Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to the Chevron Richmond Refinery Long Wharf Maintenance and Efficiency Project in San Francisco Bay, California, 28474-28489 [2019-12922]

Download as PDF 28474 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 118 / Wednesday, June 19, 2019 / Notices DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648–XG876 Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to the Chevron Richmond Refinery Long Wharf Maintenance and Efficiency Project in San Francisco Bay, California National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice; issuance of an incidental harassment authorization. AGENCY: In accordance with the regulations implementing the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) as amended, notification is hereby given that we have issued an incidental harassment authorization (IHA) to Chevron to take small numbers of marine mammals, by harassment, incidental to the Long Wharf Maintenance and Efficiency Project (LWMEP) in San Francisco Bay, California. SUMMARY: Summary of Request This authorization is effective from June 1, 2019, through May 31, 2020. DATES: Rob Pauline, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, (301) 427–8401. Electronic copies of the application and supporting documents, as well as the issued IHA, may be obtained online at: https:// www.fisheries.noaa.gov/permit/ incidental-take-authorizations-undermarine-mammal-protection-act. In case of problems accessing these documents, please call the contact listed above. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: jbell on DSK3GLQ082PROD with NOTICES Background The MMPA prohibits the ‘‘take’’ of marine mammals, with certain exceptions. 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 incidental take authorization may be provided to the public for review. Authorization for incidental takings shall be granted if NMFS finds that the VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:06 Jun 18, 2019 Jkt 247001 taking will have a negligible impact on the species or stock(s) and will not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of the species or stock(s) for taking for subsistence uses (where relevant). Further, NMFS must prescribe the permissible methods of taking and other ‘‘means of effecting the least practicable adverse impact’’ on the affected species or stocks and their habitat, paying particular attention to rookeries, mating grounds, and areas of similar significance, and on the availability of such species or stocks for taking for certain subsistence uses (referred to in shorthand as ‘‘mitigation’’); and requirements pertaining to the mitigation, monitoring and reporting of such takings are set forth. On January 17, 2019, NMFS received a request from Chevron for an IHA to take marine mammals incidental to pile driving and removal associated with the LWMEP in San Francisco Bay, California. The application was deemed adequate and complete on April 8, 2019. Chevron’s request is for take of a small number of seven species of marine mammals, by Level B harassment and Level A harassment. Neither Chevron nor NMFS expects serious injury or mortality to result from this activity and, therefore, an IHA is appropriate. NMFS previously issued an IHA to Chevron for similar work (82 FR 27240; June 17, 2017). However, the construction schedule and scope was revised and no work was conducted under that IHA. NMFS issued a second IHA on May 31, 2018 to Chevron for work not conducted in 2017 (83 FR 27578; June 13, 2018). This IHA covers one year of this larger project for which Chevron obtained the prior IHA, and Chevron also intends to request take authorizations for subsequent facets of the project. The larger multi-year project involves various construction activities that would allow Chevron to comply with Marine Oil Terminal Engineering and Maintenance Standards (MOTEMS) and to improve safety and efficiency at the Long Wharf. Chevron complied with all the requirements (e.g., mitigation, monitoring, and reporting) of the previous IHA and information regarding their monitoring results may be found in the Estimated Take section. Because of the similarity of the work and marine mammal impacts to that covered in previous IHAs, we have often cited back to previous documents for more detailed descriptions. PO 00000 Frm 00016 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Description of Activity Chevron’s Richmond Refinery Long Wharf (Long Wharf) located in San Francisco Bay, is the largest marine oil terminal in California. Impact pile driving and vibratory pile driving and removal will be employed during the planned construction project. These actions could produce underwater sound at levels that could result in the injury or behavioral harassment of marine mammal species. Pile driving activities would be timed to occur within the standard NMFS work windows for Endangered Species Act (ESA)-listed fish species (June 1 through November 30) over multiple years. An estimated 67 days of pile driving activity within the designated work window are planned for 2019. Additional work in the future will require subsequent IHAs. The IHA is effective from June 1, 2019 through May 31, 2020. A detailed description of the planned activities is provided in the Federal Register notice of the proposed IHA (84 FR 17788; April 26, 2019) for the issued IHA, Federal Register notice of the issuance of the 2018 IHA for Chevron’s LWMEP project (83 FR 27578; June 13, 2018), the Federal Register notice of the proposed IHA (83 FR 18802; April 30, 2018), as well as Chevron’s current IHA application for the 2019 work season. Therefore, a detailed description is not provided here. Please refer to that Federal Register notices and application for the description of the specific activity. Comments and Responses A notice of NMFS’ proposal to issue an IHA was published in the Federal Register on March 26, 2019 (84 FR 177880). During the 30-day public comment period, NMFS received a comment letter from the Marine Mammal Commission (Commission). Specific comments and responses are provided below. The Commission’s recommendations and our responses are provided here, and the comments have been posted online at: https:// www.fisheries.noaa.gov/national/ marine-mammal-protection/incidentaltake-authorizations-constructionactivities. The Commission recommended that NMFS issue the IHA, subject to inclusion of the proposed mitigation, monitoring, and reporting measures. Comment 1: The Commission recommended that NMFS consult with external scientists and acousticians to determine the appropriate accumulation time that action proponents should use to determine the extent of the Level A E:\FR\FM\19JNN1.SGM 19JNN1 jbell on DSK3GLQ082PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 118 / Wednesday, June 19, 2019 / Notices harassment zones based on the associated SELcum thresholds for the various types of sound sources, including stationary sound sources. Response: NMFS considers this a priority and has formed a Working Group to focus on the issue of accumulation time. Once the NMFS internal Working Group develops a proposal, it will be shared with Federal partners and other stakeholders. Comment 2: The Commission recommended that, for all relevant incidental take authorizations, NMFS refrain from using a source level reduction factor for sound attenuation device implementation during impact pile driving, including the 60-inch steel piles proposed for use by Chevron. Response: While it is true that noise level reduction measured at different received ranges does vary, given that both Level A and Level B harassment estimation using geometric modeling is based on noise levels measured at nearsource distances (∼10 meters), NMFS believes it reasonable to use a source level reduction factor for sound attenuation device implementation during impact pile driving. In the case of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge impact driving isopleth estimates using an air bubble curtain for source level reduction, NMFS reviewed Caltrans’ bubble curtain ‘‘on and off’’ studies conducted in San Francisco Bay in 2003 and 2004. The equipment used for bubble curtains has likely improved since 2004 but due to concerns for fish species, Caltrans has not been able to conduct ‘‘on and off’’ tests recently. Based on 74 measurements (37 with the bubble curtain on and 37 with the bubble curtain off) at both near (<100 meters) and far (>100 meters) distances, the linear averaged received level reduction is 6 decibels (dB). If limiting the data points (a total of 28 measurements, with 14 during bubble curtain on and 14 during bubble curtain off) to only near distance measurements, the linear averaged noise level reduction is 7 dB. Since impact zone analysis using geometric spreading model is typically based on measurements at near-source distance, we consider it appropriate to use a reduction of 7 dB as a noise level reduction factor for impact pile driving using an air bubble curtain system. Bubble curtains are effective at attenuating sound originating within the water column. Pile driving does generate sound within the seafloor as well. This sound travels within the seafloor and emerges back to the water column, but its intensity is reduced within the sediment due to absorption VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:06 Jun 18, 2019 Jkt 247001 by the sediment and reflection at the sediment/water interface. NMFS will evaluate the appropriateness of using a certain source level reduction factor for sound attenuation device implementation during impact pile driving for all relevant incidental take authorizations when more data become available. Comment 3: The Commission recommended that NMFS should direct Chevron to use its PSOs to monitor more sufficiently both the Level A and B harassment zones, including the shutdown zones. The Commission further recommended that one PSO should be located in the near-field to ensure an unobstructed view of the shut-down zones and one PSO should be located on the north end of the wharf to monitor harbor seals in the far field, focusing on the area between the wharf and Castro Rocks. Response: NMFS believes that the monitoring plan provided by the applicant is adequate to sufficiently monitor Level A and B harassment zones, including shut-down zones. Chevron opted to place one PSO on the east side of the wharf to monitor any marine mammals that occur between the wharf and the shoreline. The wharf is covered with building and large equipment resulting in obstructed views. Therefore, it is impossible for a single PSO on the east side of the wharf to also monitor the near or far fields on the west side of the wharf. However, NMFS will recommend that the PSO stationed on the north end of the wharf will monitor the entire visible area, with extra focus on the section between Castro Rocks and the wharf. Comment 4: The Commission recommended that NMFS refrain from implementing its proposed renewal process for Chevron’s subsequent authorizations. The Commission believes that the renewal process should be used sparingly and selectively, by limiting its use only to those proposed incidental harassment authorizations that are expected to have the lowest levels of impacts to marine mammals and that require the least complex analyses. Also, the Commission recommended that NMFS provide the Commission and other reviewers the full 30-day comment opportunity set forth in section 101(a)(5)(D)(iii) of the MMPA. Response: Regarding the Commission’s comment that Renewal IHAs should be limited to certain types of projects NMFS has explained on its website and in individual Federal Register notices that Renewal IHAs are appropriate where the continuing activities are identical, nearly identical, PO 00000 Frm 00017 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 28475 or a subset of the activities for which the initial 30-day comment period applied. If Chevron seeks to obtain a Renewal IHA in the future, NMFS will determine at that time whether the request meets the necessary conditions under which a Renewal IHA could be considered. NMFS has taken a number of steps to ensure the public has adequate notice, time, and information to be able to comment effectively on Renewal IHAs within the limitations of processing IHA applications efficiently. Federal Register notices for the proposed initial IHAs identified the conditions under which a one-year Renewal IHA might be appropriate. This information is presented in the Request for Public Comments section and thus encourages submission of comments on the potential of a one-year renewal as well as the initial IHA during the 30-day comment period. In addition, when we receive an application for a Renewal IHA, we will publish notice of the proposed IHA Renewal in the Federal Register and provide an additional 15 days for public comment, making a total of 45 days of public comment. We also directly contact all commenters on the initial IHA by email, phone, or, if the commenter did not provide email or phone information, by postal service to provide them the opportunity to submit any additional comments on the proposed Renewal IHA. Where the commenter has already had the opportunity to review and comment on the potential for a Renewal in the initial proposed IHA for these activities, the abbreviated additional comment period is sufficient for consideration of the results of the preliminary monitoring report and new information (if any) from the past year. Comment 5: The Commission recommended that, NMFS (1) request that Chevron submit any future authorizations at least 6 months prior to the planned start date for incidental harassment authorizations and 9 months prior for rulemakings and (2) take all steps necessary to ensure that it publishes and finalizes proposed incidental harassment authorizations far enough in advance of the planned start date of the proposed activities to ensure full consideration is given to any and all comments received Response: NMFS encourages all applicants to submit applications for IHA’s 5–8 months in advance of the intended project start date and for rulemakings/LOA at least 9 months, and preferably 15 months, in advance of the intended project start date. NMFS provided the required 30-day notice for public comment, and has adequately considered all public comments E:\FR\FM\19JNN1.SGM 19JNN1 28476 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 118 / Wednesday, June 19, 2019 / Notices received in making the necessary findings. Description of Marine Mammals in the Area of Specified Activities Sections 3 and 4 of the application summarize available information regarding status and trends, distribution and habitat preferences, and behavior and life history, of the potentially affected species. Additional information regarding population trends and threats may be found in NMFS’s Stock Assessment Reports (SAR; https:// www.fisheries.noaa.gov/national/ marine-mammal-protection/marinemammal-stock-assessments) and more general information about these species (e.g., physical and behavioral descriptions) may be found on NMFS’s website (https:// www.fisheries.noaa.gov/find-species). Table 1 lists species that may occur in the vicinity of the project area. A description of the marine mammals in the area of the activities is found in the Federal Register notice of the issuance of the 2018 IHA for Chevron’s LWMEP project (83 FR 27578; June 13, 2018), the Federal Register notice of the proposed IHA (83 FR 18802; April 30, 2018), as well as Chevron’s current IHA application for the 2019 work season. NMFS has reviewed the monitoring data from the initial IHA, recent draft Stock Assessment Reports, information on relevant Unusual Mortality Events, and other scientific literature, and determined that neither this nor any other new information affects which species or stocks have the potential to be affected or the pertinent information in the Description of the Marine Mammals in the Area of Specified Activities contained in the supporting documents for the initial IHA. Specifically, the only change from the 2018 IHA is an increase in numbers of the eastern north Pacific stock of gray whale which have increased from 20,990 to 26,960. TABLE 1—MARINE MAMMALS POTENTIALLY PRESENT IN THE VICINITY OF THE PROJECT AREA Common name Scientific name ESA/ MMPA status; strategic (Y/N) 1 Stock Stock abundance (CV, Nmin, most recent abundance survey) 2 Annual M/SI 3 PBR Order Cetartiodactyla—Cetacea—Superfamily Mysticeti (baleen whales) Family Eschrichtiidae: Gray whale ......................... Family Delphinidae: Bottlenose dolphin .............. Family Phocoenidae (porpoises): Harbor porpoise .................. Eschrichtius robustus ................ Eastern North Pacific ................ -/-; (N) 26,960 (0.05, 25,849, 2016). 801 138 Tursiops truncatus .................... California Coastal ..................... -/-;(N) 453 (0.06, 346, 2011) ..... 2.7 ≥2.0 Phocoena Phocoena ................ San Francisco-Russian River Stock. -/-;(N) 9,886 (0.51, 6,625, 2011) 66 0 9,200 389 451 1.8 1,641 4,882 43 8.8 Order Carnivora—Superfamily Pinnipedia Family Otariidae (eared seals and sea lions): California sea lion ............... Northern fur seal ................. Family Phocidae (earless seals): Pacific harbor seal .............. Northern elephant seal ....... Zalophus californianus .............. Eastern U.S. stock .................... -/-;(N) Callorhinus ursinus ................... California stock ......................... -/-;(N) 296,750 (-, 153,337, 2011). 14,050 (-, 7,524, 2013) .. Phoca vitulina ........................... Mirounga angustirostris ............ California stock ......................... California Breeding stock .......... -/-;(N) -/-;(N) 30,968 (-, 27,348, 2012) 179,000 (-, 81,368, 2010) jbell on DSK3GLQ082PROD with NOTICES 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 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 NMFS marine mammal stock assessment reports online at: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/national/marine-mammal-protection/marine-mammal-stock-assessments. CV is coefficient of variation; Nmin is the minimum estimate of stock abundance. 3 These values, found in NMFS’s SARs, represent annual levels of human-caused mortality plus serious injury from all sources combined (e.g., commercial fisheries, ship strike). Annual M/SI often cannot be determined precisely and is in some cases presented as a minimum value or range. A CV associated with estimated mortality due to commercial fisheries is presented in some cases. Potential Effects of Specified Activities on Marine Mammals and Their Habitat analysis of impacts on marine mammals and their habitat. A description of the potential effects of the specified activities on marine mammals and their habitat may be found in the Federal Register notice of the issuance of the 2018 IHA for Chevron’s LWMEP project (83 FR 27578; June 13, 2018) and the Federal Register notice of the proposed IHA (83 FR 18802; April 30, 2018). This information remains applicable to the issuance of the 2019 IHA. NMFS has reviewed the monitoring data from the initial IHA and other scientific literature, and found no new information that would affect our initial Estimated Take VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:06 Jun 18, 2019 Jkt 247001 This section provides an estimate of the number of incidental takes authorized through this IHA, which will inform both NMFS’ consideration of ‘‘small numbers’’ 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 PO 00000 Frm 00018 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 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 primarily be by Level B harassment, as use of the acoustic source (i.e., pile driving) has the potential to result in disruption of behavioral patterns for individual marine mammals. There is also some potential for limited auditory injury (Level A harassment) to result, primarily for high frequency species (harbor porpoises) because predicted auditory E:\FR\FM\19JNN1.SGM 19JNN1 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 118 / Wednesday, June 19, 2019 / Notices injury zones are larger than for other functional hearing groups and for phocids (harbor seals) as there is a sizable harbor seal haulout (Castro Rocks) located in close proximity to the project area. The required mitigation and monitoring measures are expected to minimize the severity of such taking to the extent practicable. As described previously, no mortality is anticipated or authorized for this activity. Below we describe how the take is estimated. Generally speaking, 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 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. We note that while these basic factors can contribute to a basic calculation to provide an initial prediction of takes, additional information that can qualitatively inform take estimates is also sometimes available (e.g., previous monitoring results or average group size). Below, we describe the factors considered here in more detail and present the authorized 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 microPascal, root mean square (mPa 28477 (rms) for continuous (e.g., vibratory piledriving), and above 160 dB re 1 mPa (rms) for non-explosive impulsive (e.g., seismic airguns) or intermittent (e.g., scientific sonar) sources. Chevron’s planned includes the use of continuous (vibratory pile driving and removal) and intermittent (impact pile driving) sources and, therefore, the 120 and 160 dB re 1 mPa (rms) thresholds are applicable. Level A harassment for non-explosive sources—NMFS’ Technical Guidance for Assessing the Effects of Anthropogenic Sound on Marine Mammal Hearing (Version 2.0) (NMFS, 2018) 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). Chevron’s planned activity includes the use of impulsive (impact pile driving) and non-impulsive (vibratory pile driving and removal) sources. These thresholds are provided in Table 2 below. The references, analysis, and methodology used in the development of the thresholds are described in NMFS 2018 Technical Guidance, which may be accessed at https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/national /marine-mammal-protection/marinemammal-acoustic-technical-guidance. TABLE 2—THRESHOLDS IDENTIFYING THE ONSET OF PERMANENT THRESHOLD SHIFT PTS onset acoustic thresholds * (Received level) jbell on DSK3GLQ082PROD with NOTICES Hearing group Impulsive Non-impulsive Low-Frequency (LF) Cetaceans ............................ Cell 1: Lpk,flat 219 dB; LE,LF,24h: 183 dB ....................................................... Mid-Frequency (MF) Cetaceans ............................ Cell 3: Lpk,flat 230 dB; LE,MF,24h: 185 dB ...................................................... High-Frequency (HF) Cetaceans .......................... Cell 5: Lpk,flat 202 dB; LE,HF,24h: 155 dB ....................................................... Phocid Pinnipeds (PW) ......................................... (Underwater) .......................................................... Otariid Pinnipeds (OW) ......................................... (Underwater) .......................................................... Cell 7: Lpk,flat 218 dB; LE,PW,24h: 185 dB ...................................................... Cell 2: LE,LF,24h: 199 dB. Cell 4: LE,MF,24h: 198 dB. Cell 6: LE,HF,24h: 173 dB. Cell 8: LE,PW,24h: 201 dB. Cell 10: LE,OW,24h: 219 dB. Cell 9: Lpk,flat 232 dB; LE,OW,24h: 203 dB ...................................................... * Dual metric acoustic thresholds for impulsive sounds: Use whichever results in the largest isopleth for calculating PTS onset. If a non-impulsive sound has the potential of exceeding the peak sound pressure level thresholds associated with impulsive sounds, these thresholds should also be considered. Note: Peak sound pressure (Lpk) has a reference value of 1 μPa, and cumulative sound exposure level (LE) has a reference value of 1μPa2s. In this Table, thresholds are abbreviated to reflect American National Standards Institute standards (ANSI 2013). However, peak sound pressure is defined by ANSI as incorporating frequency weighting, which is not the intent for this Technical Guidance. Hence, the subscript ‘‘flat’’ is being included to indicate peak sound pressure should be flat weighted or unweighted within the generalized hearing range. The subscript associated with cumulative sound exposure level thresholds indicates the designated marine mammal auditory weighting function (LF, MF, and HF cetaceans, and PW and OW pinnipeds) and that the recommended accumulation period is 24 hours. The cumulative sound exposure level thresholds could be exceeded in a multitude of ways (i.e., varying exposure levels and durations, duty cycle). When possible, it is valuable for action proponents to indicate the conditions under which these acoustic thresholds will be exceeded. Ensonified Area Here, we describe operational and environmental parameters of the activity VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:43 Jun 18, 2019 Jkt 247001 that will feed into identifying the area ensonified above the acoustic PO 00000 Frm 00019 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 thresholds, which include source levels and transmission loss coefficient. E:\FR\FM\19JNN1.SGM 19JNN1 jbell on DSK3GLQ082PROD with NOTICES 28478 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 118 / Wednesday, June 19, 2019 / Notices The project includes impact pile driving, vibratory pile driving and vibratory pile removal. Source levels of some pile driving activities are based on hydroacoustic testing performed in 2018 at the LWMEP location as well as reviews of measurements of the same or similar types and dimensions of piles available in the literature. Based on this information, the source levels described below are assumed for the underwater noise produced by construction activities. Eight batter steel pipe piles, 60-inch diameter would be installed using an impact hammer as it is difficult to vibrate in batter piles. These piles also have very high axial design loads that can only be achieved by impact driving methods. Other projects conducted under similar circumstances were reviewed in order to estimate the approximate noise effects of the 60-inch steel piles. The best match found for sound source levels is from summary values provided by Caltrans in their hydroacoustic guidance document (Caltrans 2015). Summary values for the impact pile driving of 60-inch steel pipe piles indicates that noise levels of up to 210 peak, 185 dB SEL (single strike), and 195 RMS would be produced at 10 meters during pile driving using no sound attenuation such as a bubble curtain. The use of properly functioning bubble curtains is expected to reduce the peak and RMS noise levels by about 7 dB. As a result, noise levels of 203 dB peak, 178 dB SEL (single strike), and 188 dB are utilized to assess potential acoustic impacts. It is expected that just one 60-inch pile would be driven over one (1) hour of active driving in a given day and that only one (1) pile would be installed in a given week. Installation could require up to 2,400 blows from an impact hammer, such as a HHK–16 or similar diesel hammer, producing approximately 173,000 to 217,000 ft. lbs. maximum energy per blow and 1.5 to 2 sec/blow average. As noted above, bubble curtains will be used during the installation of the 60-inch steel pipe piles in order to reduce underwater noise levels, with an assumed attenuation of 7 dB. NMFS acknowledges that noise level reductions measured at different project locations as well as different received ranges can vary widely. However, NMFS believes it reasonable to use a source level reduction factor for sound attenuation device implementation during impact pile driving. NMFS reviewed Caltrans’ bubble curtain ‘‘on and off’’ studies conducted in San Francisco Bay in 2003 and 2004. Based on near distance measurements (a total VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:06 Jun 18, 2019 Jkt 247001 of 28 measurements, with 14 during bubble curtain on and 14 during bubble curtain off), the linear averaged noise level reduction is 7 dB. As a conservative approach, NMFS will use a standard reduction of 7 dB of the source level for impact zone estimates. Installation of 24-inch diameter square concrete piles is planned for the modifications at the four berths. Approximately one to two of these piles would be installed in one work day, using impact driving methods and a bubble curtain attenuation system. Based on measured blow counts for 24inch concrete piles driven at the Long Wharf Berth 4 in 2011, installation for each pile could require up to approximately 300 blows from a DelMag D62 22 or similar diesel hammer, producing approximately 165,000 ft lbs maximum energy (may not need full energy) and 1.5 second per blow average over a duration of approximately 20 minutes per pile, with 40 minutes of pile driving time per day if two (2) piles are installed. To estimate the noise effects of the 24inch square concrete piles, the underwater noise measurements recorded for this pile type at the Long Wharf during the 2018 construction season are utilized. These measured values were: 191 dB peak, 161 dB SEL (single strike), and 173 dB RMS during attenuated impact driving (AECOM 2018). As part of the Berth 4 Loading Platform seismic retrofit, four (4) clusters of 13 composite piles (52 piles total) will be installed to provide protection to the infrastructure. These plastic encased concrete piles would be installed with a vibratory pile driver (APE 400B King Kong or similar vibratory driver), with a drive time of approximately 10 minutes per pile. Up to five (5) of these piles could be installed in any single work day. Projects conducted under similar circumstances with similar piles were reviewed in order to approximate the noise effects of the 12-inch composite barrier piles. Since these piles will be composed of concrete encased in plastic, vibratory installation of similarly sized concrete piles would provide a good surrogate. However, concrete piles are rarely installed with a vibratory driver, and no suitable data could be located. In the absence of this data, we are conservatively using data from the Anacortes Ferry Terminal in Washington State, where 13-inch plastic coated steel piles were installed with a vibratory hammer. RMS noise levels produced during this installation varied from 138 to 158 dB RMS at 43 meters (141 feet) from the pile (Laughlin 2012). PO 00000 Frm 00020 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 From these measurements, a peak noise value of 178 dB and an average RMS value of 168 dB normalized to a 10 meter (33 feet) distance was used to estimate the extent of underwater noise from installation of the 12-inch composite piles. During installation of the 12-inch composite barrier piles for the planned Project, up to 50 minutes of vibratory driving could occur per day. For the Berth 4 Loading Platform seismic retrofit, eight (8) 36-inch diameter temporary steel piles would be installed using a vibratory pile driver (APE 400B King Kong or similar vibratory driver) will be needed to support the guide template for the driving of the permanent 60-inch steel pipe piles. Each 36-inch temporary pile has an estimated drive time of approximately 10 minutes per pile. Up to four (4) of these piles could be installed in any single work day. Projects conducted under similar circumstances with similar piles were reviewed in order to approximate the noise effects of the 36-inch steel pipe. The best match for estimated noise levels is from the Explosive Handling Wharf-2 (EHW–2) project located at the Naval Base Kitsap in Bangor, Washington (Illingworth and Rodkin 2013). During vibratory pile driving associated with this Project, which occurred under similar circumstances, average peak noise levels were approximately 180 dB, and the RMS was approximately 170 dB at a 10 meter (33 feet) distance (Caltrans 2015a). Installation of the 36-inch steel pipe piles is expected to be require 40 minutes per day. In total, two of the eight 36-inch temporary piles will require proofing using an impact hammer. Each pile will require up to 30 strikes from an impact hammer during proofing which will take place during the last foot of pile driving. Up to two (2) piles would be proofed in one day, with each pile requiring up to 30 strikes from an impact hammer, for a total of 60 strikes in one day. The best match found for sound source levels is from summary values provided by Caltrans in their hydroacoustic guidance document (Caltrans 2015). Summary values for the impact pile driving of 36-inch steel pipe piles in water less than 5m deep indicates that noise levels of up to 208 peak, 180 dB SEL (single strike), and 193 RMS would be produced at 10 meters during pile driving. Since impact hammers are often operated at reduced power output during proofing, the source levels are likely to be lower than the values for impact driving used here. Due to very limited time that pile proofing would occur (60 strikes total, E:\FR\FM\19JNN1.SGM 19JNN1 28479 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 118 / Wednesday, June 19, 2019 / Notices over a few minutes of active hammering) no sound attenuation would be used. The Berth 4 Loading Platform seismic retrofit will require vibratory installation of, eight (8) 20-inch diameter temporary steel piles (APE 400B King Kong or similar vibratory driver) to support the guide template needed for the driving the permanent 60-inch steel pipe piles. Each 20-inch temporary pile has a drive time per pile of approximately 10 minutes. Up to four (4) of these piles could be installed in any single work day. The best match for estimated noise levels is from vibratory driving of 24-inch piles at the Explosive Handling Wharf-2 (EHW–2) project located at the Naval Base Kitsap in Bangor, Washington (Illingworth and Rodkin 2013). During vibratory pile driving associated with this Project, which occurred under similar circumstances, measured peak noise levels were approximately 180 dB, and the RMS was approximately 163 dB at a 10 meter (33 feet) distance (Illingworth and Rodkin 2013). During installation of the 20-inch steel pipe piles will require approximately 40 minutes per day. The project includes the removal of 106 16-inch timber piles, and five (5) 18 to 24-inch square concrete piles using a vibratory pile driver. Up to 12 of these piles could be extracted in one (1) work day. Extraction time needed for each pile may vary greatly, but could require approximately 400 seconds (approximately seven (7) minutes) from an APE 400B King Kong or similar driver. The most applicable noise values for wooden pile removal from which to base estimates for the LWMEP are derived from measurements taken at the Pier 62/63 pile removal in Seattle, Washington. During vibratory pile extraction associated with this Project, which occurred under similar circumstances, the RMS was approximately 152 dB (WSDOT 2011). Applicable sound values for the removal of concrete piles could not be located, but they are expected to be similar to the levels produced by wooden piles described above, as they are similarly sized, non-metallic, and will be removed using the same methods. For pile driving that does not have project specific hydroacoustic data available, the practical spreading model with a transmission loss coefficient of 15 (4.5 dB per doubling of distance) is used. However, project-specific transmission loss values have been measured for the impact driving of concrete piles and resulted in a measured transmission loss factor of 20 (∼8 dB per doubling of distance) which has been applied to calculate distances to harassment isopleths for those specific piles. This value is calculated from hydroacoustic monitoring of attenuated impact driving of concrete piles conducted as part of the LWMEP. The results of the 2018 hydroacoustic monitoring are provided in Appendix A of the application. When the 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 may result in some degree of overestimate of Level A harassment 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 impact and 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 activity, it would not incur PTS. Inputs used in the User Spreadsheet, and the resulting isopleths are reported below in Table 3. jbell on DSK3GLQ082PROD with NOTICES TABLE 3—INPUTS FOR USER SPREADSHEET Spreadsheet tab used E.1–2: Impact pile driving E.1–2: Impact pile driving E.1–2: Impact pile driving A.1: Vibratory driving A.1: Vibratory driving A.1: Vibratory driving A.1: Vibratory driving Pile type 60-in steel 24-inch concrete 36-in steel 12-inch composite 36-in steel 20-in steel Wood/ concrete Source Level ................................. Weighting Factor Adjustment (kHz). Number of strikes in 1 h OR number of strikes per pile. Number of piles per day ............... Propagation (xLogR) ..................... Duration to drive single pile (minutes). Distance of source level measurement (meters) +. 178 SEL ...... 2 .................. 161 SEL ...... 2 .................. 180 SEL ...... 2 .................. 168 RMS ..... 2.5 ............... 170 RMS ..... 2.5 ............... 163 RMS ..... 2.5 ............... 152 RMS. 2.5. 2,400 ........... 300 .............. 30 ................ NA ............... NA ............... NA ............... NA. 1 .................. 15 ................ NA ............... 2 .................. 20 ................ NA ............... 2 .................. 15 ................ NA ............... 5 .................. 15 ................ 10 ................ 4 .................. 15 ................ 10 ................ 4 .................. 15 ................ 10 ................ 12. 15. 7. 10 ................ 10 ................ 10 ................ 10 ................ 10 ................ 10 ................ 10. Table 4 shows the Level A harassment isopleths as determined utilizing inputs from Table 3. Note that for all calculations, the results based on SELss VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:06 Jun 18, 2019 Jkt 247001 are larger than SPLpk, therefore, distances calculated using SELss are used to calculate the area. Level B Harassment isopleths for impact and PO 00000 Frm 00021 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 vibratory driving and extraction are shown in Table 5. E:\FR\FM\19JNN1.SGM 19JNN1 28480 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 118 / Wednesday, June 19, 2019 / Notices TABLE 4—RADIAL DISTANCES TO LEVEL A HARASSMENT ISOPLETHS DURING IMPACT AND VIBRATORY DRIVING Distance to Level A threshold 1 meters (feet) Source levels at 10 meters (dB) Project element requiring pile installation Peak 2 Attenuated Impact Driving (with bubble curtain): 60-inch steel pipe (1 per day). 24-inch square concrete (1–2 per day). Impact Pile Proofing (no bubble curtain): 36-inch steel pipe pile (2 total). Vibratory Driving/Extraction: 12-inch Composite Barrier Pile (5 per day). 36-inch steel pipe pile (4 per day). 20-inch steel pipe pile (4 per day). Wood and concrete pile extraction (12 per day). RMS/SEL Lowfrequency cetaceans Midfrequency cetaceans Highfrequency cetaceans Phocid pinnipeds Otariid pinnipeds 203 178 SEL ...... 831 (2,726) 30 (97) 990 (3,247) 445 (1,459) 32 (106) 191 161 SEL ...... 19 (64) 2 (5) 22 (73) 12 (40) 2 (6) 208 180 SEL ...... 97 (317) 3 (11) 115 (377) 52 (170) 4 (12) 178 168 RMS ..... 18 (58) 2 (5) 26 (86) 11 (35) 1 (2) 195 170 RMS ..... 21 (68) 2 (6) 31 (101) 13 (41) 1 (3) 180 163 RMS ..... 7 (23) 1 (2) 10 (34) 4 (14) 0 (1) No Data 152 RMS ..... 2 (7) 0 (<1) 3 (10) 1 (4) 0 (<1) Notes: For calculation worksheets used to develop these numbers is provided in Appendix B. 1 Level A thresholds are based on the NMFS 2016 Technical Guidance for Assessing the Effects of Anthropogenic Sound on Marine Mammal Hearing; cSEL threshold distances are shown. See footnote 3 below. 2 All distances to the peak Level A thresholds are less than 33 feet (10 meters). Distances are rounded to the nearest foot or to ‘‘<1.0 (0)’’ for values less than 1 foot. Peak and cSEL are re: 1 μPa and 1 μPa2-sec, respectively. dB = decibels. SEL = sound exposure level. RMS = Root Mean Square. TABLE 5—RADIAL DISTANCES TO LEVEL B HARASSMENT ISOPLETHS DURING IMPACT AND VIBRATORY DRIVING Source levels at 10 meters (dB) Distance to threshold 160/120 dB RMS (Level B) * meters (feet) Pile type Peak Attenuated Impact Driving (with bubble curtain): 60-inch steel pipe (1 per day) ............................................................................... 24-inch square concrete (1–2 per day) ................................................................. Impact Pile Proofing (no bubble curtain): 36-inch steel pipe pile (2 total) .............................................................................. Vibratory Driving/Extraction: 12-inch Composite Barrier Piles (5 per day) ......................................................... 36-inch steel pipe pile (4 per day) ........................................................................ 20-inch steel pipe pile (4 per day) ........................................................................ Wood and concrete pile extraction (12 per day) ................................................... RMS 203 ................... 191 ................... 188 173 736 (2,413) 45 (147) 208 ................... 190 1,000 (3,280) 178 ................... 180 ................... 180 ................... No Data Available. 168 170 163 152 15,849 (51,984) 21,544 (70,665) 7,356 (24,129) 1,359 (4,459) jbell on DSK3GLQ082PROD with NOTICES Notes: dB decibels. RMS root mean square. * For underwater noise, the Level B Harassment threshold is 160 dB for impulsive noise and 120 dB for continuous noise. 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. VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:06 Jun 18, 2019 Jkt 247001 For the 2019 IHA application, a combination of nearby haul-out occupancy and at-sea densities were used to develop take estimates, in order to account for both local movements of harbor seals that haul out at Castro PO 00000 Frm 00022 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Rocks and other individuals that may be foraging in the more distant part of the Level B Harassment zone. By using hydroacoustic data collected in 2018, the extent of the harassment zones was refined for attenuated impact driving of E:\FR\FM\19JNN1.SGM 19JNN1 jbell on DSK3GLQ082PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 118 / Wednesday, June 19, 2019 / Notices concrete piles by using the transmission loss measured during 2018 project (20logr). As the Level B Harassment zones estimated for the 2019 IHA are generally more localized, only the occupancy from the local Castro Rocks haul-out is used. Castro Rocks, located approximately 1.3 km northwest of the project site, is the largest harbor seal haul out site in the northern part of San Francisco Bay and is the second largest pupping site in the Bay (Green et al. 2002). Tidal stage is a major controlling factor of haul out usage at Castro Rocks with more seals present during low tides than high tide periods (Green et al. 2002). Additionally, the number of seals hauled out at Castro Rocks also varies with the time of day, with proportionally more animals hauled out during the nighttime hours (Green et al. 2002). Therefore, the number of harbor seals in the water around Castro Rocks will vary throughout the work period. Pile driving would occur intermittently during the day with average active driving times typically of a few hours per day, so varying sets of animals may be hauled out or in the water. However, there are no systematic counts available for accurately estimating the number of seals that may be in the water near Long Wharf at any given time. The National Park Service provided recent data indicating that up to 176 seals could be present each day at Castro Rocks. This value was conservatively based on the highest mean plus the standard error of harbor seals observed at Castro Rocks per day (Codde, S. and S. Allen 2013, 2015, and 2017), a value of 176 seals. The 2018 draft Long Wharf marine mammal monitoring report indicated that 24 harbor seals were observed within the Level B harassment zone and zero individuals were observed within the Level A harassment zone over 10 days of pile driving, which equals less than 1 percent of the authorized number of harbor seals with an average of 2.4 animals per day. The maximum number observed per day was six. Since there are no California sea lion haul-outs in the vicinity of the project area, relatively few animals are expected to be present. However, monitoring for the RSRB did observe limited numbers in the north and central portions of the Bay during working hours. During monitoring for the San FranciscoOakland Bay Bridge (SFOBB) Project in the central Bay, 83 California sea lions were observed in the vicinity of the bridge over a 17-year period from 2000– 2017, and from these observations, an estimated at-sea density of 0.16 animals per square kilometer is derived (NMFS 2018). This bridge is located VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:06 Jun 18, 2019 Jkt 247001 approximately 25 km south of the LWMEP location and is considered by NMFS to be the best available information. The 2018 Long Wharf draft monitoring report did not record any observations of sea lions. Small numbers of northern elephant seal may haul out or strand on coastline within the Central Bay. Monitoring of marine mammals in the vicinity of the SFOBB has been ongoing for 15 years. From those data, Caltrans has produced an estimated at-sea density for northern elephant seal of 0.16 animal per square mile (0.06 animal per square kilometer) (Caltrans, 2015b). Most sightings of northern elephant seal in San Francisco Bay occur in spring or early summer, and are less likely to occur during the periods of in-water work for this project. As a result, densities during pile driving for the planned action are likely to be lower. Additionally, this species was not observed by the marine mammal observers in the vicinity of the Long Wharf during 2018 pile driving monitoring. The occurrence of northern fur seal in San Francisco Bay depends largely on oceanic conditions, with animals more likely to strand during El Nin˜o events. Equatorial sea surface temperatures are above average across most of the Pacific Ocean this year, and El Nin˜o is expected to continue through winter of 2019 and into spring (NOAA 2019). There are no estimated at-sea densities for this species in San Francisco Bay and no seals were recorded during 2018 Long Wharf marine mammal monitoring. A small but growing population of harbor porpoises utilizes San Francisco Bay which are typically spotted in the vicinity of Angel Island and the Golden Gate (6 and 12 kilometers (3.7 and 7.5 miles) southwest respectively) and the vicinity of Treasure Island (Caltrans 2018). However, they may occur in other areas in the Central Bay in low numbers, including