Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to a Pier Replacement Project in San Diego, CA, 45811-45828 [2017-21044]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 189 / Monday, October 2, 2017 / Notices HEU is within the scope of the underlying investigation, and HEU is covered by this Suspension Agreement. For the purpose of this Suspension Agreement, HEU means uranium enriched to 20 percent or greater in the isotope uranium-235. Imports of uranium ores and concentrates, natural uranium compounds, and all forms of enriched uranium are currently classifiable under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) subheadings: 2612.10.00, 2844.10.20, 2844.20.00, respectively. Imports of natural uranium metal and forms of natural uranium other than compounds are currently classifiable under HTSUS subheadings: 2844.10.10 and 2844.10.50. HTSUS subheadings are provided for convenience and Customs purposes. The written description of the scope of this proceeding is dispositive. 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Carole Showers, Executive Director, performing the nonexclusive duties of Deputy Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance. [FR Doc. 2017–21211 Filed 9–29–17; 8:45 am] sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES BILLING CODE 3510–DS–P until October 3, 1998. See Amendments to the Agreement Suspending the Antidumping Investigation on Uranium from the Russian Federation, 61 FR 56665, 56667 (November 4, 1996). 5 See Amendment to the Agreement Suspending the Antidumping Investigation on Uranium From the Russian Federation, 73 FR 7705 (February 11, 2008). VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:01 Sep 29, 2017 Jkt 244001 DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Sea Grant Advisory Board; Public Meeting of the National Sea Grant Advisory Board’s Fall 2017 Meeting National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Commerce (NOAA), Department of Commerce (DOC). ACTION: Notice of public meeting of the National Sea Grant Advisory Board (NSGAB). AGENCY: This notice sets forth the schedule and proposed agenda of a forthcoming meeting of the NSGAB. NSGAB members will discuss and provide advice on the National Sea Grant College Program (NSGCP) in the areas of program evaluation, strategic planning, education and extension, science and technology programs, and other matters as described in the agenda found on the NSGCP Web site at http:// seagrant.noaa.gov/WhoWeAre/ Leadership/NationalSeaGrantAdvisory Board/UpcomingAdvisoryBoard Meetings.aspx. DATES: The announced meeting is scheduled for Monday, October 16 from 8:00 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. ET and Tuesday, October 17 from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. ET. ADDRESSES: The meeting will be held at the Embassy Suites by Hilton, 605 West Oglethorpe Avenue, Savannah, Georgia 31401. Status: The meeting will be open to public participation with a 15-minute public comment period on Tuesday, October 17, 2017 at 11:30 a.m. ET. 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Contact Information: For any questions concerning the meeting, please contact Elizabeth Rohring, SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00017 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 45811 National Sea Grant College Program, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 1315 East-West Highway, Room 11861, Silver Spring, Maryland 20910, 301–734–1082, or via email at elizabeth.rohring@noaa.gov. Special Accomodations: These meetings are physically accessible to people with disabilities. Requests for sign language interpretation or other auxiliary aids should be directed to Elizabeth Rohring by Friday, October 6, 2017. See Contact Information. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The NSGAB, which consists of a balanced representation from academia, industry, state government, and other relevant fields, was established in 1976 by Section 209 of the Sea Grant Improvement Act (Pub. L. 94–461, 33 U.S.C. 1128). The NSGAB advises the Secretary of Commerce and the Director of the NSGCP with respect to operations under the Act, and such other matters as the Secretary refers to them for review and advice. Dated: September 22, 2017. David Holst, Acting Chief Financial Officer/CAO, Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. [FR Doc. 2017–21090 Filed 9–29–17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–KA–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648–XF541 Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to a Pier Replacement Project in San Diego, CA National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice; issuance of an incidental harassment authorization. AGENCY: In accordance with the regulations implementing the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) as amended, notification is hereby given that NMFS has issued an incidental harassment authorization (IHA) to the Navy to incidentally harass, by Level B harassment only, marine mammals during construction activities associated with the pier replacements project at Naval Base Point Loma. DATES: This Authorization is effective from October 8, 2017, through October 7, 2018. SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\02OCN1.SGM 02OCN1 45812 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 189 / Monday, October 2, 2017 / Notices FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Laura McCue, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, (301) 427–8401. Electronic copies of the application and supporting documents, as well as a list of the references cited in this document, may be obtained online at: www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/ incidental/construction.htm. In case of problems accessing these documents, please call the contact listed above. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES Background Sections 101(a)(5)(A) and (D) of the MMPA (16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.) direct the Secretary of Commerce (as delegated to NMFS) 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) within a specified geographical region if certain findings are made and either regulations are issued or, if the taking is limited to harassment, a notice of a proposed authorization is provided to the public for review. An authorization for incidental takings shall be granted if NMFS finds that the taking will have a negligible impact on the species or stock(s), will not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of the species or stock(s) for subsistence uses (where relevant), and if the permissible methods of taking and requirements pertaining to the mitigation, monitoring and reporting of such takings are set forth. NMFS has defined ‘‘negligible impact’’ in 50 CFR 216.103 as an impact resulting from the specified activity that cannot be reasonably expected to, and is not reasonably likely to, adversely affect the species or stock through effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival. The MMPA states that the term ‘‘take’’ means to harass, hunt, capture, kill or attempt to harass, hunt, capture, or kill any marine mammal. 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). VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:01 Sep 29, 2017 Jkt 244001 National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) To comply with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA; 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) and NOAA Administrative Order (NAO) 216–6A, NMFS must review our proposed action (i.e., the issuance of an incidental harassment authorization) with respect to potential impacts on the human environment. This action is consistent with categories of activities identified in CE B4 of the Companion Manual for NOAA Administrative Order 216–6A, which do not individually or cumulatively have the potential for significant impacts on the quality of the human environment and for which we have not identified any extraordinary circumstances that would preclude this categorical exclusion. Accordingly, NMFS has determined that the issuance of the IHA qualifies to be categorically excluded from further NEPA review. Summary of Request On June 19, 2017, we received a request from the Navy for an IHA to take marine mammals incidental to pile installation and demolition associated with a pier replacement project in San Diego Bay at Naval Base Point Loma (NBPL) in San Diego, CA, including a separate monitoring plan. The Navy also submitted a draft monitoring report on June 13, 2017, pursuant to requirements of the previous IHA. These final application and monitoring plan were deemed adequate and complete on July 20, 2017. The pier replacement project is planned to occur over multiple years; this IHA would cover only the fifth year of work and would be valid for a period of one year from the date of issuance. Hereafter, use of the generic term ‘‘pile driving’’ may refer to both pile installation and removal unless otherwise noted. The Navy’s request is for take of nine species of marine mammals by Level B harassment. Neither the Navy nor NMFS expect mortality to result from this activity and, therefore, an IHA is appropriate. Monitoring reports are available online at www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/ permits/incidental/construction.htm and provide environmental information related to issuance of this IHA. This IHA will cover one year of a larger project for which the Navy obtained prior IHAs and this request for take authorization is for the fifth year of the project, following the IHAs issued effective from October 8, 2016, through October 7, 2017 (81 FR 66628), from September 1, 2013, through August 31, 2014 (78 FR 44539), from October 8, PO 00000 Frm 00018 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 2014, through October 7, 2015 (79 FR 65378), and from October 8, 2015, through October 7, 2016 (80 FR 62032). The Navy complied with all the requirements (e.g., mitigation, monitoring, and reporting) of the previous IHA. Monitoring reports are available online at www.nmfs.noaa.gov/ pr/permits/incidental/construction.htm and provide environmental information related to issuance of this IHA. Description of the Specified Activity Overview NBPL provides berthing and support services for Navy submarines and other fleet assets. The existing fuel pier serves as a fuel depot for loading and unloading tankers and Navy underway replenishment vessels that refuel ships at sea (‘‘oilers’’), as well as transferring fuel to local replenishment vessels and other small craft operating in San Diego Bay, and is the only active Navy fueling facility in southern California. Portions of the pier are over one hundred years old, while the newer segment was constructed in 1942. The pier as a whole is significantly past its design service life and does not meet current construction standards. The Navy plans to demolish and remove the existing pier and associated pipelines and appurtenances while simultaneously replacing it with a generally similar structure that meets relevant standards for seismic strength and is designed to better accommodate modern Navy ships. Demolition and construction are planned to occur in two phases to maintain the fueling capabilities of the existing pier while the new pier is being constructed. During the fifth year of construction (the specified activity considered under this IHA), the Navy anticipates construction at two locations: The fuel pier area and at the Naval Mine and Anti-Submarine Warfare Command (NMAWC), where the Navy’s Marine Mammal Program (MMP) was temporarily moved during fuel pier construction (see Figure 1–1 in the Navy’s application). A detailed description of the planned Project is provided in the Federal Register notice for the proposed IHA (82 FR 36360; August 4, 2017). Since that time, no changes have been made to the planned activities. Therefore, a detailed description is not provided here. Please refer to that Federal Register notice for the description of the specific activity. Comments and Responses A notice of NMFS’s proposal to issue an IHA to the Navy was published in the Federal Register on August 4, 2017 (82 FR 36360). That notice described, in E:\FR\FM\02OCN1.SGM 02OCN1 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 189 / Monday, October 2, 2017 / Notices detail, the Navy’s activity, the marine mammal species that may be affected by the activity, and the anticipated effects on marine mammals. During the 30-day public comment period, NMFS received comments from the Marine Mammal Commission (Commission). Comment 1: The Commission recommended that NMFS share the rounding criteria with the Commission such that the matter of when rounding should occur in the take calculation can be resolved in the near future. Response: NMFS will share the rounding criteria with the Commission soon and looks forward to working with them in the future to resolve this issue. Description of Marine Mammals in the Area of the Specified Activity Species with the expected potential to be present during all or a portion of the in-water work window include the California sea lion (Zalophus californianus), harbor seal (Phoca vitulina richardii), northern elephant seal (Mirounga angustirostris), gray whale (Eschrichtius robustus), bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus truncatus), Pacific white-sided dolphin (Lagenorhynchus obliquidens), Risso’s dolphin (Grampus griseus), and either short-beaked or long-beaked common dolphins (Delphinus spp.). California sea lions are present year-round and are very common in the project area, while bottlenose dolphins and harbor seals are common and likely to be present yearround but with more variable occurrence in San Diego Bay. Gray whales may be observed in San Diego Bay sporadically during migration periods. The remaining species are known to occur in nearshore waters outside San Diego Bay, but are generally only rarely observed near or in the bay. However, recent observations indicate that these species may occur in the project area and therefore could potentially be subject to incidental harassment from the aforementioned activities. There are four marine mammal species which are either resident or have known seasonal occurrence in the vicinity of San Diego Bay, including the California sea lion, harbor seal, bottlenose dolphin, and gray whale (see Figures 3–1 through 3–4 and 4–1 in the Navy’s application). In addition, common dolphins (see Figure 3–4 in the Navy’s application), the Pacific whitesided dolphin, Risso’s dolphin, and northern elephant seals are known to occur in deeper waters in the vicinity of San Diego Bay and/or have been observed within the bay during the course of this project’s monitoring. Although the latter three species of cetacean would not generally be expected to occur within the project area, the potential for changes in occurrence patterns in conjunction with recent observations leads us to believe that authorization of incidental take is warranted. Common dolphins have been documented regularly at the Navy’s nearby Silver Strand Training Complex, and were observed in the project area during previous years of project activity. The Pacific white-sided dolphin has been sighted along a previously used transect on the opposite side of the Point Loma peninsula (Merkel and Associates 2008) and there were several observations of Pacific white-sided dolphins during Year 2 monitoring. Risso’s dolphin is fairly common in southern California coastal waters (e.g., Campbell et al., 2010), and could occur in the bay. Northern elephant seals are included based on their continuing increase in numbers along the Pacific coast (Carretta et al., 2016) and the likelihood that animals that reproduce on the islands offshore of Baja California and mainland Mexico—where the population is also increasing—could move through the project area during migration, as well as the observation of a juvenile seal near the fuel pier in April 2015. Note that common dolphins could be either short-beaked (Delphinus delphis delphis) or long-beaked (D. delphis bairdii) subspecies. While it is likely that common dolphins observed in the project area would be long-beaked, as it is the most frequently stranded species in the area from San Diego Bay to the 45813 U.S.-Mexico border (Danil and St. Leger 2011), the species distributions overlap and it is unlikely that observers would be able to differentiate them in the field. Therefore, we consider that any common dolphins observed—and any incidental take of common dolphins— could be either long- or short-beaked common dolphins. In addition, other species that occur in the Southern California Bight may have the potential for isolated occurrence within San Diego Bay or just offshore. In particular, a short-finned pilot whale (Globicephala macrorhynchus) was observed off Ballast Point, and a Steller sea lion (Eumetopias jubatus monteriensis) was seen in the project area during Year 2. These species are not typically observed near the project area and, unlike the previously mentioned species, we do not believe it likely that they will occur in the future. Given the unlikelihood of their exposure to sound generated from the project, these species are not considered further. Table 1 lists all marine mammal species with expected potential for occurrence in the vicinity of NBPL during the project timeframe and summarizes key information, including regulatory status under the MMPA and ESA and potential biological removal (PBR), where known. A detailed description of the species likely to be affected by the Navy’s project, including brief introductions to the species and relevant stocks as well as available information regarding population trends and threats, and information regarding local occurrence, were provided in the Federal Register notice for the proposed IHA (82 FR 36360; August 4, 2017); since that time, we are not aware of any changes in the status of these species and stocks; therefore, detailed descriptions are not provided here. Please refer to that Federal Register notice for these descriptions. Please also refer to NMFS’ Web site (www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/species/ mammals/) for generalized species accounts. TABLE 1—MARINE MAMMALS POTENTIALLY PRESENT IN THE VICINITY OF NBPL sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES Species ESA/MMPA status; strategic (Y/N) 1 Stock Stock abundance (CV, Nmin, most recent abundance survey) 2 PBR 3 Annual M/SI 4 Relative occurrence in San Diego Bay; season of occurrence Order Cetartiodactyla—Cetacea—Superfamily Mysticeti (baleen whales) Family Eschrichtiidae Gray whale .................... VerDate Sep<11>2014 Eastern North Pacific .... 19:01 Sep 29, 2017 Jkt 244001 PO 00000 –; N Frm 00019 20,990 (0.05; 20,125; 2011). Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 624 E:\FR\FM\02OCN1.SGM 132 02OCN1 Occasional migratory visitor; winter. 45814 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 189 / Monday, October 2, 2017 / Notices TABLE 1—MARINE MAMMALS POTENTIALLY PRESENT IN THE VICINITY OF NBPL—Continued Species ESA/MMPA status; strategic (Y/N) 1 Stock Stock abundance (CV, Nmin, most recent abundance survey) 2 Annual M/SI 4 PBR 3 Relative occurrence in San Diego Bay; season of occurrence Superfamily Odontoceti (toothed whales, dolphins, and porpoises) Family Delphinidae 2.7 8,393 ≥2.0 ≥40 101,305 (0.49; 68,432; 2014). 657 ≥35.4 26,814 (0.28; 21,195; 2014). 6,336 (0.32; 4,817; 2014). 191 7.5 46 ≥3.7 Rare; year-round (but more common in cool season). 9,200 389 Abundant; year-round. 1,641 43 Common; year-round. 4,882 8.8 Rare; year-round. Bottlenose dolphin ......... Short-beaked common dolphin. California coastal .......... California/Oregon/Washington. –; N –; N 453 (0.06; 346; 2011) ... 969,861 (0.17; 839,325; 2014). Long-beaked common dolphin. California ....................... –; N Pacific white-sided dolphin. Risso’s dolphin .............. California/Oregon/Washington. California/Oregon/Washington. –; N –; N Common; year-round. Occasional; year-round (but more common in warm season). Occasional; year-round (but more common in warm season). Uncommon; year-round. Order Carnivora—Superfamily Pinnipedia Family Otariidae (eared seals and sea lions) California sea lion .......... U.S. ............................... –; N 296,750 (n/a; 153,337; 2011). Family Phocidae (earless seals) Harbor seal .................... California ....................... –; N Northern elephant seal .. California breeding ........ –; N 30,968 (n/a; 27,348; 2012). 179,000 (n/a; 81,368; 2010). 1 Endangered Species Act (ESA) status: Endangered (E), Threatened (T)/MMPA status: Depleted (D). A dash (–) indicates that the species is not listed under the ESA or designated as depleted under the MMPA. Under the MMPA, a strategic stock is one for which the level of direct human-caused mortality exceeds PBR (see footnote 3) or which is determined to be declining and likely to be listed under the ESA within the foreseeable future. Any species or stock listed under the ESA is automatically designated under the MMPA as depleted and as a strategic stock. 2 CV is coefficient of variation; N min is the minimum estimate of stock abundance. In some cases, CV is not applicable. For certain stocks of pinnipeds, abundance estimates are based upon observations of animals (often pups) ashore multiplied by some correction factor derived from knowledge of the species (or similar species) life history to arrive at a best abundance estimate; therefore, there is no associated CV. In these cases, the minimum abundance may represent actual counts of all animals ashore. 3 Potential biological removal, defined by the MMPA as the maximum number of animals, not including natural mortalities, that may be removed from a marine mammal stock while allowing that stock to reach or maintain its optimum sustainable population size (OSP). 4 These values, found in NMFS’ SARs, represent annual levels of human-caused mortality plus serious injury from all sources combined (e.g., commercial fisheries, subsistence hunting, ship strike). Annual M/SI often cannot be determined precisely and is in some cases presented as a minimum value. sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES Potential Effects of the Specified Activity on Marine Mammals and Their Habitat The effects of underwater noise from Navy’s activities for the pier replacement project have the potential to result in behavioral harassment of marine mammals in the vicinity of the action area. The Federal Register notice for the proposed IHA (82 FR 36360; August 4, 2017) included a discussion of the effects of anthropogenic noise on marine mammals, therefore that information is not repeated here; please refer to the Federal Register notice (82 FR 36360; August 4, 2017) for that information. Estimated Take This section provides an estimate of the number of incidental takes authorized through this IHA, which will VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:01 Sep 29, 2017 Jkt 244001 inform both NMFS’ consideration of whether the number of takes is ‘‘small’’ and the negligible impact determination. Harassment is the only type of take expected to result from these activities. 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). Authorized takes would be by Level B harassment only, in the form of disruption of behavioral patterns for PO 00000 Frm 00020 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 individual marine mammals resulting from exposure to acoustic sources. Based on the nature of the activity and the anticipated effectiveness of the mitigation measures (i.e., shutdown, soft start, etc.—discussed in detail below in Mitigation Measures section), Level A harassment is neither anticipated nor authorized. As described previously, no mortality is anticipated or authorized for this activity. Below we describe how the take is estimated. Described in the most basic way, we estimate take by considering: (1) Acoustic thresholds above which NMFS believes the best available science indicates marine mammals will be behaviorally harassed or incur some degree of permanent hearing impairment; (2) the area or volume of water that will be ensonified above E:\FR\FM\02OCN1.SGM 02OCN1 45815 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 189 / Monday, October 2, 2017 / Notices these levels in a day; (3) the density or occurrence of marine mammals within these ensonified areas; and, (4) and the number of days of activities. Below, we describe these components in more detail and present the take estimate. Acoustic Thresholds Using the best available science, NMFS has developed acoustic thresholds that identify the received level of underwater sound above which exposed marine mammals would be reasonably expected to be behaviorally harassed (equated to Level B harassment) or to incur PTS of some degree (equated to Level A harassment). Level B Harassment for non-explosive sources—Though significantly driven by received level, the onset of behavioral disturbance from anthropogenic noise exposure is also informed to varying degrees by other factors related to the source (e.g., frequency, predictability, duty cycle), the environment (e.g., bathymetry), and the receiving animals (hearing, motivation, experience, demography, behavioral context) and can be difficult to predict (Southall et al., 2007). Based on what the available science indicates and the practical need to use a threshold based on a factor that is both predictable and measurable for most activities, NMFS uses a generalized acoustic threshold based on received level to estimate the onset of behavioral harassment. NMFS predicts that marine mammals are likely to be behaviorally harassed in a manner we consider Level B harassment when exposed to underwater anthropogenic noise above received levels of 120 dB re 1 mPa (rms) for continuous (e.g. vibratory pile-driving, drilling) and above 160 dB re 1 mPa (rms) for nonexplosive impulsive (e.g., impact pile driving) or intermittent (e.g., scientific sonar) sources. The Navy’s planned activity includes the use of continuous (vibratory pile driving, demolition) and impulsive (impact pile driving) sources, and therefore the 120 and 160 dB re 1 mPa (rms) are applicable. Level A harassment for non-explosive sources—NMFS’s Technical Guidance for Assessing the Effects of Anthropogenic Sound on Marine Mammal Hearing (NOAA 2016) identifies dual criteria to assess auditory injury (Level A harassment) to five different marine mammal groups (based on hearing sensitivity) as a result of exposure to noise from two different types of sources (impulsive or nonimpulsive). The Navy’s construction project includes the use of impulsive (impact pile driving) and non-impulsive (vibratory pile driving) sources. These thresholds were developed by compiling and synthesizing the best available science and soliciting input multiple times from both the public and peer reviewers to inform the final product, and are provided in the table below. The references, analysis, and methodology used in the development of the thresholds are described in NMFS 2016 Technical Guidance, which may be accessed at: http:// www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/acoustics/ guidelines.htm. TABLE 2—THRESHOLDS IDENTIFYING THE ONSET OF PERMANENT THRESHOLD SHIFT PTS onset acoustic thresholds * (received level) Hearing group Impulsive Low-frequency cetaceans .............................................. Mid-frequency cetaceans .............................................. High-frequency cetaceans ............................................. Phocid Pinnipeds (underwaters) ................................... Otariid Pinnipeds (underwater) ...................................... Cell Cell Cell Cell Cell 1: 3: 5: 7: 9: Lpk,flat: Lpk,flat: Lpk,flat: Lpk,flat: Lpk,flat: 219 230 202 218 232 dB; dB; dB; dB; dB; Non-impulsive LE,LF,24h: 183 dB ................. LE,MF,24h: 185 dB ................ LE,HF,24h: 155 dB ................ LE,PW,24h: 185 dB ............... LE,OW,24h: 203 dB ............... Cell Cell Cell Cell Cell 2: LE,LF,24h: 199 dB. 4: LE,MF,24h: 198 dB. 6: LE,HF,24h: 173 dB. 8: LE,PW,24h: 201 dB. 10: LE,OW,24h: 219 dB. * [NMFS 2016] Ensonified Area Here, we describe operational and environmental parameters of the activity that will feed into identifying the area ensonified above the acoustic thresholds. The intensity of pile driving or sounds is greatly influenced by factors such as the type of piles, hammers, and the physical environment in which the activity takes place. For the installation of 30-inch (in) steel piles and pile cutting activities, acoustic monitoring during the first and second IHA periods (NAVFAC 2015) resulted in empirical data that are directly applicable to the fifth IHA period in terms of the activities and the location, depth, sizes and types of piles. Table 3 identifies the sound source levels that are used in evaluating impact and vibratory pile driving and extraction in the current IHA application. Sound levels for the hydraulic pile cutter, diamond saw caisson cutting, and pile jetting were measured during the fourth IHA period (NAVFAC SW 2017). No acoustic data are available from the vibratory driving of 16-in concrete piles, so the data for vibratory installation of 30-in steel piles from the second IHA period are used as a conservative proxy (NAVFAC SW 2015). Finally, SPLs were measured for the impact driving of 16-in polyconcrete piles during the third IHA monitoring period (NAVFAC SW 2016a), and are used in this application for the same activities. sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES TABLE 3—UNDERWATER SOUND PRESSURE LEVELS FROM SIMILAR IN SITU MONITORED CONSTRUCTION ACTIVITIES FROM PREVIOUS YEARS Project and location Pile size and type Method Water depth Measured sound pressure levels (rms) at 10 m (dB re 1 μPa) mean 1 NBPL Fuel Pier, San Diego, CA. NBPL Fuel Pier, San Diego, CA. VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:01 Sep 29, 2017 max 2 13 to 24-in concrete ............. Hydraulic pile cutting ............ 