Notice of Availability of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Open Ocean Trustee Implementation Group Final Restoration Plan 2 and Environmental Assessment: Fish, Sea Turtles, Marine Mammals, and Mesophotic and Deep Benthic Communities and Finding of No Significant Impact, 67929-67931 [2019-26745]

Download as PDF khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 239 / Thursday, December 12, 2019 / Notices submitted a complete application for an exempted fishing permit (EFP) on October 28, 2019, to conduct commercial fishing activities that the regulations would otherwise restrict. The application is a renewal of an EFP originally issued in December 2017 and renewed in March 2019. The original EFP allowed up to 24 trips (with a target of 24 days-at-sea); to date vessels have fished 10 days-at-sea. The EFP would authorize four vessels to test alternative gillnet configurations for haddock and to temporarily retain undersized catch for measurement and data collection. The applicant has requested exemptions from minimum mesh size regulations at 50 CFR 648.80(a)(4)(iv) and § 648.8(b)(2)(iv), and the prohibition on possessing groundfish below the minimum size § 648.83(a). These exemptions are necessary because vessels on commercial groundfish trips are prohibited from using gillnets with mesh size less than 6.5 inches (16.51 cm) and from retaining undersized groundfish. The applicant is also requesting an exemption from the Closed Area I North Georges Bank Spawning Groundfish Closure at § 648.81(c)(3), which NOAA Fisheries does not intend to approve, as further described below. The project titled ‘‘Testing Selectivity and Raised Webbing Gillnets on Target and Non-Target Species in the Northeast Haddock Fishery’’ would continue to be conducted by CFF. The study would take place on Georges Bank and in southern New England from January 2020 through August 2020, with the 4 participating vessels fishing no more than 14 days-at-sea total. Vessels would fish a maximum of 20 gillnets, each 300 feet (91.44 m) long, in strings made up of 10 to 20 nets each. Nets would alternate between standard 6.5-inch (16.51-cm) mesh and 6.0-inch (15.24cm) mesh. Half of the nets of each mesh size would be rigged with a 30-inch (76.2-cm) raised webbing section along the bottom. Two to three hauls of the nets are expected during each day at sea with an average soak time of 6 to 8 hours for each set. A CFF researcher or technician would accompany all trips that occur under this EFP to identify and count all fish caught, as well as measure and weigh cod and haddock. Individual fish of other species would also be measured and weighed if time allows. Undersized fish would be discarded as quickly as possible after sampling. All Northeast multispecies of legal size would be landed, and all catch (including discards) would be attributed to the vessel’s sector annual catch entitlement, consistent with standard catch VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:56 Dec 11, 2019 Jkt 250001 accounting procedures. Participating vessels would comply with all protected species regulations, and would not be able to set gillnets in areas otherwise closed to fishing with gillnet gear. Under a recent court order, NOAA Fisheries is barred from allowing gillnet fishing in the former Nantucket Lightship and Closed Area I Groundfish Closure Areas. Accordingly, we can not approve, nor will we consider, the applicant’s request to allow access to the seasonal Closed Area I North Georges Bank Spawning Groundfish Closure, which falls entirely within the footprint of former Closed Area I. CFF had requested this exemption previously, but the request was denied because of potential negative impacts to spawning groundfish. If approved, the applicant may request minor modifications and extensions to the EFP throughout the year. EFP modifications and extensions may be granted without further notice if they are deemed essential to facilitate completion of the proposed research and have minimal impacts that do not change the scope or impact of the initially approved EFP request. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Dated: December 6, 2019. Alan D. Risenhoover, Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2019–26693 Filed 12–11–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [RTID 0648–XG958] Notice of Availability of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Open Ocean Trustee Implementation Group Final Restoration Plan 2 and Environmental Assessment: Fish, Sea Turtles, Marine Mammals, and Mesophotic and Deep Benthic Communities and Finding of No Significant Impact National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Department of Commerce. ACTION: Notice of availability. AGENCY: In accordance with the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA), the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and a Consent Decree with BP Exploration & Production Inc. (BP),1 the SUMMARY: 1 Consent Decree among Defendant BP Exploration & Production Inc., the United States of America, and the States of Alabama, Florida, PO 00000 Frm 00019 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 67929 Deepwater Horizon Federal natural resource trustee agencies for the Open Ocean Trustee Implementation Group (Open Ocean TIG) have prepared a Draft Restoration Plan 2 and Environmental Assessment (Draft RP/EA). The Draft RP/EA describes and proposes restoration project alternatives considered by the Open Ocean TIG to restore natural resources and ecological