the project area. Based on monitoring conducted for the SFOBB project in 2017, an in-water density of 0.17 animals per square kilometer has been estimated by Caltrans for this species (NMFS 2018). No members of this species were recorded during 2018 during pile driving activities at LWMEP. Bottlenose dolphins are typically found close to the Golden Gate Bridge when they are observed in San Francisco Bay. There are no estimated at-sea densities for this species in San Francisco Bay available for calculating a take estimate. Beginning in 2015, two individuals have been observed frequently in the vicinity of Oyster Point (GGCR 2018; Perlman, 2017). The average reported group size for PO 00000 Frm 00023 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 28481 bottlenose dolphins is five. Reports show that a group normally comes into San Francisco Bay, is near Yerba Buena Island once per week for approximately two (2) weeks and then leaves (NMFS, 2017). Gray whales have been observed entering the Bay during their northward migration period, and are most often sighted in the Bay between February and May. Most venture only about 2 to 3 km (about 1–2 miles) past the Golden Gate. However, gray whales have occasionally been sighted as far north as San Pablo Bay. Pile driving is not expected to occur during the FebruaryMay period, and gray whales are not likely to be present at other times of year. No whales were observed as part of 2018 Long Wharf marine mammal monitoring activities. Take Calculation and Estimation Here we describe how the information provided above is brought together to produce a quantitative take estimate. When density data was available, take for the project was calculated by multiplying the density times the harassment zone (km2) associated with pile driving activities that are underway times the number of construction days. Since density data was only available for harbor seals, harbor porpoises, and California sea lions, these were the only species whose take was calculated using this methodology. For species without density information, information on average group size or local observational data was used as described below. Pacific Harbor Seal Chevron initially estimated that all harbor seals (176) at Castro Rocks would be exposed to noise that reaches the threshold for Level B harassment on every day on which there was pile driving. The areas of the Level A harassment zones in which take by injury could occur were determined by subtracting the shutdown zone areas from Level A harassment zone areas. Chevron estimated Level A take for impact driving of the 60-inch and 36inch steel piles by using Level B take and multiplying it by the ratio of the Level A zone area to the Level B zone area. Level A take is not requested for vibratory driving. This resulted in an estimated 11,968 takes by Level B harassment and 513 takes by Level A harassment. However, based on input from the Commission as well as the size of the Level B zones extending beyond Castro Rocks, NMFS is authorizing takes for all 176 seals per day multiplied by 37 days for all piles but 24-inch concrete. For 24-inch concrete, the max observed, which was two, has been E:\FR\FM\19JNN1.SGM 19JNN1 28482 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 118 / Wednesday, June 19, 2019 / Notices multiplied by 30 as resulting in a total of 6,572 Level B takes of harbor seal as shown in Table 9. For Level A harassment the same rationale was used. The area of the Level A harassment zone for 60-inch piles is 0.62 km2, while the area of the Level B harassment zone is 1.7 km2. The ratio of these two areas was multiplied by 176 seals resulting in 64 takes per day and a total of 513 authorized Level A harassment takes as shown in Table 6 and Table 10. TABLE 6—LEVEL A AND LEVEL B HARASSMENT ESTIMATE FOR PACIFIC HARBOR SEAL [Per day] Level B zone (sq km) Pile type Exclusion zone radius (m) Level A zone, minus shutdown zone (sq km) Estimated take per day Level B take per day— total Level A take per day— total Vibratory Driving 12-inch composite pile ......................................................... 36-inch steel pipe pile .......................................................... 20-inch steel pipe pile .......................................................... Timber/Concrete Pile Removal ............................................ 165.62 187.94 87.57 5.33 15 15 10 15 0 0 0 0 176 176 176 176 NA NA NA NA 20 30 0 0.62 176 176 NA 64.06 30 0.01 176 0.14 Impact Driving 24-inch concrete pile ............................................................ 60-inch steel pile .................................................................. 0.01 1.70 Impact Proofing 36-inch steel pile .................................................................. For impact pile driving of the 60-inch steel piles, the shutdown zones (30 meters) are notably smaller than the Level A harassment zone and the applicant has accordingly requested take by Level A harassment for harbor seal so that pile driving can be completed on schedule without frequent shutdowns. Individuals occurring within the Level A harassment zone but outside of the shut-down zone may 3.14 experience Level A harassment, if they reside in that area for a long enough duration. However, these animals can be highly mobile, and remaining within the small injury zone for an extended period is unlikely, though it could occur. California Sea Lion to develop a density of 0.16 California sea lions per square kilometer. This density and the areas of the potential Level B Harassment zones are used in Table 7. Level A harassment take of this species is not requested, due to the small size of the Level A harassment zone for otariid pinnipeds, Monitoring data from the SFOBB Project over a 17-year period was used TABLE 7—LEVEL B HARASSMENT ESTIMATE FOR CALIFORNIA SEA LION [Per day] Level B zone (km2) Pile type Level B take estimate (based on Central Bay density of 0.16 animals per km2) Vibratory Driving 12-inch composite pile ............................................................................................................................................. 36-inch steel pipe pile .............................................................................................................................................. 20-inch steel pipe pile .............................................................................................................................................. Timber/Concrete Pile Removal ................................................................................................................................ 165.62 187.94 87.57 5.33 26.50 30.07 14.01 0.85 0.01 1.70 0.01 0.27 3.14 0.50 Impact Driving 24-inch concrete pile ............................................................................................................................................... 60-inch steel pile ...................................................................................................................................................... jbell on DSK3GLQ082PROD with NOTICES Impact Proofing 36-inch steel pile ...................................................................................................................................................... VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:06 Jun 18, 2019 Jkt 247001 PO 00000 Frm 00024 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 E:\FR\FM\19JNN1.SGM 19JNN1 28483 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 118 / Wednesday, June 19, 2019 / Notices Harbor Porpoise could occur were determined by subtracting the shutdown zone areas from Level A harassment zone areas. Level A take is not requested for vibratory driving. Caltrans for this species (NMFS 2018). Using this in-water density and the areas of potential Level A and Level B harassment, take is estimated for harbor porpoise as provided in Table 10. Level A harassment zone areas in which PTS Based on monitoring conducted for the SFOBB project in 2017, an in-water density of 0.17 animals per square kilometer has been estimated by TABLE 8—LEVEL A AND LEVEL B HARASSMENT ESTIMATE FOR PACIFIC HARBOR PORPOISE [Per day] Pile type Level A zone, minus shutdown zone (km2) Level B estimate Central Bay in-water—0.17 per km2 50 50 50 50 NA NA NA NA 28.16 31.95 14.89 0.91 NA NA NA NA 50 50 0 0.23 0.01 0.29 0 0.52 80 0 0.53 <0.01 Exclusion zone (m) Level B zone (km2) Estimated Level A take per day Vibratory Driving 12-inch composite barrier pile ............................................. 36-inch steel pipe pile .......................................................... 20-inch steel pipe pile .......................................................... Timber/Concrete Pile Removal ............................................ 165.62 187.94 87.57 5.33 Impact Driving 24-inch concrete pile ............................................................ 60-inch steel pile .................................................................. 0.01 0.21 Impact Proofing 36-inch steel pile .................................................................. 3.14 is a chance that fur seals could occur near the project area. Since there are no estimated at-sea densities for this species in San Francisco Bay, NMFS has authorized 10 takes of fur seals by Level B harassment. Level A harassment of this species is not anticipated. Northern Elephant Seal As noted above, elephant seal densities are expected to be extremely low. Therefore, Chevron did not use density data to calculate take. Additionally, this species was not observed by the marine mammal observers in the vicinity of the LWMEP during 2018 pile driving marine mammal monitoring activities. Therefore, Caltrans will conservatively assume that a lone northern elephant seal may enter the Level B Harassment area once per every three days during pile driving. As such, NMFS has authorized a total of 23 takes by Level B harassment. Level A harassment of this species is not expected to occur. Bottlenose Dolphin As noted above, there are no estimated at-sea densities for this species in San Francisco Bay available for calculating a take estimate although they have been observed. Beginning in 2015, two individuals have been observed frequently in the vicinity of Oyster Point (GGCR, 2016; GGCR 2017; Perlman, 2017). The average reported group size for bottlenose dolphins is five. Assuming the dolphins come into San Francisco Bay once every 10 days, 30 takes would be anticipated, if the group enters the areas over which the Northern Fur Seal With weak El Nin˜o conditions predicted to continue into spring and, perhaps, summer (NOAA 2019). There Level B harassment thresholds may be exceeded. Therefore, NMFS has authorized the take of 30 bottlenose dolphins. Gray Whale Gray whales are most often sighted in the Bay between February and May. However, LWMEP pile driving is not expected to occur during this time, and gray whales are unlikely to be present at other times of year. However, should pile driving occur during the northward migration period, Chevron requests and NMFS has authorized two (2) Gray whale takes by Level B harassment. The Level B Harassment estimates shown in Table 9 are based on the number of individuals assumed to be exposed per day, the number of piles driven per day and the number of days of pile driving expected based on an average installation rate. TABLE 9—SUMMARY OF ESTIMATED TAKE BY SPECIES FOR 2019 WORK SEASON jbell on DSK3GLQ082PROD with NOTICES [Level B harassment] Number of driving days Impact .................... Vibratory ................ 8 8 8 4 1,408 704 2.18 120.28 2.31 127.80 NA NA 2.66 1.33 NA NA NA NA Impact Proofing ..... 2 1 176 0.50 0.53 NA 0.33 NA NA Vibratory ................ 8 4 704 56.04 59.56 NA 1.33 NA NA Vibratory ................ 5 1 176 0.91 0.97 NA 0.33 NA NA Pile driver type 60-inch steel pipe .. 36-inch steel pipe pile ***. 36-inch steel pipe pile. 20-inch steel pipe pile. Concrete pile removal. VerDate Sep<11>2014 Species Number of piles Pile type 19:06 Jun 18, 2019 Jkt 247001 PO 00000 Frm 00025 Harbor seal Fmt 4703 CA sea lion Sfmt 4703 Harbor porpoise Gray whale * E:\FR\FM\19JNN1.SGM N elephant seal ** 19JNN1 N fur seal * Bottlenose dolphin * 28484 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 118 / Wednesday, June 19, 2019 / Notices TABLE 9—SUMMARY OF ESTIMATED TAKE BY SPECIES FOR 2019 WORK SEASON—Continued [Level B harassment] Number of driving days Impact .................... Vibratory ................ 39 52 30 11 60 1,936 0.3 291.50 0.04 309.72 NA NA 10 3.66 NA NA NA NA Vibratory ................ 106 9 1,584 7.68 8.16 NA 3 NA NA ................................ .................. .................. 6,572 479 509 2 23 10 30 Pile driver type 24-inch concrete .... 12-inch composite pile installation. Timber pile removal Total Take by Species (2019). Species Number of piles Pile type Harbor seal CA sea lion Harbor porpoise Gray whale * N elephant seal ** N fur seal * Bottlenose dolphin * * Take is not calculated by activity type for these species, only a total estimate is given. ** Assumes 1 take every 3 days of driving. *** Level B take for this pile type is based on vibratory driving only, as the method produces the larger Level B zone. TABLE 10—SUMMARY OF ESTIMATED TAKE LEVEL A HARASSMENT FOR 2019 WORK SEASON Number of piles Number of driving days Harbor seal Harbor porpoise Pile type Pile driver type 60-inch steel pipe .............................. 36-inch steel pipe pile ....................... 36-inch steel pipe pile ....................... 20-inch steel pipe pile ** ................... Concrete pile removal ....................... 24-inch concrete ............................... 12-inch composite pile installation .... Timber pile removal .......................... Impact ............................................... Vibratory ........................................... Impact Proofing ................................ Vibratory ........................................... Vibratory ........................................... Impact ............................................... Vibratory ........................................... Vibratory ........................................... 8 8 2 8 5 39 52 106 8 4 1 4 1 30 11 9 512.49 0 0.14 0 0 0 0 0 4.18 0 <0.01 0 0 0 0 0 Total Take .................................. ........................................................... ........................ ........................ 513 4 TABLE 11—AUTHORIZED TAKE AND PERCENTAGE OF STOCK OR POPULATION Species Stock Authorized Llevel A takes Harbor seal ..................................................... California sea lion ........................................... Harbor porpoise .............................................. Northern elephant seal ................................... Gray whale ...................................................... Northern fur seal ............................................. Bottlenose Dolphin .......................................... California ........................................................ Eastern U.S .................................................... San Francisco—Russian River ...................... California Breeding ......................................... Eastern North Pacific ..................................... California ........................................................ California Coastal ........................................... 513 ........................ 4 ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ jbell on DSK3GLQ082PROD with NOTICES Mitigation In order to issue an IHA under Section 101(a)(5)(D) of the MMPA, NMFS must set forth the permissible methods of taking pursuant to such activity, and other means of effecting the least practicable impact on such species or stock and its habitat, paying particular attention to rookeries, mating grounds, and areas of similar significance, and on the availability of such species or stock for taking for certain subsistence uses (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 VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:06 Jun 18, 2019 Jkt 247001 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, as well as subsistence uses. This considers the nature of the potential adverse impact being mitigated (likelihood, scope, range). It further considers the PO 00000 Frm 00026 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Authorized Level B takes 6,572 479 509 23 2 10 30 Percent (instances of take compared to population abundance) 22.9 0.16 6.1 <0.01 <0.01 <0.01 6.6 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, personnel safety, practicality of implementation, and impact on the effectiveness of the military readiness activity. E:\FR\FM\19JNN1.SGM 19JNN1 28485 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 118 / Wednesday, June 19, 2019 / Notices Mitigation for Marine Mammals and Their Habitat The following measures will apply to Chevron’s LWMEP mitigation requirements: Noise Attenuation—Bubble curtains will be used during all impact pile driving of 60-inch steel shell pile and 24-inch square concrete piles to interrupt acoustic pressure and reduce impact on marine mammals. The use of bubble curtains is expected to reduce underwater noise levels by approximately 7 dB, which greatly reduces the area over which the cumulative SEL threshold for Level A harassment may be exceeded. Bubble curtains would also decrease the size of the Level B harassment zone, reducing the numbers of marine mammals affected by potential behavioral impacts. Daylight Construction Period—Work would occur only during daylight hours (7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.) when visual marine mammal monitoring can be conducted. Establishment of a Shutdown Zone— For all pile driving and removal activities, Chevron will establish shutdown zones. The purpose of a shutdown zone is generally 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). A shutdown zone will be established which will include all or a portion of the area where SPLs are expected to reach or exceed the cumulative SEL thresholds for Level A harassment as provided in Table 12. TABLE 12—SHUTDOWN ZONES FOR LWMEP Exclusion zones meters Project element requiring pile installation Lowfrequency cetaceans jbell on DSK3GLQ082PROD with NOTICES Attenuated Impact Driving (with bubble curtain): 60-inch steel pipe ......................................................... 24-inch square concrete ............................................... Impact Pile Proofing (no bubble curtain): 36-inch steel pipe pile ................................................... Vibratory Driving/Extraction: 12-inch Composite Barrier Pile ..................................... 36-inch steel pipe pile ................................................... 20-inch steel pipe pile ................................................... Wood and concrete pile extraction ............................... Establishment of Monitoring Zones for Level A and Level B—Chevron will establish and monitor Level A harassment zones during impact driving for harbor seal extending to 450 meters and harbor seals and extending to 990 for harbor porpoises. These are areas beyond the shutdown zone in which animals could be exposed to sound levels that could result in Level A harassment in the form of PTS. Chevron will also establish and monitor Level B harassment zones which are areas where SPLs are equal to or exceed the 160 dB rms threshold for impact driving and the 120 dB rms threshold during vibratory driving and extraction as shown in Table 5. Monitoring zones provide utility for observing by establishing monitoring protocols for areas adjacent to the shutdown zones. Monitoring zones also enable observers to be aware of and communicate the presence of marine mammals in the project area outside the shutdown zone and thus prepare for a potential cease of activity should the animal enter the shutdown zone. Level B harassment exposures will be recorded and extrapolated based upon the number of observed take and the percentage of the Level B harassment zone that was not visible. 