Taking and Importing Marine Mammals; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to U.S. Navy Training and Testing Activities in the Northwest Training and Testing Study Area, 38225-38226 [2019-16759]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 151 / Tuesday, August 6, 2019 / Notices XI. Recommendation [FR Doc. 2019–16753 Filed 8–5–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–DS–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648–XR008 Taking and Importing Marine Mammals; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to U.S. Navy Training and Testing Activities in the Northwest Training and Testing Study Area National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice; receipt of application for a Letter of Authorization; request for comments and information. Background NMFS has received a request from the U.S. Navy (Navy) for authorization to take marine mammals incidental to training and testing activities conducted in the Northwest Training and Testing (NWTT) Study Area for a period of seven years, from November, 2020 through November, 2027. Pursuant to regulations implementing the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), NMFS is announcing receipt of the Navy’s request for the development and implementation of regulations governing the incidental taking of marine mammals. NMFS invites the public to provide information, suggestions, and comments on the Navy’s application and request. DATES: Comments and information must be received no later than September 5, 2019. ADDRESSES: Comments on the application should be addressed to Jolie Harrison, Chief, Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service. Physical comments should be sent to 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910 and electronic comments should be sent to ITP.Piniak@noaa.gov. Instructions: NMFS is not responsible for comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period. Comments received electronically, including all attachments, must not exceed a 25megabyte file size. Attachments to electronic comments will be accepted in Microsoft Word or Excel or Adobe PDF file formats only. All comments received are a part of the public record Sections 101(a)(5)(A) and (D) of the MMPA (16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.) direct the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary) to allow, upon request, the incidental, but not intentional taking of marine mammals by U.S. citizens who engage in a specified activity (other than commercial fishing) within a specified geographic region if certain findings are made and either regulations are issued or, if the taking is limited to harassment, notice of a proposed authorization is provided to the public for review. An authorization for incidental takings shall be granted if NMFS finds that the taking will have a negligible impact on the species or stock(s), will not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of the species or stock(s) for subsistence uses (where relevant), and if the permissible methods of taking and requirements pertaining to the mitigation, monitoring and reporting of such takings are set forth. NMFS has defined ‘‘negligible impact’’ in 50 CFR 216.103 as an impact resulting from the specified activity that cannot be reasonably expected to, and is not reasonably likely to, adversely affect the species or stock through effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival. The MMPA states that the term ‘‘take’’ means to harass, hunt, capture, kill or attempt to harass, hunt, capture, or kill any marine mammal. Except with respect to certain activities not pertinent here, the MMPA defines ‘‘harassment’’ as any act of pursuit, torment, or annoyance which: (i) Has the potential to injure a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild (Level A harassment); or (ii) has the potential to disturb a marine AGENCY: SUMMARY: jbell on DSK3GLQ082PROD with NOTICES and will generally be posted to the internet at www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/ permits/incidental/military.htm without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address) voluntarily submitted by the commenter may be publicly accessible. Do not submit confidential business information or otherwise sensitive or protected information. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Wendy Piniak, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, (301) 427–8401. An electronic copy of the Navy’s application may be obtained online at: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/ national/marine-mammal-protection/ incidental-take-authorizations-militaryreadiness-activities. In case of problems accessing these documents, please call the contact listed above. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:21 Aug 05, 2019 Jkt 247001 PO 00000 Frm 00024 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 38225 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). The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2004 (Public Law (Pub. L.) 108–136) removed the ‘‘small numbers’’ and ‘‘specified geographical region’’ limitations indicated above and amended the definition of ‘‘harassment’’ as it applies to a ‘‘military readiness activity’’ to read as follows (Section 3(18)(B) of the MMPA): (i) Any act that injures or has the significant potential to injure a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild (Level A harassment); or (ii) Any act that disturbs or is likely to disturb a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild by causing disruption of natural behavioral patterns, including, but not limited to, migration, surfacing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or sheltering, to a point where such behavioral patterns are abandoned or significantly altered (Level B harassment). On August 13, 2018, the 2019 NDAA (Pub. L. 115–232) amended the MMPA to allow incidental take regulations for military readiness activities to be issued for up to seven years. Summary of Request On March 11, 2019, NMFS received an adequate and complete application from the Navy requesting authorization for the take of marine mammals, by Level A harassment and B harassment, incidental to training, testing, and routine military operations (all categorized as military readiness activities) from the use of sonar and other transducers and in-water detonations. In addition, the Navy is requesting authorization of three takes of large whales by serious injury or mortality resulting from vessel strikes. NMFS received a revised application on June 24, 2019. The requested regulations would be valid for seven years, from 2020 through 2027. This will be the third time NMFS has promulgated incidental take regulations pursuant to the MMPA relating to similar military readiness activities in the NWTT Study Area, following those effective from November 9, 2010 through November 8, 2015 (75 FR 69275; November 10, 2010) and from November 9, 2015 through November 8, 2010 (80 FR 73555; November 24, 2015). Description of the Specified Activity The NWTT Study Area is composed of established maritime operating and warning areas in the eastern North E:\FR\FM\06AUN1.SGM 06AUN1 jbell on DSK3GLQ082PROD