the sheet pile during construction (to be removed prior to completion); • Approximately 1,800 PS31 flat sheet piles (approximately 100 of which are above the high tide line (HTL)); and • Placement of approximately 110,000 cubic yards of clean fill. The anticipated project quantities are shown in Table 1. Concurrent with the dock construction, a material source will be developed in the hillside adjacent to Dock Position VII. The quarry will provide material for dock fill and other future projects, and the cleared area will be used for COU port offices and associated parking after the quarry is completed. The quarry will be developed through blasting benches in the rock face, with each bench being approximately 25 feet high, with the total height being approximately 125 feet. Quarry materials will be transported the short distance to the adjacent project site using heavy equipment. TABLE 1—TOTAL PROJECT QUANTITIES Below mean high water (MHW) (El. = 3.4) Below high tide line (HTL) (El. = 4.7) Item Size and type, location Surface Area of Dock (Acres) ......................... Surface Area of Water Filled (Acres) ............. Gravel Fill (Cubic Yards) ................................ Piles to be Removed (Each) ........................... ......................................................................... ......................................................................... Clean Fill; Within dock ................................... Steel ............................................................... Timber ............................................................ 18″ Steel Pile; Within dock ............................ 30″ Steel; In front of bulkhead ....................... 2.1 2.1 74,000 195 55 150 40 2.3 2.8 80,000 195 55 150 40 3.1 2.8 110,000 195 55 150 40 30″ Steel; Within dock .................................... 30″ Steel; Within dock ................................... PS31 Sheet Pile; Dock face .......................... 30 125 1,400 30 125 1,700 30 150 1,800 asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Estimated Temporary Piles (Each) ................. Steel Piles—Fender and Platform Support (Each). Miscellaneous Support Piles (Each) ............... Crane Rail Support Piles (Each) .................... Proposed Sheet Piles (Each) ......................... The existing structure will be demolished by removing the concrete deck, steel superstructure, and attached appurtenances and structures and then extracting the existing steel support piles with a vibratory hammer. Sheet pile will also be installed with a vibratory hammer. Pile driving may occur from shore or from a stationary barge platform, depending on the Contractor’s selected methods. After cells are completely enclosed, they will be incrementally filled with clean material using bulldozers and wheel loaders. Fill will be placed primarily from shore, but some may be placed from the barge if needed. Fill will be compacted using vibratory compaction methods, described below. After all the sheet piles are installed and the cells are filled and compacted, fender piles, crane rail piles, mooring cleats, concrete surfacing, and other appurtenances will be installed. As described, the project requires the removal and installation of various types and sizes of piles with the use of a vibratory hammer and impact hammer. These activities have the potential to result in Level B harassment (behavioral disruption) only, as a monitoring plan will be implemented to reduce the potential for exposure to Level A harassment (harassment VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:46 Nov 09, 2016 Jkt 241001 resulting in injury). The rest of the inwater components of the project are provided here for completeness. Note that many of the support piles will be installed to an elevation below MHW or HTL; however, they will be installed within the enclosed fill of the sheet pile dock rather than in the water. Utilities will be installed during Phase II, and include addition/extension of water, sewer, fuel, electrical, and storm drain. Authorization to construct the sewer and storm drain extension, as well as a letter of non-objection for the storm drain, will be obtained from the State of Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (ADEC). Each element is further described below. Demolition of Existing Infrastructure Demolition of the existing dock and removal of any existing riprap or obstructions will be performed with track excavators, loaders, cranes, barges, cutting equipment, a vibratory hammer (for pile extraction), and labor forces. The existing dock (consisting of steel support piles, steel superstructure, and concrete deck) will be completely removed for construction of the new dock. Vibratory pile removal will generally consist of clamping the vibratory hammer to the pile and vibrating the hammer while extracting PO 00000 Frm 00006 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Total to a point where the pile is temporarily secured and removal can be completed with crane line rigging under tension. The pile is then completely removed from the water by hoisting with crane line rigging and placing on the ground or deck of the barge. The contractor will be required to dispose of (or salvage) demolished items in accordance with all federal, state, and local regulations. Dewatering will not be required, as all extraction will take place from the existing dock, from shore, and/or from a work barge. Quarry Development Concurrent with dock construction, a material source will be developed in the hillside adjacent to the UMC facility. The quarry will provide fill material for the dock and future projects. Material will be extracted from the quarry in a configuration that provides additional upland space for port operations. Flat uplands area will be used for COU port offices after the quarry is completed. The quarry will be developed through blasting benches in the rock face, with each bench approximately 25 feet high and the total height approximately 125 feet. Temporary Support Piles Temporary support piles for pile driving template structures will be E:\FR\FM\10NON1.SGM 10NON1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 218 / Thursday, November 10, 2016 / Notices 78973 installed to aid with construction and will be removed after the permanent sheet piles or support piles have been installed. Figure 3 shows temporary support piles and templates being used during pile installation. Temporary support piles will likely be steel H-piles (18-inch or smaller) or steel round piles (18-inch diameter or smaller). It is estimated that up to ten (10) temporary support piles will be used per cell during construction of the sheet pile structure. Installation methods for the temporary support piles will be similar to the fender support piles (described below). Pre-assembled fender systems (energy absorbers, sleeve piles, steel framing, and fender panels) will be lifted and installed onto fender support piles via crane. In addition to the fender supports, miscellaneous support piles needed to support the suspended concrete platform at the transitions between Position II/III and IV/V will be installed and cut to elevation. Installation methods for the miscellaneous support piles will be similar to the fender support piles. Approximately forty (40) 30-inch steel piles will be driven for the fenders and transition platform. during Phase 2 to provide full dock capability. Installation methods will require equipment similar to that used to install the temporary utilities. All storm water (and any other wastewater) from the dock will be processed through the COU stormwater system and necessary separator devices. Details of all planned construction work, and photos of many of the construction techniques described above, can be found in Section 1 of the application. Sheet Pile Installation The new sheet pile bulkhead dock consists of twenty-two (22) OCSP cells. The sheet pile structures will be installed utilizing a crane and vibratory hammer. It is anticipated that the largest size vibratory hammer used for the project will be an APE 200–6 (eccentric moment of 6,600 inch-pounds) or comparable vibratory hammer from another manufacturer such as ICE or HPSI. After all the piles for a sheet pile cell have been installed, clean rock fill will be placed within the cell. This process will continue sequentially until all of the sheet pile cells are installed and backfilled. Miscellaneous Support Piles Support piles for upland utilities and other structures will be driven after sheet pile cells are completed. Though the piles will be driven beyond the current MHW line, the cells will be filled and compacted at the time of placement, making this upland pile driving. Approximately thirty (30) steel support piles are needed for dock infrastructure. Marine waters near Unalaska Island support many species of marine mammals, including pinnipeds and cetaceans; however, the number of species regularly occurring within Dutch Harbor, including near the project location is limited due to the high volume of vessel traffic in and around the harbor. Due to this, Steller sea lion, harbor seal, humpback whale, and killer whale are the only species within NMFS jurisdiction that are being included in the COA’s IHA request. Sightings of other marine mammals within Dutch Harbor are extremely rare, and therefore, no further descriptions of the other marine mammals are included in the COA’s application or in this notice of proposed authorization. We have reviewed COA’s species descriptions—which summarize available information regarding status and trends, distribution and habitat preferences, behavior and life history, and auditory capabilities of the potentially affected species—for accuracy and completeness and refer the reader to Sections 3 and 4 of the application. Please also refer to NMFS’ Web site (www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/ species/mammals/) for generalized species accounts. Table 2 lists the marine mammal species with the potential for occurrence in the vicinity of the project during the project timeframe and summarizes key information regarding stock status and abundance. Please see NMFS’ Stock Assessment Reports (SAR; Muto et al., 2016), available at http:// www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/sars, for more detailed accounts of these stocks’ status and abundance. asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Dock Fill Placement Fill will be transported from the adjacent quarry to the project site using loaders, dump trucks, and dozers and may be temporarily stockpiled within the project footprint as needed. It will be placed within the cells from the shore (or occasionally a barge) using the same equipment and will be finished using roller compactors, graders, or vibracompaction. Vibracompaction would be achieved through the repeated insertion and removal through vibratory hammering of an H-pile probe, causing fill materials to settle into place. Fender and Platform Support Piles Fender support piles will be installed adjacent to (and offshore of) the sheet pile cells and cut to elevation. The fender piles will first be driven with a vibratory hammer and, if capacity/ embedment is not achieved, finally driven with an impact hammer until proper embedment and capacity is reached (likely 20-foot embedment). Crane Rail Support Piles Approximately one hundred fifty (150) steel support piles will be driven to support the weight of a new crane rail and dock crane. Pile driving will be performed primarily within the completely filled and compacted sheet pile cells. A few of the support piles may be driven in the water at the transition areas. Dock Surfacing and Other Concrete Elements The new dock uplands area will be surfaced with concrete pavement. The crane rail beam and utility vaults will be constructed from cast-in-place concrete. The surfacing and structures will be installed using forms and reinforcement steel. This work will take place at or near the surface of the dock and will be above water. Utilities Temporary utilities will be installed to provide functional dock capability for the 2017/2018 season. Typical utility installation equipment such as track excavators, wheel loaders, and compaction equipment will be used. Permanent electrical, water, and storm drainage utilities will be installed Description of Marine Mammals in the Area of the Specified Activity TABLE 2—MARINE MAMMALS POTENTIALLY PRESENT IN THE VICINITY OF THE PROJECT LOCATION Stock MMPA status ESA Status Occurrence in/ near project Seasonality Aleutian Islands ................... Protected ...... ....................... Common ....... Year-round .... Species Harbor seal (Phoca vitulina richardsi). VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:46 Nov 09, 2016 Jkt 241001 PO 00000 Frm 00007 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 E:\FR\FM\10NON1.SGM 10NON1 Abundance 5,772 78974 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 218 / Thursday, November 10, 2016 / Notices TABLE 2—MARINE MAMMALS POTENTIALLY PRESENT IN THE VICINITY OF THE PROJECT LOCATION—Continued Species Stock MMPA status ESA Status Occurrence in/ near project Seasonality Steller sea lion (Eumetopias jubatus). Killer whale (Orcinus orca) ... Western Distinct Population Segment (DPS). Eastern North Pacific, Alaska Resident. Gulf of Alaska, Aleutian Islands, and Bering Sea Transient. Central North Pacific ........... Depleted, Strategic. Protected ...... Endangered .. Common ....... Year-round .... 49,497 ....................... Unknown ....... Summer, Fall 2,347 Protected ...... ....................... Unknown ....... Year- round ... 587 Depleted, Strategic. Depleted, Strategic. n/a* ............... Seasonal ....... Summer ........ 10,103 n/a* ............... Seasonal ....... Summer ........ 1,107 Killer whale (Orcinus orca) ... Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae). Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae). Western North Pacific .......... Abundance * The newly defined DPSs (81 FR 62259) do not currently align with the stocks under the MMPA. Potential Effects of the Specified Activity on Marine Mammals This section includes a summary and discussion of the ways that components of the specified activity may impact marine mammals. The ‘‘Estimated Take by Incidental Harassment’’ section later in this document will include a quantitative analysis of the number of individuals that are expected to be taken by this activity. The ‘‘Negligible Impact Analysis’’ section will include the analysis of how this specific activity will impact marine mammals and will consider the content of this section, the ‘‘Estimated Take by Incidental Harassment’’ section, the ‘‘Proposed Mitigation’’ section, and the ‘‘Anticipated Effects on Marine Mammal Habitat’’ section to draw conclusions regarding the likely impacts of this activity on the reproductive success or survivorship of individuals and from that on the affected marine mammal populations or stocks. In the following discussion, we provide general background information on sound and marine mammal hearing before considering potential effects to marine mammals from sound produced by the construction techniques proposed for use. asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Description of Sound Sources Sound travels in waves, the basic components of which are frequency, wavelength, velocity, and amplitude. Frequency is the number of pressure waves that pass by a reference point per unit of time and is measured in hertz (Hz) or cycles per second. Wavelength is the distance between two peaks of a sound wave; lower frequency sounds have longer wavelengths than higher frequency sounds and attenuate (decrease) more rapidly in shallower water. Amplitude is the height of the sound pressure wave or the ‘loudness’ of a sound and is typically measured using the decibel (dB) scale. A dB is the VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:46 Nov 09, 2016 Jkt 241001 ratio between a measured pressure (with sound) and a reference pressure (sound at a constant pressure, established by scientific standards). It is a logarithmic unit that accounts for large variations in amplitude; therefore, relatively small changes in dB ratings correspond to large changes in sound pressure. When referring to sound pressure levels (SPLs; the sound force per unit area), sound is referenced in the context of underwater sound pressure to 1 microPascal (mPa). One pascal is the pressure resulting from a force of one newton exerted over an area of one square meter. The source level (SL) represents the sound level at a distance of 1 m from the source (referenced to 1 mPa). The received level is the sound level at the listener’s position. Note that all underwater sound levels in this document are referenced to a pressure of 1 mPa and all airborne sound levels in this document are referenced to a pressure of 20 mPa. Root mean square (rms) is the quadratic mean sound pressure over the duration of an impulse, and is calculated by squaring all of the sound amplitudes, averaging the squares, and then taking the square root of the average (Urick, 1983). Rms accounts for both positive and negative values; squaring the pressures makes all values positive so that they may be accounted for in the summation of pressure levels (Hastings and Popper, 2005). This measurement is often used in the context of discussing behavioral effects, in part because behavioral effects, which often result from auditory cues, may be better expressed through averaged units than by peak pressures. When underwater objects vibrate or activity occurs, sound-pressure waves are created. These waves alternately compress and decompress the water as the sound wave travels. Underwater sound waves radiate in all directions away from the source (similar to ripples on the surface of a pond), except in cases where the source is directional. PO 00000 Frm 00008 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 The compressions and decompressions associated with sound waves are detected as changes in pressure by aquatic life and man-made sound receptors such as hydrophones. Even in the absence of sound from the specified activity, the underwater environment is typically loud due to ambient sound. Ambient sound is defined as environmental background sound levels lacking a single source or point (Richardson et al., 1995), and the sound level of a region is defined by the total acoustical energy being generated by known and unknown sources. These sources may include physical (e.g., waves, earthquakes, ice, atmospheric sound), biological (e.g., sounds produced by marine mammals, fish, and invertebrates), and anthropogenic sound (e.g., vessels, dredging, aircraft, construction). A number of sources contribute to ambient sound, including the following (Richardson et al., 1995): • Wind and waves: The complex interactions between wind and water surface, including processes such as breaking waves and wave-induced bubble oscillations and cavitation, are a main source of naturally occurring ambient noise for frequencies between 200 Hz and 50 kHz (Mitson, 1995). In general, ambient sound levels tend to increase with increasing wind speed and wave height. Surf noise becomes important near shore, with measurements collected at a distance of 8.5 km from shore showing an increase of 10 dB in the 100 to 700 Hz band during heavy surf conditions. • Precipitation: Sound from rain and hail impacting the water surface can become an important component of total noise at frequencies above 500 Hz, and possibly down to 100 Hz during quiet times. • Biological: Marine mammals can contribute significantly to ambient noise levels, as can some fish and shrimp. The frequency band for biological E:\FR\FM\10NON1.SGM 10NON1 78975 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 218 / Thursday, November 10, 2016 / Notices contributions is from approximately 12 Hz to over 100 kHz. • Anthropogenic: Sources of ambient noise related to human activity include transportation (surface vessels and aircraft), dredging and construction, oil and gas drilling and production, seismic surveys, sonar, explosions, and ocean acoustic studies. Shipping noise typically dominates the total ambient noise for frequencies between 20 and 300 Hz. In general, the frequencies of anthropogenic sounds are below 1 kHz and, if higher frequency sound levels are created, they attenuate rapidly (Richardson et al., 1995). Sound from identifiable anthropogenic sources other than the activity of interest (e.g., a passing vessel) is sometimes termed background sound, as opposed to ambient sound. The sum of the various natural and anthropogenic sound sources at any given location and time—which comprise ‘‘ambient’’ or ‘‘background’’ sound—depends not only on the source levels (as determined by current weather conditions and levels of biological and shipping activity) but also on the ability of sound to propagate through the environment. In turn, sound propagation is dependent on the spatially and temporally varying properties of the water column and sea floor, and is frequency-dependent. As a result of the dependence on a large number of varying factors, ambient sound levels can be expected to vary widely over both coarse and fine spatial and temporal scales. Sound levels at a given frequency and location can vary by 10–20 dB from day to day (Richardson et al., 1995). The result is that, depending on the source type and its intensity, sound from the specified activity may be a negligible addition to the local environment or could form a distinctive signal that may affect marine mammals. In-water construction activities associated with the project would include impact pile driving and vibratory pile driving. The sounds produced by these activities fall into one of two general sound types: impulsive and non-impulsive (defined in the following). The distinction between these two sound types is important because they have differing potential to cause physical effects, particularly with regard to hearing (e.g., Ward, 1997 in Southall et al., 2007). Please see Southall et al., (2007) for an in-depth discussion of these concepts. Impulsive sound sources (e.g., explosions, gunshots, sonic booms, impact pile driving) produce signals that are brief (typically considered to be less than one second), broadband, atonal transients (ANSI, 1986; Harris, 1998; NIOSH, 1998; ISO, 2003; ANSI, 2005) and occur either as isolated events or repeated in some succession. Impulsive sounds are all characterized by a relatively rapid rise from ambient pressure to a maximal pressure value followed by a rapid decay period that may include a period of diminishing, oscillating maximal and minimal pressures, and generally have an increased capacity to induce physical injury as compared with sounds that lack these features. Non-impulsive sounds can be tonal, narrowband, or broadband, brief or prolonged, and may be either continuous or non-continuous (ANSI, 1995; NIOSH, 1998). Some of these nonimpulsive sounds can be transient signals of short duration but without the essential properties of pulses (e.g., rapid rise time). Examples of non-impulsive sounds include those produced by vessels, aircraft, machinery operations such as drilling or dredging, vibratory pile driving, down-the-hole drilling, and active sonar systems. The duration of such sounds, as received at a distance, can be greatly extended in a highly reverberant environment. Impact hammers operate by repeatedly dropping a heavy piston onto a pile to drive the pile into the substrate. Sound generated by impact hammers is characterized by rapid rise times and high peak levels, a potentially injurious combination (Hastings and Popper, 2005). Vibratory hammers install piles by vibrating them and allowing the weight of the hammer to push them into the sediment. Vibratory hammers produce significantly less sound than impact hammers. Peak SPLs may be 180 dB or greater, but are generally 10 to 20 dB lower than SPLs generated during impact pile driving of the same-sized pile (Oestman et al., 2009). Rise time is slower, reducing the probability and severity of injury, and sound energy is distributed over a greater amount of time (Nedwell and Edwards, 2002; Carlson et al., 2005). Marine Mammal Hearing Hearing is the most important sensory modality for marine mammals, and exposure to sound can have deleterious effects. To appropriately assess these potential effects, it is necessary to understand the frequency ranges marine mammals are able to hear. Current data indicate that not all marine mammal species have equal hearing capabilities (e.g., Richardson et al., 1995; Wartzok and Ketten, 1999; Au and Hastings, 2008). To reflect this, Southall et al. (2007) recommended that marine mammals be divided into functional hearing groups based on measured or estimated hearing ranges on the basis of available behavioral data, audiograms derived using auditory evoked potential techniques, anatomical modeling, and other data. The lower and/or upper frequencies for some of these functional hearing groups have been modified from those designated by Southall et al. (2007), and the revised generalized hearing ranges are presented in the new Guidance. The functional hearing groups and the associated frequencies are indicated in Table 3 below. TABLE 3—MARINE MAMMAL HEARING GROUPS AND THEIR GENERALIZED HEARING RANGE Generalized hearing range* asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Hearing group Low-frequency (LF) cetaceans (baleen whales) .................................................................................................................. Mid-frequency (MF) cetaceans (dolphins, toothed whales, beaked whales, bottlenose whales) ........................................ High-frequency (HF) cetaceans (true porpoises, Kogia, river dolphins, cephalorhynchid, Lagenorhynchus cruciger and L. australis). Phocid pinnipeds (PW) (underwater) (true seals) ................................................................................................................ Otariid pinnipeds (OW) (underwater) (sea lions and fur seals) ............................................................................................ 7 Hz to 35 kHz. 150 Hz to 160 kHz. 275 Hz to 160 kHz. 50 Hz to 86 kHz. 60 Hz to 39 kHz. * Represents the generalized hearing range for the entire group as a composite (i.e., all species within the group), where individual species’ hearing ranges are typically not as broad. Generalized hearing range chosen based on ∼65 dB threshold from normalized composite audiogram, with the exception for lower limits for LF cetaceans (Southall et al., 2007) and PW pinniped (approximation). VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:46 Nov 09, 2016 Jkt 241001 PO 00000 Frm 00009 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 E:\FR\FM\10NON1.SGM 10NON1 asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES 78976 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 218 / Thursday, November 10, 2016 / Notices Acoustic Effects, Underwater Potential Effects of Pile Driving Sound—The effects of sounds from pile driving might result in one or more of the following: temporary or permanent hearing impairment, non-auditory physical or physiological effects, behavioral disturbance, and masking (Richardson et al., 1995; Gordon et al., 2004; Nowacek et al., 2007; Southall et al., 2007). The effects of pile driving on marine mammals are dependent on several factors, including the size, type, and depth of the animal; the depth, intensity, and duration of the pile driving sound; the depth of the water column; the substrate of the habitat; the standoff distance between the pile and the animal; and the sound propagation properties of the environment. Impacts to marine mammals from pile driving activities are expected to result primarily from acoustic pathways. As such, the degree of effect is intrinsically related to the received level and duration of the sound exposure, which are in turn influenced by the distance between the animal and the source. The further away from the source, the less intense the exposure should be. The substrate and depth of the habitat affect the sound propagation properties of the environment. Shallow environments are typically more structurally complex, which leads to rapid sound attenuation. In addition, substrates that are soft (e.g., sand) would absorb or attenuate the sound more readily than hard substrates (e.g., rock) which may reflect the acoustic wave. Soft porous substrates would also likely require less time to drive the pile, and possibly less forceful equipment, which would ultimately decrease the intensity of the acoustic source. In the absence of mitigation, impacts to marine species would be expected to result from physiological and behavioral responses to both the type and strength of the acoustic signature (Viada et al., 2008). The type and severity of behavioral impacts are more difficult to define due to limited studies addressing the behavioral effects of impulsive sounds on marine mammals. Potential effects from impulsive sound sources can range in severity from effects such as behavioral disturbance or tactile perception to physical discomfort, slight injury of the internal organs and the auditory system, or mortality (Yelverton et al., 1973). Hearing Impairment and Other Physical Effects—Marine mammals exposed to high intensity sound repeatedly or for prolonged periods can experience hearing threshold shift (TS), which is the loss of hearing sensitivity VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:46 Nov 09, 2016 Jkt 241001 at certain frequency ranges (Kastak et al., 1999; Schlundt et al., 2000; Finneran et al., 2002, 2005). TS can be permanent (PTS), in which case the loss of hearing sensitivity is not recoverable, or temporary (TTS), in which case the animal’s hearing threshold would recover over time (Southall et al., 2007). Marine mammals depend on acoustic cues for vital biological functions (e.g., orientation, communication, finding prey, avoiding predators); thus, TTS may result in reduced fitness in survival and reproduction. However, this depends on the frequency and duration of TTS, as well as the biological context in which it occurs. TTS of limited duration, occurring in a frequency range that does not coincide with that used for recognition of important acoustic cues, would have little to no effect on an animal’s fitness. Repeated sound exposure that leads to TTS could cause PTS. PTS constitutes injury, but TTS does not (Southall et al., 2007). The following subsections discuss in somewhat more detail the possibilities of TTS, PTS, and non-auditory physical effects. Temporary Threshold Shift—TTS is the mildest form of hearing impairment that can occur during exposure to a strong sound (Kryter, 1985). While experiencing TTS, the hearing threshold rises, and a sound must be stronger in order to be heard. In terrestrial mammals, TTS can last from minutes or hours to days (in cases of strong TTS). For sound exposures at or somewhat above the TTS threshold, hearing sensitivity in both terrestrial and marine mammals recovers rapidly after exposure to the sound ends. Few data on sound levels and durations necessary to elicit mild TTS have been obtained for marine mammals, and none of the published data concern TTS elicited by exposure to multiple pulses of sound. Available data on TTS in marine mammals are summarized in Southall et al. (2007) and more recently in Finneran (2016). Marine mammal hearing plays a critical role in communication with conspecifics, and interpretation of environmental cues for purposes such as predator avoidance and prey capture. Depending on the degree (elevation of threshold in dB), duration (i.e., recovery time), and frequency range of TTS, and the context in which it is experienced, TTS can have effects on marine mammals ranging from discountable to serious. For example, a marine mammal may be able to readily compensate for a brief, relatively small amount of TTS in a non-critical frequency range that occurs during a time where ambient noise is lower and there are not as many PO 00000 Frm 00010 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 competing sounds present. Alternatively, a larger amount and longer duration of TTS sustained during time when communication is critical for successful mother/calf interactions could have more serious impacts. Currently, TTS data only exist for four species of cetaceans (bottlenose dolphin, beluga whale, harbor porpoise, and Yangtze finless porpoise) and three species of pinnipeds (northern elephant seal, harbor seal, and California sea lion) exposed to a limited number of sound sources (i.e., mostly tones and octaveband noise) in laboratory settings (e.g., Finneran, 2016; Finneran et al., 2002; Finneran and Schlundt, 2010, 2013; Nachtigall et al., 2004; Kastaket et al., 2005; Lucke et al., 2009; Popov et al., 2011). In general, harbor seals and harbor porpoises have a lower TTS onset than other measured pinniped or cetacean species (Kastak et al., 2005; Kastelein et al., 2011, 2012a, 2012b, 2013a, 2013b, 2014a, 2014b, 2015a, 2015b, 2015c, 2016). Additionally, the existing marine mammal TTS data come from a limited number of individuals within these species. There are no data available on noise-induced hearing loss for mysticetes. For summaries of data on TTS in marine mammals or for further discussion of TTS onset thresholds, please see Southall et al. (2007), Finneran and Jenkins (2012), and Finneran (2016). Permanent Threshold Shift—When PTS occurs, there is physical damage to the sound receptors in the ear. In severe cases, there can be total or partial deafness, while in other cases the animal has an impaired ability to hear sounds in specific frequency ranges (Kryter 1985). There is no specific evidence that exposure to pulses of sound can cause PTS in any marine mammal. However, given the possibility that mammals close to a sound source might incur TTS, there has been further speculation about the possibility that some individuals might incur PTS. Single or occasional occurrences of mild TTS are not indicative of permanent auditory damage, but repeated or (in some cases) single exposures to a level well above that causing TTS onset might elicit PTS. Relationships between TTS and PTS thresholds have not been studied in marine mammals but are assumed to be similar to those in humans and other terrestrial mammals. Available data from humans and other terrestrial mammals indicate that a 40 dB threshold shift approximates PTS onset (see Ward et al., 1958; Ward et al., 1959; Ward, 1960; Kryter et al., 1966; Miller, 1974; Ahroon et al., 1996; Henderson et al., 2008). Southall et al., (2007) also E:\FR\FM\10NON1.SGM 10NON1 asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 218 / Thursday, November 10, 2016 / Notices recommended this definition of PTS onset. PTS onset acoustic thresholds for marine mammals have not been directly measured and must be extrapolated from available TTS onset measurements. Thus, based on cetacean measurements from TTS studies (see Southall et al., 2007; Finneran, 2015; Finneran, 2016 (found in Appendix A of the Guidance)) a threshold shift of 6 dB is considered the minimum threshold shift clearly larger than any day-to-day or session-tosession variation in a subject’s normal hearing ability and is typically the minimum amount of threshold shift that can be differentiated in most experimental conditions (Finneran et al., 2000; Schlundt et al., 2000; Finneran et al., 2002). Measured source levels from impact pile driving can be as high as 214 dB rms. Although no marine mammals have been shown to experience TTS or PTS as a result of being exposed to pile driving activities, captive bottlenose dolphins and beluga whales exhibited changes in behavior when exposed to strong pulsed sounds (Finneran et al., 2000, 2002, 2005). The animals tolerated high received levels of sound before exhibiting aversive behaviors. Experiments on a beluga whale showed that exposure to a single watergun impulse at a received level of 207 kilopascal (kPa) (30 psi) peak-to-peak (p-p), which is equivalent to 228 dB pp, resulted in a 7 and 6 dB TTS in the beluga whale at 0.4 and 30 kHz, respectively. Thresholds returned to within 2 dB of the pre-exposure level within four minutes of the exposure (Finneran et al., 2002). Although the source level of pile driving from one hammer strike is expected to be much lower than the single watergun impulse cited here, animals being exposed for a prolonged period to repeated hammer strikes could receive more sound exposure in terms of sound exposure level (SEL) than from the single watergun impulse (estimated at 188 dB re 1 mPa2-s) in the aforementioned experiment (Finneran et al., 2002). However, in order for marine mammals to experience TTS or PTS, the animals have to be close enough to be exposed to high intensity sound levels for a prolonged period of time. Based on the best scientific information available, these SPLs are below the thresholds that could cause TTS or the onset of PTS. Non-auditory Physiological Effects— Non-auditory physiological effects or injuries that theoretically might occur in marine mammals exposed to strong underwater sound include stress, neurological effects, bubble formation, resonance effects, and other types of VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:46 Nov 09, 2016 Jkt 241001 organ or tissue damage (Cox et al., 2006; Southall et al., 2007). Studies examining such effects are limited. In general, little is known about the potential for pile driving to cause auditory impairment or other physical effects in marine mammals. Available data suggest that such effects, if they occur at all, would presumably be limited to short distances from the sound source and to activities that extend over a prolonged period. The available data do not allow identification of a specific exposure level above which non-auditory effects can be expected (Southall et al., 2007) or any meaningful quantitative predictions of the numbers (if any) of marine mammals that might be affected in those ways. Marine mammals that show behavioral avoidance of pile driving, including some odontocetes and some pinnipeds, are especially unlikely to incur auditory impairment or non-auditory physical effects. Disturbance Reactions Behavioral disturbance may include a variety of effects, including subtle changes in behavior (e.g., minor or brief avoidance of an area or changes in vocalizations), more conspicuous changes in similar behavioral activities, and more sustained and/or potentially severe reactions, such as displacement from or abandonment of high-quality habitat. Behavioral responses to sound are highly variable and context-specific and any reactions depend on numerous intrinsic and extrinsic factors (e.g., species, state of maturity, experience, current activity, reproductive state, auditory sensitivity, time of day), as well as the interplay between factors (e.g., Richardson et al.,1995; Wartzok et al., 2003; Southall et al., 2007; Weilgart, 2007; Archer et al.,2010). Behavioral reactions can vary not only among individuals but also within an individual, depending on previous experience with a sound source, context, and numerous other factors (Ellison et al., 2012), and can vary depending on characteristics associated with the sound source (e.g., whether it is moving or stationary, number of sources, distance from the source). Please see Appendices B–C of Southall et al. (2007) for a review of studies involving marine mammal behavioral responses to sound. Habituation can occur when an animal’s response to a stimulus wanes with repeated exposure, usually in the absence of unpleasant associated events (Wartzok et al., 2003). Animals are most likely to habituate to sounds that are predictable and unvarying. It is important to note that habituation is appropriately considered as a PO 00000 Frm 00011 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 78977 ‘‘progressive reduction in response to stimuli that are perceived as neither aversive nor beneficial,’’ rather than as, more generally, moderation in response to human disturbance (Bejder et al., 2009). The opposite process is sensitization, when an unpleasant experience leads to subsequent responses, often in the form of avoidance, at a lower level of exposure. Behavioral state may affect the type of response as well. For example, animals that are resting may show greater behavioral change in response to disturbing sound levels than animals that are highly motivated to remain in an area for feeding (Richardson et al., 1995; NRC, 2003; Wartzok et al., 2003). Controlled experiments with captive marine mammals showed pronounced behavioral reactions, including avoidance of loud sound sources (Ridgway et al., 1997; Finneran et al., 2003). Observed responses of wild marine mammals to loud pulsed sound sources (typically seismic guns or acoustic harassment devices, but also including pile driving) have been varied but often consist of avoidance behavior or other behavioral changes suggesting discomfort (Morton and Symonds, 2002; Thorson and Reyff, 2006; see also Gordon et al., 2004; Wartzok et al., 2003; Nowacek et al., 2007). Responses to continuous sound, such as vibratory pile installation, have not been documented as well as responses to pulsed sounds. With both types of pile driving, it is likely that the onset of pile driving could result in temporary, short term changes in an animal’s typical behavior and/or avoidance of the affected area. These behavioral changes may include (Richardson et al., 1995): changing durations of surfacing and dives, number of blows per surfacing (cetaceans only), or moving direction and/or speed; reduced/increased vocal activities; changing/cessation of certain behavioral activities (such as socializing or feeding); visible startle response or aggressive behavior; avoidance of areas where sound sources are located; and/ or flight responses (e.g., pinnipeds flushing into water from haul-outs or rookeries). Pinnipeds may increase the amount of time spent hauled out, possibly to avoid in-water disturbance (Thorson and Reyff, 2006). Since pile driving would likely only occur for a few hours a day, over a short period of time, it is unlikely to result in permanent displacement. Any potential impacts from pile driving activities could be experienced by individual marine mammals, but would not be likely to cause population level impacts, E:\FR\FM\10NON1.SGM 10NON1 78978 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 218 / Thursday, November 10, 2016 / Notices asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES or affect the long-term fitness of the species. The biological significance of many of these behavioral disturbances is difficult to predict, especially if the detected disturbances appear minor. However, the consequences of behavioral modification could be expected to be biologically significant if the change affects growth, survival, or reproduction. Significant behavioral modifications that could potentially lead to effects on growth, survival, or reproduction include: • Drastic changes in diving/surfacing patterns (such as those thought to cause beaked whale stranding due to exposure to military mid-frequency tactical sonar); • Habitat abandonment due to loss of desirable acoustic environment; and • Cessation of feeding or social interaction. The onset of behavioral disturbance from anthropogenic sound depends on both external factors (characteristics of sound sources and their paths) and the specific characteristics of the receiving animals (hearing, motivation, experience, demography) and is difficult to predict (Southall et al., 2007). Auditory Masking Natural and artificial sounds can disrupt behavior by masking, or interfering with, a marine mammal’s ability to hear other sounds. Masking occurs when the receipt of a sound is interfered with by another coincident sound at similar frequencies and at similar or higher levels. Chronic exposure to excessive, though not highintensity, sound could cause masking at particular frequencies for marine mammals that utilize sound for vital biological functions. Masking can interfere with detection of acoustic signals such as communication calls, echolocation sounds, and environmental sounds important to marine mammals. Therefore, under certain circumstances, marine mammals whose acoustical sensors or environment are being severely masked could also be impaired from maximizing their performance fitness in survival and reproduction. If the coincident (masking) sound were man-made, it could be potentially harassing if it disrupted hearing-related behavior. It is important to distinguish TTS and PTS, which persist after the sound exposure, from masking, which occurs during the sound exposure. Because masking (without resulting in TS) is not associated with abnormal physiological function, it is not considered a physiological effect, but rather a potential behavioral effect. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:46 Nov 09, 2016 Jkt 241001 The frequency range of the potentially masking sound is important in determining any potential behavioral impacts. Because sound generated from in-water pile driving is mostly concentrated at low frequency ranges, it may affect detection of communication calls and other potentially important natural sounds such as surf and prey sound. It may also affect communication signals when they occur near the sound band and thus reduce the communication space of animals (e.g., Clark et al., 2009) and cause increased stress levels (e.g., Foote et al., 2004; Holt et al., 2009). Masking has the potential to impact species at the population or community levels as well as at individual levels. Masking affects both senders and receivers of the signals and can potentially have long-term chronic effects on marine mammal species and populations. Recent research suggests that low frequency ambient sound levels have increased by as much as 20 dB (more than three times in terms of SPL) in the world’s ocean from pre-industrial periods, and that most of these increases are from distant shipping (Hildebrand, 2009). All anthropogenic sound sources, such as those from vessel traffic, pile driving, and dredging activities, contribute to the elevated ambient sound levels, thus intensifying masking. The most intense underwater sounds in the proposed action are those produced by impact pile driving. Given that the energy distribution of pile driving covers a broad frequency spectrum, sound from these sources would likely be within the audible range of marine mammals present in the project area. Impact pile driving activity is relatively short-term, with rapid pulses occurring for approximately fifteen minutes per pile. The probability for impact pile driving resulting from the proposed action to mask acoustic signals important to the behavior and survival of marine mammal species is likely to be negligible. Vibratory pile driving is also relatively short-term, with rapid oscillations occurring for approximately one and a half hours per pile. It is possible that vibratory pile driving resulting from the proposed action may mask acoustic signals important to the behavior and survival of marine mammal species, but the short-term duration and limited affected area would result in insignificant impacts from masking. Any masking event that could possibly rise to Level B harassment under the MMPA would occur concurrently within the zones of behavioral harassment already estimated for vibratory and impact pile driving, and which have already been PO 00000 Frm 00012 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 taken into account in the exposure analysis. Acoustic Effects, Airborne Marine mammals that occur in the project area could be exposed to airborne sounds associated with pile driving and blasting activities at the quarry that have the potential to cause harassment, depending on their distance from these activities. Airborne sound could potentially affect pinnipeds that are either hauled out or are in the water but have their heads above water in the project area. Most likely, airborne sound would cause behavioral responses similar to those discussed above in relation to underwater sound. For instance, anthropogenic sound could cause hauled out pinnipeds to exhibit changes in their normal behavior, such as reduction in vocalizations, or cause them to temporarily abandon their habitat and move further from the source. Studies by Blackwell et al. (2004) and Moulton et al. (2005) indicate a tolerance or lack of response to unweighted airborne sounds as high as 112 dB peak and 96 dB rms. Anticipated Effects on Habitat The proposed activities at Dutch Harbor would not result in permanent impacts to habitats used directly by marine mammals, such as haul-out sites, but may have potential short-term impacts to food sources such as forage fish and salmonids. There are no rookeries or haulout sites within the modeled zone of influence for impact or vibratory pile driving associated with the project, or ocean bottom structure of significant biological importance to marine mammals that may be present in the waters in the vicinity of the project area. The project location receives heavy use by vessel moorage and factory trawler offloads, and experiences frequent vessel traffic because of these activities, thus the area is already relatively industrialized and not a pristine habitat for marine mammals. As such, the main impact associated with the proposed activity would be temporarily elevated sound levels and the associated direct effects on marine mammals, as discussed previously in this document. The most likely impact to marine mammal habitat occurs from pile driving effects on likely marine mammal prey (i.e., fish) near the project location, and minor impacts to the immediate substrate during installation and removal of piles during the dock construction project. Effects on Potential Prey Construction activities would produce both impulsive (i.e., impact pile driving E:\FR\FM\10NON1.SGM 10NON1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 218 / Thursday, November 10, 2016 / Notices and quarry blasting) and non-impulsive continuous (i.e., vibratory pile driving) sounds. Fish react to sounds which are especially strong and/or intermittent low-frequency sounds. Short duration, sharp sounds can cause overt or subtle changes in fish behavior and local distribution. Hastings and Popper (2005) identified several studies that suggest fish may relocate to avoid certain areas of sound energy. Additional studies have documented effects of pile driving on fish, although several are based on studies in support of large, multiyear bridge construction projects (e.g., Scholik and Yan, 2001, 2002; Popper and Hastings, 2009) and are therefore not directly comparable with the proposed project. Sound pulses at received levels of 160 dB may cause subtle changes in fish behavior. SPLs of 180 dB may cause noticeable changes in behavior (Pearson et al., 1992; Skalski et al., 1992). SPLs of sufficient strength have been known to cause injury to fish and fish mortality. In general, impacts to marine mammal prey species from the proposed project are expected to be minor and temporary due to the relatively short timeframe of the proposed project, and the fact that Dutch Harbor is not considered an important habitat for salmonids. The nearby Iliuliuk River supports salmon runs for at least four species of salmonids, however the harbor itself does not provide significant habitat for salmonids, and the proposed project is located far enough away from the lower Iliuliuk River that the potential that fish entering or leaving the river will be impacted is considered discountable. The most likely impact to fish from pile driving activities at the project area would be temporary behavioral avoidance of the area. The duration of fish avoidance of this area after pile driving stops is unknown, but a rapid return to normal recruitment, distribution and behavior is anticipated. Effects on Potential Foraging Habitat asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES The area likely impacted by the project is very small relative to the available habitat in Unalaska Bay. Avoidance by potential prey (i.e., fish) of the immediate area due to the temporary loss of this foraging habitat is VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:46 Nov 09, 2016 Jkt 241001 possible. The duration of fish avoidance of this area after pile driving stops is unknown, but a rapid return to normal recruitment, distribution and behavior is anticipated. Any behavioral avoidance by fish of the disturbed area would still leave significantly large areas of fish and marine mammal foraging habitat in Unalaska Bay and the nearby vicinity. In summary, given the short daily duration of sound associated with individual pile driving events and the relatively small area that would be affected, pile driving activities associated with the proposed action are not likely to have a permanent, adverse effect on any fish habitat, or populations of fish species. Thus, any impacts to marine mammal habitat are not expected to cause significant or longterm consequences for individual marine mammals or their populations. Proposed Mitigations 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. The COU’s calculation of the Level A harassment zones utilized the methods presented in Appendix D of NMFS’ Technical Guidance for Assessing the Effects of Anthropogenic Sound on Marine Mammal Hearing (the Guidance, available at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/ pr/acoustics/guidelines.htm), and the accompanying User Spreadsheet.1 The Guidance provides updated PTS onset thresholds using the cumulative SEL (SELcum) metric, which incorporates marine mammal auditory weighting functions, to identify the received levels, or acoustic thresholds, at which individual marine mammals are predicted to experience changes in their hearing sensitivity for acute, incidental exposure to all underwater 1 For most recent version of the NMFS User Spreadsheet, see: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/ acoustics/guidelines.htm PO 00000 Frm 00013 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 78979 anthropogenic sound sources. The Guidance (Appendix D) and its companion User Spreadsheet provide alternative methodology for incorporating these more complex thresholds and associated weighting functions. The User Spreadsheet accounts for effective hearing ranges using Weighting Factor Adjustments (WFAs), and the COU’s application uses the recommended values for vibratory and impact driving therein. Pile driving durations were estimated based on similar project experience. NMFS’ new acoustic thresholds use dual metrics of SELcum and peak sound level (PK) for impulsive sounds (e.g., impact pile driving) and SELcum for non-impulsive sounds (e.g., vibratory pile driving) (Table 4). The COU used source level measurements from similar pile driving events (as described in ‘‘Estimated Take by Incidental Harassment’’), and using the User Spreadsheet, applied the updated PTS onset thresholds for impulsive PK and SELcum in the new acoustic guidance to determine distance to the isopleths for PTS onset for impact pile driving. For vibratory pile driving, the COU used the User Spreadsheet to determine isopleth estimates for PTS onset using the cumulative sound exposure level metric (LE) (http:// www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/acoustics/ guidelines.htm). In determining the cumulative sound exposure levels, the Guidance considers the duration of the activity, the sound exposure level produced by the source during one working day, and the effective hearing range of the receiving species. In the case of the duel metric acoustic thresholds (Lpk and LE) for impulsive sound, the larger of the two isopleths for calculating PTS onset is used. These values were then used to develop mitigation measures for proposed pile driving activities. The exclusion zone effectively represents the mitigation zone that would be established around each pile to prevent Level A harassment (PTS onset) to marine mammals (Table 5), while the zones of influence (ZOI) provide estimates of the areas within which Level B harassment might occur for impact/vibratory pile driving and quarry blasting (Table 6). E:\FR\FM\10NON1.SGM 10NON1 78980 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 218 / Thursday, November 10, 2016 / Notices TABLE 4—SUMMARY OF PTS ONSET ACOUSTIC THRESHOLDS PTS onset acoustic thresholds * (Received Level) Hearing group Impulsive Low-Frequency (LF) Cetaceans .................................................................................... Mid-Frequency (MF) Cetaceans .................................................................................... High-Frequency (HF) Cetaceans ................................................................................... Phocid Pinnipeds (PW) (Underwater) ........................................................................... Otariid Pinnipeds (OW) (Underwater) ........................................................................... Non-impulsive Cell 1 .................................. Lpk,flat: 219 dB .................. LE,LF,24h: 183 dB Cell 3 .................................. Lpk,flat: 230 dB .................. LE,MF,24h: 185 dB Cell 5 .................................. Lpk,flat: 202 dB .................. LE,HF,24h: 155 dB Cell 7 .................................. Lpk,flat: 218 dB .................. LE,PW,24h: 185 dB Cell 9 .................................. Lpk,flat: 232 dB .................. LE,OW,24h: 203 dB Cell 2. LE,LF,24h: 199 dB. Cell 4. LE,MF,24h: 198 dB. Cell 6. LE,HF,24h: 173 dB. Cell 8. LE,PW,24h: 201 dB. Cell 10. LE,OW,24h: 219 dB. * Dual metric acoustic thresholds for impulsive sounds: Use whichever results in the largest isopleth for calculating PTS onset. If a non-impulsive sound has the potential of exceeding the peak sound pressure level thresholds associated with impulsive sounds, these thresholds should also be considered. Note: Peak sound pressure (Lpk) has a reference value of 1 μPa, and cumulative sound exposure level (LE) has a reference value of 1μPa2s. In this Table, thresholds are abbreviated to reflect American National Standards Institute standards (ANSI 2013). However, peak sound pressure is defined by ANSI as incorporating frequency weighting, which is not the intent for this Technical Guidance. Hence, the subscript ‘‘flat’’ is being included to indicate peak sound pressure should be flat weighted or unweighted within the generalized hearing range. The subscript associated with cumulative sound exposure level thresholds indicates the designated marine mammal auditory weighting function (LF, MF, and HF cetaceans, and PW and OW pinnipeds) and that the recommended accumulation period is 24 hours. The cumulative sound exposure level thresholds could be exceeded in a multitude of ways (i.e., varying exposure levels and durations, duty cycle). When possible, it is valuable for action proponents to indicate the conditions under which these acoustic thresholds will be exceeded. Monitoring and Shutdown for Pile Driving The following measures would apply to the COU’s mitigation through the exclusion zone and zone of influence: Exclusion Zone—For all pile driving activities, the COU will establish an exclusion zone intended to contain the area in which Level A harassment thresholds are exceeded. The purpose of the exclusion zone is to define an area within which shutdown of construction activity would occur upon sighting of a marine mammal within that area (or in anticipation of an animal entering the defined area), thus preventing potential injury of marine mammals. Calculated distances to the updated PTS onset acoustic thresholds are shown in Table 5. The greatest calculated distance to the Level A harassment threshold during impact pile driving, assuming a maximum of 5 piles driven per day, is 184.5 m for low-frequency cetaceans (humpback whale). For mid-frequency cetaceans (killer whale), phocid pinnipeds (harbor seal), and otariid pinnipeds (Steller sea lion), the distances are 6.6 m, 98.6 m, and 7.2 m, respectively (Table 5). Calculated distances to the PTS onset threshold during vibratory pile driving range from a maximum of 9.2 m for low-frequency cetaceans to 0.20 m for otariids— depending on the specific type of piles/ sheets that are installed or removed (Table 5). TABLE 5—PILE DRIVING ACTIVITIES AND CALCULATED DISTANCES TO LEVEL A HARASSMENT ISOPLETHS [Onset PTS threshold using NMFS’ new acoustic guidance] Estimated duration Source asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Vibratory Vibratory Vibratory Vibratory Vibratory Vibratory Vibratory Vibratory Number of piles Installation Sheet ............................... Installation 18″ ................................... Installation 30″ ................................... Installation 30″ ................................... Installation 30″ ................................... Removal Steel 18″ ............................ Removal Steel 18″ ............................ Removal Timber ................................ Piles driven per day 1,400 150 40 30 125 195 150 55 Number of piles Impact Installation 30’’ (SEL Calc)* .................. Hours per day 15 10 5 5 5 10 10 10 Piles driven per day 195 .................... .................... .................... .................... 5 4 3 2 1 Level A harassment zone (m) (new guidance) Days of effort 0.5 1.25 1 1 2 1.25 1.25 1.25 95 15 8 6 25 35 35 5.5 Strikes per pile Days of effort 200 .................... .................... .................... .................... 39 .................... .................... .................... .................... LF cetaceans MF cetaceans 4.1 5.0 5.0 5.0 8.0 5.0 5.0 9.2 LF cetaceans 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.7 0.4 0.4 0.8 MF cetaceans 184.5 159.0 131.3 100.2 63.1 6.6 5.7 4.7 3.6 2.2 PW pinnipeds 2.5 3.0 3.1 3.1 4.8 3.0 3.0 5.6 PW pinnipeds 98.8 85.1 70.3 53.6 33.8 OW pinnipeds 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.3 0.2 0.2 0.4 OW pinnipeds 7.2 6.2 5.1 3.9 2.5 * Distances to the Level A harassment (PTS onset) isopleth are based on the cumulative sound exposure level (LE) acoustic threshold; the modeled distances to the PTS onset isopleth were smaller using the Lpk metric (see Table 8 in the application), and therefore, not used to establish shutdown zones. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:46 Nov 09, 2016 Jkt 241001 PO 00000 Frm 00014 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 E:\FR\FM\10NON1.SGM 10NON1 asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 218 / Thursday, November 10, 2016 / Notices The established shutdown zones corresponding to the Level A harassment zones for each activity are as follows: • For all vibratory pile driving activities, a 10-m radius shutdown zone will be employed for all species observed • During impact pile driving, a shutdown zone will be determined by the number of piles to be driven that day as follows: If the maximum of five piles are to be driven that day, shutdown during the first driven pile will occur if a marine mammal enters the ‘5-pile’ radius. After the first pile is driven, if no marine mammals have been observed within the ‘5-pile’radius, the ‘4-pile’ radius will become the shutdown radius. This pattern will continue unless an animal is observed within the most recent shutdown radius, at which time that shutdown radius will remain in effect for the rest of the workday. Shutdown radii for each species, depending on number of piles driven, are as follows: Æ 5-pile radius: humpback whale, 185 m; killer whale, 10 m; harbor seal, 100 m; Steller sea lion, 10 m Æ 4-pile radius: humpback whale, 160 m; killer whale, 10 m; harbor seal, 85 m; Steller sea lion, 10 m Æ 3-pile radius: humpback whale, 135 m; killer whale, 10 m; harbor seal, 70 m; Steller sea lion, 10 m Æ 2-pile radius: humpback whale, 100 m; killer whale, 10 m; harbor seal, 55 m; Steller sea lion, 10 m Æ 1-pile radius: humpback whale, 65 m; killer whale, 10 m; harbor seal, 35 m; Steller sea lion, 10 m A shutdown will occur prior to a marine mammal entering a shutdown zone appropriate for that species and the concurrent work activity. Activity will cease until the observer is confident that the animal is clear of the shutdown zone: The animal will be considered clear if: • It has been observed leaving the shutdown zone; or • It has not been seen in the shutdown zone for 30 minutes for cetaceans and 15 minutes for pinnipeds. If shutdown lasts for more than 30 minutes, pre-activity monitoring (see below) must recommence. If the exclusion zone is obscured by fog or poor lighting conditions, pile driving will not be initiated until the exclusion zone is clearly visible. Should such conditions arise while impact driving is underway, the activity would be halted. Level B Harassment Zone (Zone of Influence)—The zone of influence (ZOI) refers to the area(s) in which SPLs equal VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:46 Nov 09, 2016 Jkt 241001 or exceed NMFS’ current Level B harassment thresholds (160 and 120 dB rms for pulsed and non-pulsed continuous sound, respectively). ZOIs provide utility for monitoring that is conducted for mitigation purposes (i.e., exclusion zone monitoring) by establishing monitoring protocols for areas adjacent to the exclusion zone. Monitoring of the ZOI enables observers to be aware of, and communicate about, the presence of marine mammals within the project area but outside the exclusion zone and thus prepare for potential shutdowns of activity should those marine mammals approach the exclusion zone. However, the primary purpose of ZOI monitoring is to allow documentation of incidents of Level B harassment; ZOI monitoring is discussed in greater detail later (see ‘‘Proposed Monitoring and Reporting’’). The modeled radial distances for ZOIs for impact and vibratory pile driving and removal (not taking into account landmasses which are expected to limit the actual ZOI radii) are shown in Table 7. In order to document observed incidents of harassment, monitors will record all marine mammals observed within the ZOI. Modeling was performed to estimate the ZOI for impact pile driving (the areas in which SPLs are expected to equal or exceed 160 dB rms during impact driving) and for vibratory pile driving (the areas in which SPLs are expected to equal or exceed 120 dB rms during vibratory driving and removal). Results of this modeling showed the ZOI for impact driving would extend to a radius of 462 m from the pile being driven and the ZOI for vibratory pile driving would extend to a maximum radius of 5,168 m from the pile being driven (see Section 5 of the application for the radius of each type of vibratory pile installation and removal). However, due to the geography of the project area, landmasses surround Dutch Harbor and Iliuliuk Bay are expected to limit the propagation of sound from construction activities such that the actual distances to the ZOI extent for vibratory pile driving will be substantially smaller than those described above. Modeling results of the ensonified areas, taking into account the attenuation provided by landmasses, suggest the actual ZOI will extend to a maximum distance of 3,300 m for vibratory driving. Due to this adjusted ZOI, and due to the monitoring locations chosen by the COU (see the Monitoring Plan in Appendix E of the application for details), we expect that monitors will be able to observe the entire modeled ZOI for both impact and PO 00000 Frm 00015 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 78981 vibratory pile driving, and thus we expect data collected on incidents of Level B harassment to be relatively accurate. The modeled areas of the ZOIs for impact and vibratory driving, taking into account the attenuation provided by landmasses in attenuating sound from the construction project, are shown in Appendix B of the application. The actual Level B harassment/monitoring zones for impact pile driving (500 m) and vibratory pile driving (3,300 m) are shown in Table 7. Marine Mammal Monitoring Qualified observers will be on site before, during, and after all pile-driving activities. The proposed Level A and Level B harassment zones for underwater noise will be monitored before, during, and after all in-water construction activity. The observers will be authorized to shut down activity if pinnipeds or cetaceans are observed approaching or within the shutdown zone of any construction activities. Observers will follow observer protocols, meet training requirements, fill out data forms and report findings in accordance with protocols reviewed and approved by NMFS. A detailed Marine Mammal Monitoring Plan is found in Appendix E of the application. If marine mammals are observed approaching or within the shutdown zone, shutdown procedures will be implemented to prevent unauthorized exposure. If marine mammals are observed within the monitoring zone (ZOI), the sighting will be documented as a potential Level B take and the animal behaviors shall be documented. If the number of marine mammals exposed to Level B harassment approaches the number of takes allowed by the IHA, the COU will notify NMFS and seek further consultation. If any marine mammal species are encountered that are not authorized by the IHA and are likely to be exposed to sound pressure levels greater than or equal to the Level B harassment thresholds, then the COU will shut down in-water activity to avoid take of those species. Pre-Activity Monitoring Prior to the start of daily in-water construction activity, or whenever a break in pile driving of 30 minutes or longer occurs, the observer will observe the shutdown and monitoring zones for a period of 30 minutes. The shutdown zone will be cleared when a marine mammal has not been observed within zone for that 30-minute period. If a marine mammal is observed within the shutdown zone, a soft-start (described below) cannot proceed until the marine E:\FR\FM\10NON1.SGM 10NON1 78982 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 218 / Thursday, November 10, 2016 / Notices mammal has left the zone or has not been observed for 15 minutes (for pinnipeds) and 30 minutes (for cetaceans). If the Level B harassment zone has been observed for 30 minutes and non-permitted species are not present within the zone, soft start procedures can commence and work can continue even if visibility becomes impaired within the Level B zone. If the Level B zone is not visible while work continues, exposures will be recorded at the estimated exposure rate for each permitted species. If work ceases for more than 30 minutes, the pre-activity monitoring of both zones must recommence asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Soft Start The use of a ‘‘soft-start’’ procedure is believed to provide additional protection to marine mammals by providing a warning and an opportunity to leave the area prior to the hammer operating at full capacity. Soft start procedures will be used prior to pile removal, pile installation, and in-water fill placement to allow marine mammals to leave the area prior to exposure to maximum noise levels. For vibratory hammers, the soft start technique will initiate noise from the hammer for short periods at a reduced energy level, followed by a brief waiting period and repeating the procedure two additional times. For impact hammers, the soft start technique will initiate several strikes at a reduced energy level, followed by a brief waiting period. This procedure would also be repeated two additional times. Equipment used for fill placement will be idled near the waterside edge of the fill area for 15 minutes prior to performing in-water fill placement In-Water or Over-Water Construction Activities During in-water or over-water construction activities having the potential to affect marine mammals, but not involving a pile driver, a shutdown zone of 10 m will be monitored to ensure that marine mammals are not endangered by physical interaction with construction equipment. These activities could include, but are not limited to, the positioning of the pile on the substrate via a crane (‘‘stabbing’’ the pile) or the removal of the pile from the water column/substrate via a crane (‘‘deadpull’’), or the slinging of construction materials via crane. Vessel Interactions To minimize impacts from vessels interactions with marine mammals, the crews aboard project vessels will follow NMFS’s marine mammal viewing VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:46 Nov 09, 2016 Jkt 241001 guidelines and regulations as practicable. (https:// alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/ protectedresources/mmv/guide.htm). Mitigation Conclusions We have carefully evaluated the COU’s proposed mitigation measures and considered their likely effectiveness relative to implementation of similar mitigation measures in previously issued IHAs to preliminarily determine whether they are likely to affect 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. Based on our evaluation of the COU’s proposed measures, we have preliminarily determined that the proposed mitigation measures provide the means of affecting the least practicable impact on marine mammal species or stocks and their habitat. Proposed 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 proposed action area. Monitoring 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 PO 00000 Frm 00016 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 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); and • 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 5. An increase in our understanding of the effectiveness of certain mitigation and monitoring measures. The COU submitted a Marine Mammal Monitoring Plan as part of their IHA application (Appendix E of the application; also available online at: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/ incidental/). The COU’s proposed Marine Mammal Monitoring Plan was created with input from NMFS and was based on similar plans that have been successfully implemented by other action proponents under previous IHAs for pile driving projects. The plan may be modified or supplemented based on comments or new information received from the public during the public comment period. Visual Marine Mammal Observations The COU will collect sighting data and will record behavioral responses to construction activities for marine mammal species observed in the project location during the period of activity. All marine mammal observers (MMOs) will be trained in marine mammal identification and behaviors and are required to have no other constructionrelated tasks while conducting monitoring. The COU will monitor the exclusion zone (shutdown zone) and Level B harassment zone before, during, and after pile driving, with observers located at the best practicable vantage points (See Figure 3 in the Marine Mammal Monitoring Plan for the observer locations planned for use E:\FR\FM\10NON1.SGM 10NON1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 218 / Thursday, November 10, 2016 / Notices asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES during construction). Based on our requirements, the Marine Mammal Monitoring Plan would implement the following procedures for pile driving: • During observation periods, observers will continuously scan the area for marine mammals using binoculars and the naked eye. Observers will work shifts of a maximum of four consecutive hours followed by an observer rotation or a 1-hour break and will work no more than 12 hours in any 24-hour period. • Observers will collect data including, but not limited to, environmental conditions (e.g., sea state, precipitation, glare, etc.), marine mammal sightings (e.g., species, numbers, location, behavior, responses to construction activity, etc.), construction activity at the time of sighting, and number of marine mammal exposures. Observers will conduct observations, meet training requirements, fill out data forms, and report findings in accordance with this IHA • During all observation periods, observers will use binoculars and the naked eye to search continuously for marine mammals. • If the exclusion zone is obscured by fog or poor lighting conditions, pile driving will not be initiated until the exclusion zone is clearly visible. Should such conditions arise while impact driving is underway, the activity would be halted. • Observers will implement mitigation measures including monitoring of the proposed shutdown and monitoring zones, clearing of the zones, and shutdown procedures. • Observers will be in continuous contact with the construction personnel via two-way radio. A cellular phone will be use as back-up communications and for safety purposes. • Individuals implementing the monitoring protocol will assess its effectiveness using an adaptive approach. MMOs 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 COU. Data Collection We require that observers use approved data forms. Among other pieces of information, the COU will record detailed information about any implementation of shutdowns, including the distance of animals to the pile being driven, a description of specific actions that ensued, and resulting behavior of the animal, if any. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:46 Nov 09, 2016 Jkt 241001 In addition, the COU will attempt to distinguish between the number of individual animals taken and the number of incidents of take, when possible. We require that, at a minimum, the following information be collected on sighting forms: • Date and time that permitted construction activity begins or ends; • Weather parameters (e.g. percent cloud cover, percent glare, visibility) and Beaufort sea state. • Species, numbers, and, if possible, sex and age class of observed marine mammals; • Construction activities occurring during each sighting; • Marine mammal behavior patterns observed, including bearing and direction of travel; • Specific focus should be paid to behavioral reactions just prior to, or during, soft-start and shutdown procedures; • Location of marine mammal, distance from observer to the marine mammal, and distance from pile driving activities to marine mammals; • Record of whether an observation required the implementation of mitigation measures, including shutdown procedures and the duration of each shutdown; and • Other human activity in the area. Record the hull numbers of fishing vessels if possible. Sound Source and Attenuation Verification The companion User Spreadsheet provided with NMFS’ new acoustic guidance uses multiple conservative assumption which may result in unrealistically large isopleths associated with PTS onset. The COU may elect to verify the values used for source levels and sound attenuation in the various exclusion radii calculations. This would be achieved using the techniques and equipment for sound source verification discussed in Appendix A of the application. Sound levels would be measured at the earliest possibility during impact pile driving at 10, 100, 300, and 500 m from the sound source. These values would be plotted and a logarithmic line of best fit used to model the attenuation rates experienced at the construction site. If these values are higher than the typically-used value of 15, the exclusion radii will be revised according to the methods used to calculate the current values. The COU must obtain approval from NMFS of any new exclusion zone before it may be implemented. The COU may elect not to exercise this option, if the cost of shutdown during impact pile driving is not PO 00000 Frm 00017 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 78983 anticipated to warrant additional research. Reporting Annual Report A draft report will be submitted within 90 calendar days of the completion of the activity, The report will include information on marine mammal observations pre-activity, during-activity, and post-activity during pile driving days, and will provide descriptions of any behavioral responses to construction activities by marine mammals and a complete description of any mitigation shutdowns and results of those actions, as well as an estimate of total take based on the number of marine mammals observed during the course of construction. A final report must be submitted within 30 days following resolution of comments from NMFS on the draft report. The report shall include at a minimum: • General data: Æ Date and time of activity. Æ Water conditions (e.g., sea-state). Æ Weather conditions (e.g., percent cover, percent glare, visibility). • Specific pile driving data: Æ Description of the pile driving activity being conducted (pile locations, pile size and type), and times (onset and completion) when pile driving occurs. Æ The construction contractor and/or marine mammal monitoring staff will coordinate to ensure that pile driving times and strike counts are accurately recorded. The duration of soft start procedures should be noted as separate from the full power driving duration. Æ Description of in-water construction activity not involving pile driving (location, type of activity, onset and completion times) • Pre-activity observational surveyspecific data: Æ Date and time survey is initiated and terminated Æ Description of any observable marine mammals and their behavior in the immediate area during monitoring Æ Times when pile driving or other in-water construction is delayed due to presence of marine mammals within shutdown zones. • During-activity observational survey-specific data: Æ Description of any observable marine mammal behavior within monitoring zones or in the immediate area surrounding the monitoring zones, including the following: D Distance from animal to pile driving sound source. D Reason why/why not shutdown implemented. D If a shutdown was implemented, behavioral reactions noted and if they E:\FR\FM\10NON1.SGM 10NON1 78984 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 218 / Thursday, November 10, 2016 / Notices occurred before or after implementation of the shutdown. D If a shutdown was implemented, the distance from animal to sound source at the time of the shutdown. D Behavioral reactions noted during soft starts and if they occurred before or after implementation of the soft start. D Distance to the animal from the sound source during soft start. • Post-activity observational surveyspecific data: Æ Results, which include the detections and behavioral reactions of marine mammals, the species and numbers observed, sighting rates and distances, Æ Refined exposure estimate based on the number of marine mammals observed. This may be reported as a rate of take (number of marine mammals per hour or per day), or using some other appropriate metric. asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES General Notifications In the unanticipated event that the specified activity clearly causes the take of a marine mammal in a manner not authorized by the IHA (if issued), such as a Level A harassment, or a take of a marine mammal species other than those proposed for authorization, the COU would immediately cease the specified activities and immediately report the incident to Jolie Harrison (Jolie.Harrison@noaa.gov), Chief of the Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, and Aleria Jensen (Aleria.Jensen@ noaa.gov), Alaska Stranding Coordinator. The report would include the following information: • Time, date, and location (latitude/ longitude) of the incident; • Description of the incident; • Status of all sound source use in the 24 hours preceding the incident; • Environmental conditions (e.g., wind speed and direction, Beaufort sea state, cloud cover, and visibility); • Description of all marine mammal observations in the 24 hours preceding the incident; • Species identification or description of the animal(s) involved; • Fate of the animal(s); and • Photographs or video footage of the animal(s) (if equipment is available). Activities would not resume until NMFS is able to review the circumstances of the prohibited take. NMFS would work with the COU to determine what is necessary to minimize the likelihood of further prohibited take and ensure MMPA compliance. The COU would not be able to resume their activities until notified by NMFS via letter, email, or telephone. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:46 Nov 09, 2016 Jkt 241001 In the event that the COU discovers an injured or dead marine mammal, and determines that the cause of the injury or death is unknown and the death is relatively recent (i.e., in less than a moderate state of decomposition), the COU would immediately report the incident to Jolie Harrison (Jolie.Harrison@noaa.gov), Chief of the Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, and Aleria Jensen (Aleria.Jensen@ noaa.gov), Alaska Stranding Coordinator. The report would include the same information identified in the paragraph above. Construction related activities would be able to continue while NMFS reviews the circumstances of the incident. NMFS would work with the COU to determine whether modifications in the activities are appropriate. In the event that the COU discovers an injured or dead marine mammal, and determines that the injury or death is not associated with or related to the activities authorized in the IHA (e.g., previously wounded animal, carcass with moderate to advanced decomposition, or scavenger damage), the COU would report the incident to Jolie Harrison (Jolie.Harrison@ noaa.gov), Chief of the Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, and Aleria Jensen (Aleria.Jensen@noaa.gov), Alaska Stranding Coordinator, within 24 hours of the discovery. The COU would provide photographs or video footage (if available) or other documentation of the stranded animal sighting to NMFS and the Marine Mammal Stranding Network. The COU can continue its operations under such a case. 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 B harassment, resulting from vibratory and impact pile driving and involving temporary changes in behavior. Based on the best available information, the proposed activities— PO 00000 Frm 00018 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 vibratory and impact pile driving— would not result in serious injuries or mortalities to marine mammals even in the absence of the planned mitigation and monitoring measures. Additionally, the proposed mitigation and monitoring measures are expected to minimize the potential for injury, such that take by Level A harassment is considered discountable. If a marine mammal responds to a stimulus by changing its behavior (e.g., through relatively minor changes in locomotion direction/speed or vocalization behavior), the response may or may not constitute taking at the individual level, and is unlikely to 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 animals or on the stock or species could potentially be significant (e.g., Lusseau and Bejder, 2007; Weilgart, 2007). 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. This practice potentially overestimates the numbers of marine mammals taken, as it is often difficult to distinguish between the individual animals harassed and incidences of harassment. 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 COU has requested authorization for the incidental taking of small numbers of Steller sea lions, harbor seals, humpback whales, and killer whales that may result from pile driving activities associated with the UMC dock construction project described previously in this document. In order to estimate the potential incidents of take that may occur incidental to the specified activity, we must first estimate the extent of the sound field that may be produced by the activity and then incorporate information about marine mammal density or abundance in the project area. We first provide information on applicable sound thresholds for determining effects to marine mammals before describing the information used in estimating the E:\FR\FM\10NON1.SGM 10NON1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 218 / Thursday, November 10, 2016 / Notices sound fields, the available marine mammal density or abundance information, and the method of estimating potential incidences of take. Sound Thresholds We use sound exposure thresholds to determine when an activity that produces sound might result in impacts to a marine mammal such that a ‘‘take’’ by harassment might occur. As discussed above, NMFS has recently revised PTS (and temporary threshold shift) onset acoustic thresholds for impulsive and non-impulsive sound as part of its new acoustic guidance (refer 78985 to Table 4 for those thresholds). The Guidance does not address Level B harassment, nor airborne noise harassment; therefore, COA uses the current NMFS acoustic exposure criteria to determine exposure to airborne and underwater noise sound pressure levels for Level B harassment (Table 6). TABLE 6—CURRENT NMFS ACOUSTIC EXPOSURE CRITERIA FOR LEVEL B HARASSMENT Criterion Definition Threshold Level B harassment (underwater) ... Behavioral disruption ..................... Level B harassment (airborne) ** .... Behavioral disruption ..................... 160 dB re: 1 μPa (impulsive source*)/120 dB re: 1 μPa (continuous source*) (rms). 90 dB re: 20 μPa (harbor seals)/100 dB re: 20 μPa (other pinnipeds) (unweighted). * Impact pile driving produces impulsive noise; vibratory pile driving produces non-pulsed (continuous) noise. ** NMFS has not established any formal criteria for harassment resulting from exposure to airborne sound. However, these thresholds represent the best available information regarding the effects of pinniped exposure to such sound and NMFS’ practice is to associate exposure at these levels with Level B harassment. Distance to Sound Thresholds Underwater Sound Propagation Formula—Pile driving generates underwater noise that can potentially result in disturbance to marine mammals in the project area. Transmission loss (TL) is the decrease in acoustic intensity as an acoustic pressure wave propagates out from a source. TL parameters vary with frequency, temperature, sea conditions, current, source and receiver depth, water depth, water chemistry, and bottom composition and topography. The general formula for underwater TL is: TL = B * log10(R1/R2), asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES where: R1 = the distance of the modeled SPL from the driven pile, and R2 = the distance from the driven pile of the initial measurement This formula neglects loss due to scattering and absorption, which is assumed to be zero here. The degree to which underwater sound propagates away from a sound source is dependent on a variety of factors, most notably the water bathymetry and presence or absence of reflective or absorptive conditions including in-water structures and sediments. Spherical spreading occurs in a perfectly unobstructed (freefield) environment not limited by depth or water surface, resulting in a 6 dB reduction in sound level for each doubling of distance from the source (20*log(range)). Cylindrical spreading occurs in an environment in which sound propagation is bounded by the water surface and sea bottom, resulting in a reduction of 3 dB in sound level for each doubling of distance from the VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:46 Nov 09, 2016 Jkt 241001 source (10*log(range)). A practical spreading value of fifteen is often used under conditions, such as Dutch Harbor, where water depth increases as the receiver moves away from the shoreline, resulting in an expected propagation environment that would lie between spherical and cylindrical spreading loss conditions. Practical spreading loss (4.5 dB reduction in sound level for each doubling of distance) is assumed here. Underwater Sound—During the installation of piles, the project has the potential to increase underwater noise levels. This could result in disturbance to pinnipeds and cetaceans that occur within the Level B harassment zone. The intensity of pile driving sounds is greatly influenced by factors such as the type of piles, hammers, and the physical environment in which the activity occurs. A large quantity of literature regarding SPLs recorded from pile driving projects is available for consideration. In order to determine reasonable SPLs and their associated effects on marine mammals that are likely to result from pile driving at the UMC dock, studies with similar properties to the specified activity were evaluated. See Section 5 of the COU’s application for a detailed description of the information considered in determining reasonable proxy source level values. According to studies by the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), the installation of steel sheet piles using a vibratory hammer can result in underwater noise levels reaching a source level of 163 dB RMS or 162 dBSEL at 10 m (Caltrans, 2015). PND Engineers, Inc. performed acoustic measurements during vibratory PO 00000 Frm 00019 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 installation of steel sheet pile at a similar construction project in Unalaska, Alaska, and found average SPLs of 160.7 dBRMS (Unisea, 2015). This lower value was used to calculate the harassment radii for vibratory installation sheet pile and is discussed further in Appendix A of the application. Underwater noise levels during the vibratory removal and installation of 18inch steel pile can reach a source level of 158 dB RMS or 158 dBSEL at 10 m (Caltrans, 2015). Because there was little information on the underwater noise levels of the removal of timber piles, the levels used for analysis (162 dB RMS at 10 m) were taken from the installation of timber piles (Caltrans, 2015). Underwater noise levels during the impact pile driving of a 30-inch steel pile can reach a source level of 185 dB RMS (172 dBSEL, 196 dBpk) at 10 m, whereas the underwater noise from the vibratory driving of 30-inch steel pile can result in a source level of 159 dB RMS (159 dBSEL) at 10 m (Caltrans, 2015). Dutch Harbor does not represent open water, or free field, conditions. Therefore, sounds would attenuate as they encounter land masses. As a result, and as described above, pile driving noise in the project area is not expected to propagate to the calculated distances for the 120 dB thresholds as shown in Table 7. See Appendix B of the application for figures depicting the actual extents of areas in which each underwater sound threshold is predicted to occur at the project area due to pile driving, taking into account the attenuation provided by landmasses. E:\FR\FM\10NON1.SGM 10NON1 78986 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 218 / Thursday, November 10, 2016 / Notices TABLE 7—MODELED DISTANCES TO THE NMFS LEVEL B HARASSMENT THRESHOLDS (ISOPLETHS) AND ACTUAL MONITORING ZONES DURING PILE INSTALLATION AND REMOVAL Distance (meters) * Threshold Impact driving, disturbance (160 dB) ...................................................................................................................... Vibratory removal, disturbance (120 dB) ................................................................................................................. 