10-Meter Shutdown Zone—During the in-water operation of heavy machinery VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:06 Jun 18, 2019 Jkt 247001 Midfrequency cetaceans Frm 00027 Fmt 4703 Phocid pinnipeds Otariid pinnipeds 840 20 30 10 50 50 30 15 35 10 100 10 80 30 10 20 20 10 10 10 10 10 10 50 50 50 50 15 15 10 10 10 10 10 10 (e.g., barge movements), a 10-m shutdown zone for all marine mammals will be implemented. If a marine mammal comes within 10 m, operations shall cease and vessels shall reduce speed to the minimum level required to maintain steerage and safe working conditions. Soft Start—The use of a soft-start procedure are believed to provide additional protection to marine mammals by providing warning and/or giving marine mammals a chance to leave the area prior to the hammer operating at full capacity. Chevron shall use soft start techniques when impact pile driving. Soft start requires contractors to provide an initial set of strikes at reduced energy, followed by a thirty-second waiting period, then two subsequent reduced energy strike sets. Pre-Activity Monitoring—Pre-activity monitoring shall take place from 30 minutes prior to initiation of pile driving activity and post-activity monitoring shall continue through 30 minutes post-completion of pile driving activity. Pile driving may commence at the end of the 30-minute pre-activity monitoring period, provided observers have determined that the shutdown zone is clear of marine mammals, which includes delaying start of pile driving activities if a marine mammal is sighted in the zone, as described below. PO 00000 Highfrequency cetaceans Sfmt 4703 If a marine mammal approaches or enters the shutdown zone during activities or pre-activity monitoring, all pile driving activities at that location shall be halted or delayed, respectively. If pile driving is halted or delayed due to the presence of a marine mammal, the activity may not resume or commence until either the animal has voluntarily left and been visually confirmed beyond the shutdown zone or 15 minutes have passed without re-detection of the animal. Pile driving activities include the time to install or 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. Non-authorized Take Prohibited—If a species for which authorization has not been granted or a species for which authorization has been granted but the authorized takes are met, is observed approaching or within the monitoring zone, pile driving and removal activities must shut down immediately using delay and shut-down procedures. Activities must not resume until the animal has been confirmed to have left the area or an observation time period of 15 minutes has elapsed. Based on our evaluation of the Chevron’s measures, as well as other measures considered by NMFS, we have determined that the mitigation measures E:\FR\FM\19JNN1.SGM 19JNN1 28486 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 118 / Wednesday, June 19, 2019 / Notices provide the means effecting the least practicable impact on the affected species or stocks and their habitat, paying particular attention to rookeries, mating grounds, and areas of similar significance. jbell on DSK3GLQ082PROD with NOTICES Monitoring and Reporting In order to issue an IHA for an activity, Section 101(a)(5)(D) of the MMPA states that NMFS must set forth requirements pertaining to the monitoring and reporting of such taking. The MMPA implementing regulations at 50 CFR 216.104 (a)(13) indicate that requests for 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 cumulative impacts from multiple stressors; • How anticipated responses to stressors impact either: (1) Long-term fitness and survival of individual marine mammals; or (2) populations, species, or stocks; • Effects on marine mammal habitat (e.g., marine mammal prey species, acoustic habitat, or other important physical components of marine mammal habitat); and • Mitigation and monitoring effectiveness. VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:06 Jun 18, 2019 Jkt 247001 or related field) or training for experience; and The following visual monitoring (4) Chevron shall submit PSO CVs for measures are required as part of the approval by NMFS; issued IHA. • Chevron will ensure that observers • One day of biological monitoring would occur within one week before the have the following additional qualifications: project’s start date to establish baseline (1) Ability to conduct field observations; observations and collect data according • Monitoring distances, in accordance to assigned protocols; with the identified shutdown, Level A, (2) Experience or training in the field and Level B zones, will be determined identification of marine mammals, by using a range finder, scope, handincluding the identification of held global positioning system (GPS) behaviors; device or landmarks with known (3) Sufficient training, orientation, or distances from the monitoring positions; experience with the construction • Monitoring locations will be operation to provide for personal safety established at locations offering best during observations; views of the monitoring zone; (4) Writing skills sufficient to prepare • Monitoring would be conducted 30 a report of observations including but minutes before, during, and 30 minutes not limited to the number and species after pile driving and removal activities. of marine mammals observed; dates and In addition, observers shall record all times when in-water construction incidents of marine mammal activities were conducted; dates, times, occurrence, regardless of distance from and reason for implementation of activity, and shall document any mitigation (or why mitigation was not behavioral reactions in concert with implemented when required); and distance from piles being driven or marine mammal behavior; and removed. Pile driving and removal (5) Ability to communicate orally, by activities include the time to install or radio or in person, with project remove a single pile or series of piles, personnel to provide real-time as long as the time elapsed between uses information on marine mammals of the pile driving equipment is no more observed in the area as necessary. than 30 minutes. Hydroacoustic Monitoring • Monitoring will be continuous unless the contractor takes a break Sound Source Verification (SSV) longer than 2 hours from active pile testing of would be conducted under driving, in which case, monitoring will this IHA. The purpose of the planned be required 30 minutes prior to acoustic monitoring plan is to collect restarting pile installation; underwater sound-level information at • For in-water pile driving, under both near and distant locations during conditions of fog or poor visibility that vibratory pile extraction and installation might obscure the presence of a marine and impact pile installation. mammal within the shutdown zone, the Hydroacoustic monitoring would be pile in progress will be completed and conducted by a qualified monitor during then pile driving suspended until pile extraction and driving activities as visibility conditions improve; described in the Hydroacoustic • At least two PSOs will be actively Monitoring plan and will likely include scanning the monitoring zone during all the following during 2019: pile driving activities with one PSO • Acoustic monitoring for at least two stationed at the north end of the wharf (2) timber piles (vibratory); monitoring the entire observable area • Acoustic monitoring for at least four with a special focus on the section (4) 24-inch square concrete piles between Castro Rocks and the wharf; (impact); • Monitoring of pile driving shall be • Acoustic monitoring for at least two conducted by qualified PSOs (see (2) 20-inch steel piles (vibratory); below), who shall have no other • Acoustic monitoring for at least two assigned tasks during monitoring (2) 36-inch steel piles (vibratory); periods. Chevron shall adhere to the • Acoustic monitoring for at least two following conditions when selecting (2) 60-inch steel piles (impact); and observers: • Acoustic monitoring of two (2) 12(1) Independent PSOs shall be used inch composite piles (vibratory). (i.e., not construction personnel); Reporting Measures (2) At least one PSO must have prior A draft marine mammal monitoring experience working as a marine report would be submitted to NMFS mammal observer during construction within 90 days after the completion of activities; pile driving and removal activities. It (3) Other PSOs may substitute will include an overall description of education (degree in biological science Visual Monitoring PO 00000 Frm 00028 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 E:\FR\FM\19JNN1.SGM 19JNN1 jbell on DSK3GLQ082PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 118 / Wednesday, June 19, 2019 / Notices work completed, a narrative regarding marine mammal sightings, and associated PSO data sheets. Specifically, the report must include: • Dates and times (begin and end) of all marine mammal monitoring; • Construction activities occurring during each daily observation period, including how many and what type of piles were driven or removed and by what method (i.e., impact or vibratory); • Weather parameters and water conditions during each monitoring period (e.g., wind speed, percent cover, visibility, sea state); • The number of marine mammals observed, by species, relative to the pile location and if pile driving or removal was occurring at time of sighting; • Age and sex class, if possible, of all marine mammals observed; • PSO locations during marine mammal monitoring; • Distances and bearings of each marine mammal observed to the pile being driven or removed for each sighting (if pile driving or removal was occurring at time of sighting); • Description of any marine mammal behavior patterns during observation, including direction of travel; • Number of individuals of each species (differentiated by month as appropriate) detected within the monitoring zone, and estimates of number of marine mammals taken, by species (a correction factor may be applied to total take numbers, as appropriate); • Detailed information about any implementation of any mitigation triggered (e.g., shutdowns and delays), a description of specific actions that ensued, and resulting behavior of the animal, if any; • Description of attempts to distinguish between the number of individual animals taken and the number of incidences of take, such as ability to track groups or individuals; and • Level B harassment exposures recorded by PSOs must be extrapolated based upon the number of observed takes and the percentage of the Level B harassment zone that was not visible. If no comments are received from NMFS within 30 days, the draft final report will constitute the final report. If comments are received, a final report addressing NMFS comments must be submitted within 30 days after receipt of comments. In the unanticipated event that the specified activity clearly causes the take of a marine mammal in a manner prohibited by the IHA (if issued), such as an injury, serious injury or mortality, Chevron would immediately cease the VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:06 Jun 18, 2019 Jkt 247001 specified activities and report the incident to the Chief of the Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, and the West Coast Regional Stranding Coordinator. The report would include the following information: • Description of the incident; • Environmental conditions (e.g., Beaufort sea state, visibility); • Description of all marine mammal observations in the 24 hours preceding the incident; • Species identification or description of the animal(s) involved; • Fate of the animal(s); and • Photographs or video footage of the animal(s) (if equipment is available). Activities would not resume until NMFS is able to review the circumstances of the prohibited take. NMFS would work with Chevron to determine what is necessary to minimize the likelihood of further prohibited take and ensure MMPA compliance. Chevron would not be able to resume their activities until notified by NMFS via letter, email, or telephone. In the event that Chevron discovers an injured or dead marine mammal, and the lead PSO determines that the cause of the injury or death is unknown and the death is relatively recent (e.g., in less than a moderate state of decomposition as described in the next paragraph), Chevron would immediately report the incident to the Chief of the Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, and the West Coast Regional Stranding Coordinator. The report would include the same information identified in the paragraph above. Activities would be able to continue while NMFS reviews the circumstances of the incident. NMFS would work with Chevron to determine whether modifications in the activities are appropriate. In the event that Chevron discovers an injured or dead marine mammal and the lead PSO determines that the injury or death is not associated with or related to the activities authorized in the IHA (e.g., previously wounded animal, carcass with moderate to advanced decomposition, or scavenger damage), Chevron would report the incident to the Chief of the Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, and the West Coast Regional Stranding Coordinator, within 24 hours of the discovery. Chevron would provide photographs, video footage (if available), or other documentation of the stranded animal sighting to NMFS and the Marine Mammal Stranding Network. PO 00000 Frm 00029 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 28487 Negligible Impact Analysis and Determination NMFS has defined negligible impact 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 (50 CFR 216.103). A negligible impact finding is based on the lack of likely adverse effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival (i.e., populationlevel effects). An estimate of the number of 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). Pile driving and extraction associated with Chevron’s LWMEP project as outlined previously have the potential to injure, disturb or displace marine mammals. Specifically, the planned activities may result in Level B harassment (behavioral disturbance) for seven marine mammal species authorized for take from underwater sound generated during pile driving and removal operations. Level A harassment in the form of limited PTS may also occur to animals of two species. No marine mammal stocks for which incidental take authorization are listed as threatened or endangered under the ESA or determined to be strategic or depleted under the MMPA. No serious injuries or mortalities are anticipated to occur as a result of Chevron’s pile driving activities. A limited number of animals (513 harbor seals and 4 harbor porpoises) could experience Level A harassment in the form of PTS if they stay within the Level A harassment zone during impact E:\FR\FM\19JNN1.SGM 19JNN1 jbell on DSK3GLQ082PROD with NOTICES 28488 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 118 / Wednesday, June 19, 2019 / Notices driving of 60-inch steel and 36-inch steel piles. The degree of injury is expected to be mild and is not likely to affect the reproduction or survival of the individual animals. It is expected that, if hearing impairments occurs, most likely the affected animal would lose a few dB in its hearing sensitivity, which in most cases is not likely to affect its survival and recruitment. The Level B takes that are anticipated and authorized are expected to be limited to short-term behavioral harassment. Marine mammals present near the action area and taken by Level B harassment would most likely show overt brief disturbance (e.g. startle reaction) and avoidance of the area from elevated noise level during pile driving. However, this is unlikely to result in any significant realized decrease in fitness for the affected individuals or stocks for which take is authorized. While harbor seals from Castro Rocks may experience some temporary lowlevel behavioral impacts, the number of seals potentially affected is conservatively estimated at approximately 23 percent of the stock. This number, however, likely includes multiple takes of the same individuals. Furthermore, Castro Rocks and the LWMEP location represent a small portion of the range of the California stock of harbor seal. These two factors indicate that a much lower percentage of the stock would potentially be affected and, therefore, no adverse impacts to the stock as a whole are expected. The project is not expected to have significant adverse effects on affected marine mammal habitat. The activities may cause fish to leave the area temporarily. This could impact marine mammals’ foraging opportunities in a limited portion of the foraging range; but, because of the relatively short duration of driving activities and the relatively small area of affected habitat, the impacts to marine mammal habitat are not expected to cause significant or long-term negative consequences. Furthermore, there are no biologically important areas identified in the project area. The likelihood that marine mammals will be detected by trained observers is high under the environmental conditions described for the project. The employment of the soft-start mitigation measure during impact driving would also allow marine mammals in or near the shutdown and Level A zone zones to move away from the impact driving sound source. Therefore, the mitigation and monitoring measures are expected to reduce the potential for injury and reduce the amount and intensity of VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:06 Jun 18, 2019 Jkt 247001 behavioral harassment. Furthermore, the pile driving activities analyzed here are similar to, or less impactful than, numerous construction activities conducted in other similar locations which have taken place with no reported injuries or mortality to marine mammals, and no known long-term adverse consequences from behavioral harassment. 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; • Anticipated incidences of Level A harassment would be in the form of a small degree of PTS to a limited number of animals; • Anticipated incidents of Level B harassment consist of, at worst, temporary modifications in behavior; • No biologically important areas have been identified in the vicinity of the project area; • The small percentage of the stock that may be affected by project activities (< 23 percent for all stocks); and • Efficacy of mitigation measures is expected to minimize the likelihood and severity of the level of harassment. 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 activity will have a negligible impact on all affected marine mammal species or stocks. Small Numbers As noted above, only small numbers of incidental take may be authorized under Sections 101(a)(5)(A) and (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. Table 13 depicts the number of animals that could be exposed to Level A and Level B harassment from work associated with Chevron’s project. The PO 00000 Frm 00030 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 analysis provided indicates that authorized take would account for no more than 23 percent of the populations of the stocks that could be affected. These are small numbers of marine mammals relative to the sizes of the affected stocks. Based on the analysis contained herein of the 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. Unmitigable Adverse Impact Analysis and Determination 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. National Environmental Policy Act 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 Categorical Exclusion B4 (incidental harassment authorizations with no anticipated serious injury or mortality) 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. 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. No incidental take of ESA-listed species is expected to occur or E:\FR\FM\19JNN1.SGM 19JNN1 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 118 / Wednesday, June 19, 2019 / Notices authorized for this activity. Therefore, NMFS has determined that formal consultation under section 7 of the ESA is not required for this action. Authorization As a result of these determinations, NMFS has issued an IHA to Chevron for conducting pile driving and removal activities at Chevron’s Long Wharf from June 1, 2019 through May 31, 2020, provided the previously mentioned mitigation, monitoring, and reporting requirements are incorporated. Dated: May 30, 2019. Donna S. Wieting, Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2019–12922 Filed 6–18–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648–XG300 2018 Marine Mammal Stock Assessment Reports National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice; response to comments. AGENCY: As required by the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), NMFS has considered public comments for revisions of the 2018 marine mammal stock assessment reports (SARs). This notice announces the availability of 46 final 2018 SARs that were updated and finalized. ADDRESSES: Electronic copies of SARs are available on the internet as regional compilations at the following address: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/ national/marine-mammal-protection/ marine-mammal-stock-assessmentreports-region. A list of references cited in this notice is available at www.regulations.gov (search for docket NOAA–NMFS–2018– 0086) or upon request. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Lisa Lierheimer, Office of Protected Resources, 301–427–8402, Lisa.Lierheimer@noaa.gov; Marcia Muto, 206–526–4026, Marcia.Muto@ noaa.gov, regarding Alaska regional stock assessments; Elizabeth Josephson, 508–495–2362, Elizabeth.Josephson@ noaa.gov, regarding Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean regional stock assessments; or Jim Carretta, 858–546– 7171, Jim.Carretta@noaa.gov, regarding Pacific regional stock assessments. jbell on DSK3GLQ082PROD with NOTICES SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:06 Jun 18, 2019 Jkt 247001 reports are available on NMFS’ website (see ADDRESSES). SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background Section 117 of the MMPA (16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.) requires NMFS and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to prepare stock assessments for each stock of marine mammals occurring in waters under the jurisdiction of the United States, including the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). These reports must contain information regarding the distribution and abundance of the stock, population growth rates and trends, estimates of annual human-caused mortality and serious injury (M/SI) from all sources, descriptions of the fisheries with which the stock interacts, and the status of the stock. Initial reports were completed in 1995. The MMPA requires NMFS and FWS to review the SARs at least annually for strategic stocks and stocks for which significant new information is available, and at least once every three years for non-strategic stocks. The term ‘‘strategic stock’’ means a marine mammal stock: (A) For which the level of direct humancaused mortality exceeds the potential biological removal level or PBR (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); (B) which, based on the best available scientific information, is declining and is likely to be listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) within the foreseeable future; or (C) which is listed as a threatened species or endangered species under the ESA. NMFS and the FWS are required to revise a SAR if the status of the stock has changed or can be more accurately determined. NMFS, in conjunction with the Alaska, Atlantic, and Pacific independent Scientific Review Groups (SRG), reviewed the status of marine mammal stocks as required and revised reports in the Alaska, Atlantic, and Pacific regions to incorporate new information. The period covered by the 2018 SARs is 2012–2016. NMFS updated SARs for 2018, and the revised draft reports were made available for public review and comment for 90 days (83 FR 47137, September 18, 2018). NMFS received comments on the draft 2018 SARs and has revised the reports as necessary. This notice announces the availability of 46 final 2018 reports that were updated. The new individual draft report for the West Bay stock of common bottlenose dolphin stock was not finalized (see below). The final PO 00000 Frm 00031 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 28489 Withdrawal of the West Bay Common Bottlenose Dolphin SAR NMFS is in the process of writing separate stock assessment reports for each of the 31 individual stocks contained in the Northern Gulf of Mexico Bay, Sound, and Estuary common bottlenose dolphin report. For the draft 2018 SARs, 2 new individual reports were completed separating out the West Bay and Terrebonne-Timbalier Bay Estuarine System stocks from the larger report. However, we are not finalizing the new individual report for the West Bay common bottlenose dolphin stock because the abundance estimate for this stock is based on a publication that is still currently in review (Litz et al., in review). NMFS will include the updated abundance estimate for the West Bay stock in the draft 2019 report, once the Litz et al. publication is in press or has been published. To date, we have completed individual reports for five bottlenose dolphin stocks (Terrebonne-Timbalier Bay Estuarine System, Barataria Bay Estuarine System, Mississippi Sound/ Lake Borgne/Bay Boudreau, Choctawhatchee Bay, and St. Joseph Bay). The remaining 26 stocks are included in the Northern Gulf of Mexico Bay, Sound, and Estuary Stocks report. Comments and Responses NMFS received letters containing comments on the draft 2018 SARs from the Aleut Community of St. Paul Island Tribal Government; the Makah Tribe; the Marine Mammal Commission; the North Slope Borough; 11 nongovernmental organizations (Alaska Oil and Gas Association, Center for Biological Diversity, Conservation Law Foundation, Defenders of Wildlife, Friends of the Children’s Pool, Hawaii Longline Association, The Humane Society of the United States, Oceana, Point Blue Conservation Science, Southern Environmental Law Foundation, and Whale and Dolphin Conservation); and 3 individuals. Responses to substantive comments are below; comments on actions not related to the SARs are not included below. Comments suggesting editorial or minor clarifying changes were incorporated in the reports, but they are not included in the summary of comments and responses. In some cases, NMFS’ responses state that comments would be considered or incorporated in future revisions of the SARs rather than being incorporated into the final 2018 SARs. E:\FR\FM\19JNN1.SGM 19JNN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 84, Number 118 (Wednesday, June 19, 2019)]
[Notices]
[Pages 28474-28489]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2019-12922]



[[Page 28474]]

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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

RIN 0648-XG876


Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; 
Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to the Chevron Richmond Refinery Long 
Wharf Maintenance and Efficiency Project in San Francisco Bay, 
California

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

ACTION: Notice; issuance of an incidental harassment authorization.

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SUMMARY: In accordance with the regulations implementing the Marine 
Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) as amended, notification is hereby given 
that we have issued an incidental harassment authorization (IHA) to 
Chevron to take small numbers of marine mammals, by harassment, 
incidental to the Long Wharf Maintenance and Efficiency Project (LWMEP) 
in San Francisco Bay, California.

DATES: This authorization is effective from June 1, 2019, through May 
31, 2020.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Rob Pauline, Office of Protected 
Resources, NMFS, (301) 427-8401. Electronic copies of the application 
and supporting documents, as well as the issued IHA, may be obtained 
online at: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/permit/incidental-take-authorizations-under-marine-mammal-protection-act. In case of problems 
accessing these documents, please call the contact listed above.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    The MMPA prohibits the ``take'' of marine mammals, with certain 
exceptions. 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 incidental take authorization may be provided to the public 
for review.
    Authorization for incidental takings shall be granted if NMFS finds 
that the taking will have a negligible impact on the species or 
stock(s) and will not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the 
availability of the species or stock(s) for taking for subsistence uses 
(where relevant). Further, NMFS must prescribe the permissible methods 
of taking and other ``means of effecting the least practicable adverse 
impact'' on the affected species or stocks and their habitat, paying 
particular attention to rookeries, mating grounds, and areas of similar 
significance, and on the availability of such species or stocks for 
taking for certain subsistence uses (referred to in shorthand as 
``mitigation''); and requirements pertaining to the mitigation, 
monitoring and reporting of such takings are set forth.

Summary of Request

    On January 17, 2019, NMFS received a request from Chevron for an 
IHA to take marine mammals incidental to pile driving and removal 
associated with the LWMEP in San Francisco Bay, California. The 
application was deemed adequate and complete on April 8, 2019. 
Chevron's request is for take of a small number of seven species of 
marine mammals, by Level B harassment and Level A harassment. Neither 
Chevron nor NMFS expects serious injury or mortality to result from 
this activity and, therefore, an IHA is appropriate.
    NMFS previously issued an IHA to Chevron for similar work (82 FR 
27240; June 17, 2017). However, the construction schedule and scope was 
revised and no work was conducted under that IHA. NMFS issued a second 
IHA on May 31, 2018 to Chevron for work not conducted in 2017 (83 FR 
27578; June 13, 2018). This IHA covers one year of this larger project 
for which Chevron obtained the prior IHA, and Chevron also intends to 
request take authorizations for subsequent facets of the project. The 
larger multi-year project involves various construction activities that 
would allow Chevron to comply with Marine Oil Terminal Engineering and 
Maintenance Standards (MOTEMS) and to improve safety and efficiency at 
the Long Wharf. Chevron complied with all the requirements (e.g., 
mitigation, monitoring, and reporting) of the previous IHA and 
information regarding their monitoring results may be found in the 
Estimated Take section.
    Because of the similarity of the work and marine mammal impacts to 
that covered in previous IHAs, we have often cited back to previous 
documents for more detailed descriptions.

Description of Activity

    Chevron's Richmond Refinery Long Wharf (Long Wharf) located in San 
Francisco Bay, is the largest marine oil terminal in California. Impact 
pile driving and vibratory pile driving and removal will be employed 
during the planned construction project. These actions could produce 
underwater sound at levels that could result in the injury or 
behavioral harassment of marine mammal species. Pile driving activities 
would be timed to occur within the standard NMFS work windows for 
Endangered Species Act (ESA)-listed fish species (June 1 through 
November 30) over multiple years. An estimated 67 days of pile driving 
activity within the designated work window are planned for 2019. 
Additional work in the future will require subsequent IHAs. The IHA is 
effective from June 1, 2019 through May 31, 2020.
    A detailed description of the planned activities is provided in the 
Federal Register notice of the proposed IHA (84 FR 17788; April 26, 
2019) for the issued IHA, Federal Register notice of the issuance of 
the 2018 IHA for Chevron's LWMEP project (83 FR 27578; June 13, 2018), 
the Federal Register notice of the proposed IHA (83 FR 18802; April 30, 
2018), as well as Chevron's current IHA application for the 2019 work 
season. Therefore, a detailed description is not provided here. Please 
refer to that Federal Register notices and application for the 
description of the specific activity.

Comments and Responses

    A notice of NMFS' proposal to issue an IHA was published in the 
Federal Register on March 26, 2019 (84 FR 177880). During the 30-day 
public comment period, NMFS received a comment letter from the Marine 
Mammal Commission (Commission). Specific comments and responses are 
provided below. The Commission's recommendations and our responses are 
provided here, and the comments have been posted online at: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/national/marine-mammal-protection/incidental-take-authorizations-construction-activities. The Commission recommended 
that NMFS issue the IHA, subject to inclusion of the proposed 
mitigation, monitoring, and reporting measures.
    Comment 1: The Commission recommended that NMFS consult with 
external scientists and acousticians to determine the appropriate 
accumulation time that action proponents should use to determine the 
extent of the Level A

[[Page 28475]]

harassment zones based on the associated SELcum thresholds 
for the various types of sound sources, including stationary sound 
sources.
    Response: NMFS considers this a priority and has formed a Working 
Group to focus on the issue of accumulation time. Once the NMFS 
internal Working Group develops a proposal, it will be shared with 
Federal partners and other stakeholders.
    Comment 2: The Commission recommended that, for all relevant 
incidental take authorizations, NMFS refrain from using a source level 
reduction factor for sound attenuation device implementation during 
impact pile driving, including the 60-inch steel piles proposed for use 
by Chevron.
    Response: While it is true that noise level reduction measured at 
different received ranges does vary, given that both Level A and Level 
B harassment estimation using geometric modeling is based on noise 
levels measured at near-source distances (~10 meters), NMFS believes it 
reasonable to use a source level reduction factor for sound attenuation 
device implementation during impact pile driving. In the case of the 
San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge impact driving isopleth estimates 
using an air bubble curtain for source level reduction, NMFS reviewed 
Caltrans' bubble curtain ``on and off'' studies conducted in San 
Francisco Bay in 2003 and 2004. The equipment used for bubble curtains 
has likely improved since 2004 but due to concerns for fish species, 
Caltrans has not been able to conduct ``on and off'' tests recently. 
Based on 74 measurements (37 with the bubble curtain on and 37 with the 
bubble curtain off) at both near (<100 meters) and far (>100 meters) 
distances, the linear averaged received level reduction is 6 decibels 
(dB). If limiting the data points (a total of 28 measurements, with 14 
during bubble curtain on and 14 during bubble curtain off) to only near 
distance measurements, the linear averaged noise level reduction is 7 
dB. Since impact zone analysis using geometric spreading model is 
typically based on measurements at near-source distance, we consider it 
appropriate to use a reduction of 7 dB as a noise level reduction 
factor for impact pile driving using an air bubble curtain system.
    Bubble curtains are effective at attenuating sound originating 
within the water column. Pile driving does generate sound within the 
seafloor as well. This sound travels within the seafloor and emerges 
back to the water column, but its intensity is reduced within the 
sediment due to absorption by the sediment and reflection at the 
sediment/water interface.
    NMFS will evaluate the appropriateness of using a certain source 
level reduction factor for sound attenuation device implementation 
during impact pile driving for all relevant incidental take 
authorizations when more data become available.
    Comment 3: The Commission recommended that NMFS should direct 
Chevron to use its PSOs to monitor more sufficiently both the Level A 
and B harassment zones, including the shut-down zones. The Commission 
further recommended that one PSO should be located in the near-field to 
ensure an unobstructed view of the shut-down zones and one PSO should 
be located on the north end of the wharf to monitor harbor seals in the 
far field, focusing on the area between the wharf and Castro Rocks.
    Response: NMFS believes that the monitoring plan provided by the 
applicant is adequate to sufficiently monitor Level A and B harassment 
zones, including shut-down zones. Chevron opted to place one PSO on the 
east side of the wharf to monitor any marine mammals that occur between 
the wharf and the shoreline. The wharf is covered with building and 
large equipment resulting in obstructed views. Therefore, it is 
impossible for a single PSO on the east side of the wharf to also 
monitor the near or far fields on the west side of the wharf. However, 
NMFS will recommend that the PSO stationed on the north end of the 
wharf will monitor the entire visible area, with extra focus on the 
section between Castro Rocks and the wharf.
    Comment 4: The Commission recommended that NMFS refrain from 
implementing its proposed renewal process for Chevron's subsequent 
authorizations. The Commission believes that the renewal process should 
be used sparingly and selectively, by limiting its use only to those 
proposed incidental harassment authorizations that are expected to have 
the lowest levels of impacts to marine mammals and that require the 
least complex analyses. Also, the Commission recommended that NMFS 
provide the Commission and other reviewers the full 30-day comment 
opportunity set forth in section 101(a)(5)(D)(iii) of the MMPA.
    Response: Regarding the Commission's comment that Renewal IHAs 
should be limited to certain types of projects NMFS has explained on 
its website and in individual Federal Register notices that Renewal 
IHAs are appropriate where the continuing activities are identical, 
nearly identical, or a subset of the activities for which the initial 
30-day comment period applied. If Chevron seeks to obtain a Renewal IHA 
in the future, NMFS will determine at that time whether the request 
meets the necessary conditions under which a Renewal IHA could be 
considered.
    NMFS has taken a number of steps to ensure the public has adequate 
notice, time, and information to be able to comment effectively on 
Renewal IHAs within the limitations of processing IHA applications 
efficiently. Federal Register notices for the proposed initial IHAs 
identified the conditions under which a one-year Renewal IHA might be 
appropriate. This information is presented in the Request for Public 
Comments section and thus encourages submission of comments on the 
potential of a one-year renewal as well as the initial IHA during the 
30-day comment period. In addition, when we receive an application for 
a Renewal IHA, we will publish notice of the proposed IHA Renewal in 
the Federal Register and provide an additional 15 days for public 
comment, making a total of 45 days of public comment. We also directly 
contact all commenters on the initial IHA by email, phone, or, if the 
commenter did not provide email or phone information, by postal service 
to provide them the opportunity to submit any additional comments on 
the proposed Renewal IHA. Where the commenter has already had the 
opportunity to review and comment on the potential for a Renewal in the 
initial proposed IHA for these activities, the abbreviated additional 
comment period is sufficient for consideration of the results of the 
preliminary monitoring report and new information (if any) from the 
past year.
    Comment 5: The Commission recommended that, NMFS (1) request that 
Chevron submit any future authorizations at least 6 months prior to the 
planned start date for incidental harassment authorizations and 9 
months prior for rulemakings and (2) take all steps necessary to ensure 
that it publishes and finalizes proposed incidental harassment 
authorizations far enough in advance of the planned start date of the 
proposed activities to ensure full consideration is given to any and 
all comments received
    Response: NMFS encourages all applicants to submit applications for 
IHA's 5-8 months in advance of the intended project start date and for 
rulemakings/LOA at least 9 months, and preferably 15 months, in advance 
of the intended project start date. NMFS provided the required 30-day 
notice for public comment, and has adequately considered all public 
comments

[[Page 28476]]

received in making the necessary findings.

Description of Marine Mammals in the Area of Specified Activities

    Sections 3 and 4 of the application summarize available information 
regarding status and trends, distribution and habitat preferences, and 
behavior and life history, of the potentially affected species. 
Additional information regarding population trends and threats may be 
found in NMFS's Stock Assessment Reports (SAR; https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/national/marine-mammal-protection/marine-mammal-stock-assessments) and more general information about these species 
(e.g., physical and behavioral descriptions) may be found on NMFS's 
website (https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/find-species).
    Table 1 lists species that may occur in the vicinity of the project 
area. A description of the marine mammals in the area of the activities 
is found in the Federal Register notice of the issuance of the 2018 IHA 
for Chevron's LWMEP project (83 FR 27578; June 13, 2018), the Federal 
Register notice of the proposed IHA (83 FR 18802; April 30, 2018), as 
well as Chevron's current IHA application for the 2019 work season. 
NMFS has reviewed the monitoring data from the initial IHA, recent 
draft Stock Assessment Reports, information on relevant Unusual 
Mortality Events, and other scientific literature, and determined that 
neither this nor any other new information affects which species or 
stocks have the potential to be affected or the pertinent information 
in the Description of the Marine Mammals in the Area of Specified 
Activities contained in the supporting documents for the initial IHA. 
Specifically, the only change from the 2018 IHA is an increase in 
numbers of the eastern north Pacific stock of gray whale which have 
increased from 20,990 to 26,960.

                                     Table 1--Marine Mammals Potentially Present in the Vicinity of the Project Area
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                         ESA/MMPA status;    Stock abundance (CV,
             Common name                  Scientific name               Stock             strategic (Y/N)      Nmin, most recent       PBR     Annual M/
                                                                                                \1\          abundance survey) \2\               SI \3\
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                          Order Cetartiodactyla--Cetacea--Superfamily Mysticeti (baleen whales)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Family Eschrichtiidae:
    Gray whale......................  Eschrichtius robustus..  Eastern North Pacific..  -/-; (N)            26,960 (0.05, 25,849,         801        138
                                                                                                             2016).
Family Delphinidae:
    Bottlenose dolphin..............  Tursiops truncatus.....  California Coastal.....  -/-;(N)             453 (0.06, 346, 2011).        2.7      >=2.0
Family Phocoenidae (porpoises):
    Harbor porpoise.................  Phocoena Phocoena......  San Francisco-Russian    -/-;(N)             9,886 (0.51, 6,625,            66          0
                                                                River Stock.                                 2011).
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                         Order Carnivora--Superfamily Pinnipedia
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Family Otariidae (eared seals and
 sea lions):
    California sea lion.............  Zalophus californianus.  Eastern U.S. stock.....  -/-;(N)             296,750 (-, 153,337,        9,200        389
                                                                                                             2011).
    Northern fur seal...............  Callorhinus ursinus....  California stock.......  -/-;(N)             14,050 (-, 7,524,             451        1.8
                                                                                                             2013).
Family Phocidae (earless seals):
    Pacific harbor seal.............  Phoca vitulina.........  California stock.......  -/-;(N)             30,968 (-, 27,348,          1,641         43
                                                                                                             2012).
    Northern elephant seal..........  Mirounga angustirostris  California Breeding      -/-;(N)             179,000 (-, 81,368,         4,882        8.8
                                                                stock.                                       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 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\ NMFS marine mammal stock assessment reports online at: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/national/marine-mammal-protection/marine-mammal-stock-assessments assessments. CV is coefficient of variation; Nmin is the minimum estimate of stock abundance.
\3\ These values, found in NMFS's SARs, represent annual levels of human-caused mortality plus serious injury from all sources combined (e.g.,
  commercial fisheries, ship strike). Annual M/SI often cannot be determined precisely and is in some cases presented as a minimum value or range. A CV
  associated with estimated mortality due to commercial fisheries is presented in some cases.