services injured or lost as a result of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The Open Ocean TIG evaluated these alternatives under criteria set forth in the OPA natural resource damage assessment regulations, and also evaluated the environmental consequences of the restoration alternatives in accordance with NEPA. The proposed projects are consistent with the restoration alternatives selected in the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill: Final Programmatic Damage Assessment and Restoration Plan/Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PDARP/PEIS). The purpose of this notice is to inform the public of the availability of the Final RP II/EA and Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI). ADDRESSES: Obtaining Documents: You may download the Final RP/EA and FONSI at: http://www.gulfspill restoration.noaa.gov/restoration-areas/ open-ocean. Alternatively, you may request a CD of the Final RP/EA and FONSI (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT below). In addition, you may view the document at any of the public facilities listed in Appendix G. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration—Laurie Rounds, Laurie.Rounds@noaa.gov, (850) 934– 9284. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Introduction On April 20, 2010, the mobile offshore drilling unit Deepwater Horizon, which was being used to drill a well for BP Exploration and Production, Inc. (BP), in the Macondo prospect (Mississippi Canyon 252– MC252), experienced a significant explosion, fire, and subsequent sinking in the Gulf of Mexico, resulting in an unprecedented volume of oil and other discharges from the rig and from the wellhead on the seabed. The Deepwater Horizon oil spill is the largest off shore oil spill in U.S. history, discharging millions of barrels of oil over a period of 87 days. In addition, well over one Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas entered in ‘‘In re: Oil Spill by the Oil Rig ‘‘Deepwater Horizon’’ in the Gulf of Mexico, on April 20, 2010,’’ MDL No. 2179 in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. E:\FR\FM\12DEN1.SGM 12DEN1 khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with NOTICES 67930 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 239 / Thursday, December 12, 2019 / Notices million gallons of dispersants were applied to the waters of the spill area in an attempt to disperse the spilled oil. An undetermined amount of natural gas was also released into the environment as a result of the spill. The Deepwater Horizon Federal and State natural resource trustees (DWH Trustees) conducted the natural resource damage assessment (NRDA) for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill under OPA (OPA; 33 U.S.C. 2701 et seq.). Pursuant to OPA, Federal and State agencies act as trustees on behalf of the public to assess natural resource injuries and losses and to determine the actions required to compensate the public for those injuries and losses. OPA further instructs the designated trustees to develop and implement a plan for the restoration, rehabilitation, replacement, or acquisition of the equivalent of the injured natural resources under their trusteeship, including the loss of use and services from those resources from the time of injury until the time of restoration to baseline (the resource quality and conditions that would exist if the spill had not occurred) is complete. The Deepwater Horizon Trustees are: • U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), as represented by the National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Bureau of Land Management; • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), on behalf of the U.S. Department of Commerce; • U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA); • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); • State of Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, Oil Spill Coordinator’s Office, Department of Environmental Quality, Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, and Department of Natural Resources; • State of Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality; • State of Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and Geological Survey of Alabama; • State of Florida Department of Environmental Protection and Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; and • State of Texas: Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Texas General Land Office, and Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. The Trustees reached and finalized a settlement of their natural resource damage claims with BP in an April 4, 2016, Consent Decree approved by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. Pursuant to that Consent Decree, restoration projects in the Open Ocean Restoration VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:56 Dec 11, 2019 Jkt 250001 Area are now selected and implemented by the Open Ocean TIG. The Open Ocean TIG is composed of the following Federal Trustees: NOAA; DOI; EPA; and USDA. This restoration planning activity is proceeding in accordance with the PDARP/PEIS. Information on the Restoration Types evaluated in the Final RP/EA, as well as the OPA criteria against which project ideas are being evaluated, can be viewed in the PDARP/ PEIS (http://www.gulfspillrestoration. noaa.gov/restoration-planning/gulfplan) and in the Overview of the PDARP/PEIS (http://www.gulfspill restoration.noaa.gov/restorationplanning/gulf-plan). Background On March 31, 2017, the Open