464 ** 5,168 Monitoring zone 500 3,300 * Distances shown are modeled maximum distances and do not account for landmasses which are expected to reduce the actual distances to sound thresholds. ** This is the maximum distance modeled. See Section 5 of the application for the modeled distances for each pile driving activity type. Airborne Sound—During the installation of piles and blasting activities at the quarry, the project has the potential to increase airborne noise levels. This could result in disturbance to pinnipeds at the surface of the water or hauled out along the shoreline of Iliuliuk Bay or the Dutch Harbor spit; however, we do not expect animals to haul out frequently within Dutch Harbor or the spit due to the amount of activity within the area. A spherical spreading loss model (i.e., 6 dB reduction in sound level for each doubling of distance from the source), in which there is a perfectly unobstructed (free-field) environment not limited by depth or water surface, is appropriate for use with airborne sound and was used to estimate the distance to the airborne thresholds. The formula for calculating spherical spreading loss in airborne noise is: TL = GL × log(R1/R2) asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES where: TL = Transmission loss (dB) GL = Geometric Loss Coefficient (20 for spherical spreading in airborne noise) R1 = Range of the sound pressure level (m) R2 = Distance from the source of the initial measurement (m) Noise levels used to calculate airborne harassment radii come from Laughlin (2010) and Laughlin (2013) and are summarized in Table 9 of the application. Data for vibratory driving from Laughlin (2010) is presented in dBL5EQ, or the 5-minute average continuous sound level. In this case dBRMS values would be calculated in a similar fashion, so these dBL5EQ were considered equivalent to the standard dBRMS. Impact pile driving noise levels were taken from a recent Washington State Department of Transportation IHA application which used data collected by Laughlin (2013). A report was not available for this data, but it is assumed to be provided in dBRMS. Only Aweighted airborne noise levels were available for quarry plasting (Giroux, 2009), so a conservative maximum level was selected, dBALMAX. Based on the spherical spreading loss equation, the calculated airborne Level B harassment zones would extend out to the following distances: VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:46 Nov 09, 2016 Jkt 241001 • For the vibratory installation of 18inch steel piles, the calculated airborne Level B harassment zone for harbor seals is 11.4 m; for Steller sea lions, the distance is 3.6 m; • For the vibratory installation of 30inch steel piles, the calculated airborne Level B harassment zone for harbor seals is 31.9 meters; for Steller sea lions, the distance is 10.1 m; • For the impact installation of 24inch steel piles, the calculated airborne Level B harassment zone for harbor seals is 152.4 m; for Steller sea lions, the distance is 48.2 m; and • For quarry blasting, the calculated Level B harassment zone for harbor seals extends to 38.5 m and 12.2 m for Steller sea lions. Vibratory installation of sheet piles is assumed to create lower noise levels than installation of 30-inch round piles, so these values will be used for sheet pile driving. Similarly, vibratory removal of steel or wooden piles will observe the same harassment radii. For the purposes of this analysis, impact installation of 30-inch steel piles is assumed to generate similar sound levels to the installation of 24-inch piles, as no unweighted data was available for the 30-inch piles. Since the in-water area encompassed within the above areas is located entirely within the underwater Level B harassment zone, the pinnipeds that come within these areas will already be recorded as a take based on Level B harassment threshold for underwater noise, which are in all cases larger than those associated with airborne sound. Further, it is not anticipated that any pinnipeds will haul out within the airborne harassment zone. Airborne noise thresholds have not been established for cetaceans (NOAA, 2015b), and no adverse impacts are anticipated. Distance from the quarry bottom to the shoreline is an average of 70–80 m, so exposure to even Level B harassment from blasting noise is highly unlikely. Therefore, we do not believe that authorization of incidental take resulting from airborne sound for PO 00000 Frm 00020 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 pinnipeds is warranted, and airborne sound is not discussed further here. Marine Mammal Occurrence The most appropriate information available was used to estimate the number of potential incidences of take. Density estimates for Steller sea lions, harbor seals, humpback whales, and killer whales in Dutch Harbor, and more broadly in the waters surrounding Unalaska Island, are not readily available. Likewise, we were not able to find any published literature or reports describing densities or estimating abundance of either species in the project area. As such, data collected from marine mammal surveys represent the best available information on the occurrence of both species in the project area. Beginning in April 2015, UMC personnel began conducting surveys within Dutch Harbor under the direction of an ecological consultant. The consultant visited the site every month to ensure that data was gathered consistently and comprehensively. Observers monitored for a variety of marine mammals, including Steller sea lions, whales, and harbor seals. Several observation locations from various vantage points were selected for the surveys. Observations took place for approximately 15 minutes from each point, and included only marine mammals which were inside Dutch Harbor. The survey recorded the type of species observed, the number of species observed, the primary activity of the species, and any applicable notes. Surveys were conducted through July 2016. These surveys represent the most recent data on marine mammal occurrence in the harbor, and represent the only targeted marine mammal surveys of the project area that we are aware of. Data from bird surveys of Dutch Harbor conducted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) from 2003– 2013, which included observations of Steller sea lions in the harbor, were also available; however, we determined that these data were unreliable as a basis for E:\FR\FM\10NON1.SGM 10NON1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 218 / Thursday, November 10, 2016 / Notices asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES prediction of marine mammal abundance in the project location as the goal of the USACE surveys was to develop a snapshot of waterfowl and seabird location and abundance in the harbor, thus the surveys would have been designed and carried out differently if the goal had been to document marine mammal use of the harbor. Additionally, USACE surveys occurred only in winter; as Steller sea lion abundance is expected to vary significantly between the breeding and the non-breeding season in the project location, data that were collected only during the non-breeding season have limited utility in predicting year-round abundance. As such, we determined that the data from the surveys commissioned by COA in 2015–2016 represents the best available information on marine mammals in the project location. Description of Take Calculation The take calculations presented here rely on the best data currently available for marine mammal populations in the project location. Density data for marine mammal species in the project location is not available. Therefore the data collected from marine mammal surveys of Dutch Harbor in 2015–2016 represent the best available information on marine mammal populations in the project location, and this data was used to estimate take. As such, the zones that have been calculated to contain the areas ensonified to the Level A and Level B thresholds for pinnipeds have been calculated for mitigation and monitoring purposes and were not used in the calculation of take. See Table 8 for total estimated incidents of take. Estimates were based on the following assumptions: • All marine mammals estimated to be in areas ensonified by noise exceeding the Level B harassment threshold for impact and vibratory driving (as shown in Appendix B of the application) are assumed to be in the water 100 percent of the time. This assumption is based on the fact that there are no haulouts or rookeries within the area predicted to be ensonified to the Level B harassment threshold based on modeling. • Predicted exposures were based on total estimated total duration of pile driving/removal hours, which are estimated at 1,470 hours over the entire project. This estimate is based on a 245 day project time frame, an average work day of 12 hours, and a conservative estimate that up to approximately 50 percent of time (likely less on some days, based on the short pile driving durations provided in Table 5) during VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:46 Nov 09, 2016 Jkt 241001 those work days will include pile driving and removal activities (with the rest of the work day spent on non-pile driving activities which will not result in marine mammal take, such as installing templating and bracing, moving equipment, etc.). • Vibratory or impact driving could occur at any time during the ‘‘duration’’ and our approach to take calculation assumes a rate of occurrence that is the same for any of the calculated zones. • The hourly marine mammal observation rate recorded during marine mammal surveys of Dutch Harbor in 2015 is reflective of the hourly rate that will be observed during the construction project. • Takes were calculated based on estimated rates of occurrence for each species in the project area and this rate was assumed to be the same regardless of the size of the zone (for impact or vibratory driving/removal). • Activities that may be accomplished by either impact driving or down-the-hole drilling (i.e., fender support/pin piles, miscellaneous support piles, and temporary support piles) were assumed to be accomplished via impact driving. If any of these activities are ultimately accomplished via down-the-hole drilling instead of impact driving, this would not result in a change in the amount of overall effort (as they will be accomplished via downthe-hole drilling instead of, and not in addition to, impact driving). As take estimates are calculated based on effort and not marine mammal densities, this would not change the take estimate. Take estimates for Steller sea lions, harbor seals, humpback whales, and killer whales were calculated using the following series of steps: 1. The average hourly rate of animals observed during 2015–2016 marine mammal surveys of Dutch Harbor was calculated separately for both species (‘‘Observation Rate’’). Thus ‘‘Observation Rate’’ (OR) = Number of individuals observed/hours of observation; 2. The 95 percent confidence interval was calculated for the data set, and the upper bound of the 95 percent confidence interval was added to the Observation Rate to account for variability of the small data set (‘‘Exposure Rate’’). Thus ‘‘Exposure Rate’’ (XR) = mOR + CI95 (where mOR = average of hourly observation rates and CI95 = 95 percent confidence interval (normal distribution); 3. The total estimated hours of pile driving work over the entire project was calculated, as described above (‘‘Duration’’); Thus ‘‘Duration’’ = total number of work days (245) * average PO 00000 Frm 00021 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 78987 pile driving/removal hours per day (6) = total work hours for the project (1,470); and 4. The estimated number of exposures was calculated by multiplying the ‘‘Duration’’ by the estimated ‘‘Exposure Rate’’ for each species. Thus, estimated takes = Duration * XR. Please refer to Appendix G of the application for a more thorough description of the statistical analysis of the observation data from marine mammal surveys. Steller Sea Lion—Steller sea lion density data for the project area is not available. Steller sea lions occur yearround in the Aleutian Islands and within Unalaska Bay and Dutch Harbor. As described above, local abundance in the non-breeding season (winter months) is generally lower overall; data from surveys conducted by the COU in 2015–2016 revealed Steller sea lions were present in Dutch Harbor in most months that surveys occurred. We assume, based on marine mammal surveys of Dutch Harbor, and based on the best available information on seasonal abundance patterns of the species including over 20 years of NOAA National Marine Mammal Laboratory (NMML) survey data collected in Unalaska, that Steller sea lions will be regularly observed in the project area during most or all months of construction. As described above, all Steller sea lions in the project area at a given time are assumed to be in the water, thus any sea lion within the modeled area of ensonification exceeding the Level B harassment threshold would be recorded as taken by Level B harassment. Estimated take of Steller sea lions was calculated using the equations described above, as follows: mOR = 0.40 animals/hour CI95 = 0.23 animals/hour XR = 0.63 animals/hour Estimated exposures (Level B harassment) = 0.63 * 1,470 = 926 Thus we estimate that a total of 926 Steller sea lion takes will occur as a result of the proposed UMC dock construction project (Table 8). Harbor Seal—Harbor seal density data for the project location is not available. We assume, based on the best on the best available information, that harbor seals will be encountered in low numbers throughout the duration of the project. We relied on the best available information to estimate take of harbor seals, which in this case was survey data collected from the 2015–2016 marine mammal surveys of Dutch Harbor as described above. That survey data showed harbor seals are present in E:\FR\FM\10NON1.SGM 10NON1 78988 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 218 / Thursday, November 10, 2016 / Notices the harbor only occasionally (average monthly observation rate = 0.41). NMML surveys have not been performed in Dutch Harbor, but the most recent NMML surveys of Unalaska Bay confirm that harbor seals are present in the area in relatively small numbers, with the most recent haulout counts in Unalaska Bay (2008–2011) recording no more than 19 individuals at the three known haulouts there. NMML surveys have been limited to the months of July and August, so it is not known whether harbor seal abundance in the project area varies seasonally. As described above, all harbor seals in the project area at a given time are assumed to be in the water, thus any harbor seals within the modeled area of ensonification exceeding the Level B harassment threshold would be recorded as taken by Level B harassment. Estimated take of harbor seals was calculated using the equations described above, as follows: mOR = 0.16 animals/hour CI95 = 0.16 animals/hour XR = 0.32 animals/hour Estimated exposures (Level B harassment) = 0.32 * 1,470 hours = 470 Thus we estimate that a total of 470 harbor seal takes will occur as a result of the proposed UMC dock construction project (Table 8). Humpback Whale—Humpback whale density data for the project location is not available. We assume, based on the best on the best available information, that humpback whales will be encountered in low numbers throughout the duration of the project. We relied on the best available information to estimate take of humpback whales, which in this case was survey data collected from the 2015–2016 marine mammal surveys of Dutch Harbor as described above. That survey data showed humpback whales are present in the harbor only occasionally (average monthly observation rate = 0.06). Estimated take of humpback whales was calculated using the equations described above, as follows: mOR = 0.06 animals/hour CI95 = 0.06 animals/hour XR = 0.12 animals/hour Estimated exposures (Level B harassment) = 0.12 * 1,470 hours = 176 Thus we estimate that a total of 176 humpback whale takes will occur as a result of the proposed UMC dock construction project (Table 8). Killer Whale—Little is known about killer whales that inhabit waters near Unalaska (Parsons et al., 2013). While it is likely that killer whales may appear in Dutch Harbor, given their known range and the availability of food, the 2015–2016 surveys saw only a small number (2) of marine mammals that were suspected to be killer whales (average monthly observation rate for these unidentified whales = 0.02). There are differences in the physical appearance of transient and resident killer whales; however, in the surveys no distinction was notated. Killer whale density data for the project location is not available. We assume, based on the best on the best available information, that killer whales will be encountered in low numbers throughout the duration of the project. We relied on the best available information to estimate take of killer whales, which in this case was survey data collected from the 2015– 2016 marine mammal surveys of Dutch Harbor as described above. That survey data showed killer whales are potentially present in the harbor only very rarely. Estimated take of killer whales was calculated using the equations described above, as follows: mOR = 0.02 animals/hour CI95 = 0.04 animals/hour XR = 0.06 animals/hour Estimated exposures (Level B harassment) = 0.06 * 1,470 hours = 88 Thus we estimate that a total of 81 killer whale takes will occur as a result of the proposed UMC dock construction project (Table 8). We therefore propose to authorize the take, by Level B harassment only, of a total of 926 Steller sea lions (Western DPS), 470 harbor seals (Aleutian Islands Stock), 88 killer whales (Eastern North Pacific Alaska Resident and Gulf of Alaska, Aleutian Islands, and Bering Sea Transient Stocks), and 176 humpback whales (Central North Pacific Stock; Western North Pacific Stock) as a result of the proposed construction project. These take estimates are considered reasonable estimates of the number of marine mammal exposures to sound above the Level B harassment threshold that are likely to occur over the course of the project, and not the number of individual animals exposed. For instance, for pinnipeds that associate fishing boats in Dutch Harbor with reliable sources of food, there will almost certainly be some overlap in individuals present day-to-day depending on the number of vessels entering the harbor, however each instance of exposure for these individuals will be recorded as a separate, additional take. Moreover, because we anticipate that marine mammal observers will typically be unable to determine from field observations whether the same or different individuals are being exposed over the course of a workday, each observation of a marine mammal will be recorded as a new take, although an individual theoretically would only be considered as taken once in a given day. TABLE 8—NUMBER OF POTENTIAL MARINE MAMMAL INCIDENTAL TAKES PROPOSED FOR AUTHORIZATION, AND PERCENTAGE OF STOCK ABUNDANCE, AS A RESULT OF THE PROPOSED PROJECT Underwater1 Percentage of stock abundance (%) Species asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Level A Humpback whale ......................................................................................................................... Killer whale .................................................................................................................................. Steller sea lion ............................................................................................................................. Harbor seal .................................................................................................................................. 1 We Level B 0 0 0 0 assume, for reasons described earlier, that no takes would occur as a result of airborne noise. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:46 Nov 09, 2016 Jkt 241001 PO 00000 Frm 00022 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 E:\FR\FM\10NON1.SGM 10NON1 176 88 926 470 1.6 3.0 1.9 8.1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 218 / Thursday, November 10, 2016 / Notices asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES 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., populationlevel effects). An estimate of the number of Level B harassment takes alone is not enough information on which to base an impact determination. In addition to considering estimates of the number of marine mammals that might be ‘‘taken’’ through behavioral harassment, we consider other factors, such as the likely nature of any responses (e.g., intensity, duration), the context of any responses (e.g., critical reproductive time or location, migration), as well as the number and nature of estimated Level A harassment takes, the number of estimated mortalities, and effects on habitat. To avoid repetition, the discussion of our analyses applies generally to all the species listed in Table 8, given that the anticipated effects of this pile driving project on marine mammals are expected to be relatively similar in nature. Where there are species-specific factors that have been considered, they are identified below. Pile driving activities associated with the proposed dock 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 B harassment (behavioral disturbance) only, 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 and removal are under way. The takes from Level B harassment will be due to potential behavioral disturbance and TTS. No serious injury or mortality of marine mammals would be anticipated as a result of vibratory and impact pile driving. Except when operated at long continuous duration (not the case here) in the presence of marine mammals that do not move away, vibratory hammers do not have significant potential to cause 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 VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:46 Nov 09, 2016 Jkt 241001 higher peak levels than vibratory driving and much sharper rise time to reach those peaks. The potential for injury that may otherwise result from exposure to noise associated with impact pile driving will effectively be minimized through the implementation of the planned mitigation measures. These measures include: the implementation of an exclusion (shutdown) zone, which is expected to eliminate the likelihood of marine mammal exposure to noise at received levels that could result in injury; and the use of ‘‘soft start’’ before pile driving, which is expected to provide marine mammals near or within the zone of potential injury with sufficient time to vacate the area. We believe the required mitigation measures, which have been successfully implemented in similar pile driving projects, will minimize the possibility of injury that may otherwise exist as a result of impact pile driving. The proposed activities are localized and of relatively short duration. The entire project area is limited to the UMC Dock area and its immediate surroundings. These localized and short-term noise exposures may cause short-term behavioral modifications in harbor seals, Steller sea lions, killer whales, and humpback whales. Moreover, the proposed mitigation and monitoring measures, including injury shutdowns, soft start techniques, and multiple MMOs monitoring the behavioral and injury zones for marine mammal presence, are expected to reduce the likelihood of injury and behavior exposures. Additionally, no critical habitat for marine mammals are known to be within the ensonification areas of the proposed action area during the construction time frame. No pinniped rookeries or haul-outs are present within the project area The project also is not expected to have significant adverse effects on affected marine mammals’ habitat. The project activities would not modify existing marine mammal habitat for a significant amount of time. The activities may cause some fish to leave the area of disturbance, thus temporarily impacting marine mammals’ foraging opportunities in a limited portion of the foraging range; but, because of the short duration of the activities and the relatively small area of the habitat that may be affected, the impacts to marine mammal habitat are not expected to cause significant or long-term negative consequences. Effects on individuals that are taken by Level B harassment, on the basis of reports in the literature as well as monitoring from similar pile driving PO 00000 Frm 00023 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 78989 projects that have received incidental take authorizations from NMFS, will likely be limited to reactions such as increased swimming speeds, increased surfacing time, or decreased foraging. Most likely, individuals will simply move away from the sound source and be temporarily displaced from the area of pile driving (though even this reaction has been observed primarily in association with impact pile driving). In response to vibratory driving, harbor seals have been observed to orient towards and sometimes move towards the sound. Repeated exposures of individuals to levels of sound that may cause Level B harassment are unlikely to result in hearing impairment or to significantly disrupt 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. Take of marine mammal species or stocks and their habitat 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. While we are not aware of comparable construction projects in the project location, the pile driving activities analyzed here are similar to other inwater construction activities that have received incidental harassment authorizations previously, including a Unisea dock construction project in neighboring Iliuliuk Harbor, and at Naval Base Kitsap Bangor in Hood Canal, Washington, and at the Port of Friday Harbor in the San Juan Islands, which have occurred with no reported injuries or mortalities to marine mammals, and no known long-term adverse consequences to marine mammals from behavioral harassment. In summary, this negligible impact analysis is founded on the following factors: (1) The possibility of injury, 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 or potential TTS; (3) the absence of any major rookeries and only a few isolated haulout areas near the project site; (4) the absence of any other known areas or features of special significance for foraging or reproduction within the project area; and (5) the presumed efficacy of planned mitigation measures in reducing the effects of the specified activity to the level of least practicable E:\FR\FM\10NON1.SGM 10NON1 78990 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 218 / Thursday, November 10, 2016 / Notices asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES impact. In combination, we believe that these factors, as well as the available body of evidence from other similar activities, demonstrate that the potential effects of the specified activity will have only short-term effects on individual animals. 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 proposed monitoring and mitigation measures, we preliminarily find that the total marine mammal take from UMC dock construction activities in Dutch Harbor will have a negligible impact on the affected marine mammal species or stocks. Small Numbers Analysis The numbers of animals authorized to be taken would be considered small relative to the relevant stocks or populations (1.9 percent for Steller sea lions, 8.1 percent for harbor seals, 1.6 percent for humpback whales, and 3.0 percent for killer whales) even if each estimated taking occurred to a new individual. However, the likelihood that each take would occur to a new individual is extremely low. Further, these takes are likely to occur only within some small portion of the overall regional stock. For example, of the estimated 49,497 western DPS Steller sea lions throughout Alaska, there are probably no more than 300 individuals with site fidelity to the three haulouts located nearest to the project location, based on over twenty years of NMML survey data (see ‘‘Description of Marine Mammals in the Area of the Specified Activity’’ above). For harbor seals, NMML survey data suggest there are likely no more than 60 individuals that use the three haulouts nearest to the project location (the only haulouts in Unalaska Bay). Thus the estimate of take is an estimate of the number of anticipated exposures, rather than an estimate of the number of individuals that will be taken, as we expect the majority of exposures would be repeat exposures that would accrue to the same individuals. As such, the authorized takes would represent a much smaller number of individuals in relation to total stock sizes. 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 preliminarily find that small numbers of VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:46 Nov 09, 2016 Jkt 241001 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 Subsistence hunting and fishing is an important part of the history and culture of Unalaska Island. However, the number of Steller sea lions and harbor seals harvested in Unalaska decreased from 1994 through 2008; in 2008, the last year for which data is available, there were no harbor seals reported as harvested for subsistence use and only three Steller sea lions reported (Wolfe et al., 2009). Data on pinnipeds hunted for subsistence use in Unalaska has not been collected since 2008. For a summary of data on pinniped harvests in Unalaska from 1994–2008, see Section 8 of the application. Subsistence hunting for humpback whales and killer whales does not occur in Unalaska. Aside from the apparently decreasing rate of subsistence hunting in Unalaska, Dutch Harbor is not likely to be used for subsistence hunting or fishing due to its industrial nature, with several dock facilities located along the shoreline of the harbor. In addition, the proposed construction project is likely to result only in short-term, temporary impacts to pinnipeds in the form of possible behavior changes, and is not expected to result in the injury or death of any marine mammal. As such, the proposed project is not likely to adversely impact the availability of any marine mammal species or stocks that may otherwise be used for subsistence purposes. Endangered Species Act (ESA) Threatened or endangered marine mammal species with confirmed occurrence in the project area include the Western North Pacific DPS and Mexico DPS of humpback whale, and the Western DPS Steller sea lion. The project area occurs within critical habitat for three major Steller sea lion haul-outs and one rookery. The three haul-outs (Old Man Rocks, Unalaska/ Cape Sedanka, and Akutan/Reef-Lava) are located between approximately 15 and 19 nautical miles from the project area. The closest rookery is Akutan/ Cape Morgan, which is about 19 nautical miles from the project area. The NMFS Permits and Conservation Division has initiated consultation with the NMFS Alaska Regional Office Protected Resources Division under section 7 of the ESA on the issuance of an IHA to the COU under section 101(a)(5)(D) of the MMPA for this activity. Consultation will be concluded prior to a determination on the issuance of an IHA. PO 00000 Frm 00024 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Proposed Authorization As a result of these preliminary determinations, we propose to issue an IHA to the COU, to conduct the described dock construction activities in Dutch Harbor, from March 1, 2016 through February 28, 2017, provided the previously mentioned mitigation, monitoring, and reporting requirements are incorporated. The proposed IHA language is provided next. This section contains a draft of the IHA itself. The wording contained in this section is proposed for inclusion in the IHA (if issued). 1. This Incidental Harassment Authorization (IHA) is valid from March 1, 2016 through February 28, 2017. 2. This IHA is valid only for pile driving and removal activities associated with construction of the UMC dock in Dutch Harbor, Unalaska, Alaska. 3. General Conditions (a) A copy of this IHA must be in the possession of the COU, its designees, and work crew personnel operating under the authority of this IHA. (b) The species authorized for taking are the harbor seal (Phoca vitulina), Steller sea lion (Eumetopias jubatus), humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae), and killer whale (Orcinus orca). (c) The taking, by Level B harassment only, is limited to the species listed in condition 3(b). See Table 8 in the proposed IHA authorization for numbers of take authorized. (d) The taking by injury (Level A harassment), serious injury, or death of any of the species listed in condition 3(b) of the Authorization or any taking of any other species of marine mammal is prohibited and may result in the modification, suspension, or revocation of this IHA. (e) The COU shall conduct briefings between construction supervisors and crews, marine mammal monitoring team, and the COU personnel 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. 4. Mitigation Measures The holder of this Authorization is required to implement the following mitigation measures: (a) For all pile driving activities, the COU shall establish an exclusion (shutdown) zone intended to contain the area in which Level A harassment thresholds are exceeded. (b) The established shutdown zones corresponding to the Level A E:\FR\FM\10NON1.SGM 10NON1 asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 218 / Thursday, November 10, 2016 / Notices harassment zones for each activity are as follows: i. For all vibratory pile driving activities, a 10-m radius shutdown zone shall be employed ii. During impact pile driving, a shutdown zone shall be determined by the number of piles to be driven that day as follows: If the maximum of five piles are to be driven that day, shutdown during the first driven pile shall occur if a marine mammal enters the ‘5-pile’ radius. After the first pile is driven, if no marine mammals have been observed within the ‘5-pile’radius, the ‘4-pile’ radius shall become the shutdown radius. This pattern shall continue unless an animal is observed within the most recent shutdown radius, at which time that shutdown radius shall remain in effect for the rest of the workday. Shutdown radii for each species, depending on number of piles driven, are as follows: • 5-pile radius: humpback whale, 185 m; killer whale, 10 m; harbor seal, 100 m; Steller sea lion, 10 m • 4-pile radius: humpback whale, 160 m; killer whale, 10 m; harbor seal, 85 m; Steller sea lion, 10 m • 3-pile radius: humpback whale, 135 m; killer whale, 10 m; harbor seal, 70 m; Steller sea lion, 10 m • 2-pile radius: humpback whale, 100 m; killer whale, 10 m; harbor seal, 55 m; Steller sea lion, 10 m • 1-pile radius: humpback whale, 65 m; killer whale, 10 m; harbor seal, 35 m; Steller sea lion, 10 m (c) A shutdown shall occur prior to a marine mammal entering a shutdown zone appropriate for that species and the concurrent work activity. Activity shall cease until the observer is confident that the animal is clear of the shutdown zone: The animal shall be considered clear if: • It has been observed leaving the shutdown zone; or • It has not been seen in the shutdown zone for 30 minutes for cetaceans and 15 minutes for pinnipeds. (d) If shutdown lasts for more than 30 minutes, pre-activity monitoring (see below) must recommence. (e) Prior to the start of daily in-water construction activity, or whenever a break in pile driving of 30 minutes or longer occurs, the observer shall observe the shutdown and monitoring zones for a period of 30 minutes. The shutdown zone shall be cleared when a marine mammal has not been observed within zone for that 30-minute period. If a marine mammal is observed within the shutdown zone, a soft-start (described below) cannot proceed until the marine mammal has left the zone or has not VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:46 Nov 09, 2016 Jkt 241001 been observed for 15 minutes (for pinnipeds) and 30 minutes (for cetaceans). If the Level B harassment zone has been observed for 30 minutes and non-permitted species are not present within the zone, soft start procedures can commence and work can continue even if visibility becomes impaired within the Level B zone. If the Level B zone is not visible while work continues, exposures shall be recorded at the estimated exposure rate for each permitted species. If work ceases for more than 30 minutes, the pre-activity monitoring of both zones must recommence (f) If the exclusion zone is obscured by fog or poor lighting conditions, pile driving shall not be initiated until the exclusion zone is clearly visible. Should such conditions arise while impact driving is underway, the activity would be halted. (g) Soft start procedures shall be used prior to pile removal, pile installation, and in-water fill placement to allow marine mammals to leave the area prior to exposure to maximum noise levels. For vibratory hammers, the soft start technique shall initiate noise from the hammer for short periods at a reduced energy level, followed by a brief waiting period and repeating the procedure two additional times. For impact hammers, the soft start technique shall initiate several strikes at a reduced energy level, followed by a brief waiting period. This procedure shall also be repeated two additional times. Equipment used for fill placement shall be idled near the waterside edge of the fill area for 15 minutes prior to performing in-water fill placement (h) During in-water or over-water construction activities having the potential to affect marine mammals, but not involving a pile driver, a shutdown zone of 10 m shall be monitored to ensure that marine mammals are not endangered by physical interaction with construction equipment. These activities could include, but are not limited to, the positioning of the pile on the substrate via a crane (‘‘stabbing’’ the pile) or the removal of the pile from the water column/substrate via a crane (‘‘deadpull’’), or the slinging of construction materials via crane. (i) To minimize impacts from vessels interactions with marine mammals, the crews aboard project vessels shall follow NMFS’s marine mammal viewing guidelines and regulations as practicable. (https:// alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/ protectedresources/mmv/guide.htm). PO 00000 Frm 00025 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 78991 5. Monitoring The holder of this Authorization is required to conduct marine mammal monitoring during pile driving activity. The COU shall collect sighting data and shall record behavioral responses to construction activities for marine mammal species observed in the project location during the period of activity. All marine mammal observers (MMOs) shall be trained in marine mammal identification and behaviors and are required to have no other constructionrelated tasks while conducting monitoring. The COU shall monitor the exclusion zones (shutdown zones) and Level B harassment zones before, during, and after pile driving, with observers located at the best practicable vantage points. The Marine Mammal Monitoring Plan shall implement the following procedures for pile driving: (a) During observation periods, observers shall continuously scan the area for marine mammals using binoculars and the naked eye. Observers shall work shifts of a maximum of four consecutive hours followed by an observer rotation or a 1-hour break and shall work no more than 12 hours in any 24-hour period. Observers shall collect data including, but not limited to, environmental conditions (e.g., sea state, precipitation, glare, etc.), marine mammal sightings (e.g., species, numbers, location, behavior, responses to construction activity, etc.), construction activity at the time of sighting, and number of marine mammal exposures. Observers shall conduct observations, meet training requirements, fill out data forms, and report findings in accordance with this IHA (b) During all observation periods, observers shall use binoculars and the naked eye to search continuously for marine mammals. (c) If marine mammals are observed within the monitoring zone (ZOI—500 m during impact pile driving; 3,300 m during vibratory pile driving) the sighting shall be documented as a potential Level B take and the animal behaviors shall be documented. If the number of marine mammals exposed to Level B harassment approaches the number of takes allowed by the IHA, the COU shall notify NMFS and seek further consultation. If any marine mammal species are encountered that are not authorized by the IHA and are likely to be exposed to sound pressure levels greater than or equal to the Level B harassment thresholds, then the COU shall shut down in-water activity to avoid take of those species. E:\FR\FM\10NON1.SGM 10NON1 78992 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 218 / Thursday, November 10, 2016 / Notices asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES (d) Observers shall implement mitigation measures including monitoring of the proposed shutdown and monitoring zones, clearing of the zones, and shutdown procedures. They shall be in continuous contact with the construction personnel via two-way radio. A cellular phone shall be use as back-up communications and for safety purposes. (e) Individuals implementing the monitoring protocol shall assess its effectiveness using an adaptive approach. MMOs shall use their best professional judgment throughout implementation and seek improvements to these methods when deemed appropriate. Any modifications to protocol shall be coordinated between NMFS and the COU. (f) The following information shall be collected on marine mammal sighting forms: • Date and time that permitted construction activity begins or ends; • Weather parameters (e.g. percent cloud cover, percent glare, visibility) and Beaufort sea state. • Species, numbers, and, if possible, sex and age class of observed marine mammals; • Construction activities occurring during each sighting; • Marine mammal behavior patterns observed, including bearing and direction of travel; • Specific focus should be paid to behavioral reactions just prior to, or during, soft-start and shutdown procedures; • Location of marine mammal, distance from observer to the marine mammal, and distance from pile driving activities to marine mammals; • Record of whether an observation required the implementation of mitigation measures, including shutdown procedures and the duration of each shutdown; and • Other human activity in the area. Record the hull numbers of fishing vessels if possible. 6. Reporting The holder of this Authorization is required to: (a) Submit a draft report within 90 calendar days of the completion of the activity, The report shall include information on marine mammal observations pre-activity, duringactivity, and post-activity during pile driving days, and shall provide descriptions of any behavioral responses to construction activities by marine mammals and a complete description of any mitigation shutdowns and results of those actions, as well as an estimate of total take based on the number of VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:46 Nov 09, 2016 Jkt 241001 marine mammals observed during the course of construction. A final report shall be submitted within 30 days following resolution of comments from NMFS on the draft report. The report shall include at a minimum: • General data: Æ Date and time of activity. Æ Water conditions (e.g., sea-state). Æ Weather conditions (e.g., percent cover, percent glare, visibility). Æ Date and time of activity. Æ Water conditions (e.g., sea-state). Æ Weather conditions (e.g., percent cover, percent glare, visibility). • Specific pile driving data: Æ Description of the pile driving activity being conducted (pile locations, pile size and type), and times (onset and completion) when pile driving occurs. Æ The construction contractor and/or marine mammal monitoring staff will coordinate to ensure that pile driving times and strike counts are accurately recorded. The duration of soft start procedures should be noted as separate from the full power driving duration. Æ Description of in-water construction activity not involving pile driving (location, type of activity, onset and completion times) • Pre-activity observational surveyspecific data: Æ Date and time survey is initiated and terminated. Æ Description of any observable marine mammals and their behavior in the immediate area during monitoring. Æ Times when pile driving or other in-water construction is delayed due to presence of marine mammals within shutdown zones. • During-activity observational survey-specific data: Æ Description of any observable marine mammal behavior within monitoring zones or in the immediate area surrounding the monitoring zones, including the following: D Distance from animal to pile driving sound source. D Reason why/why not shutdown implemented. D If a shutdown was implemented, behavioral reactions noted and if they occurred before or after implementation of the shutdown. D If a shutdown was implemented, the distance from animal to sound source at the time of the shutdown. D Behavioral reactions noted during soft starts and if they occurred before or after implementation of the soft start. D Distance to the animal from the sound source during soft start. • Post-activity observational surveyspecific data: Æ Results, which include the detections and behavioral reactions of PO 00000 Frm 00026 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 marine mammals, the species and numbers observed, sighting rates and distances, Æ Refined exposure estimate based on the number of marine mammals observed. This may be reported as a rate of take (number of marine mammals per hour or per day), or using some other appropriate metric. (b) Reporting injured or dead marine mammals: i. In the unanticipated event that the specified activity clearly causes the take of a marine mammal in a manner not authorized by the IHA (if issued), such as a Level A harassment, or a take of a marine mammal species other than those proposed for authorization, the COU would immediately cease the specified activities and immediately report the incident to Jolie Harrison (Jolie.Harrison@noaa.gov), Chief of the Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, and Aleria Jensen (Aleria.Jensen@ noaa.gov), Alaska Stranding Coordinator. The report would include the following information: • Time, date, and location (latitude/ longitude) of the incident; • Description of the incident; • Status of all sound source use in the 24 hours preceding the incident; • Environmental conditions (e.g., wind speed and direction, Beaufort sea state, cloud cover, and visibility); • Description of all marine mammal observations in the 24 hours preceding the incident; • Species identification or description of the animal(s) involved; • Fate of the animal(s); and • Photographs or video footage of the animal(s) (if equipment is available). Activities would not resume until NMFS is able to review the circumstances of the prohibited take. NMFS would work with the COU to determine what is necessary to minimize the likelihood of further prohibited take and ensure MMPA compliance. The COU would not be able to resume their activities until notified by NMFS via letter, email, or telephone. ii. In the event that the COU discovers an injured or dead marine mammal, and determines that the cause of the injury or death is unknown and the death is relatively recent (i.e., in less than a moderate state of decomposition), the COU would immediately report the incident to Jolie Harrison (Jolie.Harrison@noaa.gov), Chief of the Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, and Aleria Jensen (Aleria.Jensen@ noaa.gov), Alaska Stranding Coordinator. E:\FR\FM\10NON1.SGM 10NON1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 218 / Thursday, November 10, 2016 / Notices The report would include the same information identified in the paragraph above. Construction related activities would be able to continue while NMFS reviews the circumstances of the incident. NMFS would work with the COU to determine whether modifications in the activities are appropriate. iii. In the event that the COU discovers an injured or dead marine mammal, and determines that the injury or death is not associated with or related to the activities authorized in the IHA (e.g., previously wounded animal, carcass with moderate to advanced decomposition, or scavenger damage), the COU would report the incident to Jolie Harrison (Jolie.Harrison@ noaa.gov), Chief of the Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, and Aleria Jensen (Aleria.Jensen@noaa.gov), Alaska Stranding Coordinator, within 24 hours of the discovery. The COU would provide photographs or video footage (if available) or other documentation of the stranded animal sighting to NMFS and the Marine Mammal Stranding Network. The COU can continue its operations under such a case. 7. This Authorization may be modified, suspended or withdrawn if the holder fails to abide by the conditions prescribed herein, or if NMFS determines that the authorized taking is having more than a negligible impact on the species or stock of affected marine mammals. Request for Public Comments We request comment on our analysis, the draft authorization, and any other aspect of this Notice of Proposed IHA for the COU’s dock construction activities. Please include with your comments any supporting data or literature citations to help inform our final decision on the COU’s request for an MMPA authorization. Dated: November 4, 2016. Donna S. Wieting Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service. asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES [FR Doc. 2016–27119 Filed 11–9–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:46 Nov 09, 2016 Jkt 241001 DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648–XF006 Taking and Importing Marine Mammals; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to Commercial Fireworks Displays at the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, California National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice; receipt of application for letter of authorization; request for comments and information. AGENCY: NMFS has received a request from the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (MBNMS or Sanctuary) for authorization to take small numbers of marine mammals incidental to professional fireworks displays permitted within the Sanctuary in California waters, over the course of five years, from July 4, 2017 through July 3, 2022. Pursuant to regulations implementing the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), NMFS is announcing receipt of MBNMS’s request for the development and implementation of regulations governing the incidental taking of marine mammals and inviting information, suggestions, and comments on MBNMS’s application and request. DATES: Comments and information must be received no later than December 12, 2016. ADDRESSES: Comments on the application should be addressed to Jolie Harrison, Chief, Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service. Physical comments should be sent to 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910 and electronic comments should be sent to ITP.Daly@noaa.gov. Instructions: NMFS is not responsible for comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period. Comments received electronically, including all attachments, must not exceed a 25megabyte file size. Attachments to electronic comments will be accepted in Microsoft Word or Excel or Adobe PDF file formats only. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted online at www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/ incidental/construction.htm without change. All personal identifying SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00027 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 78993 information (e.g., name, address) voluntarily submitted by the commenter may be publicly accessible. Do not submit confidential business information or otherwise sensitive or protected information. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jaclyn Daly, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, (301) 427–8401. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Availability A copy of MBNMS’s application may be obtained by writing to the address specified above (see ADDRESSES), telephoning the contact listed above (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT), or visiting the internet at: http:// www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/ incidental.htm#applications. Background Sections 101(a)(5)(A) and (D) of the MMPA (16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.) direct the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary) to allow, upon request, the incidental, but not intentional taking of small numbers of marine mammals by U.S. citizens who engage in a specified activity (other than commercial fishing) if certain findings are made and regulations are issued or, if the taking is limited to harassment, notice of a proposed authorization is provided to the public for review. Authorization for incidental takings may be granted if NMFS finds that the taking will have a negligible impact on the species or stock(s) and will not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of the species or stock(s) for certain subsistence uses, and if the permissible methods of taking and requirements pertaining to the mitigation, monitoring and reporting of such taking are set forth. NMFS has defined ‘‘negligible impact’’ in 50 CFR 216.103 as ‘‘an impact resulting from the specified activity that cannot be reasonably expected to, and is not reasonably likely to, adversely affect the species or stock through effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival.’’ Except with respect to certain activities not pertinent here, the MMPA defines ‘‘harassment’’ as: ‘‘any act of pursuit, torment, or annoyance which (i) has the potential to injure a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild (Level A harassment); or (ii) has the potential to disturb a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild by causing disruption of behavioral patterns, including, but not limited to, migration, breathing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or sheltering (Level B harassment).’’ E:\FR\FM\10NON1.SGM 10NON1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 218 (Thursday, November 10, 2016)]
[Notices]
[Pages 78969-78993]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-27119]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