Potential Effects of Specified Activities on Marine Mammals and Their 
Habitat

    A description of the potential effects of the specified activities 
on marine mammals and their habitat may be found in the Federal 
Register notice of the issuance of the 2018 IHA for Chevron's LWMEP 
project (83 FR 27578; June 13, 2018) and the Federal Register notice of 
the proposed IHA (83 FR 18802; April 30, 2018). This information 
remains applicable to the issuance of the 2019 IHA. NMFS has reviewed 
the monitoring data from the initial IHA and other scientific 
literature, and found no new information that would affect our initial 
analysis of impacts on marine mammals and their habitat.

Estimated Take

    This section provides an estimate of the number of incidental takes 
authorized through this IHA, which will inform both NMFS' consideration 
of ``small numbers'' 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 primarily be by Level B harassment, as use 
of the acoustic source (i.e., pile driving) has the potential to result 
in disruption of behavioral patterns for individual marine mammals. 
There is also some potential for limited auditory injury (Level A 
harassment) to result, primarily for high frequency species (harbor 
porpoises) because predicted auditory

[[Page 28477]]

injury zones are larger than for other functional hearing groups and 
for phocids (harbor seals) as there is a sizable harbor seal haulout 
(Castro Rocks) located in close proximity to the project area. The 
required mitigation and monitoring measures are expected to minimize 
the severity of such taking to the extent practicable.
    As described previously, no mortality is anticipated or authorized 
for this activity. Below we describe how the take is estimated.
    Generally speaking, 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 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. We note that while these basic 
factors can contribute to a basic calculation to provide an initial 
prediction of takes, additional information that can qualitatively 
inform take estimates is also sometimes available (e.g., previous 
monitoring results or average group size). Below, we describe the 
factors considered here in more detail and present the authorized 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 microPascal, 
root mean square ([mu]Pa (rms) for continuous (e.g., vibratory pile-
driving), and above 160 dB re 1 [mu]Pa (rms) for non-explosive 
impulsive (e.g., seismic airguns) or intermittent (e.g., scientific 
sonar) sources.
    Chevron's planned includes the use of continuous (vibratory pile 
driving and removal) and intermittent (impact pile driving) sources 
and, therefore, the 120 and 160 dB re 1 [mu]Pa (rms) thresholds are 
applicable.
    Level A harassment for non-explosive sources--NMFS' Technical 
Guidance for Assessing the Effects of Anthropogenic Sound on Marine 
Mammal Hearing (Version 2.0) (NMFS, 2018) 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). 
Chevron's planned activity includes the use of impulsive (impact pile 
driving) and non-impulsive (vibratory pile driving and removal) 
sources.
    These thresholds are provided in Table 2 below. The references, 
analysis, and methodology used in the development of the thresholds are 
described in NMFS 2018 Technical Guidance, which may be accessed at 
https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/national/marine-mammal-protection/marine-mammal-acoustic-technical-guidance.

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

Ensonified Area

    Here, we describe operational and environmental parameters of the 
activity that will feed into identifying the area ensonified above the 
acoustic thresholds, which include source levels and transmission loss 
coefficient.

[[Page 28478]]

    The project includes impact pile driving, vibratory pile driving 
and vibratory pile removal. Source levels of some pile driving 
activities are based on hydroacoustic testing performed in 2018 at the 
LWMEP location as well as reviews of measurements of the same or 
similar types and dimensions of piles available in the literature. 
Based on this information, the source levels described below are 
assumed for the underwater noise produced by construction activities.
    Eight batter steel pipe piles, 60-inch diameter would be installed 
using an impact hammer as it is difficult to vibrate in batter piles. 
These piles also have very high axial design loads that can only be 
achieved by impact driving methods. Other projects conducted under 
similar circumstances were reviewed in order to estimate the 
approximate noise effects of the 60-inch steel piles. The best match 
found for sound source levels is from summary values provided by 
Caltrans in their hydroacoustic guidance document (Caltrans 2015). 
Summary values for the impact pile driving of 60-inch steel pipe piles 
indicates that noise levels of up to 210 peak, 185 dB SEL (single 
strike), and 195 RMS would be produced at 10 meters during pile driving 
using no sound attenuation such as a bubble curtain. The use of 
properly functioning bubble curtains is expected to reduce the peak and 
RMS noise levels by about 7 dB. As a result, noise levels of 203 dB 
peak, 178 dB SEL (single strike), and 188 dB are utilized to assess 
potential acoustic impacts.
    It is expected that just one 60-inch pile would be driven over one 
(1) hour of active driving in a given day and that only one (1) pile 
would be installed in a given week. Installation could require up to 
2,400 blows from an impact hammer, such as a HHK-16 or similar diesel 
hammer, producing approximately 173,000 to 217,000 ft. lbs. maximum 
energy per blow and 1.5 to 2 sec/blow average. As noted above, bubble 
curtains will be used during the installation of the 60-inch steel pipe 
piles in order to reduce underwater noise levels, with an assumed 
attenuation of 7 dB. NMFS acknowledges that noise level reductions 
measured at different project locations as well as different received 
ranges can vary widely. However, NMFS believes it reasonable to use a 
source level reduction factor for sound attenuation device 
implementation during impact pile driving. NMFS reviewed Caltrans' 
bubble curtain ``on and off'' studies conducted in San Francisco Bay in 
2003 and 2004. Based on near distance measurements (a total of 28 
measurements, with 14 during bubble curtain on and 14 during bubble 
curtain off), the linear averaged noise level reduction is 7 dB. As a 
conservative approach, NMFS will use a standard reduction of 7 dB of 
the source level for impact zone estimates.
    Installation of 24-inch diameter square concrete piles is planned 
for the modifications at the four berths. Approximately one to two of 
these piles would be installed in one work day, using impact driving 
methods and a bubble curtain attenuation system. Based on measured blow 
counts for 24-inch concrete piles driven at the Long Wharf Berth 4 in 
2011, installation for each pile could require up to approximately 300 
blows from a DelMag D62 22 or similar diesel hammer, producing 
approximately 165,000 ft lbs maximum energy (may not need full energy) 
and 1.5 second per blow average over a duration of approximately 20 
minutes per pile, with 40 minutes of pile driving time per day if two 
(2) piles are installed.
    To estimate the noise effects of the 24-inch square concrete piles, 
the underwater noise measurements recorded for this pile type at the 
Long Wharf during the 2018 construction season are utilized. These 
measured values were: 191 dB peak, 161 dB SEL (single strike), and 173 
dB RMS during attenuated impact driving (AECOM 2018).
    As part of the Berth 4 Loading Platform seismic retrofit, four (4) 
clusters of 13 composite piles (52 piles total) will be installed to 
provide protection to the infrastructure. These plastic encased 
concrete piles would be installed with a vibratory pile driver (APE 
400B King Kong or similar vibratory driver), with a drive time of 
approximately 10 minutes per pile. Up to five (5) of these piles could 
be installed in any single work day.
    Projects conducted under similar circumstances with similar piles 
were reviewed in order to approximate the noise effects of the 12-inch 
composite barrier piles. Since these piles will be composed of concrete 
encased in plastic, vibratory installation of similarly sized concrete 
piles would provide a good surrogate. However, concrete piles are 
rarely installed with a vibratory driver, and no suitable data could be 
located. In the absence of this data, we are conservatively using data 
from the Anacortes Ferry Terminal in Washington State, where 13-inch 
plastic coated steel piles were installed with a vibratory hammer. RMS 
noise levels produced during this installation varied from 138 to 158 
dB RMS at 43 meters (141 feet) from the pile (Laughlin 2012). From 
these measurements, a peak noise value of 178 dB and an average RMS 
value of 168 dB normalized to a 10 meter (33 feet) distance was used to 
estimate the extent of underwater noise from installation of the 12-
inch composite piles. During installation of the 12-inch composite 
barrier piles for the planned Project, up to 50 minutes of vibratory 
driving could occur per day.
    For the Berth 4 Loading Platform seismic retrofit, eight (8) 36-
inch diameter temporary steel piles would be installed using a 
vibratory pile driver (APE 400B King Kong or similar vibratory driver) 
will be needed to support the guide template for the driving of the 
permanent 60-inch steel pipe piles. Each 36-inch temporary pile has an 
estimated drive time of approximately 10 minutes per pile. Up to four 
(4) of these piles could be installed in any single work day.
    Projects conducted under similar circumstances with similar piles 
were reviewed in order to approximate the noise effects of the 36-inch 
steel pipe. The best match for estimated noise levels is from the 
Explosive Handling Wharf-2 (EHW-2) project located at the Naval Base 
Kitsap in Bangor, Washington (Illingworth and Rodkin 2013). During 
vibratory pile driving associated with this Project, which occurred 
under similar circumstances, average peak noise levels were 
approximately 180 dB, and the RMS was approximately 170 dB at a 10 
meter (33 feet) distance (Caltrans 2015a). Installation of the 36-inch 
steel pipe piles is expected to be require 40 minutes per day.
    In total, two of the eight 36-inch temporary piles will require 
proofing using an impact hammer. Each pile will require up to 30 
strikes from an impact hammer during proofing which will take place 
during the last foot of pile driving. Up to two (2) piles would be 
proofed in one day, with each pile requiring up to 30 strikes from an 
impact hammer, for a total of 60 strikes in one day. The best match 
found for sound source levels is from summary values provided by 
Caltrans in their hydroacoustic guidance document (Caltrans 2015). 
Summary values for the impact pile driving of 36-inch steel pipe piles 
in water less than 5m deep indicates that noise levels of up to 208 
peak, 180 dB SEL (single strike), and 193 RMS would be produced at 10 
meters during pile driving. Since impact hammers are often operated at 
reduced power output during proofing, the source levels are likely to 
be lower than the values for impact driving used here. Due to very 
limited time that pile proofing would occur (60 strikes total,

[[Page 28479]]

over a few minutes of active hammering) no sound attenuation would be 
used.
    The Berth 4 Loading Platform seismic retrofit will require 
vibratory installation of, eight (8) 20-inch diameter temporary steel 
piles (APE 400B King Kong or similar vibratory driver) to support the 
guide template needed for the driving the permanent 60-inch steel pipe 
piles. Each 20-inch temporary pile has a drive time per pile of 
approximately 10 minutes. Up to four (4) of these piles could be 
installed in any single work day. The best match for estimated noise 
levels is from vibratory driving of 24-inch piles at the Explosive 
Handling Wharf-2 (EHW-2) project located at the Naval Base Kitsap in 
Bangor, Washington (Illingworth and Rodkin 2013). During vibratory pile 
driving associated with this Project, which occurred under similar 
circumstances, measured peak noise levels were approximately 180 dB, 
and the RMS was approximately 163 dB at a 10 meter (33 feet) distance 
(Illingworth and Rodkin 2013). During installation of the 20-inch steel 
pipe piles will require approximately 40 minutes per day.
    The project includes the removal of 106 16-inch timber piles, and 
five (5) 18 to 24-inch square concrete piles using a vibratory pile 
driver. Up to 12 of these piles could be extracted in one (1) work day. 
Extraction time needed for each pile may vary greatly, but could 
require approximately 400 seconds (approximately seven (7) minutes) 
from an APE 400B King Kong or similar driver. The most applicable noise 
values for wooden pile removal from which to base estimates for the 
LWMEP are derived from measurements taken at the Pier 62/63 pile 
removal in Seattle, Washington. During vibratory pile extraction 
associated with this Project, which occurred under similar 
circumstances, the RMS was approximately 152 dB (WSDOT 2011). 
Applicable sound values for the removal of concrete piles could not be 
located, but they are expected to be similar to the levels produced by 
wooden piles described above, as they are similarly sized, non-
metallic, and will be removed using the same methods.
    For pile driving that does not have project specific hydroacoustic 
data available, the practical spreading model with a transmission loss 
coefficient of 15 (4.5 dB per doubling of distance) is used. However, 
project-specific transmission loss values have been measured for the 
impact driving of concrete piles and resulted in a measured 
transmission loss factor of 20 (~8 dB per doubling of distance) which 
has been applied to calculate distances to harassment isopleths for 
those specific piles. This value is calculated from hydroacoustic 
monitoring of attenuated impact driving of concrete piles conducted as 
part of the LWMEP. The results of the 2018 hydroacoustic monitoring are 
provided in Appendix A of the application.
    When the 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 may result in some degree of 
overestimate of Level A harassment 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 impact 
and 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 activity, it would not incur PTS. Inputs used in 
the User Spreadsheet, and the resulting isopleths are reported below in 
Table 3.

                                                                              Table 3--Inputs for User Spreadsheet
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
       Spreadsheet tab used          E.1-2: Impact pile    E.1-2:  Impact pile    E.1-2:  Impact pile      A.1:  Vibratory        A.1:  Vibratory        A.1:  Vibratory       A.1:  Vibratory
----------------------------------        driving                driving                driving                driving                driving                driving               driving
                                  --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
            Pile type                   60-in  steel        24-inch  concrete         36-in  steel        12-inch  composite        36-in  steel          20-in  steel         Wood/ concrete
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Source Level.....................  178 SEL..............  161 SEL..............  180 SEL..............  168 RMS..............  170 RMS..............  163 RMS.............  152 RMS.
Weighting Factor Adjustment (kHz)  2....................  2....................  2....................  2.5..................  2.5..................  2.5.................  2.5.
Number of strikes in 1 h OR        2,400................  300..................  30...................  NA...................  NA...................  NA..................  NA.
 number of strikes per pile.
Number of piles per day..........  1....................  2....................  2....................  5....................  4....................  4...................  12.
Propagation (xLogR)..............  15...................  20...................  15...................  15...................  15...................  15..................  15.
Duration to drive single pile      NA...................  NA...................  NA...................  10...................  10...................  10..................  7.
 (minutes).
Distance of source level           10...................  10...................  10...................  10...................  10...................  10..................  10.
 measurement (meters) \+\.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Table 4 shows the Level A harassment isopleths as determined 
utilizing inputs from Table 3. Note that for all calculations, the 
results based on SELss are larger than SPLpk, 
therefore, distances calculated using SELss are used to 
calculate the area. Level B Harassment isopleths for impact and 
vibratory driving and extraction are shown in Table 5.

[[Page 28480]]



                              Table 4--Radial Distances to Level A Harassment Isopleths During Impact and Vibratory Driving
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                      Source levels at 10 meters  (dB)                   Distance to Level A threshold \1\ meters  (feet)
                                  ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  Project element requiring pile                                                                               High-
           installation               Peak \2\            RMS/SEL         Low- frequency  Mid- frequency     frequency        Phocid          Otariid
                                                                             cetaceans       cetaceans       cetaceans       pinnipeds       pinnipeds
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Attenuated Impact Driving (with
 bubble curtain):
    60-inch steel pipe (1 per                 203  178 SEL..............     831 (2,726)         30 (97)     990 (3,247)     445 (1,459)        32 (106)
     day).
    24-inch square concrete (1-2              191  161 SEL..............         19 (64)           2 (5)         22 (73)         12 (40)           2 (6)
     per day).
Impact Pile Proofing (no bubble
 curtain):
    36-inch steel pipe pile (2                208  180 SEL..............        97 (317)          3 (11)       115 (377)        52 (170)          4 (12)
     total).
Vibratory Driving/Extraction:
    12-inch Composite Barrier                 178  168 RMS..............         18 (58)           2 (5)         26 (86)         11 (35)           1 (2)
     Pile (5 per day).
    36-inch steel pipe pile (4                195  170 RMS..............         21 (68)           2 (6)        31 (101)         13 (41)           1 (3)
     per day).
    20-inch steel pipe pile (4                180  163 RMS..............          7 (23)           1 (2)         10 (34)          4 (14)           0 (1)
     per day).
    Wood and concrete pile                No Data  152 RMS..............           2 (7)          0 (<1)          3 (10)           1 (4)          0 (<1)
     extraction (12 per day).
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Notes:
For calculation worksheets used to develop these numbers is provided in Appendix B.
\1\ Level A thresholds are based on the NMFS 2016 Technical Guidance for Assessing the Effects of Anthropogenic Sound on Marine Mammal Hearing; cSEL
  threshold distances are shown. See footnote 3 below.
\2\ All distances to the peak Level A thresholds are less than 33 feet (10 meters).
Distances are rounded to the nearest foot or to ``<1.0 (0)'' for values less than 1 foot.
Peak and cSEL are re: 1 [micro]Pa and 1 [micro]Pa\2\-sec, respectively.
dB = decibels.
SEL = sound exposure level.
RMS = Root Mean Square.


          Table 5--Radial Distances to Level B Harassment Isopleths During Impact and Vibratory Driving
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                    Source levels at 10 meters  (dB)              Distance to
                                         ----------------------------------------------------- threshold 160/120
                Pile type                                                                      dB RMS  (Level B)
                                                        Peak                       RMS          * meters (feet)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Attenuated Impact Driving (with bubble
 curtain):
    60[dash]inch steel pipe (1 per day).  203.............................                188        736 (2,413)
    24[dash]inch square concrete (1-2     191.............................                173           45 (147)
     per day).
Impact Pile Proofing (no bubble
 curtain):
    36-inch steel pipe pile (2 total)...  208.............................                190      1,000 (3,280)
Vibratory Driving/Extraction:
    12-inch Composite Barrier Piles (5    178.............................                168    15,849 (51,984)
     per day).
    36-inch steel pipe pile (4 per day).  180.............................                170    21,544 (70,665)
    20-inch steel pipe pile (4 per day).  180.............................                163     7,356 (24,129)
    Wood and concrete pile extraction     No Data Available...............                152      1,359 (4,459)
     (12 per day).
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Notes:
dB decibels.
RMS root mean square.
* For underwater noise, the Level B Harassment threshold is 160 dB for impulsive noise and 120 dB for continuous
  noise.

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 the 2019 IHA application, a combination of nearby haul-out 
occupancy and at-sea densities were used to develop take estimates, in 
order to account for both local movements of harbor seals that haul out 
at Castro Rocks and other individuals that may be foraging in the more 
distant part of the Level B Harassment zone. By using hydroacoustic 
data collected in 2018, the extent of the harassment zones was refined 
for attenuated impact driving of

[[Page 28481]]

concrete piles by using the transmission loss measured during 2018 
project (20logr). As the Level B Harassment zones estimated for the 
2019 IHA are generally more localized, only the occupancy from the 
local Castro Rocks haul-out is used.
    Castro Rocks, located approximately 1.3 km northwest of the project 
site, is the largest harbor seal haul out site in the northern part of 
San Francisco Bay and is the second largest pupping site in the Bay 
(Green et al. 2002). Tidal stage is a major controlling factor of haul 
out usage at Castro Rocks with more seals present during low tides than 
high tide periods (Green et al. 2002). Additionally, the number of 
seals hauled out at Castro Rocks also varies with the time of day, with 
proportionally more animals hauled out during the nighttime hours 
(Green et al. 2002). Therefore, the number of harbor seals in the water 
around Castro Rocks will vary throughout the work period. Pile driving 
would occur intermittently during the day with average active driving 
times typically of a few hours per day, so varying sets of animals may 
be hauled out or in the water. However, there are no systematic counts 
available for accurately estimating the number of seals that may be in 
the water near Long Wharf at any given time. The National Park Service 
provided recent data indicating that up to 176 seals could be present 
each day at Castro Rocks. This value was conservatively based on the 
highest mean plus the standard error of harbor seals observed at Castro 
Rocks per day (Codde, S. and S. Allen 2013, 2015, and 2017), a value of 
176 seals. The 2018 draft Long Wharf marine mammal monitoring report 
indicated that 24 harbor seals were observed within the Level B 
harassment zone and zero individuals were observed within the Level A 
harassment zone over 10 days of pile driving, which equals less than 1 
percent of the authorized number of harbor seals with an average of 2.4 
animals per day. The maximum number observed per day was six.
    Since there are no California sea lion haul-outs in the vicinity of 
the project area, relatively few animals are expected to be present. 
However, monitoring for the RSRB did observe limited numbers in the 
north and central portions of the Bay during working hours. During 
monitoring for the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge (SFOBB) Project in 
the central Bay, 83 California sea lions were observed in the vicinity 
of the bridge over a 17-year period from 2000-2017, and from these 
observations, an estimated at-sea density of 0.16 animals per square 
kilometer is derived (NMFS 2018). This bridge is located approximately 
25 km south of the LWMEP location and is considered by NMFS to be the 
best available information. The 2018 Long Wharf draft monitoring report 
did not record any observations of sea lions.
    Small numbers of northern elephant seal may haul out or strand on 
coastline within the Central Bay. Monitoring of marine mammals in the 
vicinity of the SFOBB has been ongoing for 15 years. From those data, 
Caltrans has produced an estimated at-sea density for northern elephant 
seal of 0.16 animal per square mile (0.06 animal per square kilometer) 
(Caltrans, 2015b). Most sightings of northern elephant seal in San 
Francisco Bay occur in spring or early summer, and are less likely to 
occur during the periods of in-water work for this project. As a 
result, densities during pile driving for the planned action are likely 
to be lower. Additionally, this species was not observed by the marine 
mammal observers in the vicinity of the Long Wharf during 2018 pile 
driving monitoring.
    The occurrence of northern fur seal in San Francisco Bay depends 
largely on oceanic conditions, with animals more likely to strand 
during El Ni[ntilde]o events. Equatorial sea surface temperatures are 
above average across most of the Pacific Ocean this year, and El 
Ni[ntilde]o is expected to continue through winter of 2019 and into 
spring (NOAA 2019). There are no estimated at-sea densities for this 
species in San Francisco Bay and no seals were recorded during 2018 
Long Wharf marine mammal monitoring.
    A small but growing population of harbor porpoises utilizes San 
Francisco Bay which are typically spotted in the vicinity of Angel 
Island and the Golden Gate (6 and 12 kilometers (3.7 and 7.5 miles) 
southwest respectively) and the vicinity of Treasure Island (Caltrans 
2018). However, they may occur in other areas in the Central Bay in low 
numbers, including the project area. Based on monitoring conducted for 
the SFOBB project in 2017, an in-water density of 0.17 animals per 
square kilometer has been estimated by Caltrans for this species (NMFS 
2018). No members of this species were recorded during 2018 during pile 
driving activities at LWMEP.
    Bottlenose dolphins are typically found close to the Golden Gate 
Bridge when they are observed in San Francisco Bay. There are no 
estimated at-sea densities for this species in San Francisco Bay 
available for calculating a take estimate. Beginning in 2015, two 
individuals have been observed frequently in the vicinity of Oyster 
Point (GGCR 2018; Perlman, 2017). The average reported group size for 
bottlenose dolphins is five. Reports show that a group normally comes 
into San Francisco Bay, is near Yerba Buena Island once per week for 
approximately two (2) weeks and then leaves (NMFS, 2017).
    Gray whales have been observed entering the Bay during their 
northward migration period, and are most often sighted in the Bay 
between February and May. Most venture only about 2 to 3 km (about 1-2 
miles) past the Golden Gate. However, gray whales have occasionally 
been sighted as far north as San Pablo Bay. Pile driving is not 
expected to occur during the February-May period, and gray whales are 
not likely to be present at other times of year. No whales were 
observed as part of 2018 Long Wharf marine mammal monitoring 
activities.

Take Calculation and Estimation

    Here we describe how the information provided above is brought 
together to produce a quantitative take estimate.
    When density data was available, take for the project was 
calculated by multiplying the density times the harassment zone (km\2\) 
associated with pile driving activities that are underway times the 
number of construction days. Since density data was only available for 
harbor seals, harbor porpoises, and California sea lions, these were 
the only species whose take was calculated using this methodology. For 
species without density information, information on average group size 
or local observational data was used as described below.

Pacific Harbor Seal

    Chevron initially estimated that all harbor seals (176) at Castro 
Rocks would be exposed to noise that reaches the threshold for Level B 
harassment on every day on which there was pile driving. The areas of 
the Level A harassment zones in which take by injury could occur were 
determined by subtracting the shutdown zone areas from Level A 
harassment zone areas. Chevron estimated Level A take for impact 
driving of the 60-inch and 36-inch steel piles by using Level B take 
and multiplying it by the ratio of the Level A zone area to the Level B 
zone area. Level A take is not requested for vibratory driving. This 
resulted in an estimated 11,968 takes by Level B harassment and 513 
takes by Level A harassment. However, based on input from the 
Commission as well as the size of the Level B zones extending beyond 
Castro Rocks, NMFS is authorizing takes for all 176 seals per day 
multiplied by 37 days for all piles but 24-inch concrete. For 24-inch 
concrete, the max observed, which was two, has been

[[Page 28482]]

multiplied by 30 as resulting in a total of 6,572 Level B takes of 
harbor seal as shown in Table 9. For Level A harassment the same 
rationale was used. The area of the Level A harassment zone for 60-inch 
piles is 0.62 km\2\, while the area of the Level B harassment zone is 
1.7 km\2\. The ratio of these two areas was multiplied by 176 seals 
resulting in 64 takes per day and a total of 513 authorized Level A 
harassment takes as shown in Table 6 and Table 10.

                    Table 6--Level A and Level B Harassment Estimate for Pacific Harbor Seal
                                                    [Per day]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                      Estimated take per day
                                                                   Level A zone, -------------------------------
            Pile type              Level B zone   Exclusion zone       minus       Level B take    Level A take
                                      (sq km)       radius (m)     shutdown zone     per day--       per day--
                                                                      (sq km)          total           total
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                Vibratory Driving
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
12-inch composite pile..........          165.62              15               0             176              NA
36-inch steel pipe pile.........          187.94              15               0             176              NA
20-inch steel pipe pile.........           87.57              10               0             176              NA
Timber/Concrete Pile Removal....            5.33              15               0             176              NA
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                 Impact Driving
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
24-inch concrete pile...........            0.01              20               0             176              NA
60-inch steel pile..............            1.70              30            0.62             176           64.06
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                 Impact Proofing
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
36-inch steel pile..............            3.14              30            0.01             176            0.14
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    For impact pile driving of the 60-inch steel piles, the shutdown 
zones (30 meters) are notably smaller than the Level A harassment zone 
and the applicant has accordingly requested take by Level A harassment 
for harbor seal so that pile driving can be completed on schedule 
without frequent shutdowns. Individuals occurring within the Level A 
harassment zone but outside of the shut-down zone may experience Level 
A harassment, if they reside in that area for a long enough duration. 
However, these animals can be highly mobile, and remaining within the 
small injury zone for an extended period is unlikely, though it could 
occur.

California Sea Lion

    Monitoring data from the SFOBB Project over a 17-year period was 
used to develop a density of 0.16 California sea lions per square 
kilometer. This density and the areas of the potential Level B 
Harassment zones are used in Table 7. Level A harassment take of this 
species is not requested, due to the small size of the Level A 
harassment zone for otariid pinnipeds,

      Table 7--Level B Harassment Estimate for California Sea Lion
                                [Per day]
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                           Level B take
                                                             estimate
                                                             (based on
                Pile type                  Level B zone     Central Bay
                                              (km\2\)       density of
                                                           0.16 animals
                                                            per km\2\)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                            Vibratory Driving
------------------------------------------------------------------------
12-inch composite pile..................          165.62           26.50
36-inch steel pipe pile.................          187.94           30.07
20-inch steel pipe pile.................           87.57           14.01
Timber/Concrete Pile Removal............            5.33            0.85
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                             Impact Driving
------------------------------------------------------------------------
24-inch concrete pile...................            0.01            0.01
60-inch steel pile......................            1.70            0.27
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                             Impact Proofing
------------------------------------------------------------------------
36-inch steel pile......................            3.14            0.50
------------------------------------------------------------------------


[[Page 28483]]

Harbor Porpoise

    Based on monitoring conducted for the SFOBB project in 2017, an in-
water density of 0.17 animals per square kilometer has been estimated 
by Caltrans for this species (NMFS 2018). Using this in-water density 
and the areas of potential Level A and Level B harassment, take is 
estimated for harbor porpoise as provided in Table 10. Level A 
harassment zone areas in which PTS could occur were determined by 
subtracting the shutdown zone areas from Level A harassment zone areas. 
Level A take is not requested for vibratory driving.

                  Table 8--Level A and Level B Harassment Estimate for Pacific Harbor Porpoise
                                                    [Per day]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                      Level B
                                                                   Level A zone,     estimate        Estimated
            Pile type              Level B zone   Exclusion zone       minus        Central Bay    Level A take
                                      (km\2\)           (m)       shutdown  zone  in-water--0.17      per day
                                                                      (km\2\)        per km\2\
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                Vibratory Driving
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
12-inch composite barrier pile..          165.62              50              NA           28.16              NA
36-inch steel pipe pile.........          187.94              50              NA           31.95              NA
20-inch steel pipe pile.........           87.57              50              NA           14.89              NA
Timber/Concrete Pile Removal....            5.33              50              NA            0.91              NA
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                 Impact Driving
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
24-inch concrete pile...........            0.01              50               0            0.01               0
60-inch steel pile..............            0.21              50            0.23            0.29            0.52
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                 Impact Proofing
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
36-inch steel pile..............            3.14              80               0            0.53           <0.01
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Northern Elephant Seal

    As noted above, elephant seal densities are expected to be 
extremely low. Therefore, Chevron did not use density data to calculate 
take. Additionally, this species was not observed by the marine mammal 
observers in the vicinity of the LWMEP during 2018 pile driving marine 
mammal monitoring activities. Therefore, Caltrans will conservatively 
assume that a lone northern elephant seal may enter the Level B 
Harassment area once per every three days during pile driving. As such, 
NMFS has authorized a total of 23 takes by Level B harassment. Level A 
harassment of this species is not expected to occur.

Northern Fur Seal

    With weak El Ni[ntilde]o conditions predicted to continue into 
spring and, perhaps, summer (NOAA 2019). There is a chance that fur 
seals could occur near the project area. Since there are no estimated 
at-sea densities for this species in San Francisco Bay, NMFS has 
authorized 10 takes of fur seals by Level B harassment. Level A 
harassment of this species is not anticipated.

Bottlenose Dolphin

    As noted above, there are no estimated at-sea densities for this 
species in San Francisco Bay available for calculating a take estimate 
although they have been observed. Beginning in 2015, two individuals 
have been observed frequently in the vicinity of Oyster Point (GGCR, 
2016; GGCR 2017; Perlman, 2017). The average reported group size for 
bottlenose dolphins is five. Assuming the dolphins come into San 
Francisco Bay once every 10 days, 30 takes would be anticipated, if the 
group enters the areas over which the Level B harassment thresholds may 
be exceeded. Therefore, NMFS has authorized the take of 30 bottlenose 
dolphins.

Gray Whale

    Gray whales are most often sighted in the Bay between February and 
May. However, LWMEP pile driving is not expected to occur during this 
time, and gray whales are unlikely to be present at other times of 
year. However, should pile driving occur during the northward migration 
period, Chevron requests and NMFS has authorized two (2) Gray whale 
takes by Level B harassment.
    The Level B Harassment estimates shown in Table 9 are based on the 
number of individuals assumed to be exposed per day, the number of 
piles driven per day and the number of days of pile driving expected 
based on an average installation rate.

                                                               Table 9--Summary of Estimated Take by Species for 2019 Work Season
                                                                                      [Level B harassment]
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                                                                   Species
                                                                                      Number of   Number of ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                   Pile type                              Pile driver type              piles      driving     Harbor      CA sea      Harbor    Gray whale  N elephant     N fur     Bottlenose
                                                                                                    days        seal        lion      porpoise        *        seal **     seal *     dolphin *
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
60-inch steel pipe.............................  Impact............................           8           8       1,408        2.18        2.31          NA        2.66          NA           NA
36-inch steel pipe pile ***....................  Vibratory.........................           8           4         704      120.28      127.80          NA        1.33          NA           NA
36-inch steel pipe pile........................  Impact Proofing...................           2           1         176        0.50        0.53          NA        0.33          NA           NA
20-inch steel pipe pile........................  Vibratory.........................           8           4         704       56.04       59.56          NA        1.33          NA           NA
Concrete pile removal..........................  Vibratory.........................           5           1         176        0.91        0.97          NA        0.33          NA           NA

[[Page 28484]]

 
24-inch concrete...............................  Impact............................          39          30          60         0.3        0.04          NA          10          NA           NA
12-inch composite pile installation............  Vibratory.........................          52          11       1,936      291.50      309.72          NA        3.66          NA           NA
Timber pile removal............................  Vibratory.........................         106           9       1,584        7.68        8.16          NA           3          NA           NA
                                                                                    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total Take by Species (2019)...............  ..................................  ..........  ..........       6,572         479         509           2          23          10           30
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
* Take is not calculated by activity type for these species, only a total estimate is given.
** Assumes 1 take every 3 days of driving.
*** Level B take for this pile type is based on vibratory driving only, as the method produces the larger Level B zone.


                   Table 10--Summary of Estimated Take Level A Harassment for 2019 Work Season
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                     Number of       Number of                        Harbor
           Pile type            Pile driver type       piles       driving days     Harbor seal      porpoise
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
60-inch steel pipe............  Impact..........               8               8          512.49            4.18
36-inch steel pipe pile.......  Vibratory.......               8               4               0               0
36-inch steel pipe pile.......  Impact Proofing.               2               1            0.14           <0.01
20-inch steel pipe pile **....  Vibratory.......               8               4               0               0
Concrete pile removal.........  Vibratory.......               5               1               0               0
24-inch concrete..............  Impact..........              39              30               0               0
12-inch composite pile          Vibratory.......              52              11               0               0
 installation.
Timber pile removal...........  Vibratory.......             106               9               0               0
                                                 ---------------------------------------------------------------
    Total Take................  ................  ..............  ..............             513               4
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


                         Table 11--Authorized Take and Percentage of Stock or Population
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                      Percent
                                                                                                   (instances of
                Species                           Stock             Authorized      Authorized     take compared
                                                                  Llevel A takes   Level B takes   to population
                                                                                                    abundance)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Harbor seal...........................  California..............             513           6,572            22.9
California sea lion...................  Eastern U.S.............  ..............             479            0.16
Harbor porpoise.......................  San Francisco--Russian                 4             509             6.1
                                         River.
Northern elephant seal................  California Breeding.....  ..............              23           <0.01
Gray whale............................  Eastern North Pacific...  ..............               2           <0.01
Northern fur seal.....................  California..............  ..............              10           <0.01
Bottlenose Dolphin....................  California Coastal......  ..............              30             6.6
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Mitigation

    In order to issue an IHA under Section 101(a)(5)(D) of the MMPA, 
NMFS must set forth the permissible methods of taking pursuant to such 
activity, and other means of effecting the least practicable impact on 
such species or stock and its habitat, paying particular attention to 
rookeries, mating grounds, and areas of similar significance, and on 
the availability of such species or stock for taking for certain 
subsistence uses (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, as 
well as subsistence uses. 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, 
personnel safety, practicality of implementation, and impact on the 
effectiveness of the military readiness activity.

[[Page 28485]]

Mitigation for Marine Mammals and Their Habitat

    The following measures will apply to Chevron's LWMEP mitigation 
requirements:
    Noise Attenuation--Bubble curtains will be used during all impact 
pile driving of 60-inch steel shell pile and 24-inch square concrete 
piles to interrupt acoustic pressure and reduce impact on marine 
mammals. The use of bubble curtains is expected to reduce underwater 
noise levels by approximately 7 dB, which greatly reduces the area over 
which the cumulative SEL threshold for Level A harassment may be 
exceeded. Bubble curtains would also decrease the size of the Level B 
harassment zone, reducing the numbers of marine mammals affected by 
potential behavioral impacts.
    Daylight Construction Period--Work would occur only during daylight 
hours (7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.) when visual marine mammal monitoring can 
be conducted.
    Establishment of a Shutdown Zone--For all pile driving and removal 
activities, Chevron will establish shutdown zones. The purpose of a 
shutdown zone is generally 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). A shutdown zone 
will be established which will include all or a portion of the area 
where SPLs are expected to reach or exceed the cumulative SEL 
thresholds for Level A harassment as provided in Table 12.

                                       Table 12--Shutdown Zones for LWMEP
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                              Exclusion zones meters
                                 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 Project element requiring pile                                        High-
          installation            Low- frequency  Mid- frequency     frequency        Phocid          Otariid
                                     cetaceans       cetaceans       cetaceans       pinnipeds       pinnipeds
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Attenuated Impact Driving (with
 bubble curtain):
    60-inch steel pipe..........             840              30              50              30              35
    24-inch square concrete.....              20              10              50              15              10
Impact Pile Proofing (no bubble
 curtain):
    36-inch steel pipe pile.....             100              10              80              30              10
Vibratory Driving/Extraction:
    12-inch Composite Barrier                 20              10              50              15              10
     Pile.......................
    36-inch steel pipe pile.....              20              10              50              15              10
    20-inch steel pipe pile.....              10              10              50              10              10
    Wood and concrete pile                    10              10              50              10              10
     extraction.................
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Establishment of Monitoring Zones for Level A and Level B--Chevron 
will establish and monitor Level A harassment zones during impact 
driving for harbor seal extending to 450 meters and harbor seals and 
extending to 990 for harbor porpoises. These are areas beyond the 
shutdown zone in which animals could be exposed to sound levels that 
could result in Level A harassment in the form of PTS. Chevron will 
also establish and monitor Level B harassment zones which are areas 
where SPLs are equal to or exceed the 160 dB rms threshold for impact 
driving and the 120 dB rms threshold during vibratory driving and 
extraction as shown in Table 5. Monitoring zones provide utility for 
observing by establishing monitoring protocols for areas adjacent to 
the shutdown zones. Monitoring zones also enable observers to be aware 
of and communicate the presence of marine mammals in the project area 
outside the shutdown zone and thus prepare for a potential cease of 
activity should the animal enter the shutdown zone. Level B harassment 
exposures will be recorded and extrapolated based upon the number of 
observed take and the percentage of the Level B harassment zone that 
was not visible.
    10-Meter Shutdown Zone--During the in-water operation of heavy 
machinery (e.g., barge movements), a 10-m shutdown zone for all marine 
mammals will be implemented. If a marine mammal comes within 10 m, 
operations shall cease and vessels shall reduce speed to the minimum 
level required to maintain steerage and safe working conditions.
    Soft Start--The use of a soft-start procedure are believed to 
provide additional protection to marine mammals by providing warning 
and/or giving marine mammals a chance to leave the area prior to the 
hammer operating at full capacity. Chevron shall use soft start 
techniques when impact pile driving. Soft start requires contractors to 
provide an initial set of strikes at reduced energy, followed by a 
thirty-second waiting period, then two subsequent reduced energy strike 
sets.
    Pre-Activity Monitoring--Pre-activity monitoring shall take place 
from 30 minutes prior to initiation of pile driving activity and post-
activity monitoring shall continue through 30 minutes post-completion 
of pile driving activity. Pile driving may commence at the end of the 
30-minute pre-activity monitoring period, provided observers have 
determined that the shutdown zone is clear of marine mammals, which 
includes delaying start of pile driving activities if a marine mammal 
is sighted in the zone, as described below.
    If a marine mammal approaches or enters the shutdown zone during 
activities or pre-activity monitoring, all pile driving activities at 
that location shall be halted or delayed, respectively. If pile driving 
is halted or delayed due to the presence of a marine mammal, the 
activity may not resume or commence until either the animal has 
voluntarily left and been visually confirmed beyond the shutdown zone 
or 15 minutes have passed without re-detection of the animal. Pile 
driving activities include the time to install or 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.
    Non-authorized Take Prohibited--If a species for which 
authorization has not been granted or a species for which authorization 
has been granted but the authorized takes are met, is observed 
approaching or within the monitoring zone, pile driving and removal 
activities must shut down immediately using delay and shut-down 
procedures. Activities must not resume until the animal has been 
confirmed to have left the area or an observation time period of 15 
minutes has elapsed.
    Based on our evaluation of the Chevron's measures, as well as other 
measures considered by NMFS, we have determined that the mitigation 
measures

[[Page 28486]]

provide the means effecting the least practicable impact on the 
affected species or stocks and their habitat, paying particular 
attention to rookeries, mating grounds, and areas of similar 
significance.

Monitoring and Reporting

    In order to issue an IHA for an activity, Section 101(a)(5)(D) of 
the MMPA states that NMFS must set forth requirements pertaining to the 
monitoring and reporting of such taking. The MMPA implementing 
regulations at 50 CFR 216.104 (a)(13) indicate that requests for 
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 cumulative impacts from multiple stressors;
     How anticipated responses to stressors impact either: (1) 
Long-term fitness and survival of individual marine mammals; or (2) 
populations, species, or stocks;
     Effects on marine mammal habitat (e.g., marine mammal prey 
species, acoustic habitat, or other important physical components of 
marine mammal habitat); and
     Mitigation and monitoring effectiveness.

Visual Monitoring

    The following visual monitoring measures are required as part of 
the issued IHA.
     One day of biological monitoring would occur within one 
week before the project's start date to establish baseline 
observations;
     Monitoring distances, in accordance with the identified 
shutdown, Level A, and Level B zones, will be determined by using a 
range finder, scope, hand-held global positioning system (GPS) device 
or landmarks with known distances from the monitoring positions;
     Monitoring locations will be established at locations 
offering best views of the monitoring zone;
     Monitoring would be conducted 30 minutes before, during, 
and 30 minutes after pile driving and removal 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 or removed. 
Pile driving and removal activities include the time to install or 
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 30 minutes.
     Monitoring will be continuous unless the contractor takes 
a break longer than 2 hours from active pile driving, in which case, 
monitoring will be required 30 minutes prior to restarting pile 
installation;
     For in-water pile driving, under conditions of fog or poor 
visibility that might obscure the presence of a marine mammal within 
the shutdown zone, the pile in progress will be completed and then pile 
driving suspended until visibility conditions improve;
     At least two PSOs will be actively scanning the monitoring 
zone during all pile driving activities with one PSO stationed at the 
north end of the wharf monitoring the entire observable area with a 
special focus on the section between Castro Rocks and the wharf;
     Monitoring of pile driving shall be conducted by qualified 
PSOs (see below), who shall have no other assigned tasks during 
monitoring periods. Chevron shall adhere to the following conditions 
when selecting observers:
    (1) Independent PSOs shall be used (i.e., not construction 
personnel);
    (2) At least one PSO must have prior experience working as a marine 
mammal observer during construction activities;
    (3) Other PSOs may substitute education (degree in biological 
science or related field) or training for experience; and
    (4) Chevron shall submit PSO CVs for approval by NMFS;
     Chevron will ensure that observers have the following 
additional qualifications:
    (1) Ability to conduct field observations and collect data 
according to assigned protocols;
    (2) Experience or training in the field identification of marine 
mammals, including the identification of behaviors;
    (3) Sufficient training, orientation, or experience with the 
construction operation to provide for personal safety during 
observations;
    (4) 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, times, and reason for implementation of mitigation 
(or why mitigation was not implemented when required); and marine 
mammal behavior; and
    (5) 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.

Hydroacoustic Monitoring

    Sound Source Verification (SSV) testing of would be conducted under 
this IHA. The purpose of the planned acoustic monitoring plan is to 
collect underwater sound-level information at both near and distant 
locations during vibratory pile extraction and installation and impact 
pile installation. Hydroacoustic monitoring would be conducted by a 
qualified monitor during pile extraction and driving activities as 
described in the Hydroacoustic Monitoring plan and will likely include 
the following during 2019:
     Acoustic monitoring for at least two (2) timber piles 
(vibratory);
     Acoustic monitoring for at least four (4) 24-inch square 
concrete piles (impact);
     Acoustic monitoring for at least two (2) 20-inch steel 
piles (vibratory);
     Acoustic monitoring for at least two (2) 36-inch steel 
piles (vibratory);
     Acoustic monitoring for at least two (2) 60-inch steel 
piles (impact); and
     Acoustic monitoring of two (2) 12-inch composite piles 
(vibratory).

Reporting Measures

    A draft marine mammal monitoring report would be submitted to NMFS 
within 90 days after the completion of pile driving and removal 
activities. It will include an overall description of

[[Page 28487]]

work completed, a narrative regarding marine mammal sightings, and 
associated PSO data sheets. Specifically, the report must include:
     Dates and times (begin and end) of all marine mammal 
monitoring;
     Construction activities occurring during each daily 
observation period, including how many and what type of piles were 
driven or removed and by what method (i.e., impact or vibratory);
     Weather parameters and water conditions during each 
monitoring period (e.g., wind speed, percent cover, visibility, sea 
state);
     The number of marine mammals observed, by species, 
relative to the pile location and if pile driving or removal was 
occurring at time of sighting;
     Age and sex class, if possible, of all marine mammals 
observed;
     PSO locations during marine mammal monitoring;
     Distances and bearings of each marine mammal observed to 
the pile being driven or removed for each sighting (if pile driving or 
removal was occurring at time of sighting);
     Description of any marine mammal behavior patterns during 
observation, including direction of travel;
     Number of individuals of each species (differentiated by 
month as appropriate) detected within the monitoring zone, and 
estimates of number of marine mammals taken, by species (a correction 
factor may be applied to total take numbers, as appropriate);
     Detailed information about any implementation of any 
mitigation triggered (e.g., shutdowns and delays), a description of 
specific actions that ensued, and resulting behavior of the animal, if 
any;
     Description of attempts to distinguish between the number 
of individual animals taken and the number of incidences of take, such 
as ability to track groups or individuals; and
     Level B harassment exposures recorded by PSOs must be 
extrapolated based upon the number of observed takes and the percentage 
of the Level B harassment zone that was not visible.
    If no comments are received from NMFS within 30 days, the draft 
final report will constitute the final report. If comments are 
received, a final report addressing NMFS comments must be submitted 
within 30 days after receipt of comments.
    In the unanticipated event that the specified activity clearly 
causes the take of a marine mammal in a manner prohibited by the IHA 
(if issued), such as an injury, serious injury or mortality, Chevron 
would immediately cease the specified activities and report the 
incident to the Chief of the Permits and Conservation Division, Office 
of Protected Resources, NMFS, and the West Coast Regional Stranding 
Coordinator. The report would include the following information:
     Description of the incident;
     Environmental conditions (e.g., Beaufort sea state, 
visibility);
     Description of all marine mammal observations in the 24 
hours preceding the incident;
     Species identification or description of the animal(s) 
involved;
     Fate of the animal(s); and
     Photographs or video footage of the animal(s) (if 
equipment is available).
    Activities would not resume until NMFS is able to review the 
circumstances of the prohibited take. NMFS would work with Chevron to 
determine what is necessary to minimize the likelihood of further 
prohibited take and ensure MMPA compliance. Chevron would not be able 
to resume their activities until notified by NMFS via letter, email, or 
telephone.
    In the event that Chevron discovers an injured or dead marine 
mammal, and the lead PSO determines that the cause of the injury or 
death is unknown and the death is relatively recent (e.g., in less than 
a moderate state of decomposition as described in the next paragraph), 
Chevron would immediately report the incident to the Chief of the 
Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, 
and the West Coast Regional Stranding Coordinator. The report would 
include the same information identified in the paragraph above. 
Activities would be able to continue while NMFS reviews the 
circumstances of the incident. NMFS would work with Chevron to 
determine whether modifications in the activities are appropriate.
    In the event that Chevron discovers an injured or dead marine 
mammal and the lead PSO determines that the injury or death is not 
associated with or related to the activities authorized in the IHA 
(e.g., previously wounded animal, carcass with moderate to advanced 
decomposition, or scavenger damage), Chevron would report the incident 
to the Chief of the Permits and Conservation Division, Office of 
Protected Resources, NMFS, and the West Coast Regional Stranding 
Coordinator, within 24 hours of the discovery. Chevron would provide 
photographs, video footage (if available), or other documentation of 
the stranded animal sighting to NMFS and the Marine Mammal Stranding 
Network.

Negligible Impact Analysis and Determination

    NMFS has defined negligible impact 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 (50 CFR 216.103). 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).
    Pile driving and extraction associated with Chevron's LWMEP project 
as outlined previously have the potential to injure, disturb or 
displace marine mammals. Specifically, the planned activities may 
result in Level B harassment (behavioral disturbance) for seven marine 
mammal species authorized for take from underwater sound generated 
during pile driving and removal operations. Level A harassment in the 
form of limited PTS may also occur to animals of two species. No marine 
mammal stocks for which incidental take authorization are listed as 
threatened or endangered under the ESA or determined to be strategic or 
depleted under the MMPA. No serious injuries or mortalities are 
anticipated to occur as a result of Chevron's pile driving activities.
    A limited number of animals (513 harbor seals and 4 harbor 
porpoises) could experience Level A harassment in the form of PTS if 
they stay within the Level A harassment zone during impact

[[Page 28488]]

driving of 60-inch steel and 36-inch steel piles. The degree of injury 
is expected to be mild and is not likely to affect the reproduction or 
survival of the individual animals. It is expected that, if hearing 
impairments occurs, most likely the affected animal would lose a few dB 
in its hearing sensitivity, which in most cases is not likely to affect 
its survival and recruitment.
    The Level B takes that are anticipated and authorized are expected 
to be limited to short-term behavioral harassment. Marine mammals 
present near the action area and taken by Level B harassment would most 
likely show overt brief disturbance (e.g. startle reaction) and 
avoidance of the area from elevated noise level during pile driving. 
However, this is unlikely to result in any significant realized 
decrease in fitness for the affected individuals or stocks for which 
take is authorized. While harbor seals from Castro Rocks may experience 
some temporary low-level behavioral impacts, the number of seals 
potentially affected is conservatively estimated at approximately 23 
percent of the stock. This number, however, likely includes multiple 
takes of the same individuals. Furthermore, Castro Rocks and the LWMEP 
location represent a small portion of the range of the California stock 
of harbor seal. These two factors indicate that a much lower percentage 
of the stock would potentially be affected and, therefore, no adverse 
impacts to the stock as a whole are expected.
    The project is not expected to have significant adverse effects on 
affected marine mammal habitat. The activities may cause fish to leave 
the area temporarily. This could impact marine mammals' foraging 
opportunities in a limited portion of the foraging range; but, because 
of the relatively short duration of driving activities and the 
relatively small area of affected habitat, the impacts to marine mammal 
habitat are not expected to cause significant or long-term negative 
consequences. Furthermore, there are no biologically important areas 
identified in the project area.
    The likelihood that marine mammals will be detected by trained 
observers is high under the environmental conditions described for the 
project. The employment of the soft-start mitigation measure during 
impact driving would also allow marine mammals in or near the shutdown 
and Level A zone zones to move away from the impact driving sound 
source. Therefore, the mitigation and monitoring measures are expected 
to reduce the potential for injury and reduce the amount and intensity 
of behavioral harassment. Furthermore, the pile driving activities 
analyzed here are similar to, or less impactful than, numerous 
construction activities conducted in other similar locations which have 
taken place with no reported injuries or mortality to marine mammals, 
and no known long-term adverse consequences from behavioral harassment.
    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;
     Anticipated incidences of Level A harassment would be in 
the form of a small degree of PTS to a limited number of animals;
     Anticipated incidents of Level B harassment consist of, at 
worst, temporary modifications in behavior;
     No biologically important areas have been identified in 
the vicinity of the project area;
     The small percentage of the stock that may be affected by 
project activities (< 23 percent for all stocks); and
     Efficacy of mitigation measures is expected to minimize 
the likelihood and severity of the level of harassment.
    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 
activity will have a negligible impact on all affected marine mammal 
species or stocks.

Small Numbers

    As noted above, only small numbers of incidental take may be 
authorized under Sections 101(a)(5)(A) and (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.
    Table 13 depicts the number of animals that could be exposed to 
Level A and Level B harassment from work associated with Chevron's 
project. The analysis provided indicates that authorized take would 
account for no more than 23 percent of the populations of the stocks 
that could be affected. These are small numbers of marine mammals 
relative to the sizes of the affected stocks.
    Based on the analysis contained herein of the 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.

Unmitigable Adverse Impact Analysis and Determination

    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.

National Environmental Policy Act

    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 Categorical Exclusion B4 (incidental harassment authorizations with 
no anticipated serious injury or mortality) 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.

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.
    No incidental take of ESA-listed species is expected to occur or

[[Page 28489]]

authorized for this activity. Therefore, NMFS has determined that 
formal consultation under section 7 of the ESA is not required for this 
action.

Authorization

    As a result of these determinations, NMFS has issued an IHA to 
Chevron for conducting pile driving and removal activities at Chevron's 
Long Wharf from June 1, 2019 through May 31, 2020, provided the 
previously mentioned mitigation, monitoring, and reporting requirements 
are incorporated.

    Dated: May 30, 2019.
Donna S. Wieting,
Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries 
Service.
[FR Doc. 2019-12922 Filed 6-18-19; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P