with NOTICES 38226 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 151 / Tuesday, August 6, 2019 / Notices Pacific Ocean region, including areas of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Puget Sound, and Western Behm Canal in southeastern Alaska (see Figure 2–1 of the Navy’s application). The Study Area includes four existing range complexes and facilities: The Northwest Training Range Complex, the Keyport Range Complex, Carr Inlet Operations Area, and the Southeast Alaska Acoustic Measurement Facility (Western Behm Canal, Alaska). In addition to these range complexes, the Study Area also includes Navy pierside locations where sonar maintenance and testing occurs as part of overhaul, modernization, maintenance, and repair activities at Naval Base Kitsap, Bremerton; Naval Base Kitsap, Bangor; and Naval Station Everett. The following types of training and testing activities, which are classified as military readiness activities pursuant to section 315(f) of Pub. L. 101–314 (16 U.S.C. 703), are included in the specified activity described in the Navy’s application: Anti-submarine warfare (sonar and other transducers, underwater detonations), mine warfare (sonar and other transducers, underwater detonations), surface warfare (underwater detonations), and other (sonar and other transducers). The Navy’s application includes proposed mitigation measures for marine mammals that would be implemented during training and testing activities in the NWTT Study Area (see Section 11 of the Navy’s application). Proposed procedural mitigation measures and geographic mitigation areas generally include: (1) The use of Lookouts to observe for biological resources and communicate the need for mitigation implementation; (2) powerdowns, shutdowns, and delay of starts to avoid exposure of marine mammals to high levels of sound or explosive blasts more likely to result in injury or more serious behavioral disruption; and (3) limiting the use of active sonar or explosives in certain biologically important areas to reduce the probability or severity of impacts when they are more likely to contribute to fitness impacts (see Figure 11–1 of the Navy’s application). The Navy also proposes to undertake monitoring and reporting efforts to track compliance with incidental take authorizations and to help investigate the effectiveness of implemented mitigation measures in the NWTT Study Area. This includes Adaptive Management, the Integrated Comprehensive Monitoring Program, the Strategic Planning Process, and Annual Monitoring and Activity Reports. As an example, under the VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:21 Aug 05, 2019 Jkt 247001 Integrated Comprehensive Monitoring Program, the monitoring relating to the effects of Navy training and testing activities on protected marine species are designed to increase the understanding of the likely occurrence of marine mammals in the vicinity of the action (i.e., presence, abundance, distribution, and density of species) and to increase the understanding of the nature, scope, or context of the likely exposure of marine mammals to any of the potential stressors associated with the action. Information Solicited Interested persons may submit information, suggestions, and comments concerning the Navy’s request (see ADDRESSES). NMFS will consider all information, suggestions, and comments related to the request during the development of proposed regulations governing the incidental taking of marine mammals by the Navy, if appropriate. Dated: August 1, 2019. Donna S. Wieting, Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2019–16759 Filed 8–5–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS®) Advisory Committee National Ocean Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Department of Commerce. ACTION: Notice of open meeting. AGENCY: Notice is hereby given of a virtual meeting of the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS®) Advisory Committee (Committee). DATES: The meeting will be held on Wednesday, August 21, 2019, from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. EST. These times and the agenda topics described below are subject to change. Refer to the web page listed below for the most up-todate agenda and dial-in information. ADDRESSES: The meeting will be held virtually. Refer to the web page listed below for the most up-to-date information. SUMMARY: FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Krisa Arzayus, Designated Federal Official, U.S. IOOS Advisory Committee, U.S. IOOS Program, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD PO 00000 Frm 00025 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 20910; Phone 240–533–9455; Fax 301– 713–3281; Email krisa.arzayus@ noaa.gov or visit the U.S. IOOS Advisory Committee website at http:// ioos.noaa.gov/community/u-s-ioosadvisory-committee/. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Committee was established by the NOAA Administrator as directed by Section 12304 of the Integrated Coastal and Ocean Observation System Act, part of the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 (Pub. L. 111– 11). The Committee advises the NOAA Administrator and the Interagency Ocean Observation Committee (IOOC) on matters related to the responsibilities and authorities set forth in section 12302 of the Integrated Coastal and Ocean Observation System Act of 2009 and other appropriate matters as the Under Secretary refers to the Committee for review and advice. The Committee will provide advice on: (a) Administration, operation, management, and maintenance of the System; (b) Expansion and periodic modernization and upgrade of technology components of the System; (c) Identification of end-user communities, their needs for information provided by the System, and the System’s effectiveness in dissemination information to end-user communities and to the general public; and (d) Any other purpose identified by the Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere or the Interagency Ocean Observation Committee. The meeting will be open to public participation with a 15-minute public comment period on August 21, 2019, from 2:45 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. (check agenda on website to confirm time.) The Committee expects that public statements presented at its meetings will not be repetitive of previously submitted verbal or written statements. In general, each individual or group making a verbal presentation will be limited to a total time of three (3) minutes. Written comments should be received by the Designated Federal Official by August 16, 2019 to provide sufficient time for Committee review. Written comments received after August 16, 2019 will be distributed to the Committee, but may not be reviewed prior to the meeting date. Please send your name as it appears on driver’s license and the organization/company affiliation you represent to Krisa Arzayus. This information must be received by August 9, 2019. E:\FR\FM\06AUN1.SGM 06AUN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 84, Number 151 (Tuesday, August 6, 2019)]
[Notices]
[Pages 38225-38226]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2019-16759]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