RIN 0648-XE988


Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; 
Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to a Dock Replacement Project in 
Unalaska, Alaska

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

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

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SUMMARY: NMFS has received a request from the City of Unalaska (COU), 
for authorization to take marine mammals incidental to construction 
activities as part of a dock expansion project at the

[[Page 78970]]

existing Unalaska Marine Center (UMC) Dock in Unalaska, Alaska. 
Pursuant to the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), NMFS is requesting 
comments on its proposal to issue an incidental harassment 
authorization (IHA) to the COU to incidentally take marine mammals, by 
Level B Harassment only, during the specified activity.

DATES: Comments and information must be received no later than December 
12, 2016.

ADDRESSES: Comments on the COU's IHA application (application) should 
be addressed to Jolie Harrison, Chief, Permits and Conservation 
Division, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries 
Service. Physical comments should be sent to 1315 East-West Highway, 
Silver Spring, MD 20910 and electronic comments should be sent to 
ITP.Fiorentino@noaa.gov.
    Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other 
address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, 
may not be considered by NMFS. Comments received electronically, 
including all attachments, must not exceed a 25-megabyte file size. 
Attachments to electronic comments will be accepted in Microsoft Word 
or Excel or Adobe PDF file formats only. All comments received are a 
part of the public record and will generally be posted for public 
viewing on the Internet at www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental/construction.htm without change. All personal identifying information 
(e.g., name, address), confidential business information, or otherwise 
sensitive information submitted voluntarily by the sender will be 
publicly accessible.

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

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Availability

    An electronic copy of the COA'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: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental/construction.htm. In case of problems accessing 
these documents, please call the contact listed under FOR FURTHER 
INFORMATION CONTACT.

National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)

    NMFS is preparing an Environmental Assessment (EA) for the proposed 
issuance of an IHA, pursuant to NEPA, to determine whether or not this 
proposed activity may have significant direct, indirect and cumulative 
effects on the human environment. This analysis will be completed prior 
to the issuance or denial of this proposed IHA. We will review all 
comments submitted in response to this notice as we complete the NEPA 
process, prior to a final decision on the incidental take authorization 
request. The EA will be posted at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental/construction.htm when it is finalized.

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.
    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 these prescriptions 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 
(Level A harassment); or (ii) has the potential to disturb a marine 
mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild by causing disruption of 
behavioral patterns, including, but not limited to, migration, 
breathing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or sheltering (Level B 
harassment).''

Summary of Request

    On March 22, 2016, we received a request from the COU for 
authorization to take marine mammals incidental to pile driving and 
pile removal associated with construction activities that would expand 
the existing UMC Dock in Dutch Harbor in the City of Unalaska, on 
Amaknak Island, Alaska. The COU submitted a revised version of the 
request on July 30, 2016, which was deemed adequate and complete. In 
August 2016, NMFS released its Technical Guidance for Assessing the 
Effects of Anthropogenic Sound on Marine Mammal Hearing (the Guidance, 
available at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/acoustics/guidelines.htm) 
which provides technical guidance for assessing the effects of 
anthropogenic sound on the hearing of marine mammal species under the 
jurisdiction of NMFS. The Guidance establishes new thresholds for 
predicting auditory injury, which equates to Level A harassment under 
the MMPA. The COA was able to update relevant portions of their 
application to incorporate re-calculated Level A harassment zones for 
vibratory and impact pile driving activities based on the updated 
acoustic thresholds described in the Guidance. The results of those 
calculations (i.e., revised distances to Level A harassment thresholds) 
were provided to NMFS by the COU in September 2016 and have been 
included in this proposed IHA.
    The COU proposes to demolish portions of the existing UMC dock and 
install a new dock between March 1, 2017 and November 1, 2017. The use 
of both vibratory and impact pile driving during pile removal and 
installation is expected to produce underwater sound at levels that 
have the potential to result in behavioral harassment of marine 
mammals. Species with the expected potential to be present during all 
or a portion of the in-water work window include Steller sea lion 
(Eumetopias jubatus), harbor seal (Phoca vitulina), humpback whale 
(Megaptera novaeangliae), and killer whale (Orcinus orca).

[[Page 78971]]

Description of the Specified Activity

Overview

    In order to meet the increasing needs of the international shipping 
industry and increase vessel berthing capacity, a substantial upgrade 
of aging UMC facilities is necessary. The proposed project will replace 
the existing pile supported docks located at UMC Dock Positions III and 
IV with a modern high-capacity sheet pile bulkhead dock that extends 
from the existing bulkhead dock at Position V to the U.S. Coast Guard 
(USCG) Dock.
    COU port operations saw numerous factory trawler offloads occurring 
at Dock Positions III and IV in 2013. These operations require more 
length at the face of the dock and greater uplands area than is 
available with the current infrastructure. The existing pile-supported 
docks are aging structures in shallower water that no longer meet the 
needs of the Port and require increasing levels of maintenance and 
monitoring costs. Both docks are also severely constrained by the 
limited uplands area available for offloading and loading operations.
    Dock Position III is a timber pile-supported dock with 
approximately 160 feet of dock face that was constructed in the 1960's 
by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). This dock has been used 
for the Alaska Marine Highway System, vessel moorage, and factory 
trawler offloads. However, use of this structure is severely limited 
due to the low load-carrying capacity of the dock. The bullrails, deck 
surface, and bollards have deteriorated with age and the entire 
structure is in need of replacement or extensive renovations.
    Dock Position IV is a steel-pile-supported, concrete deck structure 
with an approximate length of 200 feet that was constructed in the 
1980s by the State of Alaska. Similar to Dock Position III, use of this 
dock is limited due to the low load capacity of the structure. Erosion 
has damaged an abutment underneath the dock, which is very difficult to 
repair and has the potential for further damage to adjacent portions of 
the dock.
    The dock face of Dock Positions III and IV does not align with the 
larger sections of the UMC facility, significantly limiting overall 
usable moorage space. The proposed project aligns the new dock 
structures with the adjacent facilities, eliminates two angle breaks, 
provides substantially more usable moorage, and provides much deeper 
water at the dock face. The sheet pile dock will encompass the area 
between Dock Position V and the adjacent USCG Dock, providing maximum 
use of the available berthing area and upland storage space. The new 
dock alignment will allow larger, deeper vessels as well as 
simultaneous use of the other UMC facilities.

Dates and Duration

    In-water and over-water construction of Phase 1 (all sheet pile 
installation, all in-water pipe pile installation, most upland pipe 
pile installation, and fill placement) is planned to occur between 
approximately March 1, 2017 and November 1, 2017. Phase 2 is planned to 
occur between approximately May 1, 2018 and October 1, 2018. Some of 
the upland pipe pile for utilities may be driven in upland fill away 
from the dock face during Phase 2. The COU proposes to use the 
following general construction sequence, subject to adjustment by the 
construction contractor's means and methods:
    Construction Phase 1 (2017):
     Mobilization of equipment and demolition of the existing 
dock Positions III and IV and removal of any existing riprap/
obstructions (March-May 2017).
     Development of the quarry for materials.
     Installation (and later removal) of temporary support 
piles for contractor's template structures and barge support.
     Installation of the new sheet pile bulkhead dock. This 
includes driving sheet piles, placing fill within the cell to grade, 
and compaction of fill
     Installation of fender and platform support piles in the 
water adjacent to the dock and miscellaneous support piles within the 
completed sheet pile cells.
     Installation of pre-assembled fender systems (energy 
absorbers, sleeve piles, steel framing, and fender panels).
     Installation of the crane support piles
     Installation of temporary utilities and gravel surface to 
provide functional dock capability for the 2017/2018 season.
    Construction Phase 2 (2018):
     Installation of concrete grade beam for crane rails, 
utility vaults, and dock surfacing.
     Installation of electrical, sewer, fuel, water, and storm 
drainage utilities.
    Pile removal and pile driving is expected to occur between March 1 
and November 1, 2017. In the summer months (April-September), 12-hour 
workdays in extended daylight will likely be used. In winter months 
(October-March), shorter 8-hour to 10-hour workdays in available 
daylight will likely be achievable. Work windows may be extended or 
shortened if or when electrical lighting is used. The daily 
construction window for pile driving or removal will begin no sooner 
than 30 minutes after sunrise to allow for initial marine mammal 
monitoring to take place, and will end 30 minutes before sunset to 
allow for pre-activity monitoring. It is assumed that sound associated 
with the pile driving and removal activities will be put into the water 
approximately 50 percent of the total estimated project duration of 245 
days (2,940 hours for 12-hour workdays). The remaining 50 percent of 
the project duration will be spent on activities that provide distinct 
periods without noise from pile driving or drilling such as installing 
templates and braces, moving equipment, threading sheet piles, pulling 
piles (without vibration), etc. During this time, a much smaller area 
will be monitored to ensure that animals are not injured by equipment 
or materials.

Specific Geographic Region

    The UMC Dock is located in Dutch Harbor in the City of Unalaska, on 
Amaknak Island, Alaska (see Figure 5 of the application). Dutch Harbor 
is separated from the adjacent Iliuliuk Bay by a spit. The dock is 
located in Section 35, Township 72 South, Range 118 West, of the Seward 
Meridian. Tidelands in this vicinity are owned by the COU. Some of the 
adjacent uplands are owned by the COU and some are leased by the COU 
from Ounalashka Corporation. Adjacent infrastructure includes Ballyhoo 
Road and the Latitude 54 Building in which the COU Department of Ports 
and Harbors offices and facilities are currently housed. Neighboring 
docks include the USCG Dock and the existing UMC OCSP dock positions. 
Other marine facilities within Dutch Harbor include Delta Western Fuel, 
the Resolve-Magone Dock, North Pacific Fuel, the Kloosterboer Dock, and 
the COU's Light Cargo Dock and Spit Dock facilities, as shown in Figure 
5 of the application. APL Limited is located within Iliuliuk Bay, and 
the entrance channel to Iliuliuk Harbor is south of Dutch Harbor.

Detailed Description of Activities

    The COU proposes to install an OPEN CELL SHEET PILETM 
(OCSP) dock at UMC Dock Position III and IV, replacing the existing 
pile-supported structure and providing a smooth transition between the 
UMC facility and the USCG dock. The OCSP dock will be constructed of 
PS31 flat sheet piles (web thickness of 0.5 inches and width between 
interlocks of 19.69 inches). In order to replace the existing timber 
pile-supported dock, the dock construction

[[Page 78972]]

would include installation of the following:
     Approximately forty (40) 30-inch diameter steel fender and 
transition platform support piles;
     Approximately thirty (30) 30-inch diameter miscellaneous 
steel support piles
     Approximately one hundred fifty (150) 30-inch diameter 
steel crane rail support piles (approximately 25 of which are above the 
high tide line (HTL));
     Approximately two hundred (150) 18-inch steel piles (H or 
round) used for temporary support of the sheet pile during construction 
(to be removed prior to completion);
     Approximately 1,800 PS31 flat sheet piles (approximately 
100 of which are above the high tide line (HTL)); and
     Placement of approximately 110,000 cubic yards of clean 
fill.
    The anticipated project quantities are shown in Table 1.
    Concurrent with the dock construction, a material source will be 
developed in the hillside adjacent to Dock Position VII. The quarry 
will provide material for dock fill and other future projects, and the 
cleared area will be used for COU port offices and associated parking 
after the quarry is completed. The quarry will be developed through 
blasting benches in the rock face, with each bench being approximately 
25 feet high, with the total height being approximately 125 feet. 
Quarry materials will be transported the short distance to the adjacent 
project site using heavy equipment.

                                        Table 1--Total Project Quantities
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                    Below mean      Below high
                                                                    high water       tide line
                 Item                    Size and type, location   (MHW) (El. =    (HTL) (El. =        Total
                                                                       3.4)            4.7)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Surface Area of Dock (Acres)..........  ........................             2.1             2.3             3.1
Surface Area of Water Filled (Acres)..  ........................             2.1             2.8             2.8
Gravel Fill (Cubic Yards).............  Clean Fill; Within dock.          74,000          80,000         110,000
Piles to be Removed (Each)............  Steel...................             195             195             195
                                        Timber..................              55              55              55
Estimated Temporary Piles (Each)......  18'' Steel Pile; Within              150             150             150
                                         dock.
Steel Piles--Fender and Platform        30'' Steel; In front of               40              40              40
 Support (Each).                         bulkhead.
Miscellaneous Support Piles (Each)....  30'' Steel; Within dock.              30              30              30
Crane Rail Support Piles (Each).......  30'' Steel; Within dock.             125             125             150
Proposed Sheet Piles (Each)...........  PS31 Sheet Pile; Dock              1,400           1,700           1,800
                                         face.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The existing structure will be demolished by removing the concrete 
deck, steel superstructure, and attached appurtenances and structures 
and then extracting the existing steel support piles with a vibratory 
hammer. Sheet pile will also be installed with a vibratory hammer. Pile 
driving may occur from shore or from a stationary barge platform, 
depending on the Contractor's selected methods. After cells are 
completely enclosed, they will be incrementally filled with clean 
material using bulldozers and wheel loaders. Fill will be placed 
primarily from shore, but some may be placed from the barge if needed. 
Fill will be compacted using vibratory compaction methods, described 
below. After all the sheet piles are installed and the cells are filled 
and compacted, fender piles, crane rail piles, mooring cleats, concrete 
surfacing, and other appurtenances will be installed.
    As described, the project requires the removal and installation of 
various types and sizes of piles with the use of a vibratory hammer and 
impact hammer. These activities have the potential to result in Level B 
harassment (behavioral disruption) only, as a monitoring plan will be 
implemented to reduce the potential for exposure to Level A harassment 
(harassment resulting in injury). The rest of the in-water components 
of the project are provided here for completeness. Note that many of 
the support piles will be installed to an elevation below MHW or HTL; 
however, they will be installed within the enclosed fill of the sheet 
pile dock rather than in the water.
    Utilities will be installed during Phase II, and include addition/
extension of water, sewer, fuel, electrical, and storm drain. 
Authorization to construct the sewer and storm drain extension, as well 
as a letter of non-objection for the storm drain, will be obtained from 
the State of Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (ADEC).
    Each element is further described below.

Demolition of Existing Infrastructure

    Demolition of the existing dock and removal of any existing riprap 
or obstructions will be performed with track excavators, loaders, 
cranes, barges, cutting equipment, a vibratory hammer (for pile 
extraction), and labor forces. The existing dock (consisting of steel 
support piles, steel superstructure, and concrete deck) will be 
completely removed for construction of the new dock. Vibratory pile 
removal will generally consist of clamping the vibratory hammer to the 
pile and vibrating the hammer while extracting to a point where the 
pile is temporarily secured and removal can be completed with crane 
line rigging under tension. The pile is then completely removed from 
the water by hoisting with crane line rigging and placing on the ground 
or deck of the barge.
    The contractor will be required to dispose of (or salvage) 
demolished items in accordance with all federal, state, and local 
regulations. Dewatering will not be required, as all extraction will 
take place from the existing dock, from shore, and/or from a work 
barge.

Quarry Development

    Concurrent with dock construction, a material source will be 
developed in the hillside adjacent to the UMC facility. The quarry will 
provide fill material for the dock and future projects. Material will 
be extracted from the quarry in a configuration that provides 
additional upland space for port operations. Flat uplands area will be 
used for COU port offices after the quarry is completed. The quarry 
will be developed through blasting benches in the rock face, with each 
bench approximately 25 feet high and the total height approximately 125 
feet.

Temporary Support Piles

    Temporary support piles for pile driving template structures will 
be

[[Page 78973]]

installed to aid with construction and will be removed after the 
permanent sheet piles or support piles have been installed. Figure 3 
shows temporary support piles and templates being used during pile 
installation. Temporary support piles will likely be steel H-piles (18-
inch or smaller) or steel round piles (18-inch diameter or smaller). It 
is estimated that up to ten (10) temporary support piles will be used 
per cell during construction of the sheet pile structure. Installation 
methods for the temporary support piles will be similar to the fender 
support piles (described below).

Sheet Pile Installation

    The new sheet pile bulkhead dock consists of twenty-two (22) OCSP 
cells. The sheet pile structures will be installed utilizing a crane 
and vibratory hammer. It is anticipated that the largest size vibratory 
hammer used for the project will be an APE 200-6 (eccentric moment of 
6,600 inch-pounds) or comparable vibratory hammer from another 
manufacturer such as ICE or HPSI. After all the piles for a sheet pile 
cell have been installed, clean rock fill will be placed within the 
cell. This process will continue sequentially until all of the sheet 
pile cells are installed and backfilled.

Dock Fill Placement

    Fill will be transported from the adjacent quarry to the project 
site using loaders, dump trucks, and dozers and may be temporarily 
stockpiled within the project footprint as needed. It will be placed 
within the cells from the shore (or occasionally a barge) using the 
same equipment and will be finished using roller compactors, graders, 
or vibracompaction. Vibracompaction would be achieved through the 
repeated insertion and removal through vibratory hammering of an H-pile 
probe, causing fill materials to settle into place.

Fender and Platform Support Piles

    Fender support piles will be installed adjacent to (and offshore 
of) the sheet pile cells and cut to elevation. The fender piles will 
first be driven with a vibratory hammer and, if capacity/embedment is 
not achieved, finally driven with an impact hammer until proper 
embedment and capacity is reached (likely 20-foot embedment). Pre-
assembled fender systems (energy absorbers, sleeve piles, steel 
framing, and fender panels) will be lifted and installed onto fender 
support piles via crane.
    In addition to the fender supports, miscellaneous support piles 
needed to support the suspended concrete platform at the transitions 
between Position II/III and IV/V will be installed and cut to 
elevation. Installation methods for the miscellaneous support piles 
will be similar to the fender support piles. Approximately forty (40) 
30-inch steel piles will be driven for the fenders and transition 
platform.

Miscellaneous Support Piles

    Support piles for upland utilities and other structures will be 
driven after sheet pile cells are completed. Though the piles will be 
driven beyond the current MHW line, the cells will be filled and 
compacted at the time of placement, making this upland pile driving. 
Approximately thirty (30) steel support piles are needed for dock 
infrastructure.

Crane Rail Support Piles

    Approximately one hundred fifty (150) steel support piles will be 
driven to support the weight of a new crane rail and dock crane. Pile 
driving will be performed primarily within the completely filled and 
compacted sheet pile cells. A few of the support piles may be driven in 
the water at the transition areas.

Dock Surfacing and Other Concrete Elements

    The new dock uplands area will be surfaced with concrete pavement. 
The crane rail beam and utility vaults will be constructed from cast-
in-place concrete. The surfacing and structures will be installed using 
forms and reinforcement steel. This work will take place at or near the 
surface of the dock and will be above water.

Utilities

    Temporary utilities will be installed to provide functional dock 
capability for the 2017/2018 season. Typical utility installation 
equipment such as track excavators, wheel loaders, and compaction 
equipment will be used. Permanent electrical, water, and storm drainage 
utilities will be installed during Phase 2 to provide full dock 
capability. Installation methods will require equipment similar to that 
used to install the temporary utilities. All storm water (and any other 
wastewater) from the dock will be processed through the COU stormwater 
system and necessary separator devices.
    Details of all planned construction work, and photos of many of the 
construction techniques described above, can be found in Section 1 of 
the application.

Description of Marine Mammals in the Area of the Specified Activity

    Marine waters near Unalaska Island support many species of marine 
mammals, including pinnipeds and cetaceans; however, the number of 
species regularly occurring within Dutch Harbor, including near the 
project location is limited due to the high volume of vessel traffic in 
and around the harbor. Due to this, Steller sea lion, harbor seal, 
humpback whale, and killer whale are the only species within NMFS 
jurisdiction that are being included in the COA's IHA request. 
Sightings of other marine mammals within Dutch Harbor are extremely 
rare, and therefore, no further descriptions of the other marine 
mammals are included in the COA's application or in this notice of 
proposed authorization.
    We have reviewed COA's species descriptions--which summarize 
available information regarding status and trends, distribution and 
habitat preferences, behavior and life history, and auditory 
capabilities of the potentially affected species--for accuracy and 
completeness and refer the reader to Sections 3 and 4 of the 
application. Please also refer to NMFS' Web site (www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/species/mammals/) for generalized species accounts.
    Table 2 lists the marine mammal species with the potential for 
occurrence in the vicinity of the project during the project timeframe 
and summarizes key information regarding stock status and abundance. 
Please see NMFS' Stock Assessment Reports (SAR; Muto et al., 2016), 
available at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/sars, for more detailed 
accounts of these stocks' status and abundance.

                                   Table 2--Marine Mammals Potentially Present in the Vicinity of the Project Location
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                 Occurrence in/near
            Species                     Stock             MMPA status           ESA Status            project            Seasonality         Abundance
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Harbor seal (Phoca vitulina      Aleutian Islands..  Protected...........  ...................  Common.............  Year-round.........           5,772
 richardsi).

[[Page 78974]]

 
Steller sea lion (Eumetopias     Western Distinct    Depleted, Strategic.  Endangered.........  Common.............  Year-round.........          49,497
 jubatus).                        Population
                                  Segment (DPS).
Killer whale (Orcinus orca)....  Eastern North       Protected...........  ...................  Unknown............  Summer, Fall.......           2,347
                                  Pacific, Alaska
                                  Resident.
Killer whale (Orcinus orca)....  Gulf of Alaska,     Protected...........  ...................  Unknown............  Year- round........             587
                                  Aleutian Islands,
                                  and Bering Sea
                                  Transient.
Humpback whale (Megaptera        Central North       Depleted, Strategic.  n/a*...............  Seasonal...........  Summer.............          10,103
 novaeangliae).                   Pacific.
Humpback whale (Megaptera        Western North       Depleted, Strategic.  n/a*...............  Seasonal...........  Summer.............           1,107
 novaeangliae).                   Pacific.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
* The newly defined DPSs (81 FR 62259) do not currently align with the stocks under the MMPA.

Potential Effects of the Specified Activity on Marine Mammals

    This section includes a summary and discussion of the ways that 
components of the specified activity may impact marine mammals. The 
``Estimated Take by Incidental Harassment'' section later in this 
document will include a quantitative analysis of the number of 
individuals that are expected to be taken by this activity. The 
``Negligible Impact Analysis'' section will include the analysis of how 
this specific activity will impact marine mammals and will consider the 
content of this section, the ``Estimated Take by Incidental 
Harassment'' section, the ``Proposed Mitigation'' section, and the 
``Anticipated Effects on Marine Mammal Habitat'' section to draw 
conclusions regarding the likely impacts of this activity on the 
reproductive success or survivorship of individuals and from that on 
the affected marine mammal populations or stocks. In the following 
discussion, we provide general background information on sound and 
marine mammal hearing before considering potential effects to marine 
mammals from sound produced by the construction techniques proposed for 
use.

Description of Sound Sources

    Sound travels in waves, the basic components of which are 
frequency, wavelength, velocity, and amplitude. Frequency is the number 
of pressure waves that pass by a reference point per unit of time and 
is measured in hertz (Hz) or cycles per second. Wavelength is the 
distance between two peaks of a sound wave; lower frequency sounds have 
longer wavelengths than higher frequency sounds and attenuate 
(decrease) more rapidly in shallower water. Amplitude is the height of 
the sound pressure wave or the `loudness' of a sound and is typically 
measured using the decibel (dB) scale. A dB is the ratio between a 
measured pressure (with sound) and a reference pressure (sound at a 
constant pressure, established by scientific standards). It is a 
logarithmic unit that accounts for large variations in amplitude; 
therefore, relatively small changes in dB ratings correspond to large 
changes in sound pressure. When referring to sound pressure levels 
(SPLs; the sound force per unit area), sound is referenced in the 
context of underwater sound pressure to 1 microPascal ([mu]Pa). One 
pascal is the pressure resulting from a force of one newton exerted 
over an area of one square meter. The source level (SL) represents the 
sound level at a distance of 1 m from the source (referenced to 1 
[mu]Pa). The received level is the sound level at the listener's 
position. Note that all underwater sound levels in this document are 
referenced to a pressure of 1 [micro]Pa and all airborne sound levels 
in this document are referenced to a pressure of 20 [micro]Pa.
    Root mean square (rms) is the quadratic mean sound pressure over 
the duration of an impulse, and is calculated by squaring all of the 
sound amplitudes, averaging the squares, and then taking the square 
root of the average (Urick, 1983). Rms accounts for both positive and 
negative values; squaring the pressures makes all values positive so 
that they may be accounted for in the summation of pressure levels 
(Hastings and Popper, 2005). This measurement is often used in the 
context of discussing behavioral effects, in part because behavioral 
effects, which often result from auditory cues, may be better expressed 
through averaged units than by peak pressures.
    When underwater objects vibrate or activity occurs, sound-pressure 
waves are created. These waves alternately compress and decompress the 
water as the sound wave travels. Underwater sound waves radiate in all 
directions away from the source (similar to ripples on the surface of a 
pond), except in cases where the source is directional. The 
compressions and decompressions associated with sound waves are 
detected as changes in pressure by aquatic life and man-made sound 
receptors such as hydrophones.
    Even in the absence of sound from the specified activity, the 
underwater environment is typically loud due to ambient sound. Ambient 
sound is defined as environmental background sound levels lacking a 
single source or point (Richardson et al., 1995), and the sound level 
of a region is defined by the total acoustical energy being generated 
by known and unknown sources. These sources may include physical (e.g., 
waves, earthquakes, ice, atmospheric sound), biological (e.g., sounds 
produced by marine mammals, fish, and invertebrates), and anthropogenic 
sound (e.g., vessels, dredging, aircraft, construction). A number of 
sources contribute to ambient sound, including the following 
(Richardson et al., 1995):
     Wind and waves: The complex interactions between wind and 
water surface, including processes such as breaking waves and wave-
induced bubble oscillations and cavitation, are a main source of 
naturally occurring ambient noise for frequencies between 200 Hz and 50 
kHz (Mitson, 1995). In general, ambient sound levels tend to increase 
with increasing wind speed and wave height. Surf noise becomes 
important near shore, with measurements collected at a distance of 8.5 
km from shore showing an increase of 10 dB in the 100 to 700 Hz band 
during heavy surf conditions.
     Precipitation: Sound from rain and hail impacting the 
water surface can become an important component of total noise at 
frequencies above 500 Hz, and possibly down to 100 Hz during quiet 
times.
     Biological: Marine mammals can contribute significantly to 
ambient noise levels, as can some fish and shrimp. The frequency band 
for biological

[[Page 78975]]

contributions is from approximately 12 Hz to over 100 kHz.
     Anthropogenic: Sources of ambient noise related to human 
activity include transportation (surface vessels and aircraft), 
dredging and construction, oil and gas drilling and production, seismic 
surveys, sonar, explosions, and ocean acoustic studies. Shipping noise 
typically dominates the total ambient noise for frequencies between 20 
and 300 Hz. In general, the frequencies of anthropogenic sounds are 
below 1 kHz and, if higher frequency sound levels are created, they 
attenuate rapidly (Richardson et al., 1995). Sound from identifiable 
anthropogenic sources other than the activity of interest (e.g., a 
passing vessel) is sometimes termed background sound, as opposed to 
ambient sound.
    The sum of the various natural and anthropogenic sound sources at 
any given location and time--which comprise ``ambient'' or 
``background'' sound--depends not only on the source levels (as 
determined by current weather conditions and levels of biological and 
shipping activity) but also on the ability of sound to propagate 
through the environment. In turn, sound propagation is dependent on the 
spatially and temporally varying properties of the water column and sea 
floor, and is frequency-dependent. As a result of the dependence on a 
large number of varying factors, ambient sound levels can be expected 
to vary widely over both coarse and fine spatial and temporal scales. 
Sound levels at a given frequency and location can vary by 10-20 dB 
from day to day (Richardson et al., 1995). The result is that, 
depending on the source type and its intensity, sound from the 
specified activity may be a negligible addition to the local 
environment or could form a distinctive signal that may affect marine 
mammals.
    In-water construction activities associated with the project would 
include impact pile driving and vibratory pile driving. The sounds 
produced by these activities fall into one of two general sound types: 
impulsive and non-impulsive (defined in the following). The distinction 
between these two sound types is important because they have differing 
potential to cause physical effects, particularly with regard to 
hearing (e.g., Ward, 1997 in Southall et al., 2007). Please see 
Southall et al., (2007) for an in-depth discussion of these concepts.
    Impulsive sound sources (e.g., explosions, gunshots, sonic booms, 
impact pile driving) produce signals that are brief (typically 
considered to be less than one second), broadband, atonal transients 
(ANSI, 1986; Harris, 1998; NIOSH, 1998; ISO, 2003; ANSI, 2005) and 
occur either as isolated events or repeated in some succession. 
Impulsive sounds are all characterized by a relatively rapid rise from 
ambient pressure to a maximal pressure value followed by a rapid decay 
period that may include a period of diminishing, oscillating maximal 
and minimal pressures, and generally have an increased capacity to 
induce physical injury as compared with sounds that lack these 
features.
    Non-impulsive sounds can be tonal, narrowband, or broadband, brief 
or prolonged, and may be either continuous or non-continuous (ANSI, 
1995; NIOSH, 1998). Some of these non-impulsive sounds can be transient 
signals of short duration but without the essential properties of 
pulses (e.g., rapid rise time). Examples of non-impulsive sounds 
include those produced by vessels, aircraft, machinery operations such 
as drilling or dredging, vibratory pile driving, down-the-hole 
drilling, and active sonar systems. The duration of such sounds, as 
received at a distance, can be greatly extended in a highly reverberant 
environment.
    Impact hammers operate by repeatedly dropping a heavy piston onto a 
pile to drive the pile into the substrate. Sound generated by impact 
hammers is characterized by rapid rise times and high peak levels, a 
potentially injurious combination (Hastings and Popper, 2005). 
Vibratory hammers install piles by vibrating them and allowing the 
weight of the hammer to push them into the sediment. Vibratory hammers 
produce significantly less sound than impact hammers. Peak SPLs may be 
180 dB or greater, but are generally 10 to 20 dB lower than SPLs 
generated during impact pile driving of the same-sized pile (Oestman et 
al., 2009). Rise time is slower, reducing the probability and severity 
of injury, and sound energy is distributed over a greater amount of 
time (Nedwell and Edwards, 2002; Carlson et al., 2005).

Marine Mammal Hearing

    Hearing is the most important sensory modality for marine mammals, 
and exposure to sound can have deleterious effects. To appropriately 
assess these potential effects, it is necessary to understand the 
frequency ranges marine mammals are able to hear. Current data indicate 
that not all marine mammal species have equal hearing capabilities 
(e.g., Richardson et al., 1995; Wartzok and Ketten, 1999; Au and 
Hastings, 2008). To reflect this, Southall et al. (2007) recommended 
that marine mammals be divided into functional hearing groups based on 
measured or estimated hearing ranges on the basis of available 
behavioral data, audiograms derived using auditory evoked potential 
techniques, anatomical modeling, and other data. The lower and/or upper 
frequencies for some of these functional hearing groups have been 
modified from those designated by Southall et al. (2007), and the 
revised generalized hearing ranges are presented in the new Guidance. 
The functional hearing groups and the associated frequencies are 
indicated in Table 3 below.

   Table 3--Marine Mammal Hearing Groups and Their Generalized Hearing
                                  Range
------------------------------------------------------------------------
              Hearing group                  Generalized hearing range*
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Low-frequency (LF) cetaceans (baleen       7 Hz to 35 kHz.
 whales).
Mid-frequency (MF) cetaceans (dolphins,    150 Hz to 160 kHz.
 toothed whales, beaked whales,
 bottlenose whales).
High-frequency (HF) cetaceans (true        275 Hz to 160 kHz.
 porpoises, Kogia, river dolphins,
 cephalorhynchid, Lagenorhynchus cruciger
 and L. australis).
Phocid pinnipeds (PW) (underwater) (true   50 Hz to 86 kHz.
 seals).
Otariid pinnipeds (OW) (underwater) (sea   60 Hz to 39 kHz.
 lions and fur seals).
------------------------------------------------------------------------
* Represents the generalized hearing range for the entire group as a
  composite (i.e., all species within the group), where individual
  species' hearing ranges are typically not as broad. Generalized
  hearing range chosen based on ~65 dB threshold from normalized
  composite audiogram, with the exception for lower limits for LF
  cetaceans (Southall et al., 2007) and PW pinniped (approximation).


[[Page 78976]]

Acoustic Effects, Underwater

    Potential Effects of Pile Driving Sound--The effects of sounds from 
pile driving might result in one or more of the following: temporary or 
permanent hearing impairment, non-auditory physical or physiological 
effects, behavioral disturbance, and masking (Richardson et al., 1995; 
Gordon et al., 2004; Nowacek et al., 2007; Southall et al., 2007). The 
effects of pile driving on marine mammals are dependent on several 
factors, including the size, type, and depth of the animal; the depth, 
intensity, and duration of the pile driving sound; the depth of the 
water column; the substrate of the habitat; the standoff distance 
between the pile and the animal; and the sound propagation properties 
of the environment. Impacts to marine mammals from pile driving 
activities are expected to result primarily from acoustic pathways. As 
such, the degree of effect is intrinsically related to the received 
level and duration of the sound exposure, which are in turn influenced 
by the distance between the animal and the source. The further away 
from the source, the less intense the exposure should be. The substrate 
and depth of the habitat affect the sound propagation properties of the 
environment. Shallow environments are typically more structurally 
complex, which leads to rapid sound attenuation. In addition, 
substrates that are soft (e.g., sand) would absorb or attenuate the 
sound more readily than hard substrates (e.g., rock) which may reflect 
the acoustic wave. Soft porous substrates would also likely require 
less time to drive the pile, and possibly less forceful equipment, 
which would ultimately decrease the intensity of the acoustic source.
    In the absence of mitigation, impacts to marine species would be 
expected to result from physiological and behavioral responses to both 
the type and strength of the acoustic signature (Viada et al., 2008). 
The type and severity of behavioral impacts are more difficult to 
define due to limited studies addressing the behavioral effects of 
impulsive sounds on marine mammals. Potential effects from impulsive 
sound sources can range in severity from effects such as behavioral 
disturbance or tactile perception to physical discomfort, slight injury 
of the internal organs and the auditory system, or mortality (Yelverton 
et al., 1973).
    Hearing Impairment and Other Physical Effects--Marine mammals 
exposed to high intensity sound repeatedly or for prolonged periods can 
experience hearing threshold shift (TS), which is the loss of hearing 
sensitivity at certain frequency ranges (Kastak et al., 1999; Schlundt 
et al., 2000; Finneran et al., 2002, 2005). TS can be permanent (PTS), 
in which case the loss of hearing sensitivity is not recoverable, or 
temporary (TTS), in which case the animal's hearing threshold would 
recover over time (Southall et al., 2007). Marine mammals depend on 
acoustic cues for vital biological functions (e.g., orientation, 
communication, finding prey, avoiding predators); thus, TTS may result 
in reduced fitness in survival and reproduction. However, this depends 
on the frequency and duration of TTS, as well as the biological context 
in which it occurs. TTS of limited duration, occurring in a frequency 
range that does not coincide with that used for recognition of 
important acoustic cues, would have little to no effect on an animal's 
fitness. Repeated sound exposure that leads to TTS could cause PTS. PTS 
constitutes injury, but TTS does not (Southall et al., 2007). The 
following subsections discuss in somewhat more detail the possibilities 
of TTS, PTS, and non-auditory physical effects.
    Temporary Threshold Shift--TTS is the mildest form of hearing 
impairment that can occur during exposure to a strong sound (Kryter, 
1985). While experiencing TTS, the hearing threshold rises, and a sound 
must be stronger in order to be heard. In terrestrial mammals, TTS can 
last from minutes or hours to days (in cases of strong TTS). For sound 
exposures at or somewhat above the TTS threshold, hearing sensitivity 
in both terrestrial and marine mammals recovers rapidly after exposure 
to the sound ends. Few data on sound levels and durations necessary to 
elicit mild TTS have been obtained for marine mammals, and none of the 
published data concern TTS elicited by exposure to multiple pulses of 
sound. Available data on TTS in marine mammals are summarized in 
Southall et al. (2007) and more recently in Finneran (2016).
    Marine mammal hearing plays a critical role in communication with 
conspecifics, and interpretation of environmental cues for purposes 
such as predator avoidance and prey capture. Depending on the degree 
(elevation of threshold in dB), duration (i.e., recovery time), and 
frequency range of TTS, and the context in which it is experienced, TTS 
can have effects on marine mammals ranging from discountable to 
serious. For example, a marine mammal may be able to readily compensate 
for a brief, relatively small amount of TTS in a non-critical frequency 
range that occurs during a time where ambient noise is lower and there 
are not as many competing sounds present. Alternatively, a larger 
amount and longer duration of TTS sustained during time when 
communication is critical for successful mother/calf interactions could 
have more serious impacts.
    Currently, TTS data only exist for four species of cetaceans 
(bottlenose dolphin, beluga whale, harbor porpoise, and Yangtze finless 
porpoise) and three species of pinnipeds (northern elephant seal, 
harbor seal, and California sea lion) exposed to a limited number of 
sound sources (i.e., mostly tones and octave-band noise) in laboratory 
settings (e.g., Finneran, 2016; Finneran et al., 2002; Finneran and 
Schlundt, 2010, 2013; Nachtigall et al., 2004; Kastaket et al., 2005; 
Lucke et al., 2009; Popov et al., 2011). In general, harbor seals and 
harbor porpoises have a lower TTS onset than other measured pinniped or 
cetacean species (Kastak et al., 2005; Kastelein et al., 2011, 2012a, 
2012b, 2013a, 2013b, 2014a, 2014b, 2015a, 2015b, 2015c, 2016). 
Additionally, the existing marine mammal TTS data come from a limited 
number of individuals within these species. There are no data available 
on noise-induced hearing loss for mysticetes. For summaries of data on 
TTS in marine mammals or for further discussion of TTS onset 
thresholds, please see Southall et al. (2007), Finneran and Jenkins 
(2012), and Finneran (2016).
    Permanent Threshold Shift--When PTS occurs, there is physical 
damage to the sound receptors in the ear. In severe cases, there can be 
total or partial deafness, while in other cases the animal has an 
impaired ability to hear sounds in specific frequency ranges (Kryter 
1985). There is no specific evidence that exposure to pulses of sound 
can cause PTS in any marine mammal. However, given the possibility that 
mammals close to a sound source might incur TTS, there has been further 
speculation about the possibility that some individuals might incur 
PTS. Single or occasional occurrences of mild TTS are not indicative of 
permanent auditory damage, but repeated or (in some cases) single 
exposures to a level well above that causing TTS onset might elicit 
PTS.
    Relationships between TTS and PTS thresholds have not been studied 
in marine mammals but are assumed to be similar to those in humans and 
other terrestrial mammals. Available data from humans and other 
terrestrial mammals indicate that a 40 dB threshold shift approximates 
PTS onset (see Ward et al., 1958; Ward et al., 1959; Ward, 1960; Kryter 
et al., 1966; Miller, 1974; Ahroon et al., 1996; Henderson et al., 
2008). Southall et al., (2007) also