Ocean TIG posted a public notice at http:// www.gulfspillrestoration.noaa.gov requesting new or revised natural resource restoration project ideas by May 15, 2017 for the Open Ocean Restoration Area. The notice stated that the Open Ocean TIG was seeking project ideas for the following Restoration Types: (1) Birds; (2) Sturgeon; (3) Sea Turtles; (4) Marine Mammals; (5) Fish and Water Column Invertebrates; and (6) Mesophotic and Deep Benthic Communities. On February 7, 2018 the Open Ocean TIG announced that it had initiated drafting of its first and second post settlement draft restoration plans; and that the first plan would include restoration projects for Birds and Sturgeon, while the second plan, noticed here, would include restoration projects for Sea Turtles, Marine Mammals, Fish and Water Column Invertebrates, and Mesophotic and Deep Benthic Communities. Notice of availability of the Draft RP/ EA was published in the Federal Register on May 15, 2019 (84 FR 21753). The Draft RP II/EA provided the Open Ocean TIG’s analysis of alternatives which would meet the Trustees’ goals to restore and conserve Sea Turtles; Marine Mammals; Fish and Water Column Invertebrates; and Mesophotic and Deep Benthic Communities under both OPA and NEPA and identified the alternatives that were proposed as preferred for implementation. The Open Ocean TIG provided the public with 79 days to review and comment on the Final RP/EA. The Open Ocean TIG also held a public meeting in Pensacola, FL and held two public webinars to facilitate public understanding of the document and provide opportunity for public comment. The Open Ocean TIG actively solicited public input through a variety of mechanisms, including PO 00000 Frm 00020 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 convening a public meeting, distributing electronic communications, and using the Trustee-wide public website and database to share information and receive public input. The Open Ocean TIG considered the public comments received, which informed the Open Ocean TIG’s analysis of alternatives in the Final RP/EA. A summary of the public comments received and the Open Ocean TIG’s responses to those comments are addressed in Chapter 5 of the Final RP/EA and all correspondence received are provided in the DWH Administrative Record. Overview of the Open Ocean TIG Final RP/EA The Final RP/EA is being released in accordance with OPA NRDA regulations in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) at 15 CFR part 990, NEPA (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), the Consent Decree, and the Final PDARP/PEIS. In the Final RP/EA, the Open Ocean TIG selected the following 18 restoration projects from the following restoration types: Fish and Water Column Invertebrates, Sea Turtles, Marine Mammals, and Mesophotic and Deep Benthic Communities: Fish and Water Column Invertebrates • Reduction of Post-Release Mortality from Barotrauma in Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Recreational Fisheries—Preferred, $30,011,000. • Better Bycatch Reduction Devices for the Gulf of Mexico Commercial Shrimp Trawl Fishery—Preferred, $17,171,000. • Communication Networks and Mapping Tools to Reduce Bycatch— Phase 1—Preferred, $4,416,000. • Restoring for Bluefin Tuna via Fishing Depth Optimization—Preferred, $6,175,000. Sea Turtles • Gulf of Mexico Sea Turtle Atlas— Preferred, $5,700,000. • Identifying Methods to Reduce Sea Turtle Bycatch in the Reef Fish Bottom Longline Fishery—Preferred, $290,000. • Developing a Gulf-wide Comprehensive Plan for In-Water Sea Turtle Data Collection—Preferred, $655,000. • Developing Methods to Observe Sea Turtle Interactions in the Gulf of Mexico Menhaden Purse Seine Fishery— Preferred, $3,000,000. • Reducing Juvenile Sea Turtle Bycatch Through Development of Reduced Bar Spacing in Turtle Excluder Devices—Preferred, $2,249,000. • Long-term Nesting Beach Habitat Protection for Sea Turtles—Preferred, $7,000,000. E:\FR\FM\12DEN1.SGM 12DEN1 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 239 / Thursday, December 12, 2019 / Notices Marine Mammals • Reducing Impacts to Cetaceans During Disasters by Improving Response Activities—Preferred, $4,287,000. • Compilation of Environmental, Threats, and Animal data for Cetacean Population Health Analyses—Preferred, $5,808,500. • Reduce Impacts of Anthropogenic Noise on Cetaceans—Preferred, $8,992,200. • Reduce and Mitigate Vessel Strike Mortality of Cetaceans—Preferred, $3,834,000. khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with NOTICES Mesophotic and Deep Benthic Communities • Mapping, Ground-Truthing, and Predictive Habitat Modeling—Preferred, $35,909,000. • Habitat Assessment and Evaluation—Preferred, $52,639,000. • Coral Propagation Technique Development—Preferred, $16,951,000. • Active Management and Protection—Preferred, $20,689,000. The Open Ocean TIG also analyzed five additional non-preferred alternatives, as well as a No Action alternative. None of these alternatives were selected at this time. One or more alternatives may be selected for implementation by the Open Ocean TIG in the Final RP/EA or in future restoration plans. The Open Ocean TIG has examined the injuries assessed by the DWH Trustees and evaluated restoration alternatives to address the injuries. In the Final RP/EA, the Open Ocean TIG presents to the public its final plan for providing partial compensation to the public for injured natural resources and ecological services in the Open Ocean Restoration Area. The proposed alternatives are intended