9 m (30 ft) 145 165.3 66- and 84-in steel caisson .. Diamond saw cutting ............ 9 m (30 ft) 149 155.6 Jkt 244001 PO 00000 Frm 00021 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 E:\FR\FM\02OCN1.SGM 02OCN1 45816 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 189 / Monday, October 2, 2017 / Notices TABLE 3—UNDERWATER SOUND PRESSURE LEVELS FROM SIMILAR IN SITU MONITORED CONSTRUCTION ACTIVITIES FROM PREVIOUS YEARS—Continued Project and location Pile size and type Method Water depth Measured sound pressure levels (rms) at 10 m (dB re 1 μPa) mean 1 NBPL Fuel Pier, San Diego, CA. NBPL Fuel Pier, San Diego, CA. NBPL Fuel Pier, San Diego, CA. max 2 24-in concrete ....................... Jetting ................................... 9 m (30 ft) 155 159.9 30-in Steel Pipe .................... Vibratory ............................... 9 m (30 ft) 162.5 3 162.5 16-in Poly-Concrete .............. Impact ................................... 9 m (30 ft) 188.9 4 195 1 Mean source levels used from data from previous monitoring reports (NAVFAC SW 2015, 2016a, 2017). Mean source levels were used to calculate Level B ZOIs. 2 Maximum source levels used from data from previous monitoring reports (NAVFAC SW 2015, 2016a, 2017). Max source levels were used to calculate Level A ZOIs. Maximum source levels used were proposed by the Navy. 3 Mean source levels for 30-in steel pipe piles were used as a proxy to calculate ZOIs for vibratory driving of 16-in concrete guide piles (NAVFAC SW 2015). 4 The maximum source level is included for reference only. The distance to the Level B ZOI is based on in situ data collected for 16-in polyconcrete piles and was documented in NAVFAC SW (2016a). Scarce data exists on airborne and underwater noise levels associated with vibratory hammer extraction. However, it can reasonably be assumed that vibratory extraction emits SPLs that are no higher than SPLs caused by vibratory hammering of the same materials, and results in lower SPLs than caused by impact hammering comparable piles. For this application, the same value (162.5 decibels (dB) re 1 micropascal (mPa)) that was obtained for vibratory hammering of the 30-in steel piles at the Fuel Pier (NAVFAC SW 2015) is used for the vibratory hammering of 16-in round concrete piles at NMAWC. None of the peak sound pressure levels (SPL)s for the various sound sources reach the injury thresholds identified in the new NMFS (2016) Technical Guidance; therefore, injury from peak sound levels is not considered further. Table 5 provides the calculated areas of Level A and Level B zones of influence (ZOI)s associated with the impulsive and continuous sounds that are anticipated during the fifth-year IHA period. Table 4 provides the data that were used to calculate the distances to the Level A and B ZOIs presented in Table 5. It should be noted that the ZOI for Level A harassment would be closely monitored and subject to shutdowns if a marine mammal enters the area. The ZOI areas and maximum distances for the activities at the fuel pier and NMAWC are shown in Figures 6–1 and 6–2, respectively of the Navy’s application. The figures reflect the conventional assumption that the natural or manmade shoreline acts as a barrier to underwater sound. It is generally accepted practice to model underwater sound propagation from pile driving as continuing in a straight line past a shoreline projection such as Ballast Point (Dahl 2012). Similarly, it is reasonable to assume that project sound would not propagate east of Zuniga Jetty (Dahl 2012). All of the ZOIs for potential Level A acoustic harassment (Table 5) would be buffered and encompassed by a larger shutdown zone. For example, the ZOIs for potential Level A acoustic harassment to pinnipeds from impact pile driving (Table 5) would be contained within a 60 meters (m) (196 feet (ft)) shutdown zone. For impact pile driving at NMAWC, two methods identified in NMFS (2016) were evaluated to determine the most conservative distances to the Level A ZOIs using: (1) Root mean square (rms) SPL source levels; and (2) single strike equivalent SEL. The calculations showed that the first method was the most conservative and this method was subsequently used to determine the distances to the Level A ZOIs (Table 4). In all Level A ZOI calculations, the default values for the weighting factor adjustment and practical spreading for propagation loss were used (see Appendix A of the Navy’s application). TABLE 4—DATA USED TO CALCULATE DISTANCES TO LEVEL B ZOIS Activity Impact pile driving Vibratory pile driving Pile jetting Caisson cutting References for Source Level and Duration. Year 3 report #1 (NAVFAC SW 2016a). 16-in poly-concrete piles. 188.9 .................... 270 ....................... Year 2 report (NAVFAC SW 2015). 30-in steel piles .... Year 4 report (NAVFAC SW 2017). 24x30-in concrete piles. 159.9 .................... 1,165 .................... Year 3 report #1 (NAVFAC SW 2016a). 84-in caissons ...... sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES Size & Type of Piles used for Source Data. Source Level (rms SPL) ..................... Distance to Level B ZOI (m) ............... The Level B ZOIs and distances are based on the validated SPLs directly measured during the IHA monitoring (NAVFAC SW 2014–2017), as available. For example, the distance to the Level B ZOI for impact driving of 16-in polyconcrete piles was 270 m (886 ft) during VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:01 Sep 29, 2017 Jkt 244001 162.5 .................... 1,848 .................... Year 3 monitoring (NAVFAC SW 2016a). In cases where monitoring data are not available to empirically measure the extent of the Level B ZOI (activities at NMAWC), ‘‘practical spreading loss’’ from the source at 10 m has been assumed (15 log[distance/10]) and used PO 00000 Frm 00022 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 155.6 .................... 631 ....................... Pile clipping Year 4 report (NAVFAC SW 2017). 24-in concrete piles. 165.3. 2,511. to calculate the maximum extent of the ZOI based on the applicable threshold. Computed distances to the threshold for acoustic disturbance from nonimpulsive sources are based on the distances at which the project sound source declines to ambient. Because the E:\FR\FM\02OCN1.SGM 02OCN1 45817 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 189 / Monday, October 2, 2017 / Notices mean ambient sound levels in San Diego Bay in the vicinity of the project range from approximately 128 to 130 dB rms (NAVFAC SW 2015), the 120 dB acoustic threshold for the Level B ZOIs have been modified based on an approximate measured value between 128 and 129 dB. The distances for all activities producing sound at NMAWC will be verified via hydrophone during project activities. TABLE 5—CALCULATED MAXIMUM AREAS OF ZOIS AND DISTANCES TO RELEVANT THRESHOLDS Measured/calculated distances to thresholds (m) and areas of ZOIs (m2 or km2) Underwater Activity Level LF Airborne A123 MF Level PW OW B4 Level B 120 dB 5 160 dB 100 dB 6 90 dB 6 Old Fuel Pier and Temporary Mooring Dolphin Demolition 66-in and 84-in caissons (Diamond saw cutting). Concrete piles (Pile clipping) ... 3.6 m 41 m2 ............ 1.2 m 4 m2 .............. 0.3 m <1 m2 ............ 0.1 m <1 m2 ............ 2.2 m 15 m2 ............ 0.7 m <1 m2 ............ 0.2m <1 m2 ............ 0.0 m 0 m2 .............. N/A ................ .................. 631 m 0.7157 km2 ... 2,511 m 4.4512 km2 N/A NMAWC Construction and Demolition 16-in concrete piles (Vibratory extraction/driving) 8. 16-in concrete piles (Impact driving) 9. 16-in concrete piles (Jetting pile extraction). 8.3 m 216 m2 .......... 63.4 m 0.0126 km2 ... 3.9 m 47.8 m2 ......... 0.7 m <1 m2 ............ 2.3 m 17 m2 ............ 0.3 m <1 m2 ............ 5.1 m 82 m2 ............ 33.9 m 3,610 m2 ....... 2.4 m 18 m2 ............ 0.4 m <1 m2 ............ 2.5 m 20 m2 ............ 0.2 m <1 m2 ............ N/A ................ 270 m 0.1408 km2 ... N/A ................ 1,848 m 2.4473 km2 ... N/A. 1,165 m 1.4268 km2 ... 42 m 5,503 m2 ....... 149 m 69,646 m2 N/A 1 If measured value thresholds are less than 10 m (33 ft), a minimum monitoring distance of 10 m (33 ft) would be implemented. on measured mean source levels. The relevant data have been included in Appendix A of the Navy’s application, which provides information from previous years’ data collected as part of the Fuel Pier Project (NAVFAC SW 2015, 2016a, 2017). 3 LF = Low-frequency cetaceans; MF = Mid-frequency cetaceans; PW = Phocid pinnipeds; OW = Otariid pinnipeds. The high-frequency cetacean hearing group (HF) is omitted, because no species in the hearing group occur in, or around, the Project area. 4 Based on measured maximum source levels, unless otherwise stated. The relevant data have been included in Appendix A, which provides information from previous years’ data collected as part of the Fuel Pier Project (NAVFAC SW 2015, 2016a, 2017). 5 Average ambient sound levels in San Diego Bay are approximately 128 to 130 dB rms (NAVFAC SW 2015), and all 120 dB Level B ZOIs are based on an approximate value between 128 and 129, which represents ambient levels in the Bay. 6 Airborne ZOIs based on conservative representative data (collected during 30-inch vibratory pile driving from IHA #4). Airborne noise levels did not exceed thresholds during IHA #4 monitoring of demolition activities. 7 Plasma torch noise levels are not expected to exceed underwater or airborne regulatory thresholds. 8 Based on conservative representative source levels of 162.5 dB rms (30-inch steel vibratory pile driving, NAVFAC SW 2015). 9 This SL that corresponds with the measured pulse duration is 185 db. However, the Navy used a more conservative source level of 188.9, derived from a compilation of measured source levels over several years, which resulted in these larger Level A zones. 2 Based sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES Airborne Sound Although sea lions are known to haulout regularly on man-made objects in the vicinity of the project site (see Figure 4–1 of the Navy’s application), and harbor seals are occasionally observed hauled out on rocks along the shoreline in the vicinity of the project site, none of these are within the ZOIs for airborne sound, and we believe that incidents of take resulting solely from airborne sound are unlikely. The zones for sea lions are within the minimum shutdown zone defined for underwater sound and, although the zones for harbor seals are larger, they have not been observed to haul out as readily on man-made structures in the immediate vicinity of the project site. There is a possibility that an animal could surface in-water, but with head out, within one of the defined zones and thereby be exposed to levels of airborne sound that we associate with harassment, but any such occurrence would likely be accounted for in our estimation of incidental take from underwater sound. We generally recognize that pinnipeds occurring within an estimated airborne harassment zone, whether in the water VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:01 Sep 29, 2017 Jkt 244001 or hauled out, could be exposed to airborne sound that may result in behavioral harassment. However, any animal exposed to airborne sound above the behavioral harassment threshold is likely to also be exposed to underwater sound above relevant thresholds (which are typically in all cases larger zones than those associated with airborne sound). Thus, the behavioral harassment of these animals is already accounted for in these estimates of potential take. While the likelihood of multiple incidents of exposure to sound above NMFS’ thresholds for behavioral harassment to one individual could potentially result in increased behavioral disturbance, via either nature or intensity of disturbance reaction, if they occur within one day they are still only counted as one take and any differential impacts would be considered qualitatively. Therefore, we do not believe that authorization of additional incidental take resulting from airborne sound for pinnipeds is warranted, and airborne sound is not discussed further here. Distances associated with airborne sound and shown in Table 4 are for reference only. PO 00000 Frm 00023 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 When NMFS Technical Guidance (2016) was published, in recognition of the fact that ensonified area/volume could be more technically challenging to predict because of the duration component in the new thresholds, we developed a User Spreadsheet that includes tools to help predict a simple isopleth that can be used in conjunction with marine mammal density or occurrence to help predict takes. We note that because of some of the assumptions included in the methods used for these tools, we anticipate that isopleths produced are typically going to be overestimates of some degree, which will result in some degree of overestimate of Level A take. However, these tools offer the best way to predict appropriate isopleths when more sophisticated 3D modeling methods are not available, and NMFS continues to develop ways to quantitatively refine these tools, and will qualitatively address the output where appropriate. For stationary sources such as vibratory pile driving, NMFS User Spreadsheet predicts the closest distance at which, if a marine mammal remained at that distance the whole duration of the E:\FR\FM\02OCN1.SGM 02OCN1 45818 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 189 / Monday, October 2, 2017 / Notices activity, it would not incur PTS. Inputs used in the User Spreadsheet, and the resulting isopleths are reported below. TABLE 6—LEVEL A USER SPREADSHEET INPUT Impact pile driving References for Source Level and Duration. Spreadsheet Tab Used ............ Source Level (Single Strike/ shot SEL). Weighting Factor Adjustment (kHz). (a) Activity Duration (h) within 24-h period. Propagation (xLogR) ................ Distance of source level measurement (m). Pulse duration (sec) 1 .............. Number of strikes in 1 h .......... Vibratory pile driving Caisson cutting Pile clipping Pile jetting Year 3 report #1 (NAVFAC SW 2016a). (E.1) Impact pile driving. 188.9 * .................... Year 2 report (NAVFAC SW 2015). (A.) Non-Impulse Stat-Cont. 162.5 ...................... Year 3 report #1 (NAVFAC SW 2016a). (A.) Non-Impulse Stat-Cont. 149 ......................... Year 4 report (NAVFAC SW 2017). (A.) Non-Impulse Stat-Cont. 145 ......................... Year 4 report (NAVFAC SW 2017). (A.) Non-Impulse Stat-Cont. 155. 2 ............................. 2.5 .......................... 2.5 .......................... 2.5 .......................... 2.5. 0.71 ........................ 0.95 ........................ 6 ............................. 2.82 ........................ 1.74. 15 ........................... 10 ........................... 15 ........................... 10 ........................... 15 ........................... 10 ........................... 15 ........................... 10 ........................... 15. 10. 0.03 ........................ 193 ......................... n/a .......................... n/a .......................... n/a .......................... n/a .......................... n/a .......................... n/a .......................... n/a. n/a. sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES 1 Pulse duration was measured in previous construction years and the average pulse duration was 0.03 at 10 m (NAVFAC SW 2016a). * This SL that corresponds with the measured pulse duration is 185 db. However, the Navy used a more conservative source level of 188.9, derived from a compilation of measured source levels over several years, which resulted in larger Level A zones. Marine Mammal Occurrence In this section we provide the information about the presence, density, or group dynamics of marine mammals that will inform the take calculations. For all species, the best scientific information available was considered for use in the marine mammal take assessment calculations. Although various regional offshore surveys for marine mammals have been conducted, it is unlikely that these data would be representative of the species or numbers that may be encountered in San Diego Bay. However, the Navy has conducted a large number of ongoing site-specific marine mammal surveys during appropriate seasons (e.g., Merkel and Associates 2008; Johnson 2010, 2011; Lerma 2012, 2014). Whereas analyses for the first-year IHA relied on surveys conducted from 2007–12, continuing surveys by the Navy have generally indicated increasing abundance of all species and the second-year IHA relied on 2012–14 survey data. In addition, the Navy has developed estimates of marine mammal densities in waters associated with training and testing areas (including Hawaii-Southern California) for the Navy Marine Species Density Database (NMSDD). A technical report (Hanser et al., 2015) describes methodologies and available information used to derive these densities, which are based upon the best available information, except where specific local abundance information is available and applicable to a specific action area. The document is publicly available online at: nwtteis.com/ DocumentsandReferences/NWTT Documents/SupportingTechnical Documents.aspx (accessed July 13, 2017). Year 2 project monitoring showed even greater abundance of certain species, and we consider all of these data in order to provide the most up-todate estimates for marine mammal abundances during the period of this IHA. Although Years 3 and 4 project monitoring showed declines in marine mammal abundance in the vicinity of the project, we retain prior density estimates as a conservative measure for estimating exposure. Density information is shown in Table 8. These data are from dedicated line-transect surveys, required project marine mammal monitoring, opportunistic observations for more rarely observed species (see Figures 3–1 through 3–5 of the Navy’s application), or the NMSDD. Take Calculation and Estimation Here we describe how the information provided above is brought together to produce a quantitative take estimate. The following assumptions are made when estimating potential incidences of take: • All marine mammal individuals potentially available are assumed to be present within the relevant area, and thus incidentally taken; • An individual can only be taken once during a 24-h period; • The assumed ZOIs and days of activity are as shown in Table 4; and, • Exposures to sound levels at or above the relevant thresholds equate to take, as defined by the MMPA. In this case, the estimation of marine mammal takes uses the following calculation: Exposure estimate = n * ZOI * days of total activity Where: n = density estimate used for each species/ season ZOI = sound threshold ZOI area; the area encompassed by all locations where the SPLs equal or exceed the threshold being evaluated. The ZOI impact area is estimated using the relevant distances in Table 4, assuming that sound radiates from a central point in the water column slightly offshore of the existing pier and taking into consideration the possible affected area due to topographical constraints of the action area (i.e., radial distances to thresholds are not always reached). TABLE 7—AREAS OF ACOUSTIC INFLUENCE AND DAYS OF ACTIVITY Number of days * Activity 66-in and 84-in caissons (Diamond saw cutting) .................................................................................................... VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:01 Sep 29, 2017 Jkt 244001 PO 00000 Frm 00024 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 E:\FR\FM\02OCN1.SGM 02OCN1 50 ZOI (km2) 0.7157 45819 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 189 / Monday, October 2, 2017 / Notices TABLE 7—AREAS OF ACOUSTIC INFLUENCE AND DAYS OF ACTIVITY—Continued Number of days * Activity Concrete piles (Pile clipping) ................................................................................................................................... 16-in concrete piles (Vibratory extraction/driving) 1 ................................................................................................. 16-in concrete piles (Jetting pile extraction) ............................................................................................................ 100 25 15 ZOI (km2) 4.4512 2.4473 1.4268 1 We assume that impact driving of 16-in concrete piles would always occur on the same day as vibratory driving of the same piles. Therefore, the impact driving ZOI (0.1408 km2) would always be subsumed by the vibratory driving ZOI. * There are a total of 196 days of construction, but 6 of those days include piles being cut off at the mudline with a plasma torch, which would not create a ZOI. sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES There are a number of reasons why estimates of potential incidents of take may be conservative, assuming that available density and estimated ZOI areas are accurate. We assume, in the absence of information supporting a more refined conclusion, that the output of the calculation represents the number of individuals that may be taken by the specified activity. In fact, in the context of stationary activities such as pile driving and in areas where resident animals may be present, this number more realistically represents the number of incidents of take that may accrue to a smaller number of individuals. While pile driving can occur any day throughout the period of validity, and the analysis is conducted on a per day basis, only a fraction of that time (typically a matter of hours on any given day) is actually spent pile driving. The potential effectiveness of mitigation measures in reducing the number of takes is typically not quantified in the take estimation process. For these reasons, these take estimates likely overestimate the number of individuals taken. See Table 8 for total estimated incidents of take. California Sea Lion During the second IHA period, an average of 90.35 California sea lions were seen per day within the maximum ZOI for pile driving, an area of 5.6752 square kilometers (km2) extending 3,000 m from the Fuel Pier. This equates to a density of 15.9201/km2. This density is used to estimate numbers of takes within the different ZOIs. NMFS estimates 8,971 Level B takes for this species. The maximum extents of the potential acoustic Level A ZOIs for cumulative exposure from all of the activities are much less than 10 m from the source, and therefore the 60-m shutdown zone will reduce the chance for Level A take. As a result, no Level A take of California sea lions is anticipated or authorized. Harbor Seal Sightings of harbor seals averaged 2.83 individuals per day during the period of the second IHA (NAVFAC SW VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:01 Sep 29, 2017 Jkt 244001 2015), a density of 0.4987/km2 within the maximum ZOI for pile driving. This density is used to estimate numbers of takes within the different ZOIs. NMFS estimates 281 Level B takes for this species. The maximum extent of the potential acoustic Level A ZOI for cumulative exposure from impact pile driving extends 34 m from the source; for all other activities, the Level A ZOIs are much less than 10 m from the source, therefore a 60-m shutdown zone will be in place to avoid Level A takes to harbor seals. Level A takes are not anticipated nor authorized. Northern Elephant Seal Only a single individual elephant seal was sighted during the second IHA period (NAVFAC SW 2015), but with increasing numbers (Carretta et al., 2016), they are considered a reasonable possibility to occur more frequently during the fifth IHA period. The regional density estimate of 0.0760/km2 (Navy 2017) is assumed for the project area. This density is used to estimate numbers of takes within the different ZOIs. NMFS estimates 43 Level B takes for this species. Potential takes would likely involve single individuals that are on the shoreline or structures at the identified location, or swimming in the vicinity, most likely near the mouth of the bay. The maximum extent of the potential acoustic Level A ZOI for cumulative exposure from impact pile driving extends 34 m from the source; for all other activities, the Level A ZOIs are much less than 10 m from the source, therefore a shutdown will be in place to avoid Level A takes to harbor seals. Level A takes are not anticipated nor authorized. Bottlenose Dolphin Coastal bottlenose dolphins can occur at any time of year in northern San Diego Bay. Numbers sighted have been highly variable but have increased in recent years (NAVFAC SW 2014, 2015). During the second IHA period, an average of 7.09 individuals were seen per day, a density of 1.2493/km2. This density is used to estimate numbers of takes within the different ZOIs. NMFS PO 00000 Frm 00025 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 estimates 704 Level B takes for this species. The maximum extents of the potential acoustic Level A ZOIs for cumulative exposure from all of the activities are much less than 10 m from the source, and therefore the minimum 10 m shutdown will reduce the chance for Level A take. As a result, no Level A take of bottlenose dolphins is anticipated nor authorized. Common Dolphin An average of 8.67 common dolphins was seen per day, a density of 1.5277/ km2 within the maximum ZOI, during the second IHA period (NAVFAC SW 2015). This density is considerably higher than the regional density estimate for long-beaked common dolphins—the species most likely to occur (Navy 2017), but is reasonable for the project area given the group sizes observed for these species. Barlow (2010) reported average group sizes in southern California of 122 for shortbeaked common dolphins and 195 for long-beaked common dolphins, and during the second IHA period, groups of approximately 170 and 300 individuals entered the project area on different occasions (NAVFAC SW 2015). Considering the possibility for one or more large groups of common dolphins to enter San Diego Bay during in-water activities and the fact that the Level B ZOIs will extend completely across the bay during pile driving, the density estimate is considered appropriate. A density of 1.5277/km2 is used to estimate numbers of takes within the different ZOIs. NMFS estimates 861 Level B takes for this species. The maximum extents of the potential acoustic Level A ZOIs for cumulative exposure from all of the activities are much less than 10 m from the source, and therefore the shutdown will reduce the chance for Level A take. As a result, no Level A take of common dolphins is anticipated nor authorized. Pacific White-Sided Dolphin Pacific white-sided dolphins are more commonly seen offshore, but were documented in the project area on several occasions during the second IHA E:\FR\FM\02OCN1.SGM 02OCN1 45820 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 189 / Monday, October 2, 2017 / Notices period. An average of 0.28 individuals per day was seen during the second IHA period (NAVFAC SW 2015), a density of 0.0493/km2 within the maximum ZOI. This density is used to estimate numbers of takes within the different ZOIs. NMFS estimates 28 Level B takes for this species. The maximum extents of the potential acoustic Level A ZOIs for cumulative exposure from all of the activities are much less than 10 m from the source, and therefore the shutdown will reduce the chance for Level A take. As a result, no Level A take of Pacific white-sided dolphins is anticipated nor authorized. Risso’s Dolphin While there have been no sightings of Risso’s dolphin within the project area, the species is considered a reasonable possibility for the fifth IHA period given ˜ recent El Nino conditions (Shane 1995) and its abundance in Southern California coastal waters (Jefferson et al., 2014). The upper limit of the regional density estimate, 0.2029/km2 (Navy 2017), is used to estimate numbers of takes within the different ZOIs. NMFS estimates 114 Level B takes for this species. The maximum extents of the potential acoustic Level A ZOIs for cumulative exposure from all of the activities are much less than 10 m from the source, and therefore the shutdown will reduce the chance for Level A take. As a result, no Level A take of Risso’s dolphins is anticipated nor authorized. Gray Whale Gray whale occurrence within northern San Diego Bay is sporadic and would likely consist of one to a few individuals that venture close to, or enter the bay for a brief period, and then continue on their migration. A density estimate based on the rare sightings of gray whales near the mouth of the bay during the second IHA period (NAVFAC SW 2015), would be less than 0.01/km2, which is slightly less than the regional density estimate of 0.0179/km2 in southern California waters during winter-spring (Navy 2017). The regional density estimate is applied here as a reasonable estimate given the possibility of animals moving closer to shore and entering the mouth of the bay during the fifth IHA period. This density is used to estimate numbers of takes within the different ZOIs. NMFS estimates 10 Level B takes for this species. The maximum extent of the potential acoustic Level A ZOI for cumulative exposure from impact pile driving extends 63 m from the source; for all other activities, the Level A ZOIs are much less than 10 m from the source. Gray whales are not expected to occur that close to the source; however, the Navy will implement a minimum of 10 m (100 m for impact driving) shutdown will be in place to avoid Level A takes to gray whales. Level A takes are not anticipated nor authorized. TABLE 8—CALCULATIONS FOR INCIDENTAL TAKE ESTIMATION Species Density California sea lion ........ Harbor seal .................. Northern elephant seal Bottlenose dolphin ....... Common dolphin .......... Pacific white-sided dolphin ........................... Risso’s dolphin ............. Gray whale ................... Diamond saw cutting of 66-inch and 84-inch caissons Pile clipping concrete piles Vibratory extraction/ driving of 16-inch concrete piles Jetting pile extraction of 16 in concrete piles Total authorized takes (% of total stock) Total Level B takes * 15.9201 0.4987 0.076 1.2493 1.5277 570 18 3 45 55 7086 222 34 556 680 974 31 5 76 93 341 11 2 27 33 8,971 281 43 704 861 3.023 0.907 0.024 2 155 3 0.088; 4 0.85 0.0493 0.2027 0.0179 2 7 1 22 90 8 3 12 1 1 4 0 28 114 10 0.104 1.799 0.048 * Due to rounding of takes to the nearest whole number of animals, (which occurs at the very end, not per activity), totals may not always equal the sum of the takes from individual activities. 1 We assume that impact driving of steel piles would occur on the same day as vibratory driving of the same piles and that the zone for vibratory driving would always subsume the zone for impact driving. Therefore, separate estimates are not provided for impact driving of steel piles. 2 The numbers of authorized take for bottlenose dolphins are higher relative to the total stock abundance estimate and would not represent small numbers if a significant portion of the take was for a new individual. However, these numbers represent the estimated incidents of take, not the number of individuals taken. That is, it is likely that a relatively small subset of California coastal bottlenose dolphins would be incidentally harassed by project activities. 3 SB = short-beaked common dolphin. 4 LB = long-beaked common dolphin. sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES Mitigation Measures 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 (latter not applicable for this action). NMFS regulations require applicants for incidental take authorizations to include information about the availability and VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:01 Sep 29, 2017 Jkt 244001 feasibility (economic and technological) of equipment, methods, and manner of conducting such activity or other means of effecting the least practicable adverse impact upon the affected species or stocks and their habitat (50 CFR 216.104(a)(11)). In evaluating how mitigation may or may not be appropriate to ensure the least practicable adverse impact on species or stocks and their habitat, as well as subsistence uses where applicable, we carefully consider two primary factors: (1) The manner in which, and the degree to which, the successful implementation of the measure(s) is PO 00000 Frm 00026 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 expected to reduce impacts to marine mammals, marine mammal species or stocks, and their habitat. This considers the nature of the potential adverse impact being mitigated (likelihood, scope, range). It further considers the likelihood that the measure will be effective if implemented (probability of accomplishing the mitigating result if implemented as planned) the likelihood of effective implementation (probability implemented as planned). and; (2) The practicability of the measures for applicant implementation, which may consider such things as cost, impact on operations, and, in the case of a military readiness activity, E:\FR\FM\02OCN1.SGM 02OCN1 45821 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 189 / Monday, October 2, 2017 / Notices personnel safety, practicality of implementation, and impact on the effectiveness of the military readiness activity. The mitigation strategies described below largely follow those required and successfully implemented under the first four IHAs associated with this project. For this IHA, data from acoustic monitoring conducted during the first four years of work was used to estimate zones of influence (ZOIs; see Estimated Take by Incidental Harassment); these values were used to develop mitigation measures for pile driving activities at NBPL. The ZOIs effectively represent the mitigation zone that would be established around each pile to minimize Level A harassment to marine mammals, while providing estimates of the areas within which Level B harassment might occur. In addition, the Navy has defined buffers to the estimated Level A harassment zones to further reduce the potential for Level A harassment. In addition to the measures described later in this section, the Navy would conduct briefings between construction supervisors and crews, marine mammal monitoring team, acoustic monitoring team, and Navy staff prior to the start of all pile driving activity, and when new personnel join the work, in order to explain responsibilities, communication procedures, marine mammal monitoring protocol, and operational procedures. Monitoring and Shutdown for Pile Driving The following measures would apply to the Navy’s mitigation through shutdown and disturbance zones: Shutdown Zone—For all pile driving and removal activities, the Navy will establish a shutdown zone intended to contain the area in which SPLs equal or exceed the calculated Level A zones (refer to table). The purpose of a shutdown zone is to define an area within which shutdown of activity would occur upon sighting of a marine mammal (or in anticipation of an animal entering the defined area), thus preventing injury of marine mammals (serious injury or death are unlikely outcomes even in the absence of mitigation measures). Estimated radial distances to the relevant thresholds are shown in Table 4. For certain activities, the shutdown zone would not exist because source levels indicate that the radial distance to the threshold would be less than 10 m. However, a minimum shutdown zone of 10 m will be established during all pile driving and removal activities, regardless of the estimated zone. In addition the Navy plans to effect a buffered shutdown zone that is intended to significantly reduce the potential for Level A harassment given that, in particular, California sea lions are quite abundant in the project area and bottlenose dolphins may surface unpredictably and move erratically in an area with a large amount of construction equipment. These buffers are approximately double the distance to the Level A ZOI. These zones are also shown in Table 9. These precautionary measures are intended to prevent the already unlikely possibility of physical interaction with construction equipment and to establish a precautionary minimum zone with regard to acoustic effects. TABLE 9—SHUTDOWN ZONES FOR LEVEL A ZOIS AND MONITORING ZONES FOR LEVEL B ZONES Monitored distances to thresholds (meters [feet]) Underwater Activity Level A (shutdown) LF 1 MF 1 Level B PW 1 OW 1 120 dB 2 160 dB Old Fuel Pier and Temporary Mooring Dolphin Demolition 66-inch and 84-inch caissons (Diamond saw cutting) .......................................... 10 N/A 631 Concrete piles (Pile clipping) ................... 10 N/A 2,511 NMAWC Construction and Demolition 16-inch concrete piles (Vibratory extraction/driving) ........................................... 4 20 10 N/A 1,848 16-inch concrete piles (Impact driving) .... 5 100 6 60 270 N/A N/A 1,165 16-inch concrete piles (Jetting pile extraction) ................................................. 10 16-inch concrete piles (Pile dead-pull) .... 10 N/A sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES 1 LF = Low-frequency cetaceans; MF = Mid-frequency cetaceans; PW = Phocid pinnipeds; OW = Otariid pinnipeds. The high-frequency cetacean hearing group (HF) is omitted, because no species in the hearing group occur in, or around, Project area. 2 Mean ambient sound levels in San Diego Bay are approximately 128 dB rms (NAVFAC SW 2015), and all 120 dB Level B ZOIs are based on the ambient value. The distances for all activities producing sound at NMAWC will be verified via hydrophone during project activities. 3 Airborne noise levels did not exceed regulatory thresholds during previous IHAs. No airborne monitoring will take place for diamond saw cutting of caissons, plasma torch cutting of temporary mooring dolphin 30-inch steel piles, jetting or dead-pull extraction of concrete piles. 4 Includes buffer of calculated Level A threshold out to 20 m (65.6 ft). 5 Includes buffer of calculated Level A threshold out to 100 m (328 ft). 6 Includes buffer of calculated Level A threshold out to 60 m (328 ft). Disturbance Zone—Disturbance zones are the areas in which SPLs equal or exceed 160 and 120 dB rms (for VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:01 Sep 29, 2017 Jkt 244001 impulse and continuous sound, respectively). Disturbance zones provide utility for monitoring conducted for PO 00000 Frm 00027 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 mitigation purposes (i.e., shutdown zone monitoring) by establishing monitoring protocols for areas adjacent E:\FR\FM\02OCN1.SGM 02OCN1 sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES 45822 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 189 / Monday, October 2, 2017 / Notices to the shutdown zones. Monitoring of disturbance zones enables observers to be aware of and communicate the presence of marine mammals in the project area but outside the shutdown zone and thus prepare for potential shutdowns of activity. However, the primary purpose of disturbance zone monitoring is for documenting incidents of Level B harassment; disturbance zone monitoring is discussed in greater detail later (see Monitoring and Reporting Measures). Nominal radial distances for disturbance zones are shown in Table 9. In order to document observed incidents of harassment, monitors record all marine mammal observations, regardless of location. The observer’s location, as well as the location of the pile being driven, is known from a GPS. The location of the animal is estimated as a distance from the observer, which is then compared to the location from the pile. If acoustic monitoring is being conducted for that pile, a received SPL may be estimated, or the received level may be estimated on the basis of past or subsequent acoustic monitoring. It may then be determined whether the animal was exposed to sound levels constituting incidental harassment in post-processing of observational and acoustic data, and a precise accounting of observed incidences of harassment created. Therefore, although the predicted distances to behavioral harassment thresholds are useful for estimating incidental harassment for purposes of authorizing levels of incidental take, actual take may be determined in part through the use of empirical data. Acoustic measurements will continue during the fifth year of project activity and zones would be adjusted as indicated by empirical data. Please see the Navy’s Acoustic and Marine Species Monitoring Plan (Monitoring Plan; available at www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/ permits/incidental/construction.htm) for full details. Monitoring Protocols—Monitoring would be conducted before, during, and after pile driving activities. In addition, observers shall record all incidents of marine mammal occurrence, regardless of distance from activity, and shall document any behavioral reactions in concert with distance from piles being driven. Observations made outside the shutdown zone will not result in shutdown; that pile segment would be completed without cessation, unless the animal approaches or enters the shutdown zone, at which point all pile driving activities would be halted. Monitoring will take place from fifteen minutes prior to initiation through thirty minutes post-completion of pile VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:01 Sep 29, 2017 Jkt 244001 driving activities. Pile driving activities include the time to remove a single pile or series of piles, as long as the time elapsed between uses of the pile driving equipment is no more than thirty minutes. Please see the Monitoring Plan for full details of the monitoring protocols. The following additional measures apply to visual monitoring: (1) Monitoring will be conducted by qualified observers, who will be placed at the best vantage point(s) practicable (as defined in the Monitoring Plan) to monitor for marine mammals and implement shutdown/delay procedures when applicable by calling for the shutdown to the hammer operator. Qualified observers are trained biologists, with the following minimum qualifications: (a) Visual acuity in both eyes (correction is permissible) sufficient for discernment of moving targets at the water’s surface with ability to estimate target size and distance; use of binoculars may be necessary to correctly identify the target; (b) Ability to conduct field observations and collect data according to assigned protocols (c) Experience or training in the field identification of marine mammals, including the identification of behaviors; (d) Sufficient training, orientation, or experience with the construction operation to provide for personal safety during observations; (e) Writing skills sufficient to prepare a report of observations including but not limited to the number and species of marine mammals observed; dates and times when in-water construction activities were conducted; dates and times when in-water construction activities were suspended to avoid potential incidental injury from construction sound of marine mammals observed within a defined shutdown zone; and marine mammal behavior; and (f) Ability to communicate orally, by radio or in person, with project personnel to provide real-time information on marine mammals observed in the area as necessary. (2) Prior to the start of pile driving activity, the shutdown zone will be monitored for fifteen minutes to ensure that it is clear of marine mammals. Pile driving will only commence once observers have declared the shutdown zone clear of marine mammals; animals will be allowed to remain in the shutdown zone (i.e., must leave of their own volition) and their behavior will be monitored and documented. The shutdown zone may only be declared PO 00000 Frm 00028 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 clear, and pile driving started, when the entire shutdown zone is visible (i.e., when not obscured by dark, rain, fog, etc.). In addition, if such conditions should arise during impact pile driving that is already underway, the activity would be halted. (3) If a marine mammal approaches or enters the shutdown zone during the course of pile driving operations, activity will be halted and delayed until either the animal has voluntarily left and been visually confirmed beyond the shutdown zone or fifteen minutes have passed without re-detection of small cetaceans or pinnipeds and 30 minutes for gray whales. Monitoring will be conducted throughout the time required to drive a pile and for thirty minutes following the conclusion of pile driving. Sound Attenuation Devices The use of bubble curtains to reduce underwater sound from impact pile driving was considered prior to the start of the project but was determined to not be practicable. Use of a bubble curtain in a channel with substantial current may not be effective, as unconfined bubbles are likely to be swept away and confined curtain systems may be difficult to deploy effectively in high currents. Data gathered during monitoring of construction on the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge indicated that no reduction in the overall linear sound level resulted from use of a bubble curtain in deep water with relatively strong current (Illingworth & Rodkin 2001). During project monitoring for pile driving associated with the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge, also in San Francisco Bay, it was observed that performance in moderate current was significantly reduced (Oestman et al., 2009). Lucke et al. (2011) also note that the effectiveness of most currently used curtain designs may be compromised in stronger currents and greater water depths. We believe that conditions (relatively deep water and strong tidal currents of up to 3 knots (kn)) at the project site would disperse the bubbles and compromise the effectiveness of sound attenuation. Timing Restrictions In-order to avoid impacts to least tern populations when they are most likely to be foraging and nesting, in-water work will be concentrated from October 1–April 1 or, depending on circumstances, to April 30. However, this limitation is in accordance with agreements between the Navy and FWS, and is not a requirement of this IHA. All in-water construction activities would occur only from 45 minutes after sunrise to 45 minutes before sunset. E:\FR\FM\02OCN1.SGM 02OCN1 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 189 / Monday, October 2, 2017 / Notices Soft Start The use of a soft start procedure is believed to provide additional protection to marine mammals by warning or providing a chance to leave the area prior to the hammer operating at full capacity, and typically involves a requirement to initiate sound from the hammer at reduced energy followed by a waiting period. This procedure is repeated two additional times. It is difficult to specify the reduction in energy for any given hammer because of variation across drivers and, for impact hammers, the actual number of strikes at reduced energy will vary because operating the hammer at less than full power results in ‘‘bouncing’’ of the hammer as it strikes the pile, resulting in multiple ‘‘strikes.’’ The project will utilize soft start techniques for impact pile driving. We require an initial set of three strikes from the impact hammer at reduced energy, followed by a 30second waiting period, then two subsequent three strike sets. Soft start will be required at the beginning of each day’s impact pile driving work and at any time following a cessation of impact pile driving of thirty minutes or longer; the requirement to implement soft start for impact driving is independent of whether vibratory driving has occurred within the prior thirty minutes. Based on our evaluation of the Navy’s planned measures, as well as any other potential measures that may be relevant to the specified activity, we have determined that the mitigation measures provide the means of effecting the least practicable impact on marine mammal species or stocks and their habitat, paying particular attention to rookeries, mating grounds, and areas of similar significance. sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES Monitoring and Reporting Measures In order to issue an IHA for an activity, section 101(a)(5)(D) of the MMPA states that NMFS must set forth requirements pertaining to the monitoring and reporting of such taking. The MMPA implementing regulations at 50 CFR 216.104 (a)(13) indicate that requests for incidental take authorizations must include the suggested means of accomplishing the necessary monitoring and reporting that will result in increased knowledge of the species and of the level of taking or impacts on populations of marine mammals that are expected to be present in the action area. Effective reporting is critical both to compliance as well as ensuring that the most value is obtained from the required monitoring. VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:01 Sep 29, 2017 Jkt 244001 Monitoring and reporting requirements prescribed by NMFS should contribute to improved understanding of one or more of the following: • Occurrence of marine mammal species or stocks in the area in which take is anticipated (e.g., presence, abundance, distribution, density). • Nature, scope, or context of likely marine mammal exposure to potential stressors/impacts (individual or cumulative, acute or chronic), through better understanding of: (1) Action or environment (e.g., source characterization, propagation, ambient noise); (2) Affected species (e.g., life history, dive patterns); (3) Cooccurrence of marine mammal species with the action; or (4) Biological or behavioral context of exposure (e.g., age, calving or feeding areas). • Individual marine mammal responses (behavioral or physiological) to acoustic stressors (acute, chronic, or cumulative), other stressors, or impacts from multiple stressors. • How anticipated responses to stressors impact either: (1) Long-term fitness and survival of an individual; or (2) Population, species, or stock. • Effects on marine mammal habitat (e.g. marine mammal prey species, acoustic habitat, or other important physical components of marine mammal habitat). • Mitigation and monitoring effectiveness. Please see the Monitoring Plan (available at www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/ permits/incidental/construction.htm) for full details of the requirements for monitoring and reporting. Notional monitoring locations (for biological and acoustic monitoring) are shown in Figures 3–1 and 3–2 of the Plan. The purpose of this Plan is to provide protocols for acoustic and marine mammal monitoring implemented during pile driving and removal activities. We have determined this monitoring plan, which is summarized here and which largely follows the monitoring strategies required and successfully implemented under the previous IHAs, to be sufficient to meet the MMPA’s monitoring and reporting requirements. The previous monitoring plan was modified to integrate adaptive changes to the monitoring methodologies as well as updates to the scheduled construction activities. Monitoring objectives are as follows: • Monitor in-water construction activities, including the implementation of in-situ acoustic monitoring efforts to continue to measure SPLs from in-water construction and demolition activities not previously monitored or validated PO 00000 Frm 00029 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 45823 during the previous IHAs. This would include collection of acoustic data for activities and pile types for which sufficient data has not previously been collected, including for diamond saw cutting of caissons and pile clipping of the concrete piles during fuel pier demolition. The Navy also plans to collect acoustic data for vibratory extraction and/or driving, impact driving, and jetting pile extraction of the concrete piles at NMAWC. • Monitor marine mammal occurrence and behavior during inwater construction activities to minimize marine mammal impacts and effectively document marine mammals occurring within ZOI boundaries. Collection of ambient underwater sound measurements in the absence of project activities has been concluded, as a rigorous baseline dataset for the project area has been developed. Acoustic Measurements The primary purpose of acoustic monitoring is to empirically verify modeled injury and behavioral disturbance zones (defined at radial distances to NMFS-specified thresholds; see Estimated Take by Incidental Harassment). For non-pulsed sound, distances will continue to be evaluated for attenuation to the point at which sound becomes indistinguishable from background levels. Empirical acoustic monitoring data will be used to document transmission loss values determined from past measurements and to examine site-specific differences in SPL and affected ZOIs on an as needed basis. Should monitoring results indicate it is appropriate to do so, marine mammal mitigation zones may be revised as necessary to encompass actual ZOIs. Acoustic monitoring will be conducted as specified in the approved Monitoring Plan. Please see Table 2–2 of the Plan for a list of equipment to be used during acoustic monitoring. Monitoring locations will be determined based on results of previous acoustic monitoring effort and the best professional judgment of acoustic technicians. For activities such as demolition of the old fuel pier and temporary mooring dolphin, the Navy will continue to collect in situ acoustic data to validate source levels and ZOIs. Environmental data would be collected including but not limited to: Wind speed and direction, air temperature, humidity, surface water temperature, water depth, wave height, weather conditions and other factors that could contribute to influencing the airborne and underwater sound levels (e.g., aircraft, boats). Full details of acoustic monitoring E:\FR\FM\02OCN1.SGM 02OCN1 45824 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 189 / Monday, October 2, 2017 / Notices sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES requirements may be found in section 4.2 of the Navy’s Monitoring Plan. Visual Marine Mammal Observations The Navy will collect sighting data and behavioral responses to construction for marine mammal species observed in the region of activity during the period of activity. All observers will be trained in marine mammal identification and behaviors and are required to have no other construction-related tasks while conducting monitoring. The Navy will monitor the shutdown zone and disturbance zone before, during, and after pile driving as described under Mitigation Measures and in the Monitoring Plan, with observers located at the best practicable vantage points. Notional monitoring locations are shown in Figures 3–3 and 3–4 of the Navy’s Plan. Please see that plan, available at www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/ permits/incidental/construction.htm, for full details of the required marine mammal monitoring. Section 3.2 of the Plan and Section 13 of the Navy’s application offer more detail regarding monitoring protocols. Based on our requirements, the Navy would implement the following procedures for pile driving: • Marine Mammal Observers (MMO)s would be located at the best vantage point(s) in order to properly see the entire shutdown zone and as much of the disturbance zone as possible. • During all observation periods, observers will use binoculars and the naked eye to search continuously for marine mammals. • If the shutdown zones are obscured by fog or poor lighting conditions, pile driving at that location will not be initiated until that zone is visible. Should such conditions arise while impact driving is underway, the activity would be halted. • The shutdown and disturbance zones around the pile will be monitored for the presence of marine mammals before, during, and after any pile driving or removal activity. One MMO will be placed in the most effective position near the active construction/demolition platform in order to observe the respective shutdown zones for vibratory and impact pile driving or for applicable demolition activities. Monitoring would be primarily dedicated to observing the shutdown zone; however, MMOs would record all marine mammal sightings beyond these distances provided it did not interfere with their effectiveness at carrying out the shutdown procedures. Additional land, pier, or vessel-based MMOs will be positioned to monitor the VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:01 Sep 29, 2017 Jkt 244001 shutdown zones and the buffer zones, as notionally indicated in Figures 3–3 and 3–4 of the Navy’s application. For all pile driving and applicable demolition activities, a minimum of one observer shall monitor the shutdown zones. However, any action requiring the impact or vibratory hammer will necessitate two MMOs. For impact and vibratory pile driving of 16-in concrete piles, two observers shall be positioned for optimal monitoring of the surrounding waters. The MMOs will record all visible marine mammal sightings. Confirmed takes will be registered once the sightings data has been overlaid with the isopleths identified in Table 4 and visualized in Figures 6–2, 6–3, and 6– 4 of the Navy’s application, or based on refined acoustic data, if amendments to the ZOIs are needed. Acousticians on duty may be noting SPLs in real-time, but, to avoid biasing the observations, will not communicate that information directly to the MMOs. These platforms may move closer to, or farther from, the source depending on whether received SPLs are less than or greater than the regulatory threshold values. All MMOs will be in radio communication with each other so that the MMOs will know when to anticipate incoming marine mammal species and when they are tracking the same animals observed elsewhere. If any species for which take is not authorized is observed by a MMO during applicable construction or demolition activities, all construction will be stopped immediately. Pile driving will commence if the animal has not been seen inside the Level B ZOI for at least one hour of observation. If the animal is resighted again, pile driving will be stopped and a boat-based MMO (if available) will follow the animal until it has left the Level B ZOI. If the animal is resighted again, pile driving will be stopped and a boat-based MMO (if available) will follow the animal