[[Page 78977]]

recommended this definition of PTS onset.
    PTS onset acoustic thresholds for marine mammals have not been 
directly measured and must be extrapolated from available TTS onset 
measurements. Thus, based on cetacean measurements from TTS studies 
(see Southall et al., 2007; Finneran, 2015; Finneran, 2016 (found in 
Appendix A of the Guidance)) a threshold shift of 6 dB is considered 
the minimum threshold shift clearly larger than any day-to-day or 
session-to-session variation in a subject's normal hearing ability and 
is typically the minimum amount of threshold shift that can be 
differentiated in most experimental conditions (Finneran et al., 2000; 
Schlundt et al., 2000; Finneran et al., 2002).
    Measured source levels from impact pile driving can be as high as 
214 dB rms. Although no marine mammals have been shown to experience 
TTS or PTS as a result of being exposed to pile driving activities, 
captive bottlenose dolphins and beluga whales exhibited changes in 
behavior when exposed to strong pulsed sounds (Finneran et al., 2000, 
2002, 2005). The animals tolerated high received levels of sound before 
exhibiting aversive behaviors. Experiments on a beluga whale showed 
that exposure to a single watergun impulse at a received level of 207 
kilopascal (kPa) (30 psi) peak-to-peak (p-p), which is equivalent to 
228 dB p-p, resulted in a 7 and 6 dB TTS in the beluga whale at 0.4 and 
30 kHz, respectively. Thresholds returned to within 2 dB of the pre-
exposure level within four minutes of the exposure (Finneran et al., 
2002). Although the source level of pile driving from one hammer strike 
is expected to be much lower than the single watergun impulse cited 
here, animals being exposed for a prolonged period to repeated hammer 
strikes could receive more sound exposure in terms of sound exposure 
level (SEL) than from the single watergun impulse (estimated at 188 dB 
re 1 [mu]Pa\2\-s) in the aforementioned experiment (Finneran et al., 
2002). However, in order for marine mammals to experience TTS or PTS, 
the animals have to be close enough to be exposed to high intensity 
sound levels for a prolonged period of time. Based on the best 
scientific information available, these SPLs are below the thresholds 
that could cause TTS or the onset of PTS.
    Non-auditory Physiological Effects--Non-auditory physiological 
effects or injuries that theoretically might occur in marine mammals 
exposed to strong underwater sound include stress, neurological 
effects, bubble formation, resonance effects, and other types of organ 
or tissue damage (Cox et al., 2006; Southall et al., 2007). Studies 
examining such effects are limited. In general, little is known about 
the potential for pile driving to cause auditory impairment or other 
physical effects in marine mammals. Available data suggest that such 
effects, if they occur at all, would presumably be limited to short 
distances from the sound source and to activities that extend over a 
prolonged period. The available data do not allow identification of a 
specific exposure level above which non-auditory effects can be 
expected (Southall et al., 2007) or any meaningful quantitative 
predictions of the numbers (if any) of marine mammals that might be 
affected in those ways. Marine mammals that show behavioral avoidance 
of pile driving, including some odontocetes and some pinnipeds, are 
especially unlikely to incur auditory impairment or non-auditory 
physical effects.

Disturbance Reactions

    Behavioral disturbance may include a variety of effects, including 
subtle changes in behavior (e.g., minor or brief avoidance of an area 
or changes in vocalizations), more conspicuous changes in similar 
behavioral activities, and more sustained and/or potentially severe 
reactions, such as displacement from or abandonment of high-quality 
habitat. Behavioral responses to sound are highly variable and context-
specific and any reactions depend on numerous intrinsic and extrinsic 
factors (e.g., species, state of maturity, experience, current 
activity, reproductive state, auditory sensitivity, time of day), as 
well as the interplay between factors (e.g., Richardson et al.,1995; 
Wartzok et al., 2003; Southall et al., 2007; Weilgart, 2007; Archer et 
al.,2010). Behavioral reactions can vary not only among individuals but 
also within an individual, depending on previous experience with a 
sound source, context, and numerous other factors (Ellison et al., 
2012), and can vary depending on characteristics associated with the 
sound source (e.g., whether it is moving or stationary, number of 
sources, distance from the source). Please see Appendices B-C of 
Southall et al. (2007) for a review of studies involving marine mammal 
behavioral responses to sound.
    Habituation can occur when an animal's response to a stimulus wanes 
with repeated exposure, usually in the absence of unpleasant associated 
events (Wartzok et al., 2003). Animals are most likely to habituate to 
sounds that are predictable and unvarying. It is important to note that 
habituation is appropriately considered as a ``progressive reduction in 
response to stimuli that are perceived as neither aversive nor 
beneficial,'' rather than as, more generally, moderation in response to 
human disturbance (Bejder et al., 2009). The opposite process is 
sensitization, when an unpleasant experience leads to subsequent 
responses, often in the form of avoidance, at a lower level of 
exposure. Behavioral state may affect the type of response as well. For 
example, animals that are resting may show greater behavioral change in 
response to disturbing sound levels than animals that are highly 
motivated to remain in an area for feeding (Richardson et al., 1995; 
NRC, 2003; Wartzok et al., 2003). Controlled experiments with captive 
marine mammals showed pronounced behavioral reactions, including 
avoidance of loud sound sources (Ridgway et al., 1997; Finneran et al., 
2003). Observed responses of wild marine mammals to loud pulsed sound 
sources (typically seismic guns or acoustic harassment devices, but 
also including pile driving) have been varied but often consist of 
avoidance behavior or other behavioral changes suggesting discomfort 
(Morton and Symonds, 2002; Thorson and Reyff, 2006; see also Gordon et 
al., 2004; Wartzok et al., 2003; Nowacek et al., 2007). Responses to 
continuous sound, such as vibratory pile installation, have not been 
documented as well as responses to pulsed sounds.
    With both types of pile driving, it is likely that the onset of 
pile driving could result in temporary, short term changes in an 
animal's typical behavior and/or avoidance of the affected area. These 
behavioral changes may include (Richardson et al., 1995): changing 
durations of surfacing and dives, number of blows per surfacing 
(cetaceans only), or moving direction and/or speed; reduced/increased 
vocal activities; changing/cessation of certain behavioral activities 
(such as socializing or feeding); visible startle response or 
aggressive behavior; avoidance of areas where sound sources are 
located; and/or flight responses (e.g., pinnipeds flushing into water 
from haul-outs or rookeries). Pinnipeds may increase the amount of time 
spent hauled out, possibly to avoid in-water disturbance (Thorson and 
Reyff, 2006). Since pile driving would likely only occur for a few 
hours a day, over a short period of time, it is unlikely to result in 
permanent displacement. Any potential impacts from pile driving 
activities could be experienced by individual marine mammals, but would 
not be likely to cause population level impacts,

[[Page 78978]]

or affect the long-term fitness of the species.
    The biological significance of many of these behavioral 
disturbances is difficult to predict, especially if the detected 
disturbances appear minor. However, the consequences of behavioral 
modification could be expected to be biologically significant if the 
change affects growth, survival, or reproduction. Significant 
behavioral modifications that could potentially lead to effects on 
growth, survival, or reproduction include:
     Drastic changes in diving/surfacing patterns (such as 
those thought to cause beaked whale stranding due to exposure to 
military mid-frequency tactical sonar);
     Habitat abandonment due to loss of desirable acoustic 
environment; and
     Cessation of feeding or social interaction.
    The onset of behavioral disturbance from anthropogenic sound 
depends on both external factors (characteristics of sound sources and 
their paths) and the specific characteristics of the receiving animals 
(hearing, motivation, experience, demography) and is difficult to 
predict (Southall et al., 2007).

Auditory Masking

    Natural and artificial sounds can disrupt behavior by masking, or 
interfering with, a marine mammal's ability to hear other sounds. 
Masking occurs when the receipt of a sound is interfered with by 
another coincident sound at similar frequencies and at similar or 
higher levels. Chronic exposure to excessive, though not high-
intensity, sound could cause masking at particular frequencies for 
marine mammals that utilize sound for vital biological functions. 
Masking can interfere with detection of acoustic signals such as 
communication calls, echolocation sounds, and environmental sounds 
important to marine mammals. Therefore, under certain circumstances, 
marine mammals whose acoustical sensors or environment are being 
severely masked could also be impaired from maximizing their 
performance fitness in survival and reproduction. If the coincident 
(masking) sound were man-made, it could be potentially harassing if it 
disrupted hearing-related behavior. It is important to distinguish TTS 
and PTS, which persist after the sound exposure, from masking, which 
occurs during the sound exposure. Because masking (without resulting in 
TS) is not associated with abnormal physiological function, it is not 
considered a physiological effect, but rather a potential behavioral 
effect.
    The frequency range of the potentially masking sound is important 
in determining any potential behavioral impacts. Because sound 
generated from in-water pile driving is mostly concentrated at low 
frequency ranges, it may affect detection of communication calls and 
other potentially important natural sounds such as surf and prey sound. 
It may also affect communication signals when they occur near the sound 
band and thus reduce the communication space of animals (e.g., Clark et 
al., 2009) and cause increased stress levels (e.g., Foote et al., 2004; 
Holt et al., 2009).
    Masking has the potential to impact species at the population or 
community levels as well as at individual levels. Masking affects both 
senders and receivers of the signals and can potentially have long-term 
chronic effects on marine mammal species and populations. Recent 
research suggests that low frequency ambient sound levels have 
increased by as much as 20 dB (more than three times in terms of SPL) 
in the world's ocean from pre-industrial periods, and that most of 
these increases are from distant shipping (Hildebrand, 2009). All 
anthropogenic sound sources, such as those from vessel traffic, pile 
driving, and dredging activities, contribute to the elevated ambient 
sound levels, thus intensifying masking.
    The most intense underwater sounds in the proposed action are those 
produced by impact pile driving. Given that the energy distribution of 
pile driving covers a broad frequency spectrum, sound from these 
sources would likely be within the audible range of marine mammals 
present in the project area. Impact pile driving activity is relatively 
short-term, with rapid pulses occurring for approximately fifteen 
minutes per pile. The probability for impact pile driving resulting 
from the proposed action to mask acoustic signals important to the 
behavior and survival of marine mammal species is likely to be 
negligible. Vibratory pile driving is also relatively short-term, with 
rapid oscillations occurring for approximately one and a half hours per 
pile. It is possible that vibratory pile driving resulting from the 
proposed action may mask acoustic signals important to the behavior and 
survival of marine mammal species, but the short-term duration and 
limited affected area would result in insignificant impacts from 
masking. Any masking event that could possibly rise to Level B 
harassment under the MMPA would occur concurrently within the zones of 
behavioral harassment already estimated for vibratory and impact pile 
driving, and which have already been taken into account in the exposure 
analysis.

Acoustic Effects, Airborne

    Marine mammals that occur in the project area could be exposed to 
airborne sounds associated with pile driving and blasting activities at 
the quarry that have the potential to cause harassment, depending on 
their distance from these activities. Airborne sound could potentially 
affect pinnipeds that are either hauled out or are in the water but 
have their heads above water in the project area. Most likely, airborne 
sound would cause behavioral responses similar to those discussed above 
in relation to underwater sound. For instance, anthropogenic sound 
could cause hauled out pinnipeds to exhibit changes in their normal 
behavior, such as reduction in vocalizations, or cause them to 
temporarily abandon their habitat and move further from the source. 
Studies by Blackwell et al. (2004) and Moulton et al. (2005) indicate a 
tolerance or lack of response to unweighted airborne sounds as high as 
112 dB peak and 96 dB rms.

Anticipated Effects on Habitat

    The proposed activities at Dutch Harbor would not result in 
permanent impacts to habitats used directly by marine mammals, such as 
haul-out sites, but may have potential short-term impacts to food 
sources such as forage fish and salmonids. There are no rookeries or 
haulout sites within the modeled zone of influence for impact or 
vibratory pile driving associated with the project, or ocean bottom 
structure of significant biological importance to marine mammals that 
may be present in the waters in the vicinity of the project area. The 
project location receives heavy use by vessel moorage and factory 
trawler offloads, and experiences frequent vessel traffic because of 
these activities, thus the area is already relatively industrialized 
and not a pristine habitat for marine mammals. As such, the main impact 
associated with the proposed activity would be temporarily elevated 
sound levels and the associated direct effects on marine mammals, as 
discussed previously in this document. The most likely impact to marine 
mammal habitat occurs from pile driving effects on likely marine mammal 
prey (i.e., fish) near the project location, and minor impacts to the 
immediate substrate during installation and removal of piles during the 
dock construction project.

Effects on Potential Prey

    Construction activities would produce both impulsive (i.e., impact 
pile driving

[[Page 78979]]

and quarry blasting) and non-impulsive continuous (i.e., vibratory pile 
driving) sounds. Fish react to sounds which are especially strong and/
or intermittent low-frequency sounds. Short duration, sharp sounds can 
cause overt or subtle changes in fish behavior and local distribution. 
Hastings and Popper (2005) identified several studies that suggest fish 
may relocate to avoid certain areas of sound energy. Additional studies 
have documented effects of pile driving on fish, although several are 
based on studies in support of large, multiyear bridge construction 
projects (e.g., Scholik and Yan, 2001, 2002; Popper and Hastings, 2009) 
and are therefore not directly comparable with the proposed project. 
Sound pulses at received levels of 160 dB may cause subtle changes in 
fish behavior. SPLs of 180 dB may cause noticeable changes in behavior 
(Pearson et al., 1992; Skalski et al., 1992). SPLs of sufficient 
strength have been known to cause injury to fish and fish mortality. In 
general, impacts to marine mammal prey species from the proposed 
project are expected to be minor and temporary due to the relatively 
short timeframe of the proposed project, and the fact that Dutch Harbor 
is not considered an important habitat for salmonids. The nearby 
Iliuliuk River supports salmon runs for at least four species of 
salmonids, however the harbor itself does not provide significant 
habitat for salmonids, and the proposed project is located far enough 
away from the lower Iliuliuk River that the potential that fish 
entering or leaving the river will be impacted is considered 
discountable. The most likely impact to fish from pile driving 
activities at the project area would be temporary behavioral avoidance 
of the area. The duration of fish avoidance of this area after pile 
driving stops is unknown, but a rapid return to normal recruitment, 
distribution and behavior is anticipated.

Effects on Potential Foraging Habitat

    The area likely impacted by the project is very small relative to 
the available habitat in Unalaska Bay. Avoidance by potential prey 
(i.e., fish) of the immediate area due to the temporary loss of this 
foraging habitat is possible. The duration of fish avoidance of this 
area after pile driving stops is unknown, but a rapid return to normal 
recruitment, distribution and behavior is anticipated. Any behavioral 
avoidance by fish of the disturbed area would still leave significantly 
large areas of fish and marine mammal foraging habitat in Unalaska Bay 
and the nearby vicinity.
    In summary, given the short daily duration of sound associated with 
individual pile driving events and the relatively small area that would 
be affected, pile driving activities associated with the proposed 
action are not likely to have a permanent, adverse effect on any fish 
habitat, or populations of fish species. Thus, any impacts to marine 
mammal habitat are not expected to cause significant or long-term 
consequences for individual marine mammals or their populations.

Proposed Mitigations

    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.
    The COU's calculation of the Level A harassment zones utilized the 
methods presented in Appendix D of NMFS' Technical Guidance for 
Assessing the Effects of Anthropogenic Sound on Marine Mammal Hearing 
(the Guidance, available at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/acoustics/guidelines.htm), and the accompanying User Spreadsheet.\1\ The Guidance 
provides updated PTS onset thresholds using the cumulative SEL 
(SELcum) metric, which incorporates marine mammal auditory 
weighting functions, to identify the received levels, or acoustic 
thresholds, at which individual marine mammals are predicted to 
experience changes in their hearing sensitivity for acute, incidental 
exposure to all underwater anthropogenic sound sources. The Guidance 
(Appendix D) and its companion User Spreadsheet provide alternative 
methodology for incorporating these more complex thresholds and 
associated weighting functions.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \1\ For most recent version of the NMFS User Spreadsheet, see: 
http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/acoustics/guidelines.htm
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The User Spreadsheet accounts for effective hearing ranges using 
Weighting Factor Adjustments (WFAs), and the COU's application uses the 
recommended values for vibratory and impact driving therein. Pile 
driving durations were estimated based on similar project experience. 
NMFS' new acoustic thresholds use dual metrics of SELcum and 
peak sound level (PK) for impulsive sounds (e.g., impact pile driving) 
and SELcum for non-impulsive sounds (e.g., vibratory pile 
driving) (Table 4). The COU used source level measurements from similar 
pile driving events (as described in ``Estimated Take by Incidental 
Harassment''), and using the User Spreadsheet, applied the updated PTS 
onset thresholds for impulsive PK and SELcum in the new 
acoustic guidance to determine distance to the isopleths for PTS onset 
for impact pile driving. For vibratory pile driving, the COU used the 
User Spreadsheet to determine isopleth estimates for PTS onset using 
the cumulative sound exposure level metric (LE) (http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/acoustics/guidelines.htm). In determining the 
cumulative sound exposure levels, the Guidance considers the duration 
of the activity, the sound exposure level produced by the source during 
one working day, and the effective hearing range of the receiving 
species. In the case of the duel metric acoustic thresholds 
(Lpk and LE) for impulsive sound, the larger of 
the two isopleths for calculating PTS onset is used. These values were 
then used to develop mitigation measures for proposed pile driving 
activities. The exclusion zone effectively represents the mitigation 
zone that would be established around each pile to prevent Level A 
harassment (PTS onset) to marine mammals (Table 5), while the zones of 
influence (ZOI) provide estimates of the areas within which Level B 
harassment might occur for impact/vibratory pile driving and quarry 
blasting (Table 6).

[[Page 78980]]



            Table 4--Summary of PTS Onset Acoustic Thresholds
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                      PTS onset acoustic thresholds *
                                              (Received Level)
          Hearing group           --------------------------------------
                                        Impulsive        Non-impulsive
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Low-Frequency (LF) Cetaceans.....  Cell 1............  Cell 2.
                                   Lpk,flat: 219 dB..  LE,LF,24h: 199
                                   LE,LF,24h: 183 dB.   dB.
Mid-Frequency (MF) Cetaceans.....  Cell 3............  Cell 4.
                                   Lpk,flat: 230 dB..  LE,MF,24h: 198
                                   LE,MF,24h: 185 dB.   dB.
High-Frequency (HF) Cetaceans....  Cell 5............  Cell 6.
                                   Lpk,flat: 202 dB..  LE,HF,24h: 173
                                   LE,HF,24h: 155 dB.   dB.
Phocid Pinnipeds (PW)              Cell 7............  Cell 8.
 (Underwater).                     Lpk,flat: 218 dB..  LE,PW,24h: 201
                                   LE,PW,24h: 185 dB.   dB.
Otariid Pinnipeds (OW)             Cell 9............  Cell 10.
 (Underwater).                     Lpk,flat: 232 dB..  LE,OW,24h: 219
                                   LE,OW,24h: 203 dB.   dB.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
* Dual metric acoustic thresholds for impulsive sounds: Use whichever
  results in the largest isopleth for calculating PTS onset. If a non-
  impulsive sound has the potential of exceeding the peak sound pressure
  level thresholds associated with impulsive sounds, these thresholds
  should also be considered.
Note: Peak sound pressure (Lpk) has a reference value of 1 [micro]Pa,
  and cumulative sound exposure level (LE) has a reference value of
  1[micro]Pa\2\s. In this Table, thresholds are abbreviated to reflect
  American National Standards Institute standards (ANSI 2013). However,
  peak sound pressure is defined by ANSI as incorporating frequency
  weighting, which is not the intent for this Technical Guidance. Hence,
  the subscript ``flat'' is being included to indicate peak sound
  pressure should be flat weighted or unweighted within the generalized
  hearing range. The subscript associated with cumulative sound exposure
  level thresholds indicates the designated marine mammal auditory
  weighting function (LF, MF, and HF cetaceans, and PW and OW pinnipeds)
  and that the recommended accumulation period is 24 hours. The
  cumulative sound exposure level thresholds could be exceeded in a
  multitude of ways (i.e., varying exposure levels and durations, duty
  cycle). When possible, it is valuable for action proponents to
  indicate the conditions under which these acoustic thresholds will be
  exceeded.

Monitoring and Shutdown for Pile Driving

    The following measures would apply to the COU's mitigation through 
the exclusion zone and zone of influence:
    Exclusion Zone--For all pile driving activities, the COU will 
establish an exclusion zone intended to contain the area in which Level 
A harassment thresholds are exceeded. The purpose of the exclusion zone 
is to define an area within which shutdown of construction activity 
would occur upon sighting of a marine mammal within that area (or in 
anticipation of an animal entering the defined area), thus preventing 
potential injury of marine mammals. Calculated distances to the updated 
PTS onset acoustic thresholds are shown in Table 5. The greatest 
calculated distance to the Level A harassment threshold during impact 
pile driving, assuming a maximum of 5 piles driven per day, is 184.5 m 
for low-frequency cetaceans (humpback whale). For mid-frequency 
cetaceans (killer whale), phocid pinnipeds (harbor seal), and otariid 
pinnipeds (Steller sea lion), the distances are 6.6 m, 98.6 m, and 7.2 
m, respectively (Table 5). Calculated distances to the PTS onset 
threshold during vibratory pile driving range from a maximum of 9.2 m 
for low-frequency cetaceans to 0.20 m for otariids--depending on the 
specific type of piles/sheets that are installed or removed (Table 5).

                                Table 5--Pile Driving Activities and Calculated Distances to Level A Harassment Isopleths
                                                 [Onset PTS threshold using NMFS' new acoustic guidance]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                  Estimated duration                      Level A harassment zone (m) (new guidance)
                                                 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                     Source                                       Piles
                                                   Number of    driven per   Hours per     Days of         LF           MF           PW           OW
                                                     piles         day          day         effort     cetaceans    cetaceans    pinnipeds    pinnipeds
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Vibratory Installation Sheet....................        1,400           15          0.5           95          4.1          0.4          2.5          0.2
Vibratory Installation 18''.....................          150           10         1.25           15          5.0          0.4          3.0          0.2
Vibratory Installation 30''.....................           40            5            1            8          5.0          0.4          3.1          0.2
Vibratory Installation 30''.....................           30            5            1            6          5.0          0.4          3.1          0.2
Vibratory Installation 30''.....................          125            5            2           25          8.0          0.7          4.8          0.3
Vibratory Removal Steel 18''....................          195           10         1.25           35          5.0          0.4          3.0          0.2
Vibratory Removal Steel 18''....................          150           10         1.25           35          5.0          0.4          3.0          0.2
Vibratory Removal Timber........................           55           10         1.25          5.5          9.2          0.8          5.6          0.4
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


 
                                                                  Piles
                                                   Number of    driven per  Strikes per    Days of         LF           MF           PW           OW
                                                     piles         day          pile        effort     cetaceans    cetaceans    pinnipeds    pinnipeds
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Impact Installation 30'' (SEL Calc)*............          195            5          200           39        184.5          6.6         98.8          7.2
                                                  ...........            4  ...........  ...........        159.0          5.7         85.1          6.2
                                                  ...........            3  ...........  ...........        131.3          4.7         70.3          5.1
                                                  ...........            2  ...........  ...........        100.2          3.6         53.6          3.9
                                                  ...........            1  ...........  ...........         63.1          2.2         33.8          2.5
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
* Distances to the Level A harassment (PTS onset) isopleth are based on the cumulative sound exposure level (LE) acoustic threshold; the modeled
  distances to the PTS onset isopleth were smaller using the Lpk metric (see Table 8 in the application), and therefore, not used to establish shutdown
  zones.


[[Page 78981]]

    The established shutdown zones corresponding to the Level A 
harassment zones for each activity are as follows:
     For all vibratory pile driving activities, a 10-m radius 
shutdown zone will be employed for all species observed
     During impact pile driving, a shutdown zone will be 
determined by the number of piles to be driven that day as follows: If 
the maximum of five piles are to be driven that day, shutdown during 
the first driven pile will occur if a marine mammal enters the `5-pile' 
radius. After the first pile is driven, if no marine mammals have been 
observed within the `5-pile'radius, the `4-pile' radius will become the 
shutdown radius. This pattern will continue unless an animal is 
observed within the most recent shutdown radius, at which time that 
shutdown radius will remain in effect for the rest of the workday. 
Shutdown radii for each species, depending on number of piles driven, 
are as follows:

[cir] 5-pile radius: humpback whale, 185 m; killer whale, 10 m; harbor 
seal, 100 m; Steller sea lion, 10 m
[cir] 4-pile radius: humpback whale, 160 m; killer whale, 10 m; harbor 
seal, 85 m; Steller sea lion, 10 m
[cir] 3-pile radius: humpback whale, 135 m; killer whale, 10 m; harbor 
seal, 70 m; Steller sea lion, 10 m
[cir] 2-pile radius: humpback whale, 100 m; killer whale, 10 m; harbor 
seal, 55 m; Steller sea lion, 10 m
[cir] 1-pile radius: humpback whale, 65 m; killer whale, 10 m; harbor 
seal, 35 m; Steller sea lion, 10 m

    A shutdown will occur prior to a marine mammal entering a shutdown 
zone appropriate for that species and the concurrent work activity. 
Activity will cease until the observer is confident that the animal is 
clear of the shutdown zone: The animal will be considered clear if:
     It has been observed leaving the shutdown zone; or
     It has not been seen in the shutdown zone for 30 minutes 
for cetaceans and 15 minutes for pinnipeds.
    If shutdown lasts for more than 30 minutes, pre-activity monitoring 
(see below) must recommence.
    If the exclusion zone is obscured by fog or poor lighting 
conditions, pile driving will not be initiated until the exclusion zone 
is clearly visible. Should such conditions arise while impact driving 
is underway, the activity would be halted.
    Level B Harassment Zone (Zone of Influence)--The zone of influence 
(ZOI) refers to the area(s) in which SPLs equal or exceed NMFS' current 
Level B harassment thresholds (160 and 120 dB rms for pulsed and non-
pulsed continuous sound, respectively). ZOIs provide utility for 
monitoring that is conducted for mitigation purposes (i.e., exclusion 
zone monitoring) by establishing monitoring protocols for areas 
adjacent to the exclusion zone. Monitoring of the ZOI enables observers 
to be aware of, and communicate about, the presence of marine mammals 
within the project area but outside the exclusion zone and thus prepare 
for potential shutdowns of activity should those marine mammals 
approach the exclusion zone. However, the primary purpose of ZOI 
monitoring is to allow documentation of incidents of Level B 
harassment; ZOI monitoring is discussed in greater detail later (see 
``Proposed Monitoring and Reporting''). The modeled radial distances 
for ZOIs for impact and vibratory pile driving and removal (not taking 
into account landmasses which are expected to limit the actual ZOI 
radii) are shown in Table 7.
    In order to document observed incidents of harassment, monitors 
will record all marine mammals observed within the ZOI. Modeling was 
performed to estimate the ZOI for impact pile driving (the areas in 
which SPLs are expected to equal or exceed 160 dB rms during impact 
driving) and for vibratory pile driving (the areas in which SPLs are 
expected to equal or exceed 120 dB rms during vibratory driving and 
removal). Results of this modeling showed the ZOI for impact driving 
would extend to a radius of 462 m from the pile being driven and the 
ZOI for vibratory pile driving would extend to a maximum radius of 
5,168 m from the pile being driven (see Section 5 of the application 
for the radius of each type of vibratory pile installation and 
removal). However, due to the geography of the project area, landmasses 
surround Dutch Harbor and Iliuliuk Bay are expected to limit the 
propagation of sound from construction activities such that the actual 
distances to the ZOI extent for vibratory pile driving will be 
substantially smaller than those described above. Modeling results of 
the ensonified areas, taking into account the attenuation provided by 
landmasses, suggest the actual ZOI will extend to a maximum distance of 
3,300 m for vibratory driving. Due to this adjusted ZOI, and due to the 
monitoring locations chosen by the COU (see the Monitoring Plan in 
Appendix E of the application for details), we expect that monitors 
will be able to observe the entire modeled ZOI for both impact and 
vibratory pile driving, and thus we expect data collected on incidents 
of Level B harassment to be relatively accurate. The modeled areas of 
the ZOIs for impact and vibratory driving, taking into account the 
attenuation provided by landmasses in attenuating sound from the 
construction project, are shown in Appendix B of the application. The 
actual Level B harassment/monitoring zones for impact pile driving (500 
m) and vibratory pile driving (3,300 m) are shown in Table 7.

Marine Mammal Monitoring

    Qualified observers will be on site before, during, and after all 
pile-driving activities. The proposed Level A and Level B harassment 
zones for underwater noise will be monitored before, during, and after 
all in-water construction activity. The observers will be authorized to 
shut down activity if pinnipeds or cetaceans are observed approaching 
or within the shutdown zone of any construction activities.
    Observers will follow observer protocols, meet training 
requirements, fill out data forms and report findings in accordance 
with protocols reviewed and approved by NMFS. A detailed Marine Mammal 
Monitoring Plan is found in Appendix E of the application.
    If marine mammals are observed approaching or within the shutdown 
zone, shutdown procedures will be implemented to prevent unauthorized 
exposure. If marine mammals are observed within the monitoring zone 
(ZOI), the sighting will be documented as a potential Level B take and 
the animal behaviors shall be documented. If the number of marine 
mammals exposed to Level B harassment approaches the number of takes 
allowed by the IHA, the COU will notify NMFS and seek further 
consultation. If any marine mammal species are encountered that are not 
authorized by the IHA and are likely to be exposed to sound pressure 
levels greater than or equal to the Level B harassment thresholds, then 
the COU will shut down in-water activity to avoid take of those 
species.

Pre-Activity Monitoring

    Prior to the start of daily in-water construction activity, or 
whenever a break in pile driving of 30 minutes or longer occurs, the 
observer will observe the shutdown and monitoring zones for a period of 
30 minutes. The shutdown zone will be cleared when a marine mammal has 
not been observed within zone for that 30-minute period. If a marine 
mammal is observed within the shutdown zone, a soft-start (described 
below) cannot proceed until the marine

[[Page 78982]]

mammal has left the zone or has not been observed for 15 minutes (for 
pinnipeds) and 30 minutes (for cetaceans). If the Level B harassment 
zone has been observed for 30 minutes and non-permitted species are not 
present within the zone, soft start procedures can commence and work 
can continue even if visibility becomes impaired within the Level B 
zone. If the Level B zone is not visible while work continues, 
exposures will be recorded at the estimated exposure rate for each 
permitted species. If work ceases for more than 30 minutes, the pre-
activity monitoring of both zones must recommence

Soft Start

    The use of a ``soft-start'' procedure is believed to provide 
additional protection to marine mammals by providing a warning and an 
opportunity to leave the area prior to the hammer operating at full 
capacity. Soft start procedures will be used prior to pile removal, 
pile installation, and in-water fill placement to allow marine mammals 
to leave the area prior to exposure to maximum noise levels. For 
vibratory hammers, the soft start technique will initiate noise from 
the hammer for short periods at a reduced energy level, followed by a 
brief waiting period and repeating the procedure two additional times. 
For impact hammers, the soft start technique will initiate several 
strikes at a reduced energy level, followed by a brief waiting period. 
This procedure would also be repeated two additional times. Equipment 
used for fill placement will be idled near the waterside edge of the 
fill area for 15 minutes prior to performing in-water fill placement

In-Water or Over-Water Construction Activities

    During in-water or over-water construction activities having the 
potential to affect marine mammals, but not involving a pile driver, a 
shutdown zone of 10 m will be monitored to ensure that marine mammals 
are not endangered by physical interaction with construction equipment. 
These activities could include, but are not limited to, the positioning 
of the pile on the substrate via a crane (``stabbing'' the pile) or the 
removal of the pile from the water column/substrate via a crane 
(``deadpull''), or the slinging of construction materials via crane.

Vessel Interactions

    To minimize impacts from vessels interactions with marine mammals, 
the crews aboard project vessels will follow NMFS's marine mammal 
viewing guidelines and regulations as practicable. (https://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/protectedresources/mmv/guide.htm).

Mitigation Conclusions

    We have carefully evaluated the COU's proposed mitigation measures 
and considered their likely effectiveness relative to implementation of 
similar mitigation measures in previously issued IHAs to preliminarily 
determine whether they are likely to affect 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.
    Based on our evaluation of the COU's proposed measures, we have 
preliminarily determined that the proposed mitigation measures provide 
the means of affecting the least practicable impact on marine mammal 
species or stocks and their habitat.

Proposed 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 proposed action area.

Monitoring

    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); and
     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
    5. An increase in our understanding of the effectiveness of certain 
mitigation and monitoring measures.
    The COU submitted a Marine Mammal Monitoring Plan as part of their 
IHA application (Appendix E of the application; also available online 
at: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental/). The COU's 
proposed Marine Mammal Monitoring Plan was created with input from NMFS 
and was based on similar plans that have been successfully implemented 
by other action proponents under previous IHAs for pile driving 
projects. The plan may be modified or supplemented based on comments or 
new information received from the public during the public comment 
period.

Visual Marine Mammal Observations

    The COU will collect sighting data and will record behavioral 
responses to construction activities for marine mammal species observed 
in the project location during the period of activity. All marine 
mammal observers (MMOs) will be trained in marine mammal identification 
and behaviors and are required to have no other construction-related 
tasks while conducting monitoring. The COU will monitor the exclusion 
zone (shutdown zone) and Level B harassment zone before, during, and 
after pile driving, with observers located at the best practicable 
vantage points (See Figure 3 in the Marine Mammal Monitoring Plan for 
the observer locations planned for use

[[Page 78983]]

during construction). Based on our requirements, the Marine Mammal 
Monitoring Plan would implement the following procedures for pile 
driving:
     During observation periods, observers will continuously 
scan the area for marine mammals using binoculars and the naked eye. 
Observers will work shifts of a maximum of four consecutive hours 
followed by an observer rotation or a 1-hour break and will work no 
more than 12 hours in any 24-hour period.
     Observers will collect data including, but not limited to, 
environmental conditions (e.g., sea state, precipitation, glare, etc.), 
marine mammal sightings (e.g., species, numbers, location, behavior, 
responses to construction activity, etc.), construction activity at the 
time of sighting, and number of marine mammal exposures. Observers will 
conduct observations, meet training requirements, fill out data forms, 
and report findings in accordance with this IHA
     During all observation periods, observers will use 
binoculars and the naked eye to search continuously for marine mammals.
     If the exclusion zone is obscured by fog or poor lighting 
conditions, pile driving will not be initiated until the exclusion zone 
is clearly visible. Should such conditions arise while impact driving 
is underway, the activity would be halted.
     Observers will implement mitigation measures including 
monitoring of the proposed shutdown and monitoring zones, clearing of 
the zones, and shutdown procedures.
     Observers will be in continuous contact with the 
construction personnel via two-way radio. A cellular phone will be use 
as back-up communications and for safety purposes.
     Individuals implementing the monitoring protocol will 
assess its effectiveness using an adaptive approach. MMOs 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 COU.

Data Collection

    We require that observers use approved data forms. Among other 
pieces of information, the COU will record detailed information about 
any implementation of shutdowns, including the distance of animals to 
the pile being driven, a description of specific actions that ensued, 
and resulting behavior of the animal, if any. In addition, the COU will 
attempt to distinguish between the number of individual animals taken 
and the number of incidents of take, when possible. We require that, at 
a minimum, the following information be collected on sighting forms:
     Date and time that permitted construction activity begins 
or ends;
     Weather parameters (e.g. percent cloud cover, percent 
glare, visibility) and Beaufort sea state.
     Species, numbers, and, if possible, sex and age class of 
observed marine mammals;
     Construction activities occurring during each sighting;
     Marine mammal behavior patterns observed, including 
bearing and direction of travel;
     Specific focus should be paid to behavioral reactions just 
prior to, or during, soft-start and shutdown procedures;
     Location of marine mammal, distance from observer to the 
marine mammal, and distance from pile driving activities to marine 
mammals;
     Record of whether an observation required the 
implementation of mitigation measures, including shutdown procedures 
and the duration of each shutdown; and
     Other human activity in the area. Record the hull numbers 
of fishing vessels if possible.

Sound Source and Attenuation Verification

    The companion User Spreadsheet provided with NMFS' new acoustic 
guidance uses multiple conservative assumption which may result in 
unrealistically large isopleths associated with PTS onset. The COU may 
elect to verify the values used for source levels and sound attenuation 
in the various exclusion radii calculations. This would be achieved 
using the techniques and equipment for sound source verification 
discussed in Appendix A of the application. Sound levels would be 
measured at the earliest possibility during impact pile driving at 10, 
100, 300, and 500 m from the sound source. These values would be 
plotted and a logarithmic line of best fit used to model the 
attenuation rates experienced at the construction site. If these values 
are higher than the typically-used value of 15, the exclusion radii 
will be revised according to the methods used to calculate the current 
values. The COU must obtain approval from NMFS of any new exclusion 
zone before it may be implemented.
    The COU may elect not to exercise this option, if the cost of 
shutdown during impact pile driving is not anticipated to warrant 
additional research.

Reporting

Annual Report
    A draft report will be submitted within 90 calendar days of the 
completion of the activity, The report will include information on 
marine mammal observations pre-activity, during-activity, and post-
activity during pile driving days, and will provide descriptions of any 
behavioral responses to construction activities by marine mammals and a 
complete description of any mitigation shutdowns and results of those 
actions, as well as an estimate of total take based on the number of 
marine mammals observed during the course of construction. A final 
report must be submitted within 30 days following resolution of 
comments from NMFS on the draft report. The report shall include at a 
minimum:
     General data:
    [cir] Date and time of activity.
    [cir] Water conditions (e.g., sea-state).
    [cir] Weather conditions (e.g., percent cover, percent glare, 
visibility).
     Specific pile driving data:
    [cir] Description of the pile driving activity being conducted 
(pile locations, pile size and type), and times (onset and completion) 
when pile driving occurs.
    [cir] The construction contractor and/or marine mammal monitoring 
staff will coordinate to ensure that pile driving times and strike 
counts are accurately recorded. The duration of soft start procedures 
should be noted as separate from the full power driving duration.
    [cir] Description of in-water construction activity not involving 
pile driving (location, type of activity, onset and completion times)
     Pre-activity observational survey-specific data:
    [cir] Date and time survey is initiated and terminated
    [cir] Description of any observable marine mammals and their 
behavior in the immediate area during monitoring
    [cir] Times when pile driving or other in-water construction is 
delayed due to presence of marine mammals within shutdown zones.
     During-activity observational survey-specific data:
    [cir] Description of any observable marine mammal behavior within 
monitoring zones or in the immediate area surrounding the monitoring 
zones, including the following:
    [ssquf] Distance from animal to pile driving sound source.
    [ssquf] Reason why/why not shutdown implemented.
    [ssquf] If a shutdown was implemented, behavioral reactions noted 
and if they

[[Page 78984]]

occurred before or after implementation of the shutdown.
    [ssquf] If a shutdown was implemented, the distance from animal to 
sound source at the time of the shutdown.
    [ssquf] Behavioral reactions noted during soft starts and if they 
occurred before or after implementation of the soft start.
    [ssquf] Distance to the animal from the sound source during soft 
start.
     Post-activity observational survey-specific data:
    [cir] Results, which include the detections and behavioral 
reactions of marine mammals, the species and numbers observed, sighting 
rates and distances,
    [cir] Refined exposure estimate based on the number of marine 
mammals observed. This may be reported as a rate of take (number of 
marine mammals per hour or per day), or using some other appropriate 
metric.
General Notifications
    In the unanticipated event that the specified activity clearly 
causes the take of a marine mammal in a manner not authorized by the 
IHA (if issued), such as a Level A harassment, or a take of a marine 
mammal species other than those proposed for authorization, the COU 
would immediately cease the specified activities and immediately report 
the incident to Jolie Harrison (Jolie.Harrison@noaa.gov), Chief of the 
Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, 
and Aleria Jensen (Aleria.Jensen@noaa.gov), Alaska Stranding 
Coordinator.
    The report would include the following information:
     Time, date, and location (latitude/longitude) of the 
incident;
     Description of the incident;
     Status of all sound source use in the 24 hours preceding 
the incident;
     Environmental conditions (e.g., wind speed and direction, 
Beaufort sea state, cloud cover, and visibility);
     Description of all marine mammal observations in the 24 
hours preceding the incident;
     Species identification or description of the animal(s) 
involved;
     Fate of the animal(s); and
     Photographs or video footage of the animal(s) (if 
equipment is available).
    Activities would not resume until NMFS is able to review the 
circumstances of the prohibited take. NMFS would work with the COU to 
determine what is necessary to minimize the likelihood of further 
prohibited take and ensure MMPA compliance. The COU would not be able 
to resume their activities until notified by NMFS via letter, email, or 
telephone.
    In the event that the COU discovers an injured or dead marine 
mammal, and determines that the cause of the injury or death is unknown 
and the death is relatively recent (i.e., in less than a moderate state 
of decomposition), the COU would immediately report the incident to 
Jolie Harrison (Jolie.Harrison@noaa.gov), Chief of the Permits and 
Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, and Aleria 
Jensen (Aleria.Jensen@noaa.gov), Alaska Stranding Coordinator.
    The report would include the same information identified in the 
paragraph above. Construction related activities would be able to 
continue while NMFS reviews the circumstances of the incident. NMFS 
would work with the COU to determine whether modifications in the 
activities are appropriate.
    In the event that the COU discovers an injured or dead marine 
mammal, and determines that the injury or death is not associated with 
or related to the activities authorized in the IHA (e.g., previously 
wounded animal, carcass with moderate to advanced decomposition, or 
scavenger damage), the COU would report the incident to Jolie Harrison 
(Jolie.Harrison@noaa.gov), Chief of the Permits and Conservation 
Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, and Aleria Jensen 
(Aleria.Jensen@noaa.gov), Alaska Stranding Coordinator, within 24 hours 
of the discovery. The COU would provide photographs or video footage 
(if available) or other documentation of the stranded animal sighting 
to NMFS and the Marine Mammal Stranding Network. The COU can continue 
its operations under such a case.

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 B harassment, resulting 
from vibratory and impact pile driving and involving temporary changes 
in behavior. Based on the best available information, the proposed 
activities--vibratory and impact pile driving--would not result in 
serious injuries or mortalities to marine mammals even in the absence 
of the planned mitigation and monitoring measures. Additionally, the 
proposed mitigation and monitoring measures are expected to minimize 
the potential for injury, such that take by Level A harassment is 
considered discountable.
    If a marine mammal responds to a stimulus by changing its behavior 
(e.g., through relatively minor changes in locomotion direction/speed 
or vocalization behavior), the response may or may not constitute 
taking at the individual level, and is unlikely to 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 animals or on the stock or species could potentially 
be significant (e.g., Lusseau and Bejder, 2007; Weilgart, 2007). 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.
    This practice potentially overestimates the numbers of marine 
mammals taken, as it is often difficult to distinguish between the 
individual animals harassed and incidences of harassment. 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 COU has requested authorization for the incidental taking of 
small numbers of Steller sea lions, harbor seals, humpback whales, and 
killer whales that may result from pile driving activities associated 
with the UMC dock construction project described previously in this 
document. In order to estimate the potential incidents of take that may 
occur incidental to the specified activity, we must first estimate the 
extent of the sound field that may be produced by the activity and then 
incorporate information about marine mammal density or abundance in the 
project area. We first provide information on applicable sound 
thresholds for determining effects to marine mammals before describing 
the information used in estimating the

[[Page 78985]]

sound fields, the available marine mammal density or abundance 
information, and the method of estimating potential incidences of take.

Sound Thresholds

    We use sound exposure thresholds to determine when an activity that 
produces sound might result in impacts to a marine mammal such that a 
``take'' by harassment might occur. As discussed above, NMFS has 
recently revised PTS (and temporary threshold shift) onset acoustic 
thresholds for impulsive and non-impulsive sound as part of its new 
acoustic guidance (refer to Table 4 for those thresholds). The Guidance 
does not address Level B harassment, nor airborne noise harassment; 
therefore, COA uses the current NMFS acoustic exposure criteria to 
determine exposure to airborne and underwater noise sound pressure 
levels for Level B harassment (Table 6).

 Table 6--Current NMFS Acoustic Exposure Criteria for Level B Harassment
------------------------------------------------------------------------
           Criterion                Definition           Threshold
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Level B harassment              Behavioral         160 dB re: 1 [mu]Pa
 (underwater).                   disruption.        (impulsive source*)/
                                                    120 dB re: 1 [mu]Pa
                                                    (continuous source*)
                                                    (rms).
Level B harassment (airborne)   Behavioral         90 dB re: 20 [mu]Pa
 **.                             disruption.        (harbor seals)/100
                                                    dB re: 20 [mu]Pa
                                                    (other pinnipeds)
                                                    (unweighted).
------------------------------------------------------------------------
* Impact pile driving produces impulsive noise; vibratory pile driving
  produces non-pulsed (continuous) noise.
** NMFS has not established any formal criteria for harassment resulting
  from exposure to airborne sound. However, these thresholds represent
  the best available information regarding the effects of pinniped
  exposure to such sound and NMFS' practice is to associate exposure at
  these levels with Level B harassment.

Distance to Sound Thresholds

    Underwater Sound Propagation Formula--Pile driving generates 
underwater noise that can potentially result in disturbance to marine 
mammals in the project area. Transmission loss (TL) is the decrease in 
acoustic intensity as an acoustic pressure wave propagates out from a 
source. TL parameters vary with frequency, temperature, sea conditions, 
current, source and receiver depth, water depth, water chemistry, and 
bottom composition and topography. The general formula for underwater 
TL is:

TL = B * log10(R1/R2),

where:

R1 = the distance of the modeled SPL from the driven 
pile, and
R2 = the distance from the driven pile of the initial 
measurement

    This formula neglects loss due to scattering and absorption, which 
is assumed to be zero here. The degree to which underwater sound 
propagates away from a sound source is dependent on a variety of 
factors, most notably the water bathymetry and presence or absence of 
reflective or absorptive conditions including in-water structures and 
sediments. Spherical spreading occurs in a perfectly unobstructed 
(free-field) environment not limited by depth or water surface, 
resulting in a 6 dB reduction in sound level for each doubling of 
distance from the source (20*log(range)). Cylindrical spreading occurs 
in an environment in which sound propagation is bounded by the water 
surface and sea bottom, resulting in a reduction of 3 dB in sound level 
for each doubling of distance from the source (10*log(range)). A 
practical spreading value of fifteen is often used under conditions, 
such as Dutch Harbor, where water depth increases as the receiver moves 
away from the shoreline, resulting in an expected propagation 
environment that would lie between spherical and cylindrical spreading 
loss conditions. Practical spreading loss (4.5 dB reduction in sound 
level for each doubling of distance) is assumed here.
    Underwater Sound--During the installation of piles, the project has 
the potential to increase underwater noise levels. This could result in 
disturbance to pinnipeds and cetaceans that occur within the Level B 
harassment zone. The intensity of pile driving sounds is greatly 
influenced by factors such as the type of piles, hammers, and the 
physical environment in which the activity occurs. A large quantity of 
literature regarding SPLs recorded from pile driving projects is 
available for consideration. In order to determine reasonable SPLs and 
their associated effects on marine mammals that are likely to result 
from pile driving at the UMC dock, studies with similar properties to 
the specified activity were evaluated. See Section 5 of the COU's 
application for a detailed description of the information considered in 
determining reasonable proxy source level values.
    According to studies by the California Department of Transportation 
(Caltrans), the installation of steel sheet piles using a vibratory 
hammer can result in underwater noise levels reaching a source level of 
163 dB RMS or 162 dBSEL at 10 m (Caltrans, 2015). PND 
Engineers, Inc. performed acoustic measurements during vibratory 
installation of steel sheet pile at a similar construction project in 
Unalaska, Alaska, and found average SPLs of 160.7 dBRMS 
(Unisea, 2015). This lower value was used to calculate the harassment 
radii for vibratory installation sheet pile and is discussed further in 
Appendix A of the application.
    Underwater noise levels during the vibratory removal and 
installation of 18-inch steel pile can reach a source level of 158 dB 
RMS or 158 dBSEL at 10 m (Caltrans, 2015). Because there was 
little information on the underwater noise levels of the removal of 
timber piles, the levels used for analysis (162 dB RMS at 10 m) were 
taken from the installation of timber piles (Caltrans, 2015). 
Underwater noise levels during the impact pile driving of a 30-inch 
steel pile can reach a source level of 185 dB RMS (172 
dBSEL, 196 dBpk) at 10 m, whereas the underwater 
noise from the vibratory driving of 30-inch steel pile can result in a 
source level of 159 dB RMS (159 dBSEL) at 10 m (Caltrans, 
2015).
    Dutch Harbor does not represent open water, or free field, 
conditions. Therefore, sounds would attenuate as they encounter land 
masses. As a result, and as described above, pile driving noise in the 
project area is not expected to propagate to the calculated distances 
for the 120 dB thresholds as shown in Table 7. See Appendix B of the 
application for figures depicting the actual extents of areas in which 
each underwater sound threshold is predicted to occur at the project 
area due to pile driving, taking into account the attenuation provided 
by landmasses.

[[Page 78986]]



  Table 7--Modeled Distances to the NMFS Level B Harassment Thresholds
  (Isopleths) and Actual Monitoring Zones During Pile Installation and
                                 Removal
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                             Distance       Monitoring
                Threshold                   (meters) *         zone
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Impact driving, disturbance (160 dB)....             464             500
Vibratory removal, disturbance (120 dB).        ** 5,168           3,300
------------------------------------------------------------------------
* Distances shown are modeled maximum distances and do not account for
  landmasses which are expected to reduce the actual distances to sound
  thresholds.
** This is the maximum distance modeled. See Section 5 of the
  application for the modeled distances for each pile driving activity
  type.

    Airborne Sound--During the installation of piles and blasting 
activities at the quarry, the project has the potential to increase 
airborne noise levels. This could result in disturbance to pinnipeds at 
the surface of the water or hauled out along the shoreline of Iliuliuk 
Bay or the Dutch Harbor spit; however, we do not expect animals to haul 
out frequently within Dutch Harbor or the spit due to the amount of 
activity within the area. A spherical spreading loss model (i.e., 6 dB 
reduction in sound level for each doubling of distance from the 
source), in which there is a perfectly unobstructed (free-field) 
environment not limited by depth or water surface, is appropriate for 
use with airborne sound and was used to estimate the distance to the 
airborne thresholds.
    The formula for calculating spherical spreading loss in airborne 
noise is:

TL = GL x log(R1/R2)

where:

TL = Transmission loss (dB)
GL = Geometric Loss Coefficient (20 for spherical spreading in 
airborne noise)
R1 = Range of the sound pressure level (m)
R2 = Distance from the source of the initial measurement 
(m)

    Noise levels used to calculate airborne harassment radii come from 
Laughlin (2010) and Laughlin (2013) and are summarized in Table 9 of 
the application. Data for vibratory driving from Laughlin (2010) is 
presented in dBL5EQ, or the 5-minute average continuous 
sound level. In this case dBRMS values would be calculated 
in a similar fashion, so these dBL5EQ were considered 
equivalent to the standard dBRMS. Impact pile driving noise 
levels were taken from a recent Washington State Department of 
Transportation IHA application which used data collected by Laughlin 
(2013). A report was not available for this data, but it is assumed to 
be provided in dBRMS. Only A-weighted airborne noise levels 
were available for quarry plasting (Giroux, 2009), so a conservative 
maximum level was selected, dBALMAX.
    Based on the spherical spreading loss equation, the calculated 
airborne Level B harassment zones would extend out to the following 
distances:
     For the vibratory installation of 18-inch steel piles, the 
calculated airborne Level B harassment zone for harbor seals is 11.4 m; 
for Steller sea lions, the distance is 3.6 m;
     For the vibratory installation of 30-inch steel piles, the 
calculated airborne Level B harassment zone for harbor seals is 31.9 
meters; for Steller sea lions, the distance is 10.1 m;
     For the impact installation of 24-inch steel piles, the 
calculated airborne Level B harassment zone for harbor seals is 152.4 
m; for Steller sea lions, the distance is 48.2 m; and
     For quarry blasting, the calculated Level B harassment 
zone for harbor seals extends to 38.5 m and 12.2 m for Steller sea 
lions.
    Vibratory installation of sheet piles is assumed to create lower 
noise levels than installation of 30-inch round piles, so these values 
will be used for sheet pile driving. Similarly, vibratory removal of 
steel or wooden piles will observe the same harassment radii. For the 
purposes of this analysis, impact installation of 30-inch steel piles 
is assumed to generate similar sound levels to the installation of 24-
inch piles, as no unweighted data was available for the 30-inch piles.
    Since the in-water area encompassed within the above areas is 
located entirely within the underwater Level B harassment zone, the 
pinnipeds that come within these areas will already be recorded as a 
take based on Level B harassment threshold for underwater noise, which 
are in all cases larger than those associated with airborne sound. 
Further, it is not anticipated that any pinnipeds will haul out within 
the airborne harassment zone. Airborne noise thresholds have not been 
established for cetaceans (NOAA, 2015b), and no adverse impacts are 
anticipated.
    Distance from the quarry bottom to the shoreline is an average of 
70-80 m, so exposure to even Level B harassment from blasting noise is 
highly unlikely.
    Therefore, we do not believe that authorization of incidental take 
resulting from airborne sound for pinnipeds is warranted, and airborne 
sound is not discussed further here.

Marine Mammal Occurrence

    The most appropriate information available was used to estimate the 
number of potential incidences of take. Density estimates for Steller 
sea lions, harbor seals, humpback whales, and killer whales in Dutch 
Harbor, and more broadly in the waters surrounding Unalaska Island, are 
not readily available. Likewise, we were not able to find any published 
literature or reports describing densities or estimating abundance of 
either species in the project area. As such, data collected from marine 
mammal surveys represent the best available information on the 
occurrence of both species in the project area.
    Beginning in April 2015, UMC personnel began conducting surveys 
within Dutch Harbor under the direction of an ecological consultant. 
The consultant visited the site every month to ensure that data was 
gathered consistently and comprehensively. Observers monitored for a 
variety of marine mammals, including Steller sea lions, whales, and 
harbor seals. Several observation locations from various vantage points 
were selected for the surveys. Observations took place for 
approximately 15 minutes from each point, and included only marine 
mammals which were inside Dutch Harbor. The survey recorded the type of 
species observed, the number of species observed, the primary activity 
of the species, and any applicable notes. Surveys were conducted 
through July 2016.
    These surveys represent the most recent data on marine mammal 
occurrence in the harbor, and represent the only targeted marine mammal 
surveys of the project area that we are aware of.
    Data from bird surveys of Dutch Harbor conducted by the U.S. Army 
Corps of Engineers (USACE) from 2003-2013, which included observations 
of Steller sea lions in the harbor, were also available; however, we 
determined that these data were unreliable as a basis for

[[Page 78987]]

prediction of marine mammal abundance in the project location as the 
goal of the USACE surveys was to develop a snapshot of waterfowl and 
seabird location and abundance in the harbor, thus the surveys would 
have been designed and carried out differently if the goal had been to 
document marine mammal use of the harbor. Additionally, USACE surveys 
occurred only in winter; as Steller sea lion abundance is expected to 
vary significantly between the breeding and the non-breeding season in 
the project location, data that were collected only during the non-
breeding season have limited utility in predicting year-round 
abundance. As such, we determined that the data from the surveys 
commissioned by COA in 2015-2016 represents the best available 
information on marine mammals in the project location.