to continue the process of using DWH restoration funding to restore natural resources injured or lost as a result of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The total estimated cost of the projects proposed as preferred is $225,776,700. Additional restoration planning for the Open Ocean Restoration Area will continue. In accordance with NEPA and as part of the Final RP/EA, the Trustees issued a FONSI. The FONSI is available in Appendix H of the Final RP II/EA. Administrative Record The documents comprising the Administrative Record for the Final RP/ EA can be viewed electronically at http://www.doi.gov/deepwaterhorizon/ adminrecord. Authority The authority of this action is the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (33 U.S.C. 2701 et VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:56 Dec 11, 2019 Jkt 250001 seq.) and its implementing Oil Pollution Act Natural Resource Damage Assessment regulations found at 15 CFR part 990 and the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.). Dated: November 25, 2019. Carrie Selberg, Deputy Director, Office of Habitat Conservation, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2019–26745 Filed 12–11–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Proposed Information Collection; Comment Request; National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Office of Education, Educational Partnership Program (EPP) and Ernest F. Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship Program National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice. AGENCY: The Department of Commerce, as part of its continuing effort to reduce paperwork and respondent burden, invites the general public and other Federal agencies to comment on proposed and/or continuing information collections, as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995. DATES: To ensure consideration, written or on-line comments must be submitted on or before February 10, 2020. ADDRESSES: Direct all written comments to Adrienne Thomas, PRA Officer, NOAA, 151 Patton Avenue, Room 159, Asheville, NC 28801 (or via the internet at PRAcomments@doc.gov). Comments will generally be posted without change. All Personally Identifiable Information (for example, name and address) voluntarily submitted by the commenter may be publicly accessible. Do not submit Confidential Business Information or otherwise sensitive or protected information. You may submit attachments to electronic comments in Microsoft Word, Excel, or Adobe PDF file formats. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Requests for additional information or copies of the information collection instrument and instructions should be directed to Natasha White, 301–628– 2906 or Natasha.White@noaa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00021 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 67931 I. Abstract This request is for extension of a current information collection. The Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is authorized by section 4002 of the America COMPETES Act, Public Law 110–69, to establish and administer a Graduate Sciences Program and two undergraduate scholarship programs to enhance understanding of ocean, coastal, Great Lakes, and atmospheric science and stewardship by the general public and other coastal stakeholders, including underrepresented groups in ocean and atmospheric science and policy careers. In addition, NOAA’s Administrator is authorized by section 214 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2005, Public Law 108–447, to establish and administer the Ernest F. Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship Program to support undergraduate studies in oceanic and atmospheric science, research, technology, and education that support NOAA’s mission and programs. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Office of Education (OEd) collects, evaluates, and assesses student data and information for the purpose of selecting successful candidates, generating internal NOAA reports, and articles to demonstrate the success of its program. The purpose of the OEd Educational Partnership Program (EPP) with Minority Serving Institutions is to educate, train and graduate students in NOAA-mission sciences. OEd EPP is strongly committed to broadening the participation of Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) such as Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic Serving Institutions, Indian Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities, Alaska Native-Serving Institutions, and Native HawaiianServing Institutions. NOAA’s OEd EPP/ MSI partnership is comprised of four program components: the Undergraduate Scholarship Program (USP); the Graduate Sciences Program (GSP); the Environmental Entrepreneurship Program (EEP); and the Cooperative Science Center (CSC). The OEd requires applicants to NOAA’s Undergraduate Scholarship Programs to complete an application in order to be considered. The application package requires two faculty and/or academic advisors to complete a NOAA student scholar reference form in support of the scholarship application. The Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship Program and the NMFS Recruiting, Training and Research Program also E:\FR\FM\12DEN1.SGM 12DEN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 84, Number 239 (Thursday, December 12, 2019)]
[Notices]
[Pages 67929-67931]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2019-26745]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