RIN 0648-XR008


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

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

ACTION: Notice; receipt of application for a Letter of Authorization; 
request for comments and information.

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

SUMMARY: NMFS has received a request from the U.S. Navy (Navy) for 
authorization to take marine mammals incidental to training and testing 
activities conducted in the Northwest Training and Testing (NWTT) Study 
Area for a period of seven years, from November, 2020 through November, 
2027. Pursuant to regulations implementing the Marine Mammal Protection 
Act (MMPA), NMFS is announcing receipt of the Navy's request for the 
development and implementation of regulations governing the incidental 
taking of marine mammals. NMFS invites the public to provide 
information, suggestions, and comments on the Navy's application and 
request.

DATES: Comments and information must be received no later than 
September 5, 2019.

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

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

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Background

    Sections 101(a)(5)(A) and (D) of the MMPA (16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.) 
direct the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary) to allow, upon request, 
the incidental, but not intentional taking of marine mammals by U.S. 
citizens who engage in a specified activity (other than commercial 
fishing) within a specified geographic region if certain findings are 
made and either regulations are issued or, if the taking is limited to 
harassment, notice of a proposed authorization is provided to the 
public for review.
    An authorization for incidental takings shall be granted if NMFS 
finds that the taking will have a negligible impact on the species or 
stock(s), will not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the 
availability of the species or stock(s) for subsistence uses (where 
relevant), and if the permissible methods of taking and requirements 
pertaining to the mitigation, monitoring and reporting of such takings 
are set forth.
    NMFS has defined ``negligible impact'' in 50 CFR 216.103 as an 
impact resulting from the specified activity that cannot be reasonably 
expected to, and is not reasonably likely to, adversely affect the 
species or stock through effects on annual rates of recruitment or 
survival.
    The MMPA states that the term ``take'' means to harass, hunt, 
capture, kill or attempt to harass, hunt, capture, or kill any marine 
mammal.
    Except with respect to certain activities not pertinent here, the 
MMPA defines ``harassment'' as any act of pursuit, torment, or 
annoyance which: (i) Has the potential to injure a marine mammal or 
marine mammal stock in the wild (Level A harassment); or (ii) has the 
potential to disturb a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild 
by causing disruption of behavioral patterns, including, but not 
limited to, migration, breathing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or 
sheltering (Level B harassment).
    The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2004 
(Public Law (Pub. L.) 108-136) removed the ``small numbers'' and 
``specified geographical region'' limitations indicated above and 
amended the definition of ``harassment'' as it applies to a ``military 
readiness activity'' to read as follows (Section 3(18)(B) of the MMPA): 
(i) Any act that injures or has the significant potential to injure a 
marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild (Level A harassment); 
or (ii) Any act that disturbs or is likely to disturb a marine mammal 
or marine mammal stock in the wild by causing disruption of natural 
behavioral patterns, including, but not limited to, migration, 
surfacing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or sheltering, to a point where 
such behavioral patterns are abandoned or significantly altered (Level 
B harassment). On August 13, 2018, the 2019 NDAA (Pub. L. 115-232) 
amended the MMPA to allow incidental take regulations for military 
readiness activities to be issued for up to seven years.

Summary of Request

    On March 11, 2019, NMFS received an adequate and complete 
application from the Navy requesting authorization for the take of 
marine mammals, by Level A harassment and B harassment, incidental to 
training, testing, and routine military operations (all categorized as 
military readiness activities) from the use of sonar and other 
transducers and in-water detonations. In addition, the Navy is 
requesting authorization of three takes of large whales by serious 
injury or mortality resulting from vessel strikes. NMFS received a 
revised application on June 24, 2019. The requested regulations would 
be valid for seven years, from 2020 through 2027.
    This will be the third time NMFS has promulgated incidental take 
regulations pursuant to the MMPA relating to similar military readiness 
activities in the NWTT Study Area, following those effective from 
November 9, 2010 through November 8, 2015 (75 FR 69275; November 10, 
2010) and from November 9, 2015 through November 8, 2010 (80 FR 73555; 
November 24, 2015).

Description of the Specified Activity

    The NWTT Study Area is composed of established maritime operating 
and warning areas in the eastern North

[[Page 38226]]

Pacific Ocean region, including areas of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, 
Puget Sound, and Western Behm Canal in southeastern Alaska (see Figure 
2-1 of the Navy's application). The Study Area includes four existing 
range complexes and facilities: The Northwest Training Range Complex, 
the Keyport Range Complex, Carr Inlet Operations Area, and the 
Southeast Alaska Acoustic Measurement Facility (Western Behm Canal, 
Alaska). In addition to these range complexes, the Study Area also 
includes Navy pierside locations where sonar maintenance and testing 
occurs as part of overhaul, modernization, maintenance, and repair 
activities at Naval Base Kitsap, Bremerton; Naval Base Kitsap, Bangor; 
and Naval Station Everett.
    The following types of training and testing activities, which are 
classified as military readiness activities pursuant to section 315(f) 
of Pub. L. 101-314 (16 U.S.C. 703), are included in the specified 
activity described in the Navy's application: Anti-submarine warfare 
(sonar and other transducers, underwater detonations), mine warfare 
(sonar and other transducers, underwater detonations), surface warfare 
(underwater detonations), and other (sonar and other transducers).
    The Navy's application includes proposed mitigation measures for 
marine mammals that would be implemented during training and testing 
activities in the NWTT Study Area (see Section 11 of the Navy's 
application). Proposed procedural mitigation measures and geographic 
mitigation areas generally include: (1) The use of Lookouts to observe 
for biological resources and communicate the need for mitigation 
implementation; (2) powerdowns, shutdowns, and delay of starts to avoid 
exposure of marine mammals to high levels of sound or explosive blasts 
more likely to result in injury or more serious behavioral disruption; 
and (3) limiting the use of active sonar or explosives in certain 
biologically important areas to reduce the probability or severity of 
impacts when they are more likely to contribute to fitness impacts (see 
Figure 11-1 of the Navy's application).
    The Navy also proposes to undertake monitoring and reporting 
efforts to track compliance with incidental take authorizations and to 
help investigate the effectiveness of implemented mitigation measures 
in the NWTT Study Area. This includes Adaptive Management, the 
Integrated Comprehensive Monitoring Program, the Strategic Planning 
Process, and Annual Monitoring and Activity Reports. As an example, 
under the Integrated Comprehensive Monitoring Program, the monitoring 
relating to the effects of Navy training and testing activities on 
protected marine species are designed to increase the understanding of 
the likely occurrence of marine mammals in the vicinity of the action 
(i.e., presence, abundance, distribution, and density of species) and 
to increase the understanding of the nature, scope, or context of the 
likely exposure of marine mammals to any of the potential stressors 
associated with the action.

Information Solicited

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

    Dated: August 1, 2019.
Donna S. Wieting,
Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries 
Service.
[FR Doc. 2019-16759 Filed 8-5-19; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3510-22-P