until it has left the Level B ZOI. Individuals implementing the monitoring protocol will assess its effectiveness using an adaptive approach. Monitoring biologists will use their best professional judgment throughout implementation and seek improvements to these methods when deemed appropriate. Any modifications to protocol will be coordinated between NMFS and the Navy. Data Collection We require that observers use approved data forms. Among other pieces of information, the Navy will record detailed information about any implementation of shutdowns, PO 00000 Frm 00030 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 including the distance of animals to the pile and description of specific actions that ensued and resulting behavior of the animal, if any. In addition, the Navy will attempt to distinguish between the number of individual animals taken and the number of incidents of take. We require that, at a minimum, the following information be collected on the sighting forms: • Date and time that monitored activity begins or ends; • Construction activities occurring during each observation period; • Weather parameters (e.g., percent cover, visibility); • Water conditions (e.g., sea state, tide state); • Species, numbers, and, if possible, sex and age class of marine mammals; • Description of any observable marine mammal behavior patterns, including bearing and direction of travel and distance from pile driving activity, and if possible, the correlation to measured SPLs; • Distance from pile driving activities to marine mammals and distance from the marine mammals to the observation point; • Description of implementation of mitigation measures (e.g., shutdown or delay); • Locations of all marine mammal observations; and • Other human activity in the area. In addition, photographs would be taken of any gray whales observed. These photographs would be submitted to NMFS’ West Coast Regional Office for comparison with photo-identification catalogs to determine whether the whale is a member of the WNP population. Reporting A draft report would be submitted to NMFS within 45 calendar days of the completion of marine mammal monitoring, or 60 days prior to the issuance of any subsequent IHA for this project, whichever comes first. The report will include marine mammal observations pre-activity, duringactivity, and post-activity during pile driving days, and will also provide descriptions of any behavioral responses to construction activities by marine mammals and a complete description of all mitigation shutdowns and the results of those actions. A final report would be prepared and submitted within 30 days following resolution of comments on the draft report. Required contents of the monitoring reports are described in more detail in the Navy’s Acoustic and Marine Species Monitoring Plan. E:\FR\FM\02OCN1.SGM 02OCN1 sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 189 / Monday, October 2, 2017 / Notices Monitoring Results From Previously Authorized Activities The Navy complied with the mitigation and monitoring required under the previous authorizations for this project. Acoustic and marine mammal monitoring was implemented as required, with marine mammal monitoring occurring before, during, and after each pile driving event. During the course of Year 4 activities, the Navy did not exceed the take levels authorized under the IHA (please see the Navy’s monitoring report for more details and below for further discussion). The general objectives of the monitoring plan were similar to those described above for the Year 5 monitoring plan. For acoustic monitoring, the primary goal was to continue to collect in situ data towards validation of the acoustic ZOIs defined based on previous data collection efforts and using the transmission loss modeling effort conducted prior to the start of the project, and to continue collection of data on background noise conditions in San Diego Bay. Acoustic Monitoring Results—For a full description of acoustic monitoring methodology, please see section 2.3 of the Navy’s monitoring report, including Figure 2–3 for representative monitoring locations. Results from Years 1–4 are displayed in Table 10. Please see our notices of proposed IHAs for the Years 2, 3, and 4 IHAs (79 FR 53026, September 5, 2014; 80 FR 53115, September 2, 2015; and 81 FR 66628, September 28, 2016) or the Navy’s Year 1 and 2 monitoring reports for more detailed description of monitoring accomplished during the first two years of the project. For acoustic monitoring associated with impact pile driving, continuous hydroacoustic monitoring systems were positioned at source (10 m from the pile) and opportunistically at predicted 160-dB Level B ZOIs. The far-field data collections were conducted at multiple locations during impact driving of 16-in concrete-filled poly piles and 24 x 30in concrete fender piles, i.e., approximately 20 to 550 m from source. Hydrophones were deployed from the dock, barge, or moored vessel at half the water depth. The SPLs for driving of 30in steel pipe piles were measured intermittently and archived (but not reported) because associated SPLs for the size, type, and location of the piles were previously validated. Source SPLs were recorded and analyzed for a minimum of five piles for each of the concrete pile types. Additional measurements were archived. VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:01 Sep 29, 2017 Jkt 244001 SPLs of pile driving and demolition activities conducted during Year 2 fell within expected levels but varied spatially relative to the existing fuel pier structure and maximum source levels for individual piles (Table 10). For both vibratory and impact pile driving methods, results from the IPP (Year 1) and 2014/2015 production pile driving (Year 2) showed that transmission loss for piles driven in shallow water inside of the existing fuel pier was greater than piles driven in deep water outside of the existing pier. Differences in depth, sediment type, and existing in-water pier/wharf structures likely accounted for variations in transmission loss and measured differences in SPLs recorded at the shutdown and far-field locations for shallow versus deep piles of the same type and size. SPLs documented during vibratory and impact pile driving of shallow and deep steel pipe piles of the same size displayed notable differences in SPLs at shutdown range and to a lesser extent at source. Measurements of impact driving of concrete piles conducted during Year 3 produced greater than expected SPLs at source. Differences in the subsurface conditions may account for the discrepancy, as a hardened layer is found at approximately 20–40 m below the mudline. SPLs documented during driving of 16-in piles generally displayed relatively low sound source levels during initial driving then appreciable increases observed once the piles interacted with this layer. Measurements from driving of the square concrete piles showed greatest sound source levels during initial impact pile driving, which then decreased once the piles transitioned through the hardened layer. While source SPLs were observed to be greater than expected for both pile types, attenuation was also greater. Despite greater than expected source levels, the measured isopleth distances were similar to modeled predictions. Far-field impact pile driving results varied substantially between piles and locations for the various pile sizes, types, and locations. Both pile types were driven adjacent to the new fuel pier and source SPLs were subject to a wide variety of boundary conditions from recently driven piles and associated pier infrastructure. Further detail and discussion is provided in the Navy’s report. During Year 4, measurements were conducted for pile clipping, caisson cutting, pile jetting, and airborne vibratory and impact driving. The average SPLs for pile clipping at source ranged from 138.0 to 144.6 dB rms, with maximum SPLs at source ranging from PO 00000 Frm 00031 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 45825 156.1 to 165.3 dB rms (see Table 6–3 of the Navy’s monitoring report). Measurements were conducted on eight piles and took one to three minutes to cut. Caisson demolition was conducted on 18 84-in concrete-filled caissons, with an average duration of approximately 6 hours per caisson. Underwater acoustic data was collected for seven caissons using the vibratory setting. For some of the recordings, there were two caissons being cut simultaneously and the acousticians captured the SPLs for comparison between a single cutter versus two cutters. If two cutters were running, the distance measured was from the closest caisson to the location. Average SPLs at source for a single cutter were 136.1 and 141.4 dB rms. Maximum SPLs at source for a single cutter were 140.9 and 146.5 dB rms. Average SPLs at source for two cutters running simultaneously were 146.5 and 149.0 dB rms. Maximum SPLs at source for two cutters running simultaneously were 149.0 and 155.6 dB rms. On average, there was a 10 dB difference between a single cutter and two at source. Far-field recordings for a single cutter were collected at far-field locations ranging from 20 to 430 m (66 to 1,411 ft), with documented maximum SPL values from 136.6 to 145.5 dB rms. Far-field recordings for two cutters were also collected at far-field locations ranging from 85 to 810 m (279 to 2,657 ft), with documented maximum SPL values from 133.2 to 146.8 dB rms. SPLs of pile installation activities for the 24 x 30 concrete piles had not been previously documented. The only jetting data collected during the Project was at NMAWC during the removal of 12-inch and 16-inch concrete piles. A total of sixteen 24 x 30 concrete nonstructural fender piles were driven using two techniques: (1) Method 1 (M1) utilized a custom-made spud jet with four nozzles welded to the tip that used a high-pressure water system (900 gallons per minute with a maximum pounds per square inch (psi) of 300), to make the initial break through the bay point formation sediment layer; and (2) Method 2 (M2) used the 24 x 30 pile, outfitted with two pipes inside the full length of the pile, which then used a high-pressure water system (maximum psi of 300) to remove sediment and place the pile. Pile jetting averaged 24.5 minutes per pile and acoustic recordings were collected for the entire duration. Collection of underwater acoustic data were completed on six piles using the vibratory setting. For M1, the average sound pressure levels (SPL) at source ranged from 152.6 dB rms to 155.1 dB rms, and maximum SPLs at E:\FR\FM\02OCN1.SGM 02OCN1 45826 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 189 / Monday, October 2, 2017 / Notices source ranged from 156.5 dB rms to 159.9 dB rms. For M2, the average SPL at source ranged from 133.0 dB to 149.8 dB and maximum SPLs at source ranged from 137.1 dB to 153.2 dB rms. A vessel based drift method was used to obtain far-field recordings during M1 and M2 jetting techniques; the vessel was initially positioned at the closest feasible distance to source, and then allowed to drift on the natural tidal current until near ambient sound pressure levels were obtained. The SPLs at far-field for the first drift during jetting M1 reached near ambient at 165 m (541 ft) from pile with an SPL of 128.0 dB. The SPLs at far-field for the first drift during pile jetting M2 reached near ambient at 80 m (262 ft) from pile with an SPL of 127.6 dB. Recordings during the vessel drifts showed that jetting reached near ambient levels for both methods between 80 m (262 ft) and 165 m (541 ft; M1 and M2, respectively). Airborne sound levels were recorded during vibratory pile driving on fourteen 30-inch steel piles. The maximum recorded airborne dB rms values at source was 106.3 dB re 20 mPa, and average values ranged from 96.0 to 102.7 dB re 20 mPa. Airborne sound levels were recorded during impact pile driving on sixteen 30-inch steel piles. The maximum recorded airborne dB values at source was 118.5 dB re 20 mPa, and average values ranged from 105.8 to 112.5 dB re 20 mPa. Further detail and discussion is provided in the Navy’s report. TABLE 10—ACOUSTIC MONITORING RESULTS FOR YEAR 4 Average underwater SPL at 10 m (dB rms) Number of piles measured Average airborne SPL (LZFmax) 1 Location Activity Pile type Fuel Pier (Year 4) .................. Pile Clipping .......................... Caisson Demolition (1 cutter) Caisson Demolition (2 cutters). Vibratory ............................... Vibratory ............................... Impact ................................... Impact ................................... Pile Jetting ............................ 24-in square concrete pile .... 84-in caisson ........................ 84-in caisson ........................ 4 10 8 141 136 138 ........................ ........................ ........................ 30-in steel (at source) .......... 30-in steel (far field) ............. 30-in steel (at source) .......... 30-in steel (far field) ............. 24 x 30 .................................. 7 7 9 7 10 ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ 147 100 86 110 88 ........................ NMAWC (Year 4) .................. sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES 1 Measured from Source (15.2 m) and Far-field Distances for 30-inch Steel Piles. Marine Mammal Monitoring Results— Marine mammal monitoring was conducted as required under the IHA and as described in the Year 4 monitoring plan and in our Federal Register notice of proposed authorization associated with the Year 4 IHA. For a full description of monitoring methodology, please see section 2 of the Navy’s monitoring report, including Figure 2–1, 2–2, and 2–7 for representative monitoring locations and Figures 2–2 through 2–5 for monitoring zones. Monitoring protocols were managed adaptively during the course of the fourth-year IHA. Multiple shutdowns were implemented due to marine mammals being observed within buffered shutdown zones, but no animals were observed within actual predicted Level A harassment zones while pile driving was occurring (one harbor seal was seen within the Level A ZOI after a shutdown of construction had been implemented). Monitoring results are presented in Table 11. The Navy recorded all observations of marine mammals, including pre- and post-construction monitoring efforts. Animals observed during these periods or that were determined to be outside relevant ZOIs were not considered to represent incidents of take. Please see Figures 3– 11, 3–12, 3–22, 3–23, 3–30, and 3–31 of the Navy’s Monitoring Report for locations of observations and incidents of take relative to the project sites. Take authorization for the second-year authorization was informed by an assumption that 115 days of in-water construction would occur, whereas only fifty total days actually occurred. However, the actual observed rates per day were in all cases lower than what was assumed. Therefore, we expect that the Navy would not have exceeded the take allowances even if the full 115 days had been reached. There were considerably fewer individuals and sightings during the Year 3 IHA when compared to the same months during the Year 2 IHA, and only three species were observed. This may be due to environmental fluctuations as ˜ part of the on-going El Nino event. Water temperatures during Year 3 were warmer than during the same months during Year 2. Although the temperatures were still higher than the average water temperatures for the ˜ region prior to the current El Nino event, it shows that the event may have been dissipating. In addition, California sea lion strandings decreased. No evidently significant behavioral changes were reported. Similar to Year 3, there were considerably fewer individuals and sightings during the Year 4 IHA when compared to the same months during the Year 2 IHA, and only four species were observed. This may be due to environmental fluctuations as part of ˜ the on-going El Nino event. Water temperatures during Year 4 were slightly warmer than during the same months during Year 2. Although the temperatures were still higher than the average water temperatures for the ˜ region prior to the current El Nino event, it shows that the event may have been dissipating. In addition, California sea lion strandings decreased, but may be returning to numbers more commonly observed. No evidently significant behavioral changes were reported. TABLE 11—MARINE MAMMAL MONITORING RESULTS FOR YEAR 4 Total sightings Species California sea lion ................................................................ VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:01 Sep 29, 2017 Jkt 244001 PO 00000 Frm 00032 Total individuals 717 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Observed incidents of Level B take 2,037 E:\FR\FM\02OCN1.SGM 156 02OCN1 Extrapolated incidents of Level B take 1 1,835 Total estimated Level B take 1,991 45827 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 189 / Monday, October 2, 2017 / Notices TABLE 11—MARINE MAMMAL MONITORING RESULTS FOR YEAR 4—Continued Total sightings Species Harbor seal .......................................................................... Bottlenose dolphin ............................................................... Gray whale ........................................................................... Total individuals 87 18 1 Observed incidents of Level B take 102 45 1 21 4 0 Extrapolated incidents of Level B take 1 57 144 13 Total estimated Level B take 78 148 13 sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES 1 Assumed density and unmonitored area of assumed Level B ZOI used with actual pile driving time to generate assumed take for unmonitored areas. Negligible Impact Analysis and Determination 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 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 harassment, NMFS considers 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 effects on habitat, and the likely effectiveness of the mitigation. We also assess the number, intensity, and context of estimated takes by evaluating this information relative to population status. Consistent with the 1989 preamble for NMFS’s implementing regulations (54 FR 40338; September 29, 1989), the impacts from other past and ongoing anthropogenic activities are incorporated into this analysis via their impacts on the environmental baseline (e.g., as reflected in the regulatory status of the species, population size and growth rate where known, ongoing sources of human-caused mortality, or ambient noise levels). Construction and demolition activities associated with the pier replacement 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 or removal is happening. No injury, serious injury, or mortality is anticipated given the nature of the VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:01 Sep 29, 2017 Jkt 244001 activity and measures designed to minimize the possibility of injury to marine mammals. The potential for these outcomes is minimized through the construction method and the implementation of the planned mitigation measures. Impact pile driving produces short, sharp pulses with higher peak levels and much sharper rise time to reach those peaks. When impact driving is necessary, required measures (implementation of buffered shutdown zones) significantly reduce any possibility of injury. Given sufficient ‘‘notice’’ through use of soft start (for impact driving), marine mammals are expected to move away from a sound source that is annoying prior to its becoming potentially injurious. The likelihood that marine mammal detection ability by trained observers is high under the environmental conditions described for San Diego Bay (approaching 100 percent detection rate, as described by trained biologists conducting site-specific surveys) further enables the implementation of shutdowns to avoid injury, serious injury, or mortality. Effects on individuals that are taken by Level B harassment, on the basis of reports in the literature as well as monitoring from past years of this project and other similar activities, will likely be limited to reactions such as increased swimming speeds, increased surfacing time, or decreased foraging (if such activity were occurring) (e.g., Thorson and Reyff 2006; HDR 2012; Lerma 2014). Most likely, individuals will simply move away from the sound source and be temporarily displaced from the areas of pile driving, although even this reaction has been observed primarily only in association with impact pile driving. In response to vibratory driving, pinnipeds (which may become somewhat habituated to human activity in industrial or urban waterways) have been observed to orient towards and sometimes move towards the sound. The pile driving activities analyzed here are similar to, or less impactful than, numerous other construction activities conducted in San Francisco Bay and in the Puget Sound PO 00000 Frm 00033 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 region, which have taken place with no reported injuries or mortality to marine mammals, and no known long-term adverse consequences from behavioral harassment. 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 for the affected individuals, and thus would not result in any adverse impact to the stock as a whole. Level B harassment will be reduced to the level of least practicable impact through use of mitigation measures described herein and, if sound produced by project activities is sufficiently disturbing, animals are likely to simply avoid the project area while the activity is occurring. In summary and as described above, the following factors primarily support our determination that the impacts resulting from this activity are not expected to adversely affect the species or stock through effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival: • No mortality is anticipated or authorized; • No injury is anticipated or authorized; • The anticipated incidents of Level B harassment consist of, at worst, temporary modifications in behavior; • The absence of any significant habitat within the project area, including rookeries, significant haulouts, or known areas or features of special significance for foraging or reproduction; and • The presumed efficacy of the mitigation measures in reducing the effects of the specified activity to the level of least practicable impact. 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 monitoring and mitigation measures, NMFS finds that the total marine mammal take from the planned activity will have a negligible impact on all E:\FR\FM\02OCN1.SGM 02OCN1 45828 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 189 / Monday, October 2, 2017 / Notices sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES affected marine mammal species or stocks. Small Numbers As noted above, only small numbers of incidental take may be authorized under Section 101(a)(5)(D) of the MMPA for specified activities other than military readiness activities. The MMPA does not define small numbers and so, in practice, where estimated numbers are available, NMFS compares the number of individuals taken to the most appropriate estimation of abundance of the relevant species or stock in our determination of whether an authorization is limited to small numbers of marine mammals. Additionally, other qualitative factors may be considered in the analysis, such as the temporal or spatial scale of the activities. The number of incidents of take planned for authorization for these stocks, with the exception of the coastal bottlenose dolphin (see below), would be considered small relative to the relevant stocks or populations (see Table 8) even if each estimated taking occurred to a new individual. This is an extremely unlikely scenario as, for pinnipeds occurring at the NBPL waterfront, there will almost certainly be some overlap in individuals present day-to-day and in general, there is likely to be some overlap in individuals present day-to-day for animals in estuarine/inland waters. The numbers of authorized take for bottlenose dolphins are higher relative to the total stock abundance estimate and would not represent small numbers if a significant portion of the take was for a new individual. However, these numbers represent the estimated incidents of take, not the number of individuals taken. That is, it is likely that a relatively small subset of California coastal bottlenose dolphins would be incidentally harassed by project activities. California coastal bottlenose dolphins range from San Francisco Bay to San Diego (and south into Mexico) and the specified activity would be stationary within an enclosed water body that is not recognized as an area of any special significance for coastal bottlenose dolphins (and is therefore not an area of dolphin aggregation, as evident in Navy observational records). We therefore believe that the estimated numbers of takes, were they to occur, likely represent repeated exposures of a much smaller number of bottlenose dolphins and that, based on the limited region of exposure in comparison with the known distribution of the coastal bottlenose dolphin, these estimated incidents of VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:01 Sep 29, 2017 Jkt 244001 take represent small numbers of bottlenose dolphins. Based on the analysis contained herein of the planned activity (including the mitigation and monitoring measures) and the anticipated take of marine mammals, NMFS finds that small numbers of marine mammals will be taken relative to the population size of the affected species or stocks. Impact on Availability of Affected Species for Taking for Subsistence Uses There are no relevant subsistence uses of the affected marine mammal stocks or species implicated by this action. Therefore, NMFS has determined that the total taking of affected species or stocks would not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of such species or stocks for taking for subsistence purposes. Endangered Species Act (ESA) Section 7(a)(2) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA: 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) requires that each Federal agency insure that any action it authorizes, funds, or carries out is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any endangered or threatened species or result in the destruction or adverse modification of designated critical habitat. To ensure ESA compliance for the issuance of IHAs, NMFS consults internally, in this case with the ESA Interagency Cooperation Division, whenever we propose to authorize take for endangered or threatened species. The Navy initiated informal consultation under section 7 of the ESA with NMFS Southwest Regional Office (now West Coast Regional Office) on March 5, 2013. NMFS concluded on May 16, 2013, that the planned action may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect, WNP gray whales. The Navy has not requested authorization of the incidental take of WNP gray whales and we are not authorizing it, and there are no other ESA-listed marine mammals found in the action area. Therefore, no consultation under the ESA is required. Dated: September 27, 2017. Donna S. Wieting, Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2017–21044 Filed 9–29–17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P PO 00000 Frm 00034 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648–XF697 Taking and Importing Marine Mammals; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to U.S. Navy Submarine Base New London Pier Construction 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 U.S. Navy (Navy) for authorization to take, by harassment, of marine mammals incidental to conducting pier construction at the Navy Submarine Base New London in Groton, Connecticut, beginning October 2018 and ending March 2022. Pursuant to the implementing regulations of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), NMFS is announcing our receipt of the Navy’s request for regulations governing the incidental taking of marine mammals and inviting information, suggestions, and comments on the Navy’s application and request. DATES: Comments and information must be received no later than November 1, 2017. ADDRESSES: Comments on the application should be addressed to Jolie Harrison, Chief, Permits, Conservation and Education Division, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910– 3225. The mailbox address for providing email comments is ITP.guan@noaa.gov. Instructions: NMFS is not responsible for email comments sent to addresses other than the one provided here. Comments sent via email, including all attachments, must not exceed a 10megabyte file size. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted to www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/ incidental/construction.htm without change. All Personal Identifying Information (for example, name, address, etc.) voluntarily submitted by the commenter may be publicly accessible. Do not submit Confidential Business Information or otherwise sensitive or protected information. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Shane Guan, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, (301) 427–8401. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\02OCN1.SGM 02OCN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 82, Number 189 (Monday, October 2, 2017)]
[Notices]
[Pages 45811-45828]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2017-21044]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

RIN 0648-XF541


Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; 
Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to a Pier Replacement Project in San 
Diego, CA

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

ACTION: Notice; issuance of an incidental harassment authorization.

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

SUMMARY: In accordance with the regulations implementing the Marine 
Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) as amended, notification is hereby given 
that NMFS has issued an incidental harassment authorization (IHA) to 
the Navy to incidentally harass, by Level B harassment only, marine 
mammals during construction activities associated with the pier 
replacements project at Naval Base Point Loma.

DATES: This Authorization is effective from October 8, 2017, through 
October 7, 2018.

[[Page 45812]]


FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Laura McCue, Office of Protected 
Resources, NMFS, (301) 427-8401. Electronic copies of the application 
and supporting documents, as well as a list of the references cited in 
this document, may be obtained online at: www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental/construction.htm. In case of problems accessing these 
documents, please call the contact listed above.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    Sections 101(a)(5)(A) and (D) of the MMPA (16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.) 
direct the Secretary of Commerce (as delegated to NMFS) 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) within a specified geographical region 
if certain findings are made and either regulations are issued or, if 
the taking is limited to harassment, a notice of a proposed 
authorization is provided to the public for review.
    An authorization for incidental takings shall be granted if NMFS 
finds that the taking will have a negligible impact on the species or 
stock(s), will not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the 
availability of the species or stock(s) for subsistence uses (where 
relevant), and if the permissible methods of taking and requirements 
pertaining to the mitigation, monitoring and reporting of such takings 
are set forth.
    NMFS has defined ``negligible impact'' in 50 CFR 216.103 as an 
impact resulting from the specified activity that cannot be reasonably 
expected to, and is not reasonably likely to, adversely affect the 
species or stock through effects on annual rates of recruitment or 
survival.
    The MMPA states that the term ``take'' means to harass, hunt, 
capture, kill or attempt to harass, hunt, capture, or kill any marine 
mammal.
    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).

National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)

    To comply with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA; 
42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) and NOAA Administrative Order (NAO) 216-6A, 
NMFS must review our proposed action (i.e., the issuance of an 
incidental harassment authorization) with respect to potential impacts 
on the human environment.
    This action is consistent with categories of activities identified 
in CE B4 of the Companion Manual for NOAA Administrative Order 216-6A, 
which do not individually or cumulatively have the potential for 
significant impacts on the quality of the human environment and for 
which we have not identified any extraordinary circumstances that would 
preclude this categorical exclusion. Accordingly, NMFS has determined 
that the issuance of the IHA qualifies to be categorically excluded 
from further NEPA review.

Summary of Request

    On June 19, 2017, we received a request from the Navy for an IHA to 
take marine mammals incidental to pile installation and demolition 
associated with a pier replacement project in San Diego Bay at Naval 
Base Point Loma (NBPL) in San Diego, CA, including a separate 
monitoring plan. The Navy also submitted a draft monitoring report on 
June 13, 2017, pursuant to requirements of the previous IHA. These 
final application and monitoring plan were deemed adequate and complete 
on July 20, 2017. The pier replacement project is planned to occur over 
multiple years; this IHA would cover only the fifth year of work and 
would be valid for a period of one year from the date of issuance. 
Hereafter, use of the generic term ``pile driving'' may refer to both 
pile installation and removal unless otherwise noted. The Navy's 
request is for take of nine species of marine mammals by Level B 
harassment. Neither the Navy nor NMFS expect mortality to result from 
this activity and, therefore, an IHA is appropriate.
    Monitoring reports are available online at www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental/construction.htm and provide environmental 
information related to issuance of this IHA.
    This IHA will cover one year of a larger project for which the Navy 
obtained prior IHAs and this request for take authorization is for the 
fifth year of the project, following the IHAs issued effective from 
October 8, 2016, through October 7, 2017 (81 FR 66628), from September 
1, 2013, through August 31, 2014 (78 FR 44539), from October 8, 2014, 
through October 7, 2015 (79 FR 65378), and from October 8, 2015, 
through October 7, 2016 (80 FR 62032). The Navy complied with all the 
requirements (e.g., mitigation, monitoring, and reporting) of the 
previous IHA. Monitoring reports are available online at 
www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental/construction.htm and provide 
environmental information related to issuance of this IHA.

Description of the Specified Activity

Overview

    NBPL provides berthing and support services for Navy submarines and 
other fleet assets. The existing fuel pier serves as a fuel depot for 
loading and unloading tankers and Navy underway replenishment vessels 
that refuel ships at sea (``oilers''), as well as transferring fuel to 
local replenishment vessels and other small craft operating in San 
Diego Bay, and is the only active Navy fueling facility in southern 
California. Portions of the pier are over one hundred years old, while 
the newer segment was constructed in 1942. The pier as a whole is 
significantly past its design service life and does not meet current 
construction standards.
    The Navy plans to demolish and remove the existing pier and 
associated pipelines and appurtenances while simultaneously replacing 
it with a generally similar structure that meets relevant standards for 
seismic strength and is designed to better accommodate modern Navy 
ships. Demolition and construction are planned to occur in two phases 
to maintain the fueling capabilities of the existing pier while the new 
pier is being constructed. During the fifth year of construction (the 
specified activity considered under this IHA), the Navy anticipates 
construction at two locations: The fuel pier area and at the Naval Mine 
and Anti-Submarine Warfare Command (NMAWC), where the Navy's Marine 
Mammal Program (MMP) was temporarily moved during fuel pier 
construction (see Figure 1-1 in the Navy's application). A detailed 
description of the planned Project is provided in the Federal Register 
notice for the proposed IHA (82 FR 36360; August 4, 2017). Since that 
time, no changes have been made to the planned activities. Therefore, a 
detailed description is not provided here. Please refer to that Federal 
Register notice for the description of the specific activity.

Comments and Responses

    A notice of NMFS's proposal to issue an IHA to the Navy was 
published in the Federal Register on August 4, 2017 (82 FR 36360). That 
notice described, in

[[Page 45813]]

detail, the Navy's activity, the marine mammal species that may be 
affected by the activity, and the anticipated effects on marine 
mammals. During the 30-day public comment period, NMFS received 
comments from the Marine Mammal Commission (Commission).
    Comment 1: The Commission recommended that NMFS share the rounding 
criteria with the Commission such that the matter of when rounding 
should occur in the take calculation can be resolved in the near 
future.
    Response: NMFS will share the rounding criteria with the Commission 
soon and looks forward to working with them in the future to resolve 
this issue.

Description of Marine Mammals in the Area of the Specified Activity

    Species with the expected potential to be present during all or a 
portion of the in-water work window include the California sea lion 
(Zalophus californianus), harbor seal (Phoca vitulina richardii), 
northern elephant seal (Mirounga angustirostris), gray whale 
(Eschrichtius robustus), bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus 
truncatus), Pacific white-sided dolphin (Lagenorhynchus obliquidens), 
Risso's dolphin (Grampus griseus), and either short-beaked or long-
beaked common dolphins (Delphinus spp.). California sea lions are 
present year-round and are very common in the project area, while 
bottlenose dolphins and harbor seals are common and likely to be 
present year-round but with more variable occurrence in San Diego Bay. 
Gray whales may be observed in San Diego Bay sporadically during 
migration periods. The remaining species are known to occur in 
nearshore waters outside San Diego Bay, but are generally only rarely 
observed near or in the bay. However, recent observations indicate that 
these species may occur in the project area and therefore could 
potentially be subject to incidental harassment from the aforementioned 
activities.
    There are four marine mammal species which are either resident or 
have known seasonal occurrence in the vicinity of San Diego Bay, 
including the California sea lion, harbor seal, bottlenose dolphin, and 
gray whale (see Figures 3-1 through 3-4 and 4-1 in the Navy's 
application). In addition, common dolphins (see Figure 3-4 in the 
Navy's application), the Pacific white-sided dolphin, Risso's dolphin, 
and northern elephant seals are known to occur in deeper waters in the 
vicinity of San Diego Bay and/or have been observed within the bay 
during the course of this project's monitoring. Although the latter 
three species of cetacean would not generally be expected to occur 
within the project area, the potential for changes in occurrence 
patterns in conjunction with recent observations leads us to believe 
that authorization of incidental take is warranted. Common dolphins 
have been documented regularly at the Navy's nearby Silver Strand 
Training Complex, and were observed in the project area during previous 
years of project activity. The Pacific white-sided dolphin has been 
sighted along a previously used transect on the opposite side of the 
Point Loma peninsula (Merkel and Associates 2008) and there were 
several observations of Pacific white-sided dolphins during Year 2 
monitoring. Risso's dolphin is fairly common in southern California 
coastal waters (e.g., Campbell et al., 2010), and could occur in the 
bay. Northern elephant seals are included based on their continuing 
increase in numbers along the Pacific coast (Carretta et al., 2016) and 
the likelihood that animals that reproduce on the islands offshore of 
Baja California and mainland Mexico--where the population is also 
increasing--could move through the project area during migration, as 
well as the observation of a juvenile seal near the fuel pier in April 
2015.
    Note that common dolphins could be either short-beaked (Delphinus 
delphis delphis) or long-beaked (D. delphis bairdii) subspecies. While 
it is likely that common dolphins observed in the project area would be 
long-beaked, as it is the most frequently stranded species in the area 
from San Diego Bay to the U.S.-Mexico border (Danil and St. Leger 
2011), the species distributions overlap and it is unlikely that 
observers would be able to differentiate them in the field. Therefore, 
we consider that any common dolphins observed--and any incidental take 
of common dolphins--could be either long- or short-beaked common 
dolphins.
    In addition, other species that occur in the Southern California 
Bight may have the potential for isolated occurrence within San Diego 
Bay or just offshore. In particular, a short-finned pilot whale 
(Globicephala macrorhynchus) was observed off Ballast Point, and a 
Steller sea lion (Eumetopias jubatus monteriensis) was seen in the 
project area during Year 2. These species are not typically observed 
near the project area and, unlike the previously mentioned species, we 
do not believe it likely that they will occur in the future. Given the 
unlikelihood of their exposure to sound generated from the project, 
these species are not considered further.
    Table 1 lists all marine mammal species with expected potential for 
occurrence in the vicinity of NBPL during the project timeframe and 
summarizes key information, including regulatory status under the MMPA 
and ESA and potential biological removal (PBR), where known. A detailed 
description of the species likely to be affected by the Navy's project, 
including brief introductions to the species and relevant stocks as 
well as available information regarding population trends and threats, 
and information regarding local occurrence, were provided in the 
Federal Register notice for the proposed IHA (82 FR 36360; August 4, 
2017); since that time, we are not aware of any changes in the status 
of these species and stocks; therefore, detailed descriptions are not 
provided here. Please refer to that Federal Register notice for these 
descriptions. Please also refer to NMFS' Web site (www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/species/mammals/) for generalized species accounts.

                                           Table 1--Marine Mammals Potentially Present in the Vicinity of NBPL
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                     Stock abundance (CV,                         Relative occurrence in
              Species                         Stock             ESA/MMPA status;       Nmin, most recent     PBR \3\   Annual M/   San Diego Bay; season
                                                              strategic (Y/N) \1\    abundance survey) \2\               SI \4\        of occurrence
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                          Order Cetartiodactyla--Cetacea--Superfamily Mysticeti (baleen whales)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                  Family Eschrichtiidae
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Gray whale.........................  Eastern North Pacific.  -; N                   20,990 (0.05; 20,125;         624        132  Occasional migratory
                                                                                     2011).                                        visitor; winter.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

[[Page 45814]]

 
                                            Superfamily Odontoceti (toothed whales, dolphins, and porpoises)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                   Family Delphinidae
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Bottlenose dolphin.................  California coastal....  -; N                   453 (0.06; 346; 2011).        2.7      >=2.0  Common; year-round.
Short-beaked common dolphin........  California/Oregon/      -; N                   969,861 (0.17;              8,393       >=40  Occasional; year-round
                                      Washington.                                    839,325; 2014).                               (but more common in
                                                                                                                                   warm season).
Long-beaked common dolphin.........  California............  -; N                   101,305 (0.49; 68,432;        657     >=35.4  Occasional; year-round
                                                                                     2014).                                        (but more common in
                                                                                                                                   warm season).
Pacific white-sided dolphin........  California/Oregon/      -; N                   26,814 (0.28; 21,195;         191        7.5  Uncommon; year-round.
                                      Washington.                                    2014).
Risso's dolphin....................  California/Oregon/      -; N                   6,336 (0.32; 4,817;            46      >=3.7  Rare; year-round (but
                                      Washington.                                    2014).                                        more common in cool
                                                                                                                                   season).
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                         Order Carnivora--Superfamily Pinnipedia
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                      Family Otariidae (eared seals and sea lions)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
California sea lion................  U.S...................  -; N                   296,750 (n/a; 153,337;      9,200        389  Abundant; year-round.
                                                                                     2011).
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                             Family Phocidae (earless seals)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Harbor seal........................  California............  -; N                   30,968 (n/a; 27,348;        1,641         43  Common; year-round.
                                                                                     2012).
Northern elephant seal.............  California breeding...  -; N                   179,000 (n/a; 81,368;       4,882        8.8  Rare; year-round.
                                                                                     2010).
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Endangered Species Act (ESA) status: Endangered (E), Threatened (T)/MMPA status: Depleted (D). A dash (-) indicates that the species is not listed
  under the ESA or designated as depleted under the MMPA. Under the MMPA, a strategic stock is one for which the level of direct human-caused mortality
  exceeds PBR (see footnote 3) or which is determined to be declining and likely to be listed under the ESA within the foreseeable future. Any species
  or stock listed under the ESA is automatically designated under the MMPA as depleted and as a strategic stock.
\2\ CV is coefficient of variation; Nmin is the minimum estimate of stock abundance. In some cases, CV is not applicable. For certain stocks of
  pinnipeds, abundance estimates are based upon observations of animals (often pups) ashore multiplied by some correction factor derived from knowledge
  of the species (or similar species) life history to arrive at a best abundance estimate; therefore, there is no associated CV. In these cases, the
  minimum abundance may represent actual counts of all animals ashore.
\3\ Potential biological removal, defined by the MMPA as the maximum number of animals, not including natural mortalities, that may be removed from a
  marine mammal stock while allowing that stock to reach or maintain its optimum sustainable population size (OSP).
\4\ These values, found in NMFS' SARs, represent annual levels of human-caused mortality plus serious injury from all sources combined (e.g., commercial
  fisheries, subsistence hunting, ship strike). Annual M/SI often cannot be determined precisely and is in some cases presented as a minimum value.

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

    The effects of underwater noise from Navy's activities for the pier 
replacement project have the potential to result in behavioral 
harassment of marine mammals in the vicinity of the action area. The 
Federal Register notice for the proposed IHA (82 FR 36360; August 4, 
2017) included a discussion of the effects of anthropogenic noise on 
marine mammals, therefore that information is not repeated here; please 
refer to the Federal Register notice (82 FR 36360; August 4, 2017) for 
that information.

Estimated Take

    This section provides an estimate of the number of incidental takes 
authorized through this IHA, which will inform both NMFS' consideration 
of whether the number of takes is ``small'' and the negligible impact 
determination. Harassment is the only type of take expected to result 
from these activities. 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).
    Authorized takes would be by Level B harassment only, in the form 
of disruption of behavioral patterns for individual marine mammals 
resulting from exposure to acoustic sources. Based on the nature of the 
activity and the anticipated effectiveness of the mitigation measures 
(i.e., shutdown, soft start, etc.--discussed in detail below in 
Mitigation Measures section), Level A harassment is neither anticipated 
nor authorized.
    As described previously, no mortality is anticipated or authorized 
for this activity. Below we describe how the take is estimated.
    Described in the most basic way, we estimate take by considering: 
(1) Acoustic thresholds above which NMFS believes the best available 
science indicates marine mammals will be behaviorally harassed or incur 
some degree of permanent hearing impairment; (2) the area or volume of 
water that will be ensonified above

[[Page 45815]]

these levels in a day; (3) the density or occurrence of marine mammals 
within these ensonified areas; and, (4) and the number of days of 
activities. Below, we describe these components in more detail and 
present the take estimate.

Acoustic Thresholds

    Using the best available science, NMFS has developed acoustic 
thresholds that identify the received level of underwater sound above 
which exposed marine mammals would be reasonably expected to be 
behaviorally harassed (equated to Level B harassment) or to incur PTS 
of some degree (equated to Level A harassment).
    Level B Harassment for non-explosive sources--Though significantly 
driven by received level, the onset of behavioral disturbance from 
anthropogenic noise exposure is also informed to varying degrees by 
other factors related to the source (e.g., frequency, predictability, 
duty cycle), the environment (e.g., bathymetry), and the receiving 
animals (hearing, motivation, experience, demography, behavioral 
context) and can be difficult to predict (Southall et al., 2007). Based 
on what the available science indicates and the practical need to use a 
threshold based on a factor that is both predictable and measurable for 
most activities, NMFS uses a generalized acoustic threshold based on 
received level to estimate the onset of behavioral harassment. NMFS 
predicts that marine mammals are likely to be behaviorally harassed in 
a manner we consider Level B harassment when exposed to underwater 
anthropogenic noise above received levels of 120 dB re 1 [mu]Pa (rms) 
for continuous (e.g. vibratory pile-driving, drilling) and above 160 dB 
re 1 [mu]Pa (rms) for non-explosive impulsive (e.g., impact pile 
driving) or intermittent (e.g., scientific sonar) sources.
    The Navy's planned activity includes the use of continuous 
(vibratory pile driving, demolition) and impulsive (impact pile 
driving) sources, and therefore the 120 and 160 dB re 1 [mu]Pa (rms) 
are applicable.
    Level A harassment for non-explosive sources--NMFS's Technical 
Guidance for Assessing the Effects of Anthropogenic Sound on Marine 
Mammal Hearing (NOAA 2016) identifies dual criteria to assess auditory 
injury (Level A harassment) to five different marine mammal groups 
(based on hearing sensitivity) as a result of exposure to noise from 
two different types of sources (impulsive or non-impulsive). The Navy's 
construction project includes the use of impulsive (impact pile 
driving) and non-impulsive (vibratory pile driving) sources.
    These thresholds were developed by compiling and synthesizing the 
best available science and soliciting input multiple times from both 
the public and peer reviewers to inform the final product, and are 
provided in the table below. The references, analysis, and methodology 
used in the development of the thresholds are described in NMFS 2016 
Technical Guidance, which may be accessed at: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/acoustics/guidelines.htm.

                     Table 2--Thresholds Identifying the Onset of Permanent Threshold Shift
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                    PTS onset acoustic thresholds * (received level)
             Hearing group             -------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                Impulsive                          Non-impulsive
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Low-frequency cetaceans...............  Cell 1: Lpk,flat: 219 dB;  Cell 2: LE,LF,24h: 199 dB.
                                         LE,LF,24h: 183 dB.
Mid-frequency cetaceans...............  Cell 3: Lpk,flat: 230 dB;  Cell 4: LE,MF,24h: 198 dB.
                                         LE,MF,24h: 185 dB.
High-frequency cetaceans..............  Cell 5: Lpk,flat: 202 dB;  Cell 6: LE,HF,24h: 173 dB.
                                         LE,HF,24h: 155 dB.
Phocid Pinnipeds (underwaters)........  Cell 7: Lpk,flat: 218 dB;  Cell 8: LE,PW,24h: 201 dB.
                                         LE,PW,24h: 185 dB.
Otariid Pinnipeds (underwater)........  Cell 9: Lpk,flat: 232 dB;  Cell 10: LE,OW,24h: 219 dB.
                                         LE,OW,24h: 203 dB.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
* [NMFS 2016]

Ensonified Area

    Here, we describe operational and environmental parameters of the 
activity that will feed into identifying the area ensonified above the 
acoustic thresholds.
    The intensity of pile driving or sounds is greatly influenced by 
factors such as the type of piles, hammers, and the physical 
environment in which the activity takes place. For the installation of 
30-inch (in) steel piles and pile cutting activities, acoustic 
monitoring during the first and second IHA periods (NAVFAC 2015) 
resulted in empirical data that are directly applicable to the fifth 
IHA period in terms of the activities and the location, depth, sizes 
and types of piles.
    Table 3 identifies the sound source levels that are used in 
evaluating impact and vibratory pile driving and extraction in the 
current IHA application. Sound levels for the hydraulic pile cutter, 
diamond saw caisson cutting, and pile jetting were measured during the 
fourth IHA period (NAVFAC SW 2017). No acoustic data are available from 
the vibratory driving of 16-in concrete piles, so the data for 
vibratory installation of 30-in steel piles from the second IHA period 
are used as a conservative proxy (NAVFAC SW 2015). Finally, SPLs were 
measured for the impact driving of 16-in poly-concrete piles during the 
third IHA monitoring period (NAVFAC SW 2016a), and are used in this 
application for the same activities.

 Table 3--Underwater Sound Pressure Levels From Similar In situ Monitored Construction Activities From Previous
                                                      Years
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                      Measured sound pressure
                                                                                   levels (rms) at 10 m (dB re 1
     Project and location        Pile size and        Method        Water depth               [mu]Pa)
                                     type                                        -------------------------------
                                                                                     mean \1\         max \2\
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
NBPL Fuel Pier, San Diego, CA  13 to 24-in       Hydraulic pile      9 m (30 ft)             145           165.3
                                concrete.         cutting.
NBPL Fuel Pier, San Diego, CA  66- and 84-in     Diamond saw         9 m (30 ft)             149           155.6
                                steel caisson.    cutting.

[[Page 45816]]

 
NBPL Fuel Pier, San Diego, CA  24-in concrete..  Jetting........     9 m (30 ft)             155           159.9
NBPL Fuel Pier, San Diego, CA  30-in Steel Pipe  Vibratory......     9 m (30 ft)           162.5       \3\ 162.5
NBPL Fuel Pier, San Diego, CA  16-in Poly-       Impact.........     9 m (30 ft)           188.9         \4\ 195
                                Concrete.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Mean source levels used from data from previous monitoring reports (NAVFAC SW 2015, 2016a, 2017). Mean
  source levels were used to calculate Level B ZOIs.
\2\ Maximum source levels used from data from previous monitoring reports (NAVFAC SW 2015, 2016a, 2017). Max
  source levels were used to calculate Level A ZOIs. Maximum source levels used were proposed by the Navy.
\3\ Mean source levels for 30-in steel pipe piles were used as a proxy to calculate ZOIs for vibratory driving
  of 16-in concrete guide piles (NAVFAC SW 2015).
\4\ The maximum source level is included for reference only. The distance to the Level B ZOI is based on in situ
  data collected for 16-in poly-concrete piles and was documented in NAVFAC SW (2016a).

    Scarce data exists on airborne and underwater noise levels 
associated with vibratory hammer extraction. However, it can reasonably 
be assumed that vibratory extraction emits SPLs that are no higher than 
SPLs caused by vibratory hammering of the same materials, and results 
in lower SPLs than caused by impact hammering comparable piles. For 
this application, the same value (162.5 decibels (dB) re 1 micropascal 
([mu]Pa)) that was obtained for vibratory hammering of the 30-in steel 
piles at the Fuel Pier (NAVFAC SW 2015) is used for the vibratory 
hammering of 16-in round concrete piles at NMAWC. None of the peak 
sound pressure levels (SPL)s for the various sound sources reach the 
injury thresholds identified in the new NMFS (2016) Technical Guidance; 
therefore, injury from peak sound levels is not considered further.
    Table 5 provides the calculated areas of Level A and Level B zones 
of influence (ZOI)s associated with the impulsive and continuous sounds 
that are anticipated during the fifth-year IHA period. Table 4 provides 
the data that were used to calculate the distances to the Level A and B 
ZOIs presented in Table 5. It should be noted that the ZOI for Level A 
harassment would be closely monitored and subject to shutdowns if a 
marine mammal enters the area. The ZOI areas and maximum distances for 
the activities at the fuel pier and NMAWC are shown in Figures 6-1 and 
6-2, respectively of the Navy's application. The figures reflect the 
conventional assumption that the natural or manmade shoreline acts as a 
barrier to underwater sound. It is generally accepted practice to model 
underwater sound propagation from pile driving as continuing in a 
straight line past a shoreline projection such as Ballast Point (Dahl 
2012). Similarly, it is reasonable to assume that project sound would 
not propagate east of Zuniga Jetty (Dahl 2012).
    All of the ZOIs for potential Level A acoustic harassment (Table 5) 
would be buffered and encompassed by a larger shutdown zone. For 
example, the ZOIs for potential Level A acoustic harassment to 
pinnipeds from impact pile driving (Table 5) would be contained within 
a 60 meters (m) (196 feet (ft)) shutdown zone. For impact pile driving 
at NMAWC, two methods identified in NMFS (2016) were evaluated to 
determine the most conservative distances to the Level A ZOIs using: 
(1) Root mean square (rms) SPL source levels; and (2) single strike 
equivalent SEL. The calculations showed that the first method was the 
most conservative and this method was subsequently used to determine 
the distances to the Level A ZOIs (Table 4). In all Level A ZOI 
calculations, the default values for the weighting factor adjustment 
and practical spreading for propagation loss were used (see Appendix A 
of the Navy's application).

                                                Table 4--Data Used To Calculate Distances to Level B ZOIs
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
              Activity                 Impact pile driving   Vibratory pile driving       Pile jetting         Caisson cutting         Pile clipping
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
References for Source Level and      Year 3 report #1        Year 2 report (NAVFAC   Year 4 report (NAVFAC  Year 3 report #1       Year 4 report (NAVFAC
 Duration.                            (NAVFAC SW 2016a).      SW 2015).               SW 2017).              (NAVFAC SW 2016a).     SW 2017).
Size & Type of Piles used for        16-in poly-concrete     30-in steel piles.....  24x30-in concrete      84-in caissons.......  24-in concrete piles.
 Source Data.                         piles.                                          piles.
Source Level (rms SPL).............  188.9.................  162.5.................  159.9................  155.6................  165.3.
Distance to Level B ZOI (m)........  270...................  1,848.................  1,165................  631..................  2,511.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The Level B ZOIs and distances are based on the validated SPLs 
directly measured during the IHA monitoring (NAVFAC SW 2014-2017), as 
available. For example, the distance to the Level B ZOI for impact 
driving of 16-in poly-concrete piles was 270 m (886 ft) during Year 3 
monitoring (NAVFAC SW 2016a). In cases where monitoring data are not 
available to empirically measure the extent of the Level B ZOI 
(activities at NMAWC), ``practical spreading loss'' from the source at 
10 m has been assumed (15 log[distance/10]) and used to calculate the 
maximum extent of the ZOI based on the applicable threshold. Computed 
distances to the threshold for acoustic disturbance from non-impulsive 
sources are based on the distances at which the project sound source 
declines to ambient. Because the

[[Page 45817]]

mean ambient sound levels in San Diego Bay in the vicinity of the 
project range from approximately 128 to 130 dB rms (NAVFAC SW 2015), 
the 120 dB acoustic threshold for the Level B ZOIs have been modified 
based on an approximate measured value between 128 and 129 dB. The 
distances for all activities producing sound at NMAWC will be verified 
via hydrophone during project activities.

                                                         Table 5--Calculated Maximum Areas of ZOIs and Distances to Relevant Thresholds
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                         Measured/calculated distances to thresholds (m) and areas of ZOIs (m\2\ or km\2\)
                                 ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                        Underwater                                                                       Airborne
            Activity             ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                   Level A 1 2 3                                                Level B \4\                               Level B
                                 ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                          LF                  MF                  PW                  OW                160 dB            120 dB \5\          100 dB \6\           90 dB \6\
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                     Old Fuel Pier and Temporary Mooring Dolphin Demolition
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
66-in and 84-in caissons          3.6 m               0.3 m               2.2 m               0.2m                N/A...............  631 m                                 N/A
 (Diamond saw cutting).           41 m\2\...........  <1 m\2\...........  15 m\2\...........  <1 m\2\...........                      0.7157 km\2\......
Concrete piles (Pile clipping)..  1.2 m               0.1 m               0.7 m               0.0 m               ..................  2,511 m 4.4512
                                  4 m\2\............  <1 m\2\...........  <1 m\2\...........  0 m\2\............                       km\2\
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                NMAWC Construction and Demolition
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
16-in concrete piles (Vibratory   8.3 m               0.7 m               5.1 m               0.4 m               N/A...............  1,848 m             42 m                149 m
 extraction/driving) \8\.         216 m\2\..........  <1 m\2\...........  82 m\2\...........  <1 m\2\...........                      2.4473 km\2\......  5,503 m\2\........  69,646 m\2\
16-in concrete piles (Impact      63.4 m              2.3 m               33.9 m              2.5 m               270 m               N/A...............
 driving) \9\.                    0.0126 km\2\......  17 m\2\...........  3,610 m\2\........  20 m\2\...........  0.1408 km\2\......
16-in concrete piles (Jetting     3.9 m               0.3 m               2.4 m               0.2 m               N/A...............  1,165 m                               N/A
 pile extraction).                47.8 m\2\.........  <1 m\2\...........  18 m\2\...........  <1 m\2\...........                      1.4268 km\2\......
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ If measured value thresholds are less than 10 m (33 ft), a minimum monitoring distance of 10 m (33 ft) would be implemented.
\2\ Based on measured mean source levels. The relevant data have been included in Appendix A of the Navy's application, which provides information from previous years' data collected as part
  of the Fuel Pier Project (NAVFAC SW 2015, 2016a, 2017).
\3\ LF = Low-frequency cetaceans; MF = Mid-frequency cetaceans; PW = Phocid pinnipeds; OW = Otariid pinnipeds. The high-frequency cetacean hearing group (HF) is omitted, because no species in
  the hearing group occur in, or around, the Project area.
\4\ Based on measured maximum source levels, unless otherwise stated. The relevant data have been included in Appendix A, which provides information from previous years' data collected as part
  of the Fuel Pier Project (NAVFAC SW 2015, 2016a, 2017).
\5\ Average ambient sound levels in San Diego Bay are approximately 128 to 130 dB rms (NAVFAC SW 2015), and all 120 dB Level B ZOIs are based on an approximate value between 128 and 129, which
  represents ambient levels in the Bay.
\6\ Airborne ZOIs based on conservative representative data (collected during 30-inch vibratory pile driving from IHA #4). Airborne noise levels did not exceed thresholds during IHA #4
  monitoring of demolition activities.
\7\ Plasma torch noise levels are not expected to exceed underwater or airborne regulatory thresholds.
\8\ Based on conservative representative source levels of 162.5 dB rms (30-inch steel vibratory pile driving, NAVFAC SW 2015).
\9\ This SL that corresponds with the measured pulse duration is 185 db. However, the Navy used a more conservative source level of 188.9, derived from a compilation of measured source levels
  over several years, which resulted in these larger Level A zones.

Airborne Sound

    Although sea lions are known to haul-out regularly on man-made 
objects in the vicinity of the project site (see Figure 4-1 of the 
Navy's application), and harbor seals are occasionally observed hauled 
out on rocks along the shoreline in the vicinity of the project site, 
none of these are within the ZOIs for airborne sound, and we believe 
that incidents of take resulting solely from airborne sound are 
unlikely. The zones for sea lions are within the minimum shutdown zone 
defined for underwater sound and, although the zones for harbor seals 
are larger, they have not been observed to haul out as readily on man-
made structures in the immediate vicinity of the project site. There is 
a possibility that an animal could surface in-water, but with head out, 
within one of the defined zones and thereby be exposed to levels of 
airborne sound that we associate with harassment, but any such 
occurrence would likely be accounted for in our estimation of 
incidental take from underwater sound.
    We generally recognize that pinnipeds occurring within an estimated 
airborne harassment zone, whether in the water or hauled out, could be 
exposed to airborne sound that may result in behavioral harassment. 
However, any animal exposed to airborne sound above the behavioral 
harassment threshold is likely to also be exposed to underwater sound 
above relevant thresholds (which are typically in all cases larger 
zones than those associated with airborne sound). Thus, the behavioral 
harassment of these animals is already accounted for in these estimates 
of potential take. While the likelihood of multiple incidents of 
exposure to sound above NMFS' thresholds for behavioral harassment to 
one individual could potentially result in increased behavioral 
disturbance, via either nature or intensity of disturbance reaction, if 
they occur within one day they are still only counted as one take and 
any differential impacts would be considered qualitatively. Therefore, 
we do not believe that authorization of additional incidental take 
resulting from airborne sound for pinnipeds is warranted, and airborne 
sound is not discussed further here. Distances associated with airborne 
sound and shown in Table 4 are for reference only.
    When NMFS Technical Guidance (2016) was published, in recognition 
of the fact that ensonified area/volume could be more technically 
challenging to predict because of the duration component in the new 
thresholds, we developed a User Spreadsheet that includes tools to help 
predict a simple isopleth that can be used in conjunction with marine 
mammal density or occurrence to help predict takes. We note that 
because of some of the assumptions included in the methods used for 
these tools, we anticipate that isopleths produced are typically going 
to be overestimates of some degree, which will result in some degree of 
overestimate of Level A take. However, these tools offer the best way 
to predict appropriate isopleths when more sophisticated 3D modeling 
methods are not available, and NMFS continues to develop ways to 
quantitatively refine these tools, and will qualitatively address the 
output where appropriate. For stationary sources such as vibratory pile 
driving, NMFS User Spreadsheet predicts the closest distance at which, 
if a marine mammal remained at that distance the whole duration of the

[[Page 45818]]

activity, it would not incur PTS. Inputs used in the User Spreadsheet, 
and the resulting isopleths are reported below.

                                                         Table 6--Level A User Spreadsheet Input
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                       Impact pile driving   Vibratory pile driving     Caisson cutting         Pile clipping           Pile jetting
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
References for Source Level and      Year 3 report #1        Year 2 report (NAVFAC   Year 3 report #1       Year 4 report (NAVFAC  Year 4 report (NAVFAC
 Duration.                            (NAVFAC SW 2016a).      SW 2015).               (NAVFAC SW 2016a).     SW 2017).              SW 2017).
Spreadsheet Tab Used...............  (E.1) Impact pile       (A.) Non-Impulse Stat-  (A.) Non-Impulse Stat- (A.) Non-Impulse Stat- (A.) Non-Impulse Stat-
                                      driving.                Cont.                   Cont.                  Cont.                  Cont.
Source Level (Single Strike/shot     188.9 *...............  162.5.................  149..................  145..................  155.
 SEL).
Weighting Factor Adjustment (kHz)..  2.....................  2.5...................  2.5..................  2.5..................  2.5.
(a) Activity Duration (h) within 24- 0.71..................  0.95..................  6....................  2.82.................  1.74.
 h period.
Propagation (xLogR)................  15....................  15....................  15...................  15...................  15.
Distance of source level             10....................  10....................  10...................  10...................  10.
 measurement (m).
Pulse duration (sec) \1\...........  0.03..................  n/a...................  n/a..................  n/a..................  n/a.
Number of strikes in 1 h...........  193...................  n/a...................  n/a..................  n/a..................  n/a.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Pulse duration was measured in previous construction years and the average pulse duration was 0.03 at 10 m (NAVFAC SW 2016a).
* This SL that corresponds with the measured pulse duration is 185 db. However, the Navy used a more conservative source level of 188.9, derived from a
  compilation of measured source levels over several years, which resulted in larger Level A zones.

Marine Mammal Occurrence

    In this section we provide the information about the presence, 
density, or group dynamics of marine mammals that will inform the take 
calculations.
    For all species, the best scientific information available was 
considered for use in the marine mammal take assessment calculations. 
Although various regional offshore surveys for marine mammals have been 
conducted, it is unlikely that these data would be representative of 
the species or numbers that may be encountered in San Diego Bay. 
However, the Navy has conducted a large number of ongoing site-specific 
marine mammal surveys during appropriate seasons (e.g., Merkel and 
Associates 2008; Johnson 2010, 2011; Lerma 2012, 2014). Whereas 
analyses for the first-year IHA relied on surveys conducted from 2007-
12, continuing surveys by the Navy have generally indicated increasing 
abundance of all species and the second-year IHA relied on 2012-14 
survey data. In addition, the Navy has developed estimates of marine 
mammal densities in waters associated with training and testing areas 
(including Hawaii-Southern California) for the Navy Marine Species 
Density Database (NMSDD). A technical report (Hanser et al., 2015) 
describes methodologies and available information used to derive these 
densities, which are based upon the best available information, except 
where specific local abundance information is available and applicable 
to a specific action area. The document is publicly available online 
at: nwtteis.com/DocumentsandReferences/NWTTDocuments/SupportingTechnicalDocuments.aspx (accessed July 13, 2017).
    Year 2 project monitoring showed even greater abundance of certain 
species, and we consider all of these data in order to provide the most 
up-to-date estimates for marine mammal abundances during the period of 
this IHA. Although Years 3 and 4 project monitoring showed declines in 
marine mammal abundance in the vicinity of the project, we retain prior 
density estimates as a conservative measure for estimating exposure. 
Density information is shown in Table 8. These data are from dedicated 
line-transect surveys, required project marine mammal monitoring, 
opportunistic observations for more rarely observed species (see 
Figures 3-1 through 3-5 of the Navy's application), or the NMSDD.

Take Calculation and Estimation

    Here we describe how the information provided above is brought 
together to produce a quantitative take estimate.
    The following assumptions are made when estimating potential 
incidences of take:
     All marine mammal individuals potentially available are 
assumed to be present within the relevant area, and thus incidentally 
taken;
     An individual can only be taken once during a 24-h period;
     The assumed ZOIs and days of activity are as shown in 
Table 4; and,
     Exposures to sound levels at or above the relevant 
thresholds equate to take, as defined by the MMPA.
    In this case, the estimation of marine mammal takes uses the 
following calculation:

Exposure estimate = n * ZOI * days of total activity

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

    The ZOI impact area is estimated using the relevant distances in 
Table 4, assuming that sound radiates from a central point in the water 
column slightly offshore of the existing pier and taking into 
consideration the possible affected area due to topographical 
constraints of the action area (i.e., radial distances to thresholds 
are not always reached).

        Table 7--Areas of Acoustic Influence and Days of Activity
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                             Number of
                Activity                      days *       ZOI  (km\2\)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
66-in and 84-in caissons (Diamond saw                 50          0.7157
 cutting)...............................

[[Page 45819]]

 
Concrete piles (Pile clipping)..........             100          4.4512
16-in concrete piles (Vibratory                       25          2.4473
 extraction/driving) \1\................
16-in concrete piles (Jetting pile                    15          1.4268
 extraction)............................
------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ We assume that impact driving of 16-in concrete piles would always
  occur on the same day as vibratory driving of the same piles.
  Therefore, the impact driving ZOI (0.1408 km\2\) would always be
  subsumed by the vibratory driving ZOI.
* There are a total of 196 days of construction, but 6 of those days
  include piles being cut off at the mudline with a plasma torch, which
  would not create a ZOI.

    There are a number of reasons why estimates of potential incidents 
of take may be conservative, assuming that available density and 
estimated ZOI areas are accurate. We assume, in the absence of 
information supporting a more refined conclusion, that the output of 
the calculation represents the number of individuals that may be taken 
by the specified activity. In fact, in the context of stationary 
activities such as pile driving and in areas where resident animals may 
be present, this number more realistically represents the number of 
incidents of take that may accrue to a smaller number of individuals. 
While pile driving can occur any day throughout the period of validity, 
and the analysis is conducted on a per day basis, only a fraction of 
that time (typically a matter of hours on any given day) is actually 
spent pile driving. The potential effectiveness of mitigation measures 
in reducing the number of takes is typically not quantified in the take 
estimation process. For these reasons, these take estimates likely 
overestimate the number of individuals taken. See Table 8 for total 
estimated incidents of take.

California Sea Lion

    During the second IHA period, an average of 90.35 California sea 
lions were seen per day within the maximum ZOI for pile driving, an 
area of 5.6752 square kilometers (km\2\) extending 3,000 m from the 
Fuel Pier. This equates to a density of 15.9201/km\2\. This density is 
used to estimate numbers of takes within the different ZOIs. NMFS 
estimates 8,971 Level B takes for this species. The maximum extents of 
the potential acoustic Level A ZOIs for cumulative exposure from all of 
the activities are much less than 10 m from the source, and therefore 
the 60-m shutdown zone will reduce the chance for Level A take. As a 
result, no Level A take of California sea lions is anticipated or 
authorized.

Harbor Seal

    Sightings of harbor seals averaged 2.83 individuals per day during 
the period of the second IHA (NAVFAC SW 2015), a density of 0.4987/
km\2\ within the maximum ZOI for pile driving. This density is used to 
estimate numbers of takes within the different ZOIs. NMFS estimates 281 
Level B takes for this species. The maximum extent of the potential 
acoustic Level A ZOI for cumulative exposure from impact pile driving 
extends 34 m from the source; for all other activities, the Level A 
ZOIs are much less than 10 m from the source, therefore a 60-m shutdown 
zone will be in place to avoid Level A takes to harbor seals. Level A 
takes are not anticipated nor authorized.

Northern Elephant Seal

    Only a single individual elephant seal was sighted during the 
second IHA period (NAVFAC SW 2015), but with increasing numbers 
(Carretta et al., 2016), they are considered a reasonable possibility 
to occur more frequently during the fifth IHA period. The regional 
density estimate of 0.0760/km\2\ (Navy 2017) is assumed for the project 
area. This density is used to estimate numbers of takes within the 
different ZOIs. NMFS estimates 43 Level B takes for this species. 
Potential takes would likely involve single individuals that are on the 
shoreline or structures at the identified location, or swimming in the 
vicinity, most likely near the mouth of the bay. The maximum extent of 
the potential acoustic Level A ZOI for cumulative exposure from impact 
pile driving extends 34 m from the source; for all other activities, 
the Level A ZOIs are much less than 10 m from the source, therefore a 
shutdown will be in place to avoid Level A takes to harbor seals. Level 
A takes are not anticipated nor authorized.

Bottlenose Dolphin

    Coastal bottlenose dolphins can occur at any time of year in 
northern San Diego Bay. Numbers sighted have been highly variable but 
have increased in recent years (NAVFAC SW 2014, 2015). During the 
second IHA period, an average of 7.09 individuals were seen per day, a 
density of 1.2493/km\2\. This density is used to estimate numbers of 
takes within the different ZOIs. NMFS estimates 704 Level B takes for 
this species. The maximum extents of the potential acoustic Level A 
ZOIs for cumulative exposure from all of the activities are much less 
than 10 m from the source, and therefore the minimum 10 m shutdown will 
reduce the chance for Level A take. As a result, no Level A take of 
bottlenose dolphins is anticipated nor authorized.

Common Dolphin

    An average of 8.67 common dolphins was seen per day, a density of 
1.5277/km\2\ within the maximum ZOI, during the second IHA period 
(NAVFAC SW 2015). This density is considerably higher than the regional 
density estimate for long-beaked common dolphins--the species most 
likely to occur (Navy 2017), but is reasonable for the project area 
given the group sizes observed for these species. Barlow (2010) 
reported average group sizes in southern California of 122 for short-
beaked common dolphins and 195 for long-beaked common dolphins, and 
during the second IHA period, groups of approximately 170 and 300 
individuals entered the project area on different occasions (NAVFAC SW 
2015). Considering the possibility for one or more large groups of 
common dolphins to enter San Diego Bay during in-water activities and 
the fact that the Level B ZOIs will extend completely across the bay 
during pile driving, the density estimate is considered appropriate. A 
density of 1.5277/km\2\ is used to estimate numbers of takes within the 
different ZOIs. NMFS estimates 861 Level B takes for this species. The 
maximum extents of the potential acoustic Level A ZOIs for cumulative 
exposure from all of the activities are much less than 10 m from the 
source, and therefore the shutdown will reduce the chance for Level A 
take. As a result, no Level A take of common dolphins is anticipated 
nor authorized.

Pacific White-Sided Dolphin

    Pacific white-sided dolphins are more commonly seen offshore, but 
were documented in the project area on several occasions during the 
second IHA

[[Page 45820]]

period. An average of 0.28 individuals per day was seen during the 
second IHA period (NAVFAC SW 2015), a density of 0.0493/km\2\ within 
the maximum ZOI. This density is used to estimate numbers of takes 
within the different ZOIs. NMFS estimates 28 Level B takes for this 
species. The maximum extents of the potential acoustic Level A ZOIs for 
cumulative exposure from all of the activities are much less than 10 m 
from the source, and therefore the shutdown will reduce the chance for 
Level A take. As a result, no Level A take of Pacific white-sided 
dolphins is anticipated nor authorized.

Risso's Dolphin

    While there have been no sightings of Risso's dolphin within the 
project area, the species is considered a reasonable possibility for 
the fifth IHA period given recent El Ni[ntilde]o conditions (Shane 
1995) and its abundance in Southern California coastal waters 
(Jefferson et al., 2014). The upper limit of the regional density 
estimate, 0.2029/km\2\ (Navy 2017), is used to estimate numbers of 
takes within the different ZOIs. NMFS estimates 114 Level B takes for 
this species. The maximum extents of the potential acoustic Level A 
ZOIs for cumulative exposure from all of the activities are much less 
than 10 m from the source, and therefore the shutdown will reduce the 
chance for Level A take. As a result, no Level A take of Risso's 
dolphins is anticipated nor authorized.

Gray Whale

    Gray whale occurrence within northern San Diego Bay is sporadic and 
would likely consist of one to a few individuals that venture close to, 
or enter the bay for a brief period, and then continue on their 
migration. A density estimate based on the rare sightings of gray 
whales near the mouth of the bay during the second IHA period (NAVFAC 
SW 2015), would be less than 0.01/km\2\, which is slightly less than 
the regional density estimate of 0.0179/km\2\ in southern California 
waters during winter-spring (Navy 2017). The regional density estimate 
is applied here as a reasonable estimate given the possibility of 
animals moving closer to shore and entering the mouth of the bay during 
the fifth IHA period. This density is used to estimate numbers of takes 
within the different ZOIs. NMFS estimates 10 Level B takes for this 
species. The maximum extent of the potential acoustic Level A ZOI for 
cumulative exposure from impact pile driving extends 63 m from the 
source; for all other activities, the Level A ZOIs are much less than 
10 m from the source. Gray whales are not expected to occur that close 
to the source; however, the Navy will implement a minimum of 10 m (100 
m for impact driving) shutdown will be in place to avoid Level A takes 
to gray whales. Level A takes are not anticipated nor authorized.

                                                  Table 8--Calculations for Incidental Take Estimation
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                             Vibratory
                                                            Diamond saw                     extraction/    Jetting pile                        Total
                 Species                      Density     cutting of  66-  Pile clipping  driving of  16- extraction  of  Total  Level B    authorized
                                                           inch and  84-  concrete piles  inch  concrete  16 in concrete      takes *      takes  (% of
                                                          inch  caissons                       piles           piles                       total  stock)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
California sea lion.....................         15.9201             570            7086             974             341           8,971           3.023
Harbor seal.............................          0.4987              18             222              31              11             281           0.907
Northern elephant seal..................           0.076               3              34               5               2              43           0.024
Bottlenose dolphin......................          1.2493              45             556              76              27             704         \2\ 155
Common dolphin..........................          1.5277              55             680              93              33             861  \3\ 0.088; \4\
                                                                                                                                                    0.85
Pacific white-sided dolphin.............          0.0493               2              22               3               1              28           0.104
Risso's dolphin.........................          0.2027               7              90              12               4             114           1.799
Gray whale..............................          0.0179               1               8               1               0              10           0.048
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
* Due to rounding of takes to the nearest whole number of animals, (which occurs at the very end, not per activity), totals may not always equal the sum
  of the takes from individual activities.
\1\ We assume that impact driving of steel piles would occur on the same day as vibratory driving of the same piles and that the zone for vibratory
  driving would always subsume the zone for impact driving. Therefore, separate estimates are not provided for impact driving of steel piles.
\2\ The numbers of authorized take for bottlenose dolphins are higher relative to the total stock abundance estimate and would not represent small
  numbers if a significant portion of the take was for a new individual. However, these numbers represent the estimated incidents of take, not the
  number of individuals taken. That is, it is likely that a relatively small subset of California coastal bottlenose dolphins would be incidentally
  harassed by project activities.
\3\ SB = short-beaked common dolphin.
\4\ LB = long-beaked common dolphin.

Mitigation Measures

    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 (latter not applicable for this action). NMFS 
regulations require applicants for incidental take authorizations to 
include information about the availability and feasibility (economic 
and technological) of equipment, methods, and manner of conducting such 
activity or other means of effecting the least practicable adverse 
impact upon the affected species or stocks and their habitat (50 CFR 
216.104(a)(11)).
    In evaluating how mitigation may or may not be appropriate to 
ensure the least practicable adverse impact on species or stocks and 
their habitat, as well as subsistence uses where applicable, we 
carefully consider two primary factors:
    (1) The manner in which, and the degree to which, the successful 
implementation of the measure(s) is expected to reduce impacts to 
marine mammals, marine mammal species or stocks, and their habitat. 
This considers the nature of the potential adverse impact being 
mitigated (likelihood, scope, range). It further considers the 
likelihood that the measure will be effective if implemented 
(probability of accomplishing the mitigating result if implemented as 
planned) the likelihood of effective implementation (probability 
implemented as planned). and;
    (2) The practicability of the measures for applicant 
implementation, which may consider such things as cost, impact on 
operations, and, in the case of a military readiness activity,

[[Page 45821]]

personnel safety, practicality of implementation, and impact on the 
effectiveness of the military readiness activity.
    The mitigation strategies described below largely follow those 
required and successfully implemented under the first four IHAs 
associated with this project. For this IHA, data from acoustic 
monitoring conducted during the first four years of work was used to 
estimate zones of influence (ZOIs; see Estimated Take by Incidental 
Harassment); these values were used to develop mitigation measures for 
pile driving activities at NBPL. The ZOIs effectively represent the 
mitigation zone that would be established around each pile to minimize 
Level A harassment to marine mammals, while providing estimates of the 
areas within which Level B harassment might occur. In addition, the 
Navy has defined buffers to the estimated Level A harassment zones to 
further reduce the potential for Level A harassment. In addition to the 
measures described later in this section, the Navy would conduct 
briefings between construction supervisors and crews, marine mammal 
monitoring team, acoustic monitoring team, and Navy staff prior to the 
start of all pile driving activity, and when new personnel join the 
work, in order to explain responsibilities, communication procedures, 
marine mammal monitoring protocol, and operational procedures.

Monitoring and Shutdown for Pile Driving

    The following measures would apply to the Navy's mitigation through 
shutdown and disturbance zones:
    Shutdown Zone--For all pile driving and removal activities, the 
Navy will establish a shutdown zone intended to contain the area in 
which SPLs equal or exceed the calculated Level A zones (refer to 
table). The purpose of a shutdown zone is to define an area within 
which shutdown of activity would occur upon sighting of a marine mammal 
(or in anticipation of an animal entering the defined area), thus 
preventing injury of marine mammals (serious injury or death are 
unlikely outcomes even in the absence of mitigation measures). 
Estimated radial distances to the relevant thresholds are shown in 
Table 4. For certain activities, the shutdown zone would not exist 
because source levels indicate that the radial distance to the 
threshold would be less than 10 m. However, a minimum shutdown zone of 
10 m will be established during all pile driving and removal 
activities, regardless of the estimated zone. In addition the Navy 
plans to effect a buffered shutdown zone that is intended to 
significantly reduce the potential for Level A harassment given that, 
in particular, California sea lions are quite abundant in the project 
area and bottlenose dolphins may surface unpredictably and move 
erratically in an area with a large amount of construction equipment. 
These buffers are approximately double the distance to the Level A ZOI. 
These zones are also shown in Table 9. These precautionary measures are 
intended to prevent the already unlikely possibility of physical 
interaction with construction equipment and to establish a 
precautionary minimum zone with regard to acoustic effects.

                                     Table 9--Shutdown Zones for Level A ZOIs and Monitoring Zones for Level B Zones
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                 Monitored distances to thresholds (meters [feet])
                                                         -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                    Underwater
                        Activity                         -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                Level A  (shutdown)                                   Level B
                                                         -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                              LF \1\          MF \1\          PW \1\          OW \1\          160 dB        120 dB \2\
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                 Old Fuel Pier and Temporary Mooring Dolphin Demolition
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
66-inch and 84-inch caissons (Diamond saw cutting)......                                10                                           N/A             631
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Concrete piles (Pile clipping)..........................                                10                                           N/A           2,511
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                            NMAWC Construction and Demolition
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
16-inch concrete piles (Vibratory extraction/driving)...              \4\ 20
                                                                        10                           N/A           1,848
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
16-inch concrete piles (Impact driving).................              \5\ 100
                                                                      \6\ 60                         270             N/A
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
16-inch concrete piles (Jetting pile extraction)........                                10                                           N/A           1,165
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
16-inch concrete piles (Pile dead-pull).................                                10
                                                                        N/A
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 \1\ LF = Low-frequency cetaceans; MF = Mid-frequency cetaceans; PW = Phocid pinnipeds; OW = Otariid pinnipeds. The high-frequency cetacean hearing
  group (HF) is omitted, because no species in the hearing group occur in, or around, Project area.
 \2\ Mean ambient sound levels in San Diego Bay are approximately 128 dB rms (NAVFAC SW 2015), and all 120 dB Level B ZOIs are based on the ambient
  value. The distances for all activities producing sound at NMAWC will be verified via hydrophone during project activities.
 \3\ Airborne noise levels did not exceed regulatory thresholds during previous IHAs. No airborne monitoring will take place for diamond saw cutting of
  caissons, plasma torch cutting of temporary mooring dolphin 30-inch steel piles, jetting or dead-pull extraction of concrete piles.
 \4\ Includes buffer of calculated Level A threshold out to 20 m (65.6 ft).
 \5\ Includes buffer of calculated Level A threshold out to 100 m (328 ft).
 \6\ Includes buffer of calculated Level A threshold out to 60 m (328 ft).

     Disturbance Zone--Disturbance zones are the areas in which SPLs 
equal or exceed 160 and 120 dB rms (for impulse and continuous sound, 
respectively). Disturbance zones provide utility for monitoring 
conducted for mitigation purposes (i.e., shutdown zone monitoring) by 
establishing monitoring protocols for areas adjacent

[[Page 45822]]

to the shutdown zones. Monitoring of disturbance zones enables 
observers to be aware of and communicate the presence of marine mammals 
in the project area but outside the shutdown zone and thus prepare for 
potential shutdowns of activity. However, the primary purpose of 
disturbance zone monitoring is for documenting incidents of Level B 
harassment; disturbance zone monitoring is discussed in greater detail 
later (see Monitoring and Reporting Measures). Nominal radial distances 
for disturbance zones are shown in Table 9.
    In order to document observed incidents of harassment, monitors 
record all marine mammal observations, regardless of location. The 
observer's location, as well as the location of the pile being driven, 
is known from a GPS. The location of the animal is estimated as a 
distance from the observer, which is then compared to the location from 
the pile. If acoustic monitoring is being conducted for that pile, a 
received SPL may be estimated, or the received level may be estimated 
on the basis of past or subsequent acoustic monitoring. It may then be 
determined whether the animal was exposed to sound levels constituting 
incidental harassment in post-processing of observational and acoustic 
data, and a precise accounting of observed incidences of harassment 
created. Therefore, although the predicted distances to behavioral 
harassment thresholds are useful for estimating incidental harassment 
for purposes of authorizing levels of incidental take, actual take may 
be determined in part through the use of empirical data.
    Acoustic measurements will continue during the fifth year of 
project activity and zones would be adjusted as indicated by empirical 
data. Please see the Navy's Acoustic and Marine Species Monitoring Plan 
(Monitoring Plan; available at www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental/construction.htm) for full details.
    Monitoring Protocols--Monitoring would be conducted before, during, 
and after pile driving activities. In addition, observers shall record 
all incidents of marine mammal occurrence, regardless of distance from 
activity, and shall document any behavioral reactions in concert with 
distance from piles being driven. Observations made outside the 
shutdown zone will not result in shutdown; that pile segment would be 
completed without cessation, unless the animal approaches or enters the 
shutdown zone, at which point all pile driving activities would be 
halted. Monitoring will take place from fifteen minutes prior to 
initiation through thirty minutes post-completion of pile driving 
activities. Pile driving activities include the time to remove a single 
pile or series of piles, as long as the time elapsed between uses of 
the pile driving equipment is no more than thirty minutes. Please see 
the Monitoring Plan for full details of the monitoring protocols.
    The following additional measures apply to visual monitoring:
    (1) Monitoring will be conducted by qualified observers, who will 
be placed at the best vantage point(s) practicable (as defined in the 
Monitoring Plan) to monitor for marine mammals and implement shutdown/
delay procedures when applicable by calling for the shutdown to the 
hammer operator. Qualified observers are trained biologists, with the 
following minimum qualifications:
    (a) Visual acuity in both eyes (correction is permissible) 
sufficient for discernment of moving targets at the water's surface 
with ability to estimate target size and distance; use of binoculars 
may be necessary to correctly identify the target;
    (b) Ability to conduct field observations and collect data 
according to assigned protocols
    (c) Experience or training in the field identification of marine 
mammals, including the identification of behaviors;
    (d) Sufficient training, orientation, or experience with the 
construction operation to provide for personal safety during 
observations;
    (e) Writing skills sufficient to prepare a report of observations 
including but not limited to the number and species of marine mammals 
observed; dates and times when in-water construction activities were 
conducted; dates and times when in-water construction activities were 
suspended to avoid potential incidental injury from construction sound 
of marine mammals observed within a defined shutdown zone; and marine 
mammal behavior; and
    (f) Ability to communicate orally, by radio or in person, with 
project personnel to provide real-time information on marine mammals 
observed in the area as necessary.
    (2) Prior to the start of pile driving activity, the shutdown zone 
will be monitored for fifteen minutes to ensure that it is clear of 
marine mammals. Pile driving will only commence once observers have 
declared the shutdown zone clear of marine mammals; animals will be 
allowed to remain in the shutdown zone (i.e., must leave of their own 
volition) and their behavior will be monitored and documented. The 
shutdown zone may only be declared clear, and pile driving started, 
when the entire shutdown zone is visible (i.e., when not obscured by 
dark, rain, fog, etc.). In addition, if such conditions should arise 
during impact pile driving that is already underway, the activity would 
be halted.
    (3) If a marine mammal approaches or enters the shutdown zone 
during the course of pile driving operations, activity will be halted 
and delayed until either the animal has voluntarily left and been 
visually confirmed beyond the shutdown zone or fifteen minutes have 
passed without re-detection of small cetaceans or pinnipeds and 30 
minutes for gray whales. Monitoring will be conducted throughout the 
time required to drive a pile and for thirty minutes following the 
conclusion of pile driving.

Sound Attenuation Devices

    The use of bubble curtains to reduce underwater sound from impact 
pile driving was considered prior to the start of the project but was 
determined to not be practicable. Use of a bubble curtain in a channel 
with substantial current may not be effective, as unconfined bubbles 
are likely to be swept away and confined curtain systems may be 
difficult to deploy effectively in high currents. Data gathered during 
monitoring of construction on the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge 
indicated that no reduction in the overall linear sound level resulted 
from use of a bubble curtain in deep water with relatively strong 
current (Illingworth & Rodkin 2001). During project monitoring for pile 
driving associated with the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge, also in San 
Francisco Bay, it was observed that performance in moderate current was 
significantly reduced (Oestman et al., 2009). Lucke et al. (2011) also 
note that the effectiveness of most currently used curtain designs may 
be compromised in stronger currents and greater water depths. We 
believe that conditions (relatively deep water and strong tidal 
currents of up to 3 knots (kn)) at the project site would disperse the 
bubbles and compromise the effectiveness of sound attenuation.

Timing Restrictions

    In-order to avoid impacts to least tern populations when they are 
most likely to be foraging and nesting, in-water work will be 
concentrated from October 1-April 1 or, depending on circumstances, to 
April 30. However, this limitation is in accordance with agreements 
between the Navy and FWS, and is not a requirement of this IHA. All in-
water construction activities would occur only from 45 minutes after 
sunrise to 45 minutes before sunset.

[[Page 45823]]

Soft Start

    The use of a soft start procedure is believed to provide additional 
protection to marine mammals by warning or providing a chance to leave 
the area prior to the hammer operating at full capacity, and typically 
involves a requirement to initiate sound from the hammer at reduced 
energy followed by a waiting period. This procedure is repeated two 
additional times. It is difficult to specify the reduction in energy 
for any given hammer because of variation across drivers and, for 
impact hammers, the actual number of strikes at reduced energy will 
vary because operating the hammer at less than full power results in 
``bouncing'' of the hammer as it strikes the pile, resulting in 
multiple ``strikes.'' The project will utilize soft start techniques 
for impact pile driving. We require an initial set of three strikes 
from the impact hammer at reduced energy, followed by a 30-second 
waiting period, then two subsequent three strike sets. Soft start will 
be required at the beginning of each day's impact pile driving work and 
at any time following a cessation of impact pile driving of thirty 
minutes or longer; the requirement to implement soft start for impact 
driving is independent of whether vibratory driving has occurred within 
the prior thirty minutes.
    Based on our evaluation of the Navy's planned measures, as well as 
any other potential measures that may be relevant to the specified 
activity, we have determined that the mitigation measures provide the 
means of effecting the least practicable impact on marine mammal 
species or stocks and their habitat, paying particular attention to 
rookeries, mating grounds, and areas of similar significance.

Monitoring and Reporting Measures

    In order to issue an IHA for an activity, section 101(a)(5)(D) of 
the MMPA states that NMFS must set forth requirements pertaining to the 
monitoring and reporting of such taking. The MMPA implementing 
regulations at 50 CFR 216.104 (a)(13) indicate that requests for 
incidental take authorizations must include the suggested means of 
accomplishing the necessary monitoring and reporting that will result 
in increased knowledge of the species and of the level of taking or 
impacts on populations of marine mammals that are expected to be 
present in the action area. Effective reporting is critical both to 
compliance as well as ensuring that the most value is obtained from the 
required monitoring.
    Monitoring and reporting requirements prescribed by NMFS should 
contribute to improved understanding of one or more of the following:
     Occurrence of marine mammal species or stocks in the area 
in which take is anticipated (e.g., presence, abundance, distribution, 
density).
     Nature, scope, or context of likely marine mammal exposure 
to potential stressors/impacts (individual or cumulative, acute or 
chronic), through better understanding of: (1) Action or environment 
(e.g., source characterization, propagation, ambient noise); (2) 
Affected species (e.g., life history, dive patterns); (3) Co-occurrence 
of marine mammal species with the action; or (4) Biological or 
behavioral context of exposure (e.g., age, calving or feeding areas).
     Individual marine mammal responses (behavioral or 
physiological) to acoustic stressors (acute, chronic, or cumulative), 
other stressors, or impacts from multiple stressors.
     How anticipated responses to stressors impact either: (1) 
Long-term fitness and survival of an individual; or (2) Population, 
species, or stock.
     Effects on marine mammal habitat (e.g. marine mammal prey 
species, acoustic habitat, or other important physical components of 
marine mammal habitat).
     Mitigation and monitoring effectiveness.
    Please see the Monitoring Plan (available at www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental/construction.htm) for full details of the 
requirements for monitoring and reporting. Notional monitoring 
locations (for biological and acoustic monitoring) are shown in Figures 
3-1 and 3-2 of the Plan. The purpose of this Plan is to provide 
protocols for acoustic and marine mammal monitoring implemented during 
pile driving and removal activities. We have determined this monitoring 
plan, which is summarized here and which largely follows the monitoring 
strategies required and successfully implemented under the previous 
IHAs, to be sufficient to meet the MMPA's monitoring and reporting 
requirements. The previous monitoring plan was modified to integrate 
adaptive changes to the monitoring methodologies as well as updates to 
the scheduled construction activities. Monitoring objectives are as 
follows:
     Monitor in-water construction activities, including the 
implementation of in-situ acoustic monitoring efforts to continue to 
measure SPLs from in-water construction and demolition activities not 
previously monitored or validated during the previous IHAs. This would 
include collection of acoustic data for activities and pile types for 
which sufficient data has not previously been collected, including for 
diamond saw cutting of caissons and pile clipping of the concrete piles 
during fuel pier demolition. The Navy also plans to collect acoustic 
data for vibratory extraction and/or driving, impact driving, and 
jetting pile extraction of the concrete piles at NMAWC.
     Monitor marine mammal occurrence and behavior during in-
water construction activities to minimize marine mammal impacts and 
effectively document marine mammals occurring within ZOI boundaries.
    Collection of ambient underwater sound measurements in the absence 
of project activities has been concluded, as a rigorous baseline 
dataset for the project area has been developed.

Acoustic Measurements

    The primary purpose of acoustic monitoring is to empirically verify 
modeled injury and behavioral disturbance zones (defined at radial 
distances to NMFS-specified thresholds; see Estimated Take by 
Incidental Harassment). For non-pulsed sound, distances will continue 
to be evaluated for attenuation to the point at which sound becomes 
indistinguishable from background levels. Empirical acoustic monitoring 
data will be used to document transmission loss values determined from 
past measurements and to examine site-specific differences in SPL and 
affected ZOIs on an as needed basis.
    Should monitoring results indicate it is appropriate to do so, 
marine mammal mitigation zones may be revised as necessary to encompass 
actual ZOIs. Acoustic monitoring will be conducted as specified in the 
approved Monitoring Plan. Please see Table 2-2 of the Plan for a list 
of equipment to be used during acoustic monitoring. Monitoring 
locations will be determined based on results of previous acoustic 
monitoring effort and the best professional judgment of acoustic 
technicians.
    For activities such as demolition of the old fuel pier and 
temporary mooring dolphin, the Navy will continue to collect in situ 
acoustic data to validate source levels and ZOIs. Environmental data 
would be collected including but not limited to: Wind speed and 
direction, air temperature, humidity, surface water temperature, water 
depth, wave height, weather conditions and other factors that could 
contribute to influencing the airborne and underwater sound levels 
(e.g., aircraft, boats). Full details of acoustic monitoring

[[Page 45824]]

requirements may be found in section 4.2 of the Navy's Monitoring Plan.

Visual Marine Mammal Observations

    The Navy will collect sighting data and behavioral responses to 
construction for marine mammal species observed in the region of 
activity during the period of activity. All observers will be trained 
in marine mammal identification and behaviors and are required to have 
no other construction-related tasks while conducting monitoring. The 
Navy will monitor the shutdown zone and disturbance zone before, 
during, and after pile driving as described under Mitigation Measures 
and in the Monitoring Plan, with observers located at the best 
practicable vantage points. Notional monitoring locations are shown in 
Figures 3-3 and 3-4 of the Navy's Plan. Please see that plan, available 
at www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental/construction.htm, for full 
details of the required marine mammal monitoring. Section 3.2 of the 
Plan and Section 13 of the Navy's application offer more detail 
regarding monitoring protocols. Based on our requirements, the Navy 
would implement the following procedures for pile driving:
     Marine Mammal Observers (MMO)s would be located at the 
best vantage point(s) in order to properly see the entire shutdown zone 
and as much of the disturbance zone as possible.
     During all observation periods, observers will use 
binoculars and the naked eye to search continuously for marine mammals.
     If the shutdown zones are obscured by fog or poor lighting 
conditions, pile driving at that location will not be initiated until 
that zone is visible. Should such conditions arise while impact driving 
is underway, the activity would be halted.
     The shutdown and disturbance zones around the pile will be 
monitored for the presence of marine mammals before, during, and after 
any pile driving or removal activity.
    One MMO will be placed in the most effective position near the 
active construction/demolition platform in order to observe the 
respective shutdown zones for vibratory and impact pile driving or for 
applicable demolition activities. Monitoring would be primarily 
dedicated to observing the shutdown zone; however, MMOs would record 
all marine mammal sightings beyond these distances provided it did not 
interfere with their effectiveness at carrying out the shutdown 
procedures. Additional land, pier, or vessel-based MMOs will be 
positioned to monitor the shutdown zones and the buffer zones, as 
notionally indicated in Figures 3-3 and 3-4 of the Navy's application.
    For all pile driving and applicable demolition activities, a 
minimum of one observer shall monitor the shutdown zones. However, any 
action requiring the impact or vibratory hammer will necessitate two 
MMOs. For impact and vibratory pile driving of 16-in concrete piles, 
two observers shall be positioned for optimal monitoring of the 
surrounding waters.
    The MMOs will record all visible marine mammal sightings. Confirmed 
takes will be registered once the sightings data has been overlaid with 
the isopleths identified in Table 4 and visualized in Figures 6-2, 6-3, 
and 6-4 of the Navy's application, or based on refined acoustic data, 
if amendments to the ZOIs are needed. Acousticians on duty may be 
noting SPLs in real-time, but, to avoid biasing the observations, will 
not communicate that information directly to the MMOs. These platforms 
may move closer to, or farther from, the source depending on whether 
received SPLs are less than or greater than the regulatory threshold 
values. All MMOs will be in radio communication with each other so that 
the MMOs will know when to anticipate incoming marine mammal species 
and when they are tracking the same animals observed elsewhere.
    If any species for which take is not authorized is observed by a 
MMO during applicable construction or demolition activities, all 
construction will be stopped immediately. Pile driving will commence if 
the animal has not been seen inside the Level B ZOI for at least one 
hour of observation. If the animal is resighted again, pile driving 
will be stopped and a boat-based MMO (if available) will follow the 
animal until it has left the Level B ZOI. If the animal is resighted 
again, pile driving will be stopped and a boat-based MMO (if available) 
will follow the animal until it has left the Level B ZOI.
    Individuals implementing the monitoring protocol will assess its 
effectiveness using an adaptive approach. Monitoring biologists will 
use their best professional judgment throughout implementation and seek 
improvements to these methods when deemed appropriate. Any 
modifications to protocol will be coordinated between NMFS and the 
Navy.

Data Collection

    We require that observers use approved data forms. Among other 
pieces of information, the Navy will record detailed information about 
any implementation of shutdowns, including the distance of animals to 
the pile and description of specific actions that ensued and resulting 
behavior of the animal, if any. In addition, the Navy will attempt to 
distinguish between the number of individual animals taken and the 
number of incidents of take. We require that, at a minimum, the 
following information be collected on the sighting forms:
     Date and time that monitored activity begins or ends;
     Construction activities occurring during each observation 
period;
     Weather parameters (e.g., percent cover, visibility);
     Water conditions (e.g., sea state, tide state);
     Species, numbers, and, if possible, sex and age class of 
marine mammals;
     Description of any observable marine mammal behavior 
patterns, including bearing and direction of travel and distance from 
pile driving activity, and if possible, the correlation to measured 
SPLs;
     Distance from pile driving activities to marine mammals 
and distance from the marine mammals to the observation point;
     Description of implementation of mitigation measures 
(e.g., shutdown or delay);
     Locations of all marine mammal observations; and
     Other human activity in the area.
    In addition, photographs would be taken of any gray whales 
observed. These photographs would be submitted to NMFS' West Coast 
Regional Office for comparison with photo-identification catalogs to 
determine whether the whale is a member of the WNP population.

Reporting

    A draft report would be submitted to NMFS within 45 calendar days 
of the completion of marine mammal monitoring, or 60 days prior to the 
issuance of any subsequent IHA for this project, whichever comes first. 
The report will include marine mammal observations pre-activity, 
during-activity, and post-activity during pile driving days, and will 
also provide descriptions of any behavioral responses to construction 
activities by marine mammals and a complete description of all 
mitigation shutdowns and the results of those actions. A final report 
would be prepared and submitted within 30 days following resolution of 
comments on the draft report. Required contents of the monitoring 
reports are described in more detail in the Navy's Acoustic and Marine 
Species Monitoring Plan.

[[Page 45825]]

Monitoring Results From Previously Authorized Activities

    The Navy complied with the mitigation and monitoring required under 
the previous authorizations for this project. Acoustic and marine 
mammal monitoring was implemented as required, with marine mammal 
monitoring occurring before, during, and after each pile driving event. 
During the course of Year 4 activities, the Navy did not exceed the 
take levels authorized under the IHA (please see the Navy's monitoring 
report for more details and below for further discussion).
    The general objectives of the monitoring plan were similar to those 
described above for the Year 5 monitoring plan. For acoustic 
monitoring, the primary goal was to continue to collect in situ data 
towards validation of the acoustic ZOIs defined based on previous data 
collection efforts and using the transmission loss modeling effort 
conducted prior to the start of the project, and to continue collection 
of data on background noise conditions in San Diego Bay.
    Acoustic Monitoring Results--For a full description of acoustic 
monitoring methodology, please see section 2.3 of the Navy's monitoring 
report, including Figure 2-3 for representative monitoring locations. 
Results from Years 1-4 are displayed in Table 10. Please see our 
notices of proposed IHAs for the Years 2, 3, and 4 IHAs (79 FR 53026, 
September 5, 2014; 80 FR 53115, September 2, 2015; and 81 FR 66628, 
September 28, 2016) or the Navy's Year 1 and 2 monitoring reports for 
more detailed description of monitoring accomplished during the first 
two years of the project.
    For acoustic monitoring associated with impact pile driving, 
continuous hydroacoustic monitoring systems were positioned at source 
(10 m from the pile) and opportunistically at predicted 160-dB Level B 
ZOIs. The far-field data collections were conducted at multiple 
locations during impact driving of 16-in concrete-filled poly piles and 
24 x 30-in concrete fender piles, i.e., approximately 20 to 550 m from 
source. Hydrophones were deployed from the dock, barge, or moored 
vessel at half the water depth. The SPLs for driving of 30-in steel 
pipe piles were measured intermittently and archived (but not reported) 
because associated SPLs for the size, type, and location of the piles 
were previously validated. Source SPLs were recorded and analyzed for a 
minimum of five piles for each of the concrete pile types. Additional 
measurements were archived.
    SPLs of pile driving and demolition activities conducted during 
Year 2 fell within expected levels but varied spatially relative to the 
existing fuel pier structure and maximum source levels for individual 
piles (Table 10). For both vibratory and impact pile driving methods, 
results from the IPP (Year 1) and 2014/2015 production pile driving 
(Year 2) showed that transmission loss for piles driven in shallow 
water inside of the existing fuel pier was greater than piles driven in 
deep water outside of the existing pier. Differences in depth, sediment 
type, and existing in-water pier/wharf structures likely accounted for 
variations in transmission loss and measured differences in SPLs 
recorded at the shutdown and far-field locations for shallow versus 
deep piles of the same type and size. SPLs documented during vibratory 
and impact pile driving of shallow and deep steel pipe piles of the 
same size displayed notable differences in SPLs at shutdown range and 
to a lesser extent at source.
    Measurements of impact driving of concrete piles conducted during 
Year 3 produced greater than expected SPLs at source. Differences in 
the subsurface conditions may account for the discrepancy, as a 
hardened layer is found at approximately 20-40 m below the mudline. 
SPLs documented during driving of 16-in piles generally displayed 
relatively low sound source levels during initial driving then 
appreciable increases observed once the piles interacted with this 
layer. Measurements from driving of the square concrete piles showed 
greatest sound source levels during initial impact pile driving, which 
then decreased once the piles transitioned through the hardened layer. 
While source SPLs were observed to be greater than expected for both 
pile types, attenuation was also greater. Despite greater than expected 
source levels, the measured isopleth distances were similar to modeled 
predictions. Far-field impact pile driving results varied substantially 
between piles and locations for the various pile sizes, types, and 
locations. Both pile types were driven adjacent to the new fuel pier 
and source SPLs were subject to a wide variety of boundary conditions 
from recently driven piles and associated pier infrastructure. Further 
detail and discussion is provided in the Navy's report.
    During Year 4, measurements were conducted for pile clipping, 
caisson cutting, pile jetting, and airborne vibratory and impact 
driving. The average SPLs for pile clipping at source ranged from 138.0 
to 144.6 dB rms, with maximum SPLs at source ranging from 156.1 to 
165.3 dB rms (see Table 6-3 of the Navy's monitoring report). 
Measurements were conducted on eight piles and took one to three 
minutes to cut.
    Caisson demolition was conducted on 18 84-in concrete-filled 
caissons, with an average duration of approximately 6 hours per 
caisson. Underwater acoustic data was collected for seven caissons 
using the vibratory setting. For some of the recordings, there were two 
caissons being cut simultaneously and the acousticians captured the 
SPLs for comparison between a single cutter versus two cutters. If two 
cutters were running, the distance measured was from the closest 
caisson to the location. Average SPLs at source for a single cutter 
were 136.1 and 141.4 dB rms. Maximum SPLs at source for a single cutter 
were 140.9 and 146.5 dB rms. Average SPLs at source for two cutters 
running simultaneously were 146.5 and 149.0 dB rms. Maximum SPLs at 
source for two cutters running simultaneously were 149.0 and 155.6 dB 
rms. On average, there was a 10 dB difference between a single cutter 
and two at source. Far-field recordings for a single cutter were 
collected at far-field locations ranging from 20 to 430 m (66 to 1,411 
ft), with documented maximum SPL values from 136.6 to 145.5 dB rms. 
Far-field recordings for two cutters were also collected at far-field 
locations ranging from 85 to 810 m (279 to 2,657 ft), with documented 
maximum SPL values from 133.2 to 146.8 dB rms.
    SPLs of pile installation activities for the 24 x 30 concrete piles 
had not been previously documented. The only jetting data collected 
during the Project was at NMAWC during the removal of 12-inch and 16-
inch concrete piles. A total of sixteen 24 x 30 concrete non-structural 
fender piles were driven using two techniques: (1) Method 1 (M1) 
utilized a custom-made spud jet with four nozzles welded to the tip 
that used a high-pressure water system (900 gallons per minute with a 
maximum pounds per square inch (psi) of 300), to make the initial break 
through the bay point formation sediment layer; and (2) Method 2 (M2) 
used the 24 x 30 pile, outfitted with two pipes inside the full length 
of the pile, which then used a high-pressure water system (maximum psi 
of 300) to remove sediment and place the pile. Pile jetting averaged 
24.5 minutes per pile and acoustic recordings were collected for the 
entire duration. Collection of underwater acoustic data were completed 
on six piles using the vibratory setting. For M1, the average sound 
pressure levels (SPL) at source ranged from 152.6 dB rms to 155.1 dB 
rms, and maximum SPLs at

[[Page 45826]]

source ranged from 156.5 dB rms to 159.9 dB rms. For M2, the average 
SPL at source ranged from 133.0 dB to 149.8 dB and maximum SPLs at 
source ranged from 137.1 dB to 153.2 dB rms. A vessel based drift 
method was used to obtain far-field recordings during M1 and M2 jetting 
techniques; the vessel was initially positioned at the closest feasible 
distance to source, and then allowed to drift on the natural tidal 
current until near ambient sound pressure levels were obtained. The 
SPLs at far-field for the first drift during jetting M1 reached near 
ambient at 165 m (541 ft) from pile with an SPL of 128.0 dB. The SPLs 
at far-field for the first drift during pile jetting M2 reached near 
ambient at 80 m (262 ft) from pile with an SPL of 127.6 dB. Recordings 
during the vessel drifts showed that jetting reached near ambient 
levels for both methods between 80 m (262 ft) and 165 m (541 ft; M1 and 
M2, respectively).
    Airborne sound levels were recorded during vibratory pile driving 
on fourteen 30-inch steel piles. The maximum recorded airborne dB rms 
values at source was 106.3 dB re 20 [micro]Pa, and average values 
ranged from 96.0 to 102.7 dB re 20 [micro]Pa. Airborne sound levels 
were recorded during impact pile driving on sixteen 30-inch steel 
piles. The maximum recorded airborne dB values at source was 118.5 dB 
re 20 [micro]Pa, and average values ranged from 105.8 to 112.5 dB re 20 
[micro]Pa. Further detail and discussion is provided in the Navy's 
report.

                                Table 10--Acoustic Monitoring Results for Year 4
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                      Average         Average
                                                                     Number of    underwater SPL   airborne SPL
           Location                Activity         Pile type     piles measured   at 10 m  (dB    (LZFmax) \1\
                                                                                       rms)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Fuel Pier (Year 4)...........  Pile Clipping...  24-in square                  4             141  ..............
                                                  concrete pile.
                               Caisson           84-in caisson..              10             136  ..............
                                Demolition (1
                                cutter).
                               Caisson           84-in caisson..               8             138  ..............
                                Demolition (2
                                cutters).
                               Vibratory.......  30-in steel (at               7  ..............             100
                                                  source).
                               Vibratory.......  30-in steel                   7  ..............              86
                                                  (far field).
                               Impact..........  30-in steel (at               9  ..............             110
                                                  source).
                               Impact..........  30-in steel                   7  ..............              88
                                                  (far field).
NMAWC (Year 4)...............  Pile Jetting....  24 x 30........              10             147  ..............
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 \1\ Measured from Source (15.2 m) and Far-field Distances for 30-inch Steel Piles.

    Marine Mammal Monitoring Results--Marine mammal monitoring was 
conducted as required under the IHA and as described in the Year 4 
monitoring plan and in our Federal Register notice of proposed 
authorization associated with the Year 4 IHA. For a full description of 
monitoring methodology, please see section 2 of the Navy's monitoring 
report, including Figure 2-1, 2-2, and 2-7 for representative 
monitoring locations and Figures 2-2 through 2-5 for monitoring zones. 
Monitoring protocols were managed adaptively during the course of the 
fourth-year IHA. Multiple shutdowns were implemented due to marine 
mammals being observed within buffered shutdown zones, but no animals 
were observed within actual predicted Level A harassment zones while 
pile driving was occurring (one harbor seal was seen within the Level A 
ZOI after a shutdown of construction had been implemented).
    Monitoring results are presented in Table 11. The Navy recorded all 
observations of marine mammals, including pre- and post-construction 
monitoring efforts. Animals observed during these periods or that were 
determined to be outside relevant ZOIs were not considered to represent 
incidents of take. Please see Figures 3-11, 3-12, 3-22, 3-23, 3-30, and 
3-31 of the Navy's Monitoring Report for locations of observations and 
incidents of take relative to the project sites. Take authorization for 
the second-year authorization was informed by an assumption that 115 
days of in-water construction would occur, whereas only fifty total 
days actually occurred. However, the actual observed rates per day were 
in all cases lower than what was assumed. Therefore, we expect that the 
Navy would not have exceeded the take allowances even if the full 115 
days had been reached.
    There were considerably fewer individuals and sightings during the 
Year 3 IHA when compared to the same months during the Year 2 IHA, and 
only three species were observed. This may be due to environmental 
fluctuations as part of the on-going El Ni[ntilde]o event. Water 
temperatures during Year 3 were warmer than during the same months 
during Year 2. Although the temperatures were still higher than the 
average water temperatures for the region prior to the current El 
Ni[ntilde]o event, it shows that the event may have been dissipating. 
In addition, California sea lion strandings decreased. No evidently 
significant behavioral changes were reported.
    Similar to Year 3, there were considerably fewer individuals and 
sightings during the Year 4 IHA when compared to the same months during 
the Year 2 IHA, and only four species were observed. This may be due to 
environmental fluctuations as part of the on-going El Ni[ntilde]o 
event. Water temperatures during Year 4 were slightly warmer than 
during the same months during Year 2. Although the temperatures were 
still higher than the average water temperatures for the region prior 
to the current El Ni[ntilde]o event, it shows that the event may have 
been dissipating. In addition, California sea lion strandings 
decreased, but may be returning to numbers more commonly observed. No 
evidently significant behavioral changes were reported.

                              Table 11--Marine Mammal Monitoring Results for Year 4
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                   Extrapolated
                                       Total           Total         Observed      incidents of        Total
             Species                 sightings      individuals    incidents of    Level B take      estimated
                                                                   Level B take         \1\        Level B take
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
California sea lion.............             717           2,037             156           1,835           1,991

[[Page 45827]]

 
Harbor seal.....................              87             102              21              57              78
Bottlenose dolphin..............              18              45               4             144             148
Gray whale......................               1               1               0              13              13
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Assumed density and unmonitored area of assumed Level B ZOI used with actual pile driving time to generate
  assumed take for unmonitored areas.

Negligible Impact Analysis and Determination

    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 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 harassment, NMFS considers 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 effects on habitat, and the likely 
effectiveness of the mitigation. We also assess the number, intensity, 
and context of estimated takes by evaluating this information relative 
to population status. Consistent with the 1989 preamble for NMFS's 
implementing regulations (54 FR 40338; September 29, 1989), the impacts 
from other past and ongoing anthropogenic activities are incorporated 
into this analysis via their impacts on the environmental baseline 
(e.g., as reflected in the regulatory status of the species, population 
size and growth rate where known, ongoing sources of human-caused 
mortality, or ambient noise levels).
    Construction and demolition activities associated with the pier 
replacement 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 or removal 
is happening.
    No injury, serious injury, or mortality is anticipated given the 
nature of the activity and measures designed to minimize the 
possibility of injury to marine mammals. The potential for these 
outcomes is minimized through the construction method and the 
implementation of the planned mitigation measures. Impact pile driving 
produces short, sharp pulses with higher peak levels and much sharper 
rise time to reach those peaks. When impact driving is necessary, 
required measures (implementation of buffered shutdown zones) 
significantly reduce any possibility of injury. Given sufficient 
``notice'' through use of soft start (for impact driving), marine 
mammals are expected to move away from a sound source that is annoying 
prior to its becoming potentially injurious. The likelihood that marine 
mammal detection ability by trained observers is high under the 
environmental conditions described for San Diego Bay (approaching 100 
percent detection rate, as described by trained biologists conducting 
site-specific surveys) further enables the implementation of shutdowns 
to avoid injury, serious injury, or mortality.
    Effects on individuals that are taken by Level B harassment, on the 
basis of reports in the literature as well as monitoring from past 
years of this project and other similar activities, will likely be 
limited to reactions such as increased swimming speeds, increased 
surfacing time, or decreased foraging (if such activity were occurring) 
(e.g., Thorson and Reyff 2006; HDR 2012; Lerma 2014). Most likely, 
individuals will simply move away from the sound source and be 
temporarily displaced from the areas of pile driving, although even 
this reaction has been observed primarily only in association with 
impact pile driving. In response to vibratory driving, pinnipeds (which 
may become somewhat habituated to human activity in industrial or urban 
waterways) have been observed to orient towards and sometimes move 
towards the sound. The pile driving activities analyzed here are 
similar to, or less impactful than, numerous other construction 
activities conducted in San Francisco Bay and in the Puget Sound 
region, which have taken place with no reported injuries or mortality 
to marine mammals, and no known long-term adverse consequences from 
behavioral harassment. 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 for the affected individuals, and thus would not result in any 
adverse impact to the stock as a whole. Level B harassment will be 
reduced to the level of least practicable impact through use of 
mitigation measures described herein and, if sound produced by project 
activities is sufficiently disturbing, animals are likely to simply 
avoid the project area while the activity is occurring.
    In summary and as described above, the following factors primarily 
support our determination that the impacts resulting from this activity 
are not expected to adversely affect the species or stock through 
effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival:
     No mortality is anticipated or authorized;
     No injury is anticipated or authorized;
     The anticipated incidents of Level B harassment consist 
of, at worst, temporary modifications in behavior;
     The absence of any significant habitat within the project 
area, including rookeries, significant haul-outs, or known areas or 
features of special significance for foraging or reproduction; and
     The presumed efficacy of the mitigation measures in 
reducing the effects of the specified activity to the level of least 
practicable impact.
    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 monitoring and mitigation 
measures, NMFS finds that the total marine mammal take from the planned 
activity will have a negligible impact on all

[[Page 45828]]

affected marine mammal species or stocks.

Small Numbers

    As noted above, only small numbers of incidental take may be 
authorized under Section 101(a)(5)(D) of the MMPA for specified 
activities other than military readiness activities. The MMPA does not 
define small numbers and so, in practice, where estimated numbers are 
available, NMFS compares the number of individuals taken to the most 
appropriate estimation of abundance of the relevant species or stock in 
our determination of whether an authorization is limited to small 
numbers of marine mammals. Additionally, other qualitative factors may 
be considered in the analysis, such as the temporal or spatial scale of 
the activities.
    The number of incidents of take planned for authorization for these 
stocks, with the exception of the coastal bottlenose dolphin (see 
below), would be considered small relative to the relevant stocks or 
populations (see Table 8) even if each estimated taking occurred to a 
new individual. This is an extremely unlikely scenario as, for 
pinnipeds occurring at the NBPL waterfront, there will almost certainly 
be some overlap in individuals present day-to-day and in general, there 
is likely to be some overlap in individuals present day-to-day for 
animals in estuarine/inland waters.
    The numbers of authorized take for bottlenose dolphins are higher 
relative to the total stock abundance estimate and would not represent 
small numbers if a significant portion of the take was for a new 
individual. However, these numbers represent the estimated incidents of 
take, not the number of individuals taken. That is, it is likely that a 
relatively small subset of California coastal bottlenose dolphins would 
be incidentally harassed by project activities. California coastal 
bottlenose dolphins range from San Francisco Bay to San Diego (and 
south into Mexico) and the specified activity would be stationary 
within an enclosed water body that is not recognized as an area of any 
special significance for coastal bottlenose dolphins (and is therefore 
not an area of dolphin aggregation, as evident in Navy observational 
records). We therefore believe that the estimated numbers of takes, 
were they to occur, likely represent repeated exposures of a much 
smaller number of bottlenose dolphins and that, based on the limited 
region of exposure in comparison with the known distribution of the 
coastal bottlenose dolphin, these estimated incidents of take represent 
small numbers of bottlenose dolphins.
    Based on the analysis contained herein of the planned activity 
(including the mitigation and monitoring measures) and the anticipated 
take of marine mammals, NMFS finds that small numbers of marine mammals 
will be taken relative to the population size of the affected species 
or stocks.

Impact on Availability of Affected Species for Taking for Subsistence 
Uses

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

Endangered Species Act (ESA)

    Section 7(a)(2) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA: 16 
U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) requires that each Federal agency insure that any 
action it authorizes, funds, or carries out is not likely to jeopardize 
the continued existence of any endangered or threatened species or 
result in the destruction or adverse modification of designated 
critical habitat. To ensure ESA compliance for the issuance of IHAs, 
NMFS consults internally, in this case with the ESA Interagency 
Cooperation Division, whenever we propose to authorize take for 
endangered or threatened species.
    The Navy initiated informal consultation under section 7 of the ESA 
with NMFS Southwest Regional Office (now West Coast Regional Office) on 
March 5, 2013. NMFS concluded on May 16, 2013, that the planned action 
may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect, WNP gray whales. The 
Navy has not requested authorization of the incidental take of WNP gray 
whales and we are not authorizing it, and there are no other ESA-listed 
marine mammals found in the action area. Therefore, no consultation 
under the ESA is required.

    Dated: September 27, 2017.
Donna S. Wieting,
Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries 
Service.
[FR Doc. 2017-21044 Filed 9-29-17; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3510-22-P