[RTID 0648-XG958]


Notice of Availability of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Open 
Ocean Trustee Implementation Group Final Restoration Plan 2 and 
Environmental Assessment: Fish, Sea Turtles, Marine Mammals, and 
Mesophotic and Deep Benthic Communities and Finding of No Significant 
Impact

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

ACTION: Notice of availability.

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

SUMMARY: In accordance with the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA), the 
National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and a Consent Decree with BP 
Exploration & Production Inc. (BP),\1\ the Deepwater Horizon Federal 
natural resource trustee agencies for the Open Ocean Trustee 
Implementation Group (Open Ocean TIG) have prepared a Draft Restoration 
Plan 2 and Environmental Assessment (Draft RP/EA). The Draft RP/EA 
describes and proposes restoration project alternatives considered by 
the Open Ocean TIG to restore natural resources and ecological services 
injured or lost as a result of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The 
Open Ocean TIG evaluated these alternatives under criteria set forth in 
the OPA natural resource damage assessment regulations, and also 
evaluated the environmental consequences of the restoration 
alternatives in accordance with NEPA. The proposed projects are 
consistent with the restoration alternatives selected in the Deepwater 
Horizon Oil Spill: Final Programmatic Damage Assessment and Restoration 
Plan/Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PDARP/PEIS). The 
purpose of this notice is to inform the public of the availability of 
the Final RP II/EA and Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \1\ Consent Decree among Defendant BP Exploration & Production 
Inc., the United States of America, and the States of Alabama, 
Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas entered in ``In re: Oil 
Spill by the Oil Rig ``Deepwater Horizon'' in the Gulf of Mexico, on 
April 20, 2010,'' MDL No. 2179 in the United States District Court 
for the Eastern District of Louisiana.

ADDRESSES: Obtaining Documents: You may download the Final RP/EA and 
FONSI at: http://www.gulfspillrestoration.noaa.gov/restoration-areas/
open-ocean. Alternatively, you may request a CD of the Final RP/EA and 
FONSI (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT below). In addition, you may 
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
view the document at any of the public facilities listed in Appendix G.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: National Oceanic and Atmospheric 
Administration--Laurie Rounds, [email protected], (850) 934-9284.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Introduction

    On April 20, 2010, the mobile offshore drilling unit Deepwater 
Horizon, which was being used to drill a well for BP Exploration and 
Production, Inc. (BP), in the Macondo prospect (Mississippi Canyon 252-
MC252), experienced a significant explosion, fire, and subsequent 
sinking in the Gulf of Mexico, resulting in an unprecedented volume of 
oil and other discharges from the rig and from the wellhead on the 
seabed. The Deepwater Horizon oil spill is the largest off shore oil 
spill in U.S. history, discharging millions of barrels of oil over a 
period of 87 days. In addition, well over one

[[Page 67930]]

million gallons of dispersants were applied to the waters of the spill 
area in an attempt to disperse the spilled oil. An undetermined amount 
of natural gas was also released into the environment as a result of 
the spill.
    The Deepwater Horizon Federal and State natural resource trustees 
(DWH Trustees) conducted the natural resource damage assessment (NRDA) 
for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill under OPA (OPA; 33 U.S.C. 2701 et 
seq.). Pursuant to OPA, Federal and State agencies act as trustees on 
behalf of the public to assess natural resource injuries and losses and 
to determine the actions required to compensate the public for those 
injuries and losses. OPA further instructs the designated trustees to 
develop and implement a plan for the restoration, rehabilitation, 
replacement, or acquisition of the equivalent of the injured natural 
resources under their trusteeship, including the loss of use and 
services from those resources from the time of injury until the time of 
restoration to baseline (the resource quality and conditions that would 
exist if the spill had not occurred) is complete.
    The Deepwater Horizon Trustees are:
     U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), as represented by 
the National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Bureau 
of Land Management;
     National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), on 
behalf of the U.S. Department of Commerce;
     U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA);
     U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA);
     State of Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration 
Authority, Oil Spill Coordinator's Office, Department of Environmental 
Quality, Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, and Department of 
Natural Resources;
     State of Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality;
     State of Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural 
Resources and Geological Survey of Alabama;
     State of Florida Department of Environmental Protection 
and Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; and
     State of Texas: Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Texas 
General Land Office, and Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
    The Trustees reached and finalized a settlement of their natural 
resource damage claims with BP in an April 4, 2016, Consent Decree 
approved by the United States District Court for the Eastern District 
of Louisiana. Pursuant to that Consent Decree, restoration projects in 
the Open Ocean Restoration Area are now selected and implemented by the 
Open Ocean TIG. The Open Ocean TIG is composed of the following Federal 
Trustees: NOAA; DOI; EPA; and USDA.
    This restoration planning activity is proceeding in accordance with 
the PDARP/PEIS. Information on the Restoration Types evaluated in the 
Final RP/EA, as well as the OPA criteria against which project ideas 
are being evaluated, can be viewed in the PDARP/PEIS (http://www.gulfspillrestoration. noaa.gov/restoration-planning/gulf-plan) and 
in the Overview of the PDARP/PEIS (http://www.gulfspillrestoration.noaa.gov/restoration-planning/gulf-plan).

Background

    On March 31, 2017, the Open Ocean TIG posted a public notice at 
http://www.gulfspillrestoration.noaa.gov requesting new or revised 
natural resource restoration project ideas by May 15, 2017 for the Open 
Ocean Restoration Area. The notice stated that the Open Ocean TIG was 
seeking project ideas for the following Restoration Types: (1) Birds; 
(2) Sturgeon; (3) Sea Turtles; (4) Marine Mammals; (5) Fish and Water 
Column Invertebrates; and (6) Mesophotic and Deep Benthic Communities.
    On February 7, 2018 the Open Ocean TIG announced that it had 
initiated drafting of its first and second post settlement draft 
restoration plans; and that the first plan would include restoration 
projects for Birds and Sturgeon, while the second plan, noticed here, 
would include restoration projects for Sea Turtles, Marine Mammals, 
Fish and Water Column Invertebrates, and Mesophotic and Deep Benthic 
Communities.
    Notice of availability of the Draft RP/EA was published in the 
Federal Register on May 15, 2019 (84 FR 21753). The Draft RP II/EA 
provided the Open Ocean TIG's analysis of alternatives which would meet 
the Trustees' goals to restore and conserve Sea Turtles; Marine 
Mammals; Fish and Water Column Invertebrates; and Mesophotic and Deep 
Benthic Communities under both OPA and NEPA and identified the 
alternatives that were proposed as preferred for implementation. The 
Open Ocean TIG provided the public with 79 days to review and comment 
on the Final RP/EA. The Open Ocean TIG also held a public meeting in 
Pensacola, FL and held two public webinars to facilitate public 
understanding of the document and provide opportunity for public 
comment. The Open Ocean TIG actively solicited public input through a 
variety of mechanisms, including convening a public meeting, 
distributing electronic communications, and using the Trustee-wide 
public website and database to share information and receive public 
input. The Open Ocean TIG considered the public comments received, 
which informed the Open Ocean TIG's analysis of alternatives in the 
Final RP/EA. A summary of the public comments received and the Open 
Ocean TIG's responses to those comments are addressed in Chapter 5 of 
the Final RP/EA and all correspondence received are provided in the DWH 
Administrative Record.

Overview of the Open Ocean TIG Final RP/EA

    The Final RP/EA is being released in accordance with OPA NRDA 
regulations in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) at 15 CFR part 
990, NEPA (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), the Consent Decree, and the Final 
PDARP/PEIS.
    In the Final RP/EA, the Open Ocean TIG selected the following 18 
restoration projects from the following restoration types: Fish and 
Water Column Invertebrates, Sea Turtles, Marine Mammals, and Mesophotic 
and Deep Benthic Communities:

Fish and Water Column Invertebrates

     Reduction of Post-Release Mortality from Barotrauma in 
Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Recreational Fisheries--Preferred, 
$30,011,000.
     Better Bycatch Reduction Devices for the Gulf of Mexico 
Commercial Shrimp Trawl Fishery--Preferred, $17,171,000.
     Communication Networks and Mapping Tools to Reduce 
Bycatch--Phase 1--Preferred, $4,416,000.
     Restoring for Bluefin Tuna via Fishing Depth 
Optimization--Preferred, $6,175,000.

Sea Turtles

     Gulf of Mexico Sea Turtle Atlas--Preferred, $5,700,000.
     Identifying Methods to Reduce Sea Turtle Bycatch in the 
Reef Fish Bottom Longline Fishery--Preferred, $290,000.
     Developing a Gulf-wide Comprehensive Plