Taking and Importing Marine Mammals; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to the U.S. Navy Training and Testing Activities in the Atlantic Fleet Training and Testing Study Area, 1069-1071 [2019-00632]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 22 / Friday, February 1, 2019 / Notices The current physical space for GFDL consists of two buildings that together provide office space, teaching/seminar space, high performance computing space, a command/control center, and mechanical and electrical plants. The current GFDL facilities are approximately 68,675 square feet. Current space can house up to 215 staff, including full-time employees, visiting scientists and students, and contract employees. The current facilities are in need of repairs and renovations in order to continue to be effectively and safely occupied by GFDL. The existing space is also insufficient to accommodate visiting scientists and students, for example approximately 40 such staff utilize nearby overflow space, and to effectively store and stage necessary equipment for current levels of effort. It also does not allow space to expand to continue to meet NOAA’s mission in collaboration with our institutional partners. During 2018, NOAA contracted with an architectural and engineering firm to develop a space programming and planning study, or a Program of Requirements, that identifies the full scope of GFDL’s space needs. The Program of Requirements is available upon request to Mr. Mayle. The purpose of the public scoping process for this EA is to determine relevant issues that will influence the scope of the environmental analysis, including potential alternatives, and the extent to which those issues and impacts will be analyzed in the EA. Federal, state, and local agencies, along with other stakeholders that may be interested in or affected by NOAA’s decision on this project are invited to participate in the scoping process and, if eligible, may request or be requested by NOAA to participate as a cooperating agency. Dated: December 12, 2018. David Holst, Chief Financial Officer/Administrative Officer, Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. [FR Doc. 2019–00633 Filed 1–31–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–KD–P VerDate Sep<11>2014 21:23 Jan 31, 2019 Jkt 247001 DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648–XG694–X Taking and Importing Marine Mammals; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to the U.S. Navy Training and Testing Activities in the Atlantic Fleet Training and Testing Study Area National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice; receipt of application and request for Letters of Authorization extension; request for comments and information. AGENCY: NMFS has received a request from the U.S. Navy (Navy) to amend NMFS’ Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) regulations authorizing the take of marine mammals incidental to Navy training and testing activities conducted in the Atlantic Fleet Training and Testing (AFTT) Study Area from November 2018 to November 2023 to cover seven years of the Navy’s activities, instead of five. Section 316 of the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 (2019 NDAA), signed into law on August 13, 2018, amended the MMPA to extend the maximum period for MMPA incidental take regulations under section 101(a)(5)(A) from five to seven years for military readiness activities. The Navy’s activities qualify as military readiness activities pursuant to the MMPA, as amended by the NDAA for Fiscal Year 2004. The Navy proposes no changes to their specified activities, mitigation measures, monitoring, or reporting and requests that NMFS amend the final rule issued on November 14, 2018, to authorize incidental take of marine mammals for the two additional years now allowed under the statute. NMFS invites the public to provide information, suggestions, and comments on the Navy’s application. DATES: Comments and information must be received no later than March 4, 2019. ADDRESSES: Comments on the application should be addressed to Jolie Harrison, Chief, Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service. Physical comments should be sent to 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910 and electronic comments should be sent to ITP.Piniak@noaa.gov. Instructions: NMFS is not responsible for information or comments sent by SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00023 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 1069 any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period. Information and comments received electronically, including all attachments, must not exceed a 25-megabyte file size. Attachments to electronic comments will be accepted in Microsoft Word or Excel or Adobe PDF file formats only. All information and comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted online at https:// www.fisheries.noaa.gov/permit/ incidental-take-authorizations-undermarine-mammal-protection-act without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address) voluntarily submitted by the commenter may be publicly accessible. Do not submit confidential business information or otherwise sensitive or protected information. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Wendy Piniak, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, (301) 427–8401. An electronic copy of the Navy’s application may be obtained online at: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/ national/marine-mammal-protection/ incidental-take-authorizations-militaryreadiness-activities. 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 incidental take authorization 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. E:\FR\FM\01FEN1.SGM 01FEN1 1070 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 22 / Friday, February 1, 2019 / Notices The MMPA states that the term ‘‘take’’ means to harass, hunt, capture, kill or attempt to harass, hunt, capture, or kill any marine mammal. The 2004 NDAA (Pub. L. 108–136) amended the MMPA to remove the ‘‘small numbers’’ and ‘‘specified geographical region’’ limitations for military readiness activities. It also amended the definition of ‘‘harassment’’ as it applies to military readiness activities to read as follows (Section 3(18)(B) of the MMPA): (i) Any act that injures or has the significant potential to injure a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild (Level A harassment); or (ii) Any act that disturbs or is likely to disturb a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild by causing disruption of natural behavioral patterns, including, but not limited to, migration, surfacing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or sheltering, to a point where such behavioral patterns are abandoned or significantly altered (Level B harassment). On August 13, 2018, the 2019 NDAA (Pub. L. 115–232) amended the MMPA to allow incidental take regulations for military readiness activities to be issued for up to seven years. Summary of Request On November 16, 2018, NMFS received an adequate and complete application from the Navy requesting an amendment of the regulations published on November 14, 2018, that authorize the take of marine mammals incidental to the Navy’s training and testing activities in the AFTT Study Area (83 FR 57076). On January 18, 2019, NMFS received a revised application. Specifically, the activities include training and testing (all categorized as military readiness activities) including the use of active acoustic sonar systems and other transducers, in-water detonations, air guns, construction activities involving pile removal and installation, and the operation of a fleet of vessels throughout the AFTT Study Area. These activities may result in the incidental take of marine mammals in the form of Level B harassment (behavioral disruption or temporary hearing impairment), Level A harassment (permanent hearing impairment or tissue damage), or serious injury or mortality in a very small number of cases. The requested amendment would change the expiration date of the regulations from November 13, 2023 to November 13, 2025, allowing for seven total years of validity, as allowed under the MMPA as recently amended by the 2019 NDAA. VerDate Sep<11>2014 21:23 Jan 31, 2019 Jkt 247001 Description of Amendment The Navy proposes that NMFS amend the existing AFTT regulations and associated Letters of Authorization (LOAs) such that they would cover incidental take caused by seven years of training and testing activities instead of five, extending the expiration date from November 13, 2023 to November 13, 2025. The amendment would be conducted through a proposed and final rulemaking, consistent with the requirements of section 101(a)(5)(A). The Navy has not proposed any changes to the nature of the specified activities and, therefore, the boundaries of the AFTT Study Area, the training and testing activities (e.g., equipment and sources used, exercises conducted), and the mitigation, monitoring, and reporting measures are identical to those described and analyzed in the existing AFTT regulations published on November 14, 2018 (83 FR 57076). The only changes contemplated in the extension of the regulations are those necessary to identify the appropriate type and amount of incidental take to authorize in the two additional years that the amended regulations would cover, and determine whether the incidental take would have a negligible impact on the affected species and stocks. The current AFTT rule authorizes three serious injuries or mortalities from vessel strike. The Navy’s request for an amendment includes a revised vessel strike analysis encompassing seven years of activities versus the five years addressed in the analysis supporting the mortality estimate in the current LOAs. Based on the revised analysis, the Navy requests one additional large whale mortality bringing the total from three vessel strikes over five years to four vessel strikes over seven years. The large whale stocks that are proposed to be lethally taken by vessel strike are the same as those included in the current AFTT rule. Please see Chapter 6, Section 6.2 of the Navy’s application for a full description of the incidental take by vessel strike. Regarding the quantification of expected takes from acoustic and explosive sources (by Level A and Level B harassment, as well as mortality resulting from exposure to explosives), the number of takes are based directly on the level of activities (days, hours, counts, etc., of different activities and events) in a given year. In the existing AFTT rule, the Navy bases their take estimates across the five-year rule on conducting three years of a nominal (average) level of activity and two years of a maximum level of activity. For the PO 00000 Frm 00024 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 amended seven year rule, the Navy proposes to add one additional nominal year and one additional maximum year to determine the predicted take numbers. Specifically, as in the current rule, the Navy proposes to use the maximum annual level to calculate annual takes (which will remain identical to the current rule), and the sum of all years (four nominal and three maximum, in the case of the new amended rule) to calculate the sevenyear totals. Please see Chapter 6, Section 6.1 of the Navy’s application for a description of the proposed take from acoustic and explosive sources. As noted above, the proposed amendment of the rule would include mitigation, monitoring, and reporting measures that are identical to those included in the current final rule (83 FR 57076, November 14, 2018). In summary, mitigation would include: (1) The use of Lookouts to observe for biological resources and communicate the need for mitigation implementation; (2) powerdowns, shutdowns, and delay of starts to avoid exposure of marine mammals to high levels of sound or explosive blasts more likely to result in injury or more serious behavioral disruption; (3) limiting the use of active sonar or explosives in certain biologically important areas to reduce the probability or severity of impacts when they are more likely to contribute to fitness impacts, and (4) broadcasting awareness notification messages to all of the vessels in an area to reduce the likelihood of vessel strike. Please see Chapter 11 of the Navy’s application for a full description of the proposed mitigation, which is identical to that required under the existing rule. The Navy proposes to continue forward the implementation of the robust Integrated Comprehensive Monitoring Program and Strategic Planning Process outlined in the current regulations. The Navy’s monitoring strategy, currently required by the AFTT regulations, is well-designed to work across Navy ranges to help better understand the impacts of the Navy’s activities on marine mammals and their habitat by focusing on learning more about marine mammal occurrence in different areas and exposure to Navy stressors, marine mammal responses to different sound sources, and the consequences of those exposures and responses on marine mammal populations. Similarly, the proposed amended regulations would include identical adaptive management provisions and reporting requirements as the existing regulations. Please refer to Chapter 13 of the Navy’s application E:\FR\FM\01FEN1.SGM 01FEN1 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 22 / Friday, February 1, 2019 / Notices for full details on the monitoring and reporting proposed by the Navy. Information Solicited Interested persons may submit information, suggestions, and comments concerning the Navy’s request (see ADDRESSES). NMFS will consider all information, suggestions, and comments related to the request during the development of proposed regulations governing the incidental taking of marine mammals by the Navy, if appropriate. Dated: January 29, 2019. Donna S. Wieting, Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2019–00632 Filed 1–31–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648–XG642 Fishing Capacity Reduction Program for the Southeast Alaska Purse Seine Salmon Fishery National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice of revised referendum voting period. AGENCY: On December 3, 2018, NMFS issued a notice to announce the voting period for the proposed second fishing capacity reduction program loan in the Southeast Alaska Purse Seine Salmon Fishery and inform persons of their eligibility to vote. This notice informs the public of the revised referendum voting period due to the lapse in appropriations. The referendum, if approved, will result in a loan of $10.1 million and permanently retire an additional 36 permits from the fishery. DATES: The referendum voting period will now start on February 4, 2018 and end on March 6, 2019. Any votes not received by NMFS by 5 p.m. on March 6, 2019, will not be counted. ADDRESSES: Send questions about this notice to Michael A. Sturtevant, Acting Chief, Financial Services Division, NMFS, Attn: SE Alaska Purse Seine Salmon Buyback, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910 (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Elaine Saiz at (301) 427–8752, fax (301) 713–1306, or elaine.saiz@noaa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 21:23 Jan 31, 2019 Jkt 247001 I. Background DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE The Southeast Alaska purse seine salmon fishery is a commercial fishery in Alaska state waters and adjacent Federal waters. It encompasses the commercial taking of salmon with purse seine gear, and participation is limited to fishermen designated by the Alaska Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission (CFEC). Congress authorized a $23.5 million loan to finance a fishing capacity reduction program in the Southeast Alaska purse seine salmon fishery. NMFS published proposed program regulations on May 23, 2011 (76 FR 29707), and final program regulations on October 6, 2011 (76 FR 61986), to implement the reduction program. Interested persons should review these documents for further program details. In 2012, NMFS conducted a referendum to determine the remaining fishermen’s willingness to repay a $13.1 million fishing capacity reduction loan to remove 64 permits. After a majority of permit holders approved the loan, NMFS disbursed payments to the successful bidders and began collecting fees to repay the loan. Since only $13.1 million was expended from the total loan amount, $10.4 million remains available. This referendum, if approved, will result in a loan of $10.1 million and permanently retire an additional 36 permits from the fishery. In June, 2018, the Southeast Revitalization Association submitted a capacity reduction plan to NMFS and NMFS approved the plan in November, 2018. As of November 16, 2018, there are 315 permits in the fishery designated as S01A by CFEC. In accordance with the final regulations, NMFS published the notice on December 3, 2018 (83 FR 62302). The original voting period was to start January 15, 2019 and end on February 14, 2019. Due to the lapse in appropriations we have revised voting period to the new dates. Patent and Trademark Office II. Referendum Voting Period The referendum voting period will start February 4, 2019, and end on March 6, 2019. Any votes not received by NMFS by 5 p.m. on March 6, 2019, will not be counted. Dated: January 29, 2019. Brian T. Pawlak, CFO/Director, Office of Management and Budget, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2019–00679 Filed 1–31–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P PO 00000 Frm 00025 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 1071 Submission for OMB Review; Comment Request; ‘‘International Work Sharing’’ The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will submit to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for clearance the following proposal for collection of information under the provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. chapter 35). Agency: United States Patent and Trademark Office, Commerce. Title: International Work Sharing. OMB Control Number: 0651–0079. Form Number(s): • PTO/SB/437 • PTO/SB/CSP Survey 1 Type of Request: Regular. Number of Respondents: 300 responses per year. Average Hours per Response: The USPTO estimates that it will take the public approximately between 5 minutes (0.08 hours) and 3 hours to complete the information in this collection, including the time to gather the necessary information, prepare the forms or documents, and submit the completed request to the USPTO. Burden Hours: 462 hours per year. Cost Burden: $0 per year. Needs and Uses: The public who uses this information collection are applicants who file applications in the USPTO, JPO, and KIPO. They do so in order to participate in the International Work Sharing Program. The Program enables its participants to engage in the exchange of IP documents between the United States, Japan, and Korea to facilitate efficient worldwide patent examinations. Affected Public: Businesses or other for-profits; not-for-profit institutions. Frequency: On occasion. Respondent’s Obligation: Required to Obtain or Retain Benefits. OMB Desk Officer: Nicholas A. Fraser, email: Nicholas_A._Fraser@ omb.eop.gov. Once submitted, the request will be publically available in electronic format through www.reginfo.gov. Follow the instructions to view Department of Commerce collections currently under review by OMB. Further information can be obtained by: • Email: InformationCollection@ uspto.gov. Include ‘‘0651–0079 copy request’’ in the subject line of the message. • Mail: Marcie Lovett, Records and Information Governance Division E:\FR\FM\01FEN1.SGM 01FEN1

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[Federal Register Volume 84, Number 22 (Friday, February 1, 2019)]
[Notices]
[Pages 1069-1071]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2019-00632]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

RIN 0648-XG694-X


Taking and Importing Marine Mammals; Taking Marine Mammals 
Incidental to the U.S. Navy Training and Testing Activities in the 
Atlantic Fleet Training and Testing Study Area

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

ACTION: Notice; receipt of application and request for Letters of 
Authorization extension; request for comments and information.

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

SUMMARY: NMFS has received a request from the U.S. Navy (Navy) to amend 
NMFS' Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) regulations authorizing the 
take of marine mammals incidental to Navy training and testing 
activities conducted in the Atlantic Fleet Training and Testing (AFTT) 
Study Area from November 2018 to November 2023 to cover seven years of 
the Navy's activities, instead of five. Section 316 of the John S. 
McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 (2019 
NDAA), signed into law on August 13, 2018, amended the MMPA to extend 
the maximum period for MMPA incidental take regulations under section 
101(a)(5)(A) from five to seven years for military readiness 
activities. The Navy's activities qualify as military readiness 
activities pursuant to the MMPA, as amended by the NDAA for Fiscal Year 
2004. The Navy proposes no changes to their specified activities, 
mitigation measures, monitoring, or reporting and requests that NMFS 
amend the final rule issued on November 14, 2018, to authorize 
incidental take of marine mammals for the two additional years now 
allowed under the statute. NMFS invites the public to provide 
information, suggestions, and comments on the Navy's application.

DATES: Comments and information must be received no later than March 4, 
2019.

ADDRESSES: Comments on the application should be addressed to Jolie 
Harrison, Chief, Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected 
Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service. Physical comments should 
be sent to 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910 and 
electronic comments should be sent to ITP.Piniak@noaa.gov.
    Instructions: NMFS is not responsible for information or comments 
sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or 
received after the end of the comment period. Information and comments 
received electronically, including all attachments, must not exceed a 
25-megabyte file size. Attachments to electronic comments will be 
accepted in Microsoft Word or Excel or Adobe PDF file formats only. All 
information and comments received are a part of the public record and 
will generally be posted online at https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/permit/incidental-take-authorizations-under-marine-mammal-protection-act without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, 
address) voluntarily submitted by the commenter may be publicly 
accessible. Do not submit confidential business information or 
otherwise sensitive or protected information.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Wendy Piniak, Office of Protected 
Resources, NMFS, (301) 427-8401. An electronic copy of the Navy's 
application may be obtained online at: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/national/marine-mammal-protection/incidental-take-authorizations-military-readiness-activities. 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 incidental take authorization 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.

[[Page 1070]]

    The MMPA states that the term ``take'' means to harass, hunt, 
capture, kill or attempt to harass, hunt, capture, or kill any marine 
mammal. The 2004 NDAA (Pub. L. 108-136) amended the MMPA to remove the 
``small numbers'' and ``specified geographical region'' limitations for 
military readiness activities. It also amended the definition of 
``harassment'' as it applies to military readiness activities to read 
as follows (Section 3(18)(B) of the MMPA): (i) Any act that injures or 
has the significant potential to injure a marine mammal or marine 
mammal stock in the wild (Level A harassment); or (ii) Any act that 
disturbs or is likely to disturb a marine mammal or marine mammal stock 
in the wild by causing disruption of natural behavioral patterns, 
including, but not limited to, migration, surfacing, nursing, breeding, 
feeding, or sheltering, to a point where such behavioral patterns are 
abandoned or significantly altered (Level B harassment).
    On August 13, 2018, the 2019 NDAA (Pub. L. 115-232) amended the 
MMPA to allow incidental take regulations for military readiness 
activities to be issued for up to seven years.

Summary of Request

    On November 16, 2018, NMFS received an adequate and complete 
application from the Navy requesting an amendment of the regulations 
published on November 14, 2018, that authorize the take of marine 
mammals incidental to the Navy's training and testing activities in the 
AFTT Study Area (83 FR 57076). On January 18, 2019, NMFS received a 
revised application. Specifically, the activities include training and 
testing (all categorized as military readiness activities) including 
the use of active acoustic sonar systems and other transducers, in-
water detonations, air guns, construction activities involving pile 
removal and installation, and the operation of a fleet of vessels 
throughout the AFTT Study Area. These activities may result in the 
incidental take of marine mammals in the form of Level B harassment 
(behavioral disruption or temporary hearing impairment), Level A 
harassment (permanent hearing impairment or tissue damage), or serious 
injury or mortality in a very small number of cases. The requested 
amendment would change the expiration date of the regulations from 
November 13, 2023 to November 13, 2025, allowing for seven total years 
of validity, as allowed under the MMPA as recently amended by the 2019 
NDAA.