Description of Take Calculation

    The take calculations presented here rely on the best data 
currently available for marine mammal populations in the project 
location. Density data for marine mammal species in the project 
location is not available. Therefore the data collected from marine 
mammal surveys of Dutch Harbor in 2015-2016 represent the best 
available information on marine mammal populations in the project 
location, and this data was used to estimate take. As such, the zones 
that have been calculated to contain the areas ensonified to the Level 
A and Level B thresholds for pinnipeds have been calculated for 
mitigation and monitoring purposes and were not used in the calculation 
of take. See Table 8 for total estimated incidents of take. Estimates 
were based on the following assumptions:
     All marine mammals estimated to be in areas ensonified by 
noise exceeding the Level B harassment threshold for impact and 
vibratory driving (as shown in Appendix B of the application) are 
assumed to be in the water 100 percent of the time. This assumption is 
based on the fact that there are no haulouts or rookeries within the 
area predicted to be ensonified to the Level B harassment threshold 
based on modeling.
     Predicted exposures were based on total estimated total 
duration of pile driving/removal hours, which are estimated at 1,470 
hours over the entire project. This estimate is based on a 245 day 
project time frame, an average work day of 12 hours, and a conservative 
estimate that up to approximately 50 percent of time (likely less on 
some days, based on the short pile driving durations provided in Table 
5) during those work days will include pile driving and removal 
activities (with the rest of the work day spent on non-pile driving 
activities which will not result in marine mammal take, such as 
installing templating and bracing, moving equipment, etc.).
     Vibratory or impact driving could occur at any time during 
the ``duration'' and our approach to take calculation assumes a rate of 
occurrence that is the same for any of the calculated zones.
     The hourly marine mammal observation rate recorded during 
marine mammal surveys of Dutch Harbor in 2015 is reflective of the 
hourly rate that will be observed during the construction project.
     Takes were calculated based on estimated rates of 
occurrence for each species in the project area and this rate was 
assumed to be the same regardless of the size of the zone (for impact 
or vibratory driving/removal).
     Activities that may be accomplished by either impact 
driving or down-the-hole drilling (i.e., fender support/pin piles, 
miscellaneous support piles, and temporary support piles) were assumed 
to be accomplished via impact driving. If any of these activities are 
ultimately accomplished via down-the-hole drilling instead of impact 
driving, this would not result in a change in the amount of overall 
effort (as they will be accomplished via down-the-hole drilling instead 
of, and not in addition to, impact driving). As take estimates are 
calculated based on effort and not marine mammal densities, this would 
not change the take estimate.
    Take estimates for Steller sea lions, harbor seals, humpback 
whales, and killer whales were calculated using the following series of 
steps:
    1. The average hourly rate of animals observed during 2015-2016 
marine mammal surveys of Dutch Harbor was calculated separately for 
both species (``Observation Rate''). Thus ``Observation Rate'' (OR) = 
Number of individuals observed/hours of observation;
    2. The 95 percent confidence interval was calculated for the data 
set, and the upper bound of the 95 percent confidence interval was 
added to the Observation Rate to account for variability of the small 
data set (``Exposure Rate''). Thus ``Exposure Rate'' (XR) = 
[micro]OR + CI95 (where [micro]OR = 
average of hourly observation rates and CI95 = 95 percent 
confidence interval (normal distribution);
    3. The total estimated hours of pile driving work over the entire 
project was calculated, as described above (``Duration''); Thus 
``Duration'' = total number of work days (245) * average pile driving/
removal hours per day (6) = total work hours for the project (1,470); 
and
    4. The estimated number of exposures was calculated by multiplying 
the ``Duration'' by the estimated ``Exposure Rate'' for each species. 
Thus, estimated takes = Duration * XR.
    Please refer to Appendix G of the application for a more thorough 
description of the statistical analysis of the observation data from 
marine mammal surveys.
    Steller Sea Lion--Steller sea lion density data for the project 
area is not available. Steller sea lions occur year-round in the 
Aleutian Islands and within Unalaska Bay and Dutch Harbor. As described 
above, local abundance in the non-breeding season (winter months) is 
generally lower overall; data from surveys conducted by the COU in 
2015-2016 revealed Steller sea lions were present in Dutch Harbor in 
most months that surveys occurred. We assume, based on marine mammal 
surveys of Dutch Harbor, and based on the best available information on 
seasonal abundance patterns of the species including over 20 years of 
NOAA National Marine Mammal Laboratory (NMML) survey data collected in 
Unalaska, that Steller sea lions will be regularly observed in the 
project area during most or all months of construction. As described 
above, all Steller sea lions in the project area at a given time are 
assumed to be in the water, thus any sea lion within the modeled area 
of ensonification exceeding the Level B harassment threshold would be 
recorded as taken by Level B harassment.
    Estimated take of Steller sea lions was calculated using the 
equations described above, as follows:

[mu]OR = 0.40 animals/hour
CI95 = 0.23 animals/hour
XR = 0.63 animals/hour

Estimated exposures (Level B harassment) = 0.63 * 1,470 = 926


    Thus we estimate that a total of 926 Steller sea lion takes will 
occur as a result of the proposed UMC dock construction project (Table 
8).
    Harbor Seal--Harbor seal density data for the project location is 
not available. We assume, based on the best on the best available 
information, that harbor seals will be encountered in low numbers 
throughout the duration of the project. We relied on the best available 
information to estimate take of harbor seals, which in this case was 
survey data collected from the 2015-2016 marine mammal surveys of Dutch 
Harbor as described above. That survey data showed harbor seals are 
present in

[[Page 78988]]

the harbor only occasionally (average monthly observation rate = 0.41). 
NMML surveys have not been performed in Dutch Harbor, but the most 
recent NMML surveys of Unalaska Bay confirm that harbor seals are 
present in the area in relatively small numbers, with the most recent 
haulout counts in Unalaska Bay (2008-2011) recording no more than 19 
individuals at the three known haulouts there. NMML surveys have been 
limited to the months of July and August, so it is not known whether 
harbor seal abundance in the project area varies seasonally. As 
described above, all harbor seals in the project area at a given time 
are assumed to be in the water, thus any harbor seals within the 
modeled area of ensonification exceeding the Level B harassment 
threshold would be recorded as taken by Level B harassment.
    Estimated take of harbor seals was calculated using the equations 
described above, as follows:

    [mu]OR = 0.16 animals/hour
    CI95 = 0.16 animals/hour
    XR = 0.32 animals/hour

Estimated exposures (Level B harassment) = 0.32 * 1,470 hours = 470

    Thus we estimate that a total of 470 harbor seal takes will occur 
as a result of the proposed UMC dock construction project (Table 8).
    Humpback Whale--Humpback whale density data for the project 
location is not available. We assume, based on the best on the best 
available information, that humpback whales will be encountered in low 
numbers throughout the duration of the project. We relied on the best 
available information to estimate take of humpback whales, which in 
this case was survey data collected from the 2015-2016 marine mammal 
surveys of Dutch Harbor as described above. That survey data showed 
humpback whales are present in the harbor only occasionally (average 
monthly observation rate = 0.06). Estimated take of humpback whales was 
calculated using the equations described above, as follows:

[mu]OR = 0.06 animals/hour
CI95 = 0.06 animals/hour
XR = 0.12 animals/hour

Estimated exposures (Level B harassment) = 0.12 * 1,470 hours = 176

    Thus we estimate that a total of 176 humpback whale takes will 
occur as a result of the proposed UMC dock construction project (Table 
8).
    Killer Whale--Little is known about killer whales that inhabit 
waters near Unalaska (Parsons et al., 2013). While it is likely that 
killer whales may appear in Dutch Harbor, given their known range and 
the availability of food, the 2015-2016 surveys saw only a small number 
(2) of marine mammals that were suspected to be killer whales (average 
monthly observation rate for these unidentified whales = 0.02). There 
are differences in the physical appearance of transient and resident 
killer whales; however, in the surveys no distinction was notated. 
Killer whale density data for the project location is not available. We 
assume, based on the best on the best available information, that 
killer whales will be encountered in low numbers throughout the 
duration of the project. We relied on the best available information to 
estimate take of killer whales, which in this case was survey data 
collected from the 2015-2016 marine mammal surveys of Dutch Harbor as 
described above. That survey data showed killer whales are potentially 
present in the harbor only very rarely. Estimated take of killer whales 
was calculated using the equations described above, as follows:

[mu]OR = 0.02 animals/hour
CI95 = 0.04 animals/hour
XR = 0.06 animals/hour

Estimated exposures (Level B harassment) = 0.06 * 1,470 hours = 88

    Thus we estimate that a total of 81 killer whale takes will occur 
as a result of the proposed UMC dock construction project (Table 8).
    We therefore propose to authorize the take, by Level B harassment 
only, of a total of 926 Steller sea lions (Western DPS), 470 harbor 
seals (Aleutian Islands Stock), 88 killer whales (Eastern North Pacific 
Alaska Resident and Gulf of Alaska, Aleutian Islands, and Bering Sea 
Transient Stocks), and 176 humpback whales (Central North Pacific 
Stock; Western North Pacific Stock) as a result of the proposed 
construction project. These take estimates are considered reasonable 
estimates of the number of marine mammal exposures to sound above the 
Level B harassment threshold that are likely to occur over the course 
of the project, and not the number of individual animals exposed. For 
instance, for pinnipeds that associate fishing boats in Dutch Harbor 
with reliable sources of food, there will almost certainly be some 
overlap in individuals present day-to-day depending on the number of 
vessels entering the harbor, however each instance of exposure for 
these individuals will be recorded as a separate, additional take. 
Moreover, because we anticipate that marine mammal observers will 
typically be unable to determine from field observations whether the 
same or different individuals are being exposed over the course of a 
workday, each observation of a marine mammal will be recorded as a new 
take, although an individual theoretically would only be considered as 
taken once in a given day.

 Table 8--Number of Potential Marine Mammal Incidental Takes Proposed for Authorization, and Percentage of Stock
                                 Abundance, as a Result of the Proposed Project
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                           Underwater\1\           Percentage of
                             Species                             --------------------------------      stock
                                                                      Level A         Level B     abundance  (%)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Humpback whale..................................................               0             176             1.6
Killer whale....................................................               0              88             3.0
Steller sea lion................................................               0             926             1.9
Harbor seal.....................................................               0             470             8.1
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ We assume, for reasons described earlier, that no takes would occur as a result of airborne noise.


[[Page 78989]]

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 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 
generally to all the species listed in Table 8, given that the 
anticipated effects of this pile driving project on marine mammals are 
expected to be relatively similar in nature. Where there are species-
specific factors that have been considered, they are identified below.
    Pile driving activities associated with the proposed dock 
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 B harassment 
(behavioral disturbance) only, 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 and 
removal are under way.
    The takes from Level B harassment will be due to potential 
behavioral disturbance and TTS. No serious injury or mortality of 
marine mammals would be anticipated as a result of vibratory and impact 
pile driving. Except when operated at long continuous duration (not the 
case here) in the presence of marine mammals that do not move away, 
vibratory hammers do not have significant potential to cause 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 than 
vibratory driving and much sharper rise time to reach those peaks. The 
potential for injury that may otherwise result from exposure to noise 
associated with impact pile driving will effectively be minimized 
through the implementation of the planned mitigation measures. These 
measures include: the implementation of an exclusion (shutdown) zone, 
which is expected to eliminate the likelihood of marine mammal exposure 
to noise at received levels that could result in injury; and the use of 
``soft start'' before pile driving, which is expected to provide marine 
mammals near or within the zone of potential injury with sufficient 
time to vacate the area. We believe the required mitigation measures, 
which have been successfully implemented in similar pile driving 
projects, will minimize the possibility of injury that may otherwise 
exist as a result of impact pile driving.
    The proposed activities are localized and of relatively short 
duration. The entire project area is limited to the UMC Dock area and 
its immediate surroundings. These localized and short-term noise 
exposures may cause short-term behavioral modifications in harbor 
seals, Steller sea lions, killer whales, and humpback whales. Moreover, 
the proposed mitigation and monitoring measures, including injury 
shutdowns, soft start techniques, and multiple MMOs monitoring the 
behavioral and injury zones for marine mammal presence, are expected to 
reduce the likelihood of injury and behavior exposures. Additionally, 
no critical habitat for marine mammals are known to be within the 
ensonification areas of the proposed action area during the 
construction time frame. No pinniped rookeries or haul-outs are present 
within the project area
    The project also is not expected to have significant adverse 
effects on affected marine mammals' habitat. The project activities 
would not modify existing marine mammal habitat for a significant 
amount of time. The activities may cause some fish to leave the area of 
disturbance, thus temporarily impacting marine mammals' foraging 
opportunities in a limited portion of the foraging range; but, because 
of the short duration of the activities and the relatively small area 
of the habitat that may be affected, the impacts to marine mammal 
habitat are not expected to cause significant or long-term negative 
consequences.
    Effects on individuals that are taken by Level B harassment, on the 
basis of reports in the literature as well as monitoring from similar 
pile driving projects that have received incidental take authorizations 
from NMFS, will likely be limited to reactions such as increased 
swimming speeds, increased surfacing time, or decreased foraging. Most 
likely, individuals will simply move away from the sound source and be 
temporarily displaced from the area of pile driving (though even this 
reaction has been observed primarily in association with impact pile 
driving). In response to vibratory driving, harbor seals have been 
observed to orient towards and sometimes move towards the sound. 
Repeated exposures of individuals to levels of sound that may cause 
Level B harassment are unlikely to result in hearing impairment or to 
significantly disrupt 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. Take of marine mammal species or stocks and their 
habitat 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.
    While we are not aware of comparable construction projects in the 
project location, the pile driving activities analyzed here are similar 
to other in-water construction activities that have received incidental 
harassment authorizations previously, including a Unisea dock 
construction project in neighboring Iliuliuk Harbor, and at Naval Base 
Kitsap Bangor in Hood Canal, Washington, and at the Port of Friday 
Harbor in the San Juan Islands, which have occurred with no reported 
injuries or mortalities to marine mammals, and no known long-term 
adverse consequences to marine mammals from behavioral harassment.
    In summary, this negligible impact analysis is founded on the 
following factors: (1) The possibility of injury, 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 or potential TTS; (3) the absence 
of any major rookeries and only a few isolated haulout areas near the 
project site; (4) the absence of any other known areas or features of 
special significance for foraging or reproduction within the project 
area; and (5) the presumed efficacy of planned mitigation measures in 
reducing the effects of the specified activity to the level of least 
practicable

[[Page 78990]]

impact. In combination, we believe that these factors, as well as the 
available body of evidence from other similar activities, demonstrate 
that the potential effects of the specified activity will have only 
short-term effects on individual animals. 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 proposed monitoring and 
mitigation measures, we preliminarily find that the total marine mammal 
take from UMC dock construction activities in Dutch Harbor will have a 
negligible impact on the affected marine mammal species or stocks.

Small Numbers Analysis

    The numbers of animals authorized to be taken would be considered 
small relative to the relevant stocks or populations (1.9 percent for 
Steller sea lions, 8.1 percent for harbor seals, 1.6 percent for 
humpback whales, and 3.0 percent for killer whales) even if each 
estimated taking occurred to a new individual. However, the likelihood 
that each take would occur to a new individual is extremely low.
    Further, these takes are likely to occur only within some small 
portion of the overall regional stock. For example, of the estimated 
49,497 western DPS Steller sea lions throughout Alaska, there are 
probably no more than 300 individuals with site fidelity to the three 
haulouts located nearest to the project location, based on over twenty 
years of NMML survey data (see ``Description of Marine Mammals in the 
Area of the Specified Activity'' above). For harbor seals, NMML survey 
data suggest there are likely no more than 60 individuals that use the 
three haulouts nearest to the project location (the only haulouts in 
Unalaska Bay). Thus the estimate of take is an estimate of the number 
of anticipated exposures, rather than an estimate of the number of 
individuals that will be taken, as we expect the majority of exposures 
would be repeat exposures that would accrue to the same individuals. As 
such, the authorized takes would represent a much smaller number of 
individuals in relation to total stock sizes.
    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 preliminarily 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

    Subsistence hunting and fishing is an important part of the history 
and culture of Unalaska Island. However, the number of Steller sea 
lions and harbor seals harvested in Unalaska decreased from 1994 
through 2008; in 2008, the last year for which data is available, there 
were no harbor seals reported as harvested for subsistence use and only 
three Steller sea lions reported (Wolfe et al., 2009). Data on 
pinnipeds hunted for subsistence use in Unalaska has not been collected 
since 2008. For a summary of data on pinniped harvests in Unalaska from 
1994-2008, see Section 8 of the application. Subsistence hunting for 
humpback whales and killer whales does not occur in Unalaska.
    Aside from the apparently decreasing rate of subsistence hunting in 
Unalaska, Dutch Harbor is not likely to be used for subsistence hunting 
or fishing due to its industrial nature, with several dock facilities 
located along the shoreline of the harbor. In addition, the proposed 
construction project is likely to result only in short-term, temporary 
impacts to pinnipeds in the form of possible behavior changes, and is 
not expected to result in the injury or death of any marine mammal. As 
such, the proposed project is not likely to adversely impact the 
availability of any marine mammal species or stocks that may otherwise 
be used for subsistence purposes.

Endangered Species Act (ESA)

    Threatened or endangered marine mammal species with confirmed 
occurrence in the project area include the Western North Pacific DPS 
and Mexico DPS of humpback whale, and the Western DPS Steller sea lion. 
The project area occurs within critical habitat for three major Steller 
sea lion haul-outs and one rookery. The three haul-outs (Old Man Rocks, 
Unalaska/Cape Sedanka, and Akutan/Reef-Lava) are located between 
approximately 15 and 19 nautical miles from the project area. The 
closest rookery is Akutan/Cape Morgan, which is about 19 nautical miles 
from the project area. The NMFS Permits and Conservation Division has 
initiated consultation with the NMFS Alaska Regional Office Protected 
Resources Division under section 7 of the ESA on the issuance of an IHA 
to the COU under section 101(a)(5)(D) of the MMPA for this activity. 
Consultation will be concluded prior to a determination on the issuance 
of an IHA.

Proposed Authorization

    As a result of these preliminary determinations, we propose to 
issue an IHA to the COU, to conduct the described dock construction 
activities in Dutch Harbor, from March 1, 2016 through February 28, 
2017, provided the previously mentioned mitigation, monitoring, and 
reporting requirements are incorporated. The proposed IHA language is 
provided next.
    This section contains a draft of the IHA itself. The wording 
contained in this section is proposed for inclusion in the IHA (if 
issued).
    1. This Incidental Harassment Authorization (IHA) is valid from 
March 1, 2016 through February 28, 2017.
    2. This IHA is valid only for pile driving and removal activities 
associated with construction of the UMC dock in Dutch Harbor, Unalaska, 
Alaska.
    3. General Conditions
    (a) A copy of this IHA must be in the possession of the COU, its 
designees, and work crew personnel operating under the authority of 
this IHA.
    (b) The species authorized for taking are the harbor seal (Phoca 
vitulina), Steller sea lion (Eumetopias jubatus), humpback whale 
(Megaptera novaeangliae), and killer whale (Orcinus orca).
    (c) The taking, by Level B harassment only, is limited to the 
species listed in condition 3(b). See Table 8 in the proposed IHA 
authorization for numbers of take authorized.
    (d) The taking by injury (Level A harassment), serious injury, or 
death of any of the species listed in condition 3(b) of the 
Authorization or any taking of any other species of marine mammal is 
prohibited and may result in the modification, suspension, or 
revocation of this IHA.
    (e) The COU shall conduct briefings between construction 
supervisors and crews, marine mammal monitoring team, and the COU 
personnel 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.
    4. Mitigation Measures
    The holder of this Authorization is required to implement the 
following mitigation measures:
    (a) For all pile driving activities, the COU shall establish an 
exclusion (shutdown) zone intended to contain the area in which Level A 
harassment thresholds are exceeded.
    (b) The established shutdown zones corresponding to the Level A

[[Page 78991]]

harassment zones for each activity are as follows:
    i. For all vibratory pile driving activities, a 10-m radius 
shutdown zone shall be employed
    ii. During impact pile driving, a shutdown zone shall be determined 
by the number of piles to be driven that day as follows: If the maximum 
of five piles are to be driven that day, shutdown during the first 
driven pile shall occur if a marine mammal enters the `5-pile' radius. 
After the first pile is driven, if no marine mammals have been observed 
within the `5-pile'radius, the `4-pile' radius shall become the 
shutdown radius. This pattern shall continue unless an animal is 
observed within the most recent shutdown radius, at which time that 
shutdown radius shall remain in effect for the rest of the workday. 
Shutdown radii for each species, depending on number of piles driven, 
are as follows:

 5-pile radius: humpback whale, 185 m; killer whale, 10 m; 
harbor seal, 100 m; Steller sea lion, 10 m
 4-pile radius: humpback whale, 160 m; killer whale, 10 m; 
harbor seal, 85 m; Steller sea lion, 10 m
 3-pile radius: humpback whale, 135 m; killer whale, 10 m; 
harbor seal, 70 m; Steller sea lion, 10 m
 2-pile radius: humpback whale, 100 m; killer whale, 10 m; 
harbor seal, 55 m; Steller sea lion, 10 m
 1-pile radius: humpback whale, 65 m; killer whale, 10 m; 
harbor seal, 35 m; Steller sea lion, 10 m

    (c) A shutdown shall occur prior to a marine mammal entering a 
shutdown zone appropriate for that species and the concurrent work 
activity. Activity shall cease until the observer is confident that the 
animal is clear of the shutdown zone: The animal shall be considered 
clear if:
     It has been observed leaving the shutdown zone; or
     It has not been seen in the shutdown zone for 30 minutes 
for cetaceans and 15 minutes for pinnipeds.
    (d) If shutdown lasts for more than 30 minutes, pre-activity 
monitoring (see below) must recommence.
    (e) Prior to the start of daily in-water construction activity, or 
whenever a break in pile driving of 30 minutes or longer occurs, the 
observer shall observe the shutdown and monitoring zones for a period 
of 30 minutes. The shutdown zone shall be cleared when a marine mammal 
has not been observed within zone for that 30-minute period. If a 
marine mammal is observed within the shutdown zone, a soft-start 
(described below) cannot proceed until the marine mammal has left the 
zone or has not been observed for 15 minutes (for pinnipeds) and 30 
minutes (for cetaceans). If the Level B harassment zone has been 
observed for 30 minutes and non-permitted species are not present 
within the zone, soft start procedures can commence and work can 
continue even if visibility becomes impaired within the Level B zone. 
If the Level B zone is not visible while work continues, exposures 
shall be recorded at the estimated exposure rate for each permitted 
species. If work ceases for more than 30 minutes, the pre-activity 
monitoring of both zones must recommence
    (f) If the exclusion zone is obscured by fog or poor lighting 
conditions, pile driving shall not be initiated until the exclusion 
zone is clearly visible. Should such conditions arise while impact 
driving is underway, the activity would be halted.
    (g) Soft start procedures shall be used prior to pile removal, pile 
installation, and in-water fill placement to allow marine mammals to 
leave the area prior to exposure to maximum noise levels. For vibratory 
hammers, the soft start technique shall initiate noise from the hammer 
for short periods at a reduced energy level, followed by a brief 
waiting period and repeating the procedure two additional times. For 
impact hammers, the soft start technique shall initiate several strikes 
at a reduced energy level, followed by a brief waiting period. This 
procedure shall also be repeated two additional times. Equipment used 
for fill placement shall be idled near the waterside edge of the fill 
area for 15 minutes prior to performing in-water fill placement
    (h) During in-water or over-water construction activities having 
the potential to affect marine mammals, but not involving a pile 
driver, a shutdown zone of 10 m shall be monitored to ensure that 
marine mammals are not endangered by physical interaction with 
construction equipment. These activities could include, but are not 
limited to, the positioning of the pile on the substrate via a crane 
(``stabbing'' the pile) or the removal of the pile from the water 
column/substrate via a crane (``deadpull''), or the slinging of 
construction materials via crane.
    (i) To minimize impacts from vessels interactions with marine 
mammals, the crews aboard project vessels shall follow NMFS's marine 
mammal viewing guidelines and regulations as practicable. (https://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/protectedresources/mmv/guide.htm).
5. Monitoring
    The holder of this Authorization is required to conduct marine 
mammal monitoring during pile driving activity. The COU shall collect 
sighting data and shall record behavioral responses to construction 
activities for marine mammal species observed in the project location 
during the period of activity. All marine mammal observers (MMOs) shall 
be trained in marine mammal identification and behaviors and are 
required to have no other construction-related tasks while conducting 
monitoring. The COU shall monitor the exclusion zones (shutdown zones) 
and Level B harassment zones before, during, and after pile driving, 
with observers located at the best practicable vantage points. The 
Marine Mammal Monitoring Plan shall implement the following procedures 
for pile driving:
    (a) During observation periods, observers shall continuously scan 
the area for marine mammals using binoculars and the naked eye. 
Observers shall work shifts of a maximum of four consecutive hours 
followed by an observer rotation or a 1-hour break and shall work no 
more than 12 hours in any 24-hour period. Observers shall collect data 
including, but not limited to, environmental conditions (e.g., sea 
state, precipitation, glare, etc.), marine mammal sightings (e.g., 
species, numbers, location, behavior, responses to construction 
activity, etc.), construction activity at the time of sighting, and 
number of marine mammal exposures. Observers shall conduct 
observations, meet training requirements, fill out data forms, and 
report findings in accordance with this IHA
    (b) During all observation periods, observers shall use binoculars 
and the naked eye to search continuously for marine mammals.
    (c) If marine mammals are observed within the monitoring zone 
(ZOI--500 m during impact pile driving; 3,300 m during vibratory pile 
driving) the sighting shall be documented as a potential Level B take 
and the animal behaviors shall be documented. If the number of marine 
mammals exposed to Level B harassment approaches the number of takes 
allowed by the IHA, the COU shall notify NMFS and seek further 
consultation. If any marine mammal species are encountered that are not 
authorized by the IHA and are likely to be exposed to sound pressure 
levels greater than or equal to the Level B harassment thresholds, then 
the COU shall shut down in-water activity to avoid take of those 
species.

[[Page 78992]]

    (d) Observers shall implement mitigation measures including 
monitoring of the proposed shutdown and monitoring zones, clearing of 
the zones, and shutdown procedures. They shall be in continuous contact 
with the construction personnel via two-way radio. A cellular phone 
shall be use as back-up communications and for safety purposes.
    (e) Individuals implementing the monitoring protocol shall assess 
its effectiveness using an adaptive approach. MMOs shall use their best 
professional judgment throughout implementation and seek improvements 
to these methods when deemed appropriate. Any modifications to protocol 
shall be coordinated between NMFS and the COU.
    (f) The following information shall be collected on marine mammal 
sighting forms:
     Date and time that permitted construction activity begins 
or ends;
     Weather parameters (e.g. percent cloud cover, percent 
glare, visibility) and Beaufort sea state.
     Species, numbers, and, if possible, sex and age class of 
observed marine mammals;
     Construction activities occurring during each sighting;
     Marine mammal behavior patterns observed, including 
bearing and direction of travel;
     Specific focus should be paid to behavioral reactions just 
prior to, or during, soft-start and shutdown procedures;
     Location of marine mammal, distance from observer to the 
marine mammal, and distance from pile driving activities to marine 
mammals;
     Record of whether an observation required the 
implementation of mitigation measures, including shutdown procedures 
and the duration of each shutdown; and
     Other human activity in the area. Record the hull numbers 
of fishing vessels if possible.
6. Reporting
    The holder of this Authorization is required to:
    (a) Submit a draft report within 90 calendar days of the completion 
of the activity, The report shall include information on marine mammal 
observations pre-activity, during-activity, and post-activity during 
pile driving days, and shall provide descriptions of any behavioral 
responses to construction activities by marine mammals and a complete 
description of any mitigation shutdowns and results of those actions, 
as well as an estimate of total take based on the number of marine 
mammals observed during the course of construction. A final report 
shall be submitted within 30 days following resolution of comments from 
NMFS on the draft report. The report shall include at a minimum:
     General data:
    [cir] Date and time of activity.
    [cir] Water conditions (e.g., sea-state).
    [cir] Weather conditions (e.g., percent cover, percent glare, 
visibility).
    [cir] Date and time of activity.
    [cir] Water conditions (e.g., sea-state).
    [cir] Weather conditions (e.g., percent cover, percent glare, 
visibility).
     Specific pile driving data:
    [cir] Description of the pile driving activity being conducted 
(pile locations, pile size and type), and times (onset and completion) 
when pile driving occurs.
    [cir] The construction contractor and/or marine mammal monitoring 
staff will coordinate to ensure that pile driving times and strike 
counts are accurately recorded. The duration of soft start procedures 
should be noted as separate from the full power driving duration.
    [cir] Description of in-water construction activity not involving 
pile driving (location, type of activity, onset and completion times)
     Pre-activity observational survey-specific data:
    [cir] Date and time survey is initiated and terminated.
    [cir] Description of any observable marine mammals and their 
behavior in the immediate area during monitoring.
    [cir] Times when pile driving or other in-water construction is 
delayed due to presence of marine mammals within shutdown zones.
     During-activity observational survey-specific data:
    [cir] Description of any observable marine mammal behavior within 
monitoring zones or in the immediate area surrounding the monitoring 
zones, including the following:
    [ssquf] Distance from animal to pile driving sound source.
    [ssquf] Reason why/why not shutdown implemented.
    [ssquf] If a shutdown was implemented, behavioral reactions noted 
and if they occurred before or after implementation of the shutdown.
    [ssquf] If a shutdown was implemented, the distance from animal to 
sound source at the time of the shutdown.
    [ssquf] Behavioral reactions noted during soft starts and if they 
occurred before or after implementation of the soft start.
    [ssquf] Distance to the animal from the sound source during soft 
start.
     Post-activity observational survey-specific data:
    [cir] Results, which include the detections and behavioral 
reactions of marine mammals, the species and numbers observed, sighting 
rates and distances,
    [cir] Refined exposure estimate based on the number of marine 
mammals observed. This may be reported as a rate of take (number of 
marine mammals per hour or per day), or using some other appropriate 
metric.
    (b) Reporting injured or dead marine mammals:
    i. In the unanticipated event that the specified activity clearly 
causes the take of a marine mammal in a manner not authorized by the 
IHA (if issued), such as a Level A harassment, or a take of a marine 
mammal species other than those proposed for authorization, the COU 
would immediately cease the specified activities and immediately report 
the incident to Jolie Harrison (Jolie.Harrison@noaa.gov), Chief of the 
Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, 
and Aleria Jensen (Aleria.Jensen@noaa.gov), Alaska Stranding 
Coordinator.
    The report would include the following information:
     Time, date, and location (latitude/longitude) of the 
incident;
     Description of the incident;
     Status of all sound source use in the 24 hours preceding 
the incident;
     Environmental conditions (e.g., wind speed and direction, 
Beaufort sea state, cloud cover, and visibility);
     Description of all marine mammal observations in the 24 
hours preceding the incident;
     Species identification or description of the animal(s) 
involved;
     Fate of the animal(s); and
     Photographs or video footage of the animal(s) (if 
equipment is available).
    Activities would not resume until NMFS is able to review the 
circumstances of the prohibited take. NMFS would work with the COU to 
determine what is necessary to minimize the likelihood of further 
prohibited take and ensure MMPA compliance. The COU would not be able 
to resume their activities until notified by NMFS via letter, email, or 
telephone.
    ii. In the event that the COU discovers an injured or dead marine 
mammal, and determines that the cause of the injury or death is unknown 
and the death is relatively recent (i.e., in less than a moderate state 
of decomposition), the COU would immediately report the incident to 
Jolie Harrison (Jolie.Harrison@noaa.gov), Chief of the Permits and 
Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, and Aleria 
Jensen (Aleria.Jensen@noaa.gov), Alaska Stranding Coordinator.

[[Page 78993]]

    The report would include the same information identified in the 
paragraph above. Construction related activities would be able to 
continue while NMFS reviews the circumstances of the incident. NMFS 
would work with the COU to determine whether modifications in the 
activities are appropriate.
    iii. In the event that the COU discovers an injured or dead marine 
mammal, and determines that the injury or death is not associated with 
or related to the activities authorized in the IHA (e.g., previously 
wounded animal, carcass with moderate to advanced decomposition, or 
scavenger damage), the COU would report the incident to Jolie Harrison 
(Jolie.Harrison@noaa.gov), Chief of the Permits and Conservation 
Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, and Aleria Jensen 
(Aleria.Jensen@noaa.gov), Alaska Stranding Coordinator, within 24 hours 
of the discovery. The COU would provide photographs or video footage 
(if available) or other documentation of the stranded animal sighting 
to NMFS and the Marine Mammal Stranding Network. The COU can continue 
its operations under such a case.
    7. This Authorization may be modified, suspended or withdrawn if 
the holder fails to abide by the conditions prescribed herein, or if 
NMFS determines that the authorized taking is having more than a 
negligible impact on the species or stock of affected marine mammals.

Request for Public Comments

    We request comment on our analysis, the draft authorization, and 
any other aspect of this Notice of Proposed IHA for the COU's dock 
construction activities. Please include with your comments any 
supporting data or literature citations to help inform our final 
decision on the COU's request for an MMPA authorization.

    Dated: November 4, 2016.
Donna S. Wieting
Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries 
Service.
[FR Doc. 2016-27119 Filed 11-9-16; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3510-22-P