Description of Amendment

    The Navy proposes that NMFS amend the existing AFTT regulations and 
associated Letters of Authorization (LOAs) such that they would cover 
incidental take caused by seven years of training and testing 
activities instead of five, extending the expiration date from November 
13, 2023 to November 13, 2025. The amendment would be conducted through 
a proposed and final rulemaking, consistent with the requirements of 
section 101(a)(5)(A). The Navy has not proposed any changes to the 
nature of the specified activities and, therefore, the boundaries of 
the AFTT Study Area, the training and testing activities (e.g., 
equipment and sources used, exercises conducted), and the mitigation, 
monitoring, and reporting measures are identical to those described and 
analyzed in the existing AFTT regulations published on November 14, 
2018 (83 FR 57076).
    The only changes contemplated in the extension of the regulations 
are those necessary to identify the appropriate type and amount of 
incidental take to authorize in the two additional years that the 
amended regulations would cover, and determine whether the incidental 
take would have a negligible impact on the affected species and stocks.
    The current AFTT rule authorizes three serious injuries or 
mortalities from vessel strike. The Navy's request for an amendment 
includes a revised vessel strike analysis encompassing seven years of 
activities versus the five years addressed in the analysis supporting 
the mortality estimate in the current LOAs. Based on the revised 
analysis, the Navy requests one additional large whale mortality 
bringing the total from three vessel strikes over five years to four 
vessel strikes over seven years. The large whale stocks that are 
proposed to be lethally taken by vessel strike are the same as those 
included in the current AFTT rule. Please see Chapter 6, Section 6.2 of 
the Navy's application for a full description of the incidental take by 
vessel strike.
    Regarding the quantification of expected takes from acoustic and 
explosive sources (by Level A and Level B harassment, as well as 
mortality resulting from exposure to explosives), the number of takes 
are based directly on the level of activities (days, hours, counts, 
etc., of different activities and events) in a given year. In the 
existing AFTT rule, the Navy bases their take estimates across the 
five-year rule on conducting three years of a nominal (average) level 
of activity and two years of a maximum level of activity. For the 
amended seven year rule, the Navy proposes to add one additional 
nominal year and one additional maximum year to determine the predicted 
take numbers. Specifically, as in the current rule, the Navy proposes 
to use the maximum annual level to calculate annual takes (which will 
remain identical to the current rule), and the sum of all years (four 
nominal and three maximum, in the case of the new amended rule) to 
calculate the seven-year totals. Please see Chapter 6, Section 6.1 of 
the Navy's application for a description of the proposed take from 
acoustic and explosive sources.
    As noted above, the proposed amendment of the rule would include 
mitigation, monitoring, and reporting measures that are identical to 
those included in the current final rule (83 FR 57076, November 14, 
2018). In summary, mitigation would include: (1) The use of Lookouts to 
observe for biological resources and communicate the need for 
mitigation implementation; (2) powerdowns, shutdowns, and delay of 
starts to avoid exposure of marine mammals to high levels of sound or 
explosive blasts more likely to result in injury or more serious 
behavioral disruption; (3) limiting the use of active sonar or 
explosives in certain biologically important areas to reduce the 
probability or severity of impacts when they are more likely to 
contribute to fitness impacts, and (4) broadcasting awareness 
notification messages to all of the vessels in an area to reduce the 
likelihood of vessel strike. Please see Chapter 11 of the Navy's 
application for a full description of the proposed mitigation, which is 
identical to that required under the existing rule.
    The Navy proposes to continue forward the implementation of the 
robust Integrated Comprehensive Monitoring Program and Strategic 
Planning Process outlined in the current regulations. The Navy's 
monitoring strategy, currently required by the AFTT regulations, is 
well-designed to work across Navy ranges to help better understand the 
impacts of the Navy's activities on marine mammals and their habitat by 
focusing on learning more about marine mammal occurrence in different 
areas and exposure to Navy stressors, marine mammal responses to 
different sound sources, and the consequences of those exposures and 
responses on marine mammal populations. Similarly, the proposed amended 
regulations would include identical adaptive management provisions and 
reporting requirements as the existing regulations. Please refer to 
Chapter 13 of the Navy's application

[[Page 1071]]

for full details on the monitoring and reporting proposed by the Navy.

Information Solicited

    Interested persons may submit information, suggestions, and 
comments concerning the Navy's request (see ADDRESSES). NMFS will 
consider all information, suggestions, and comments related to the 
request during the development of proposed regulations governing the 
incidental taking of marine mammals by the Navy, if appropriate.

    Dated: January 29, 2019.
Donna S. Wieting,
Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries 
Service.
[FR Doc. 2019-00632 Filed 1-31-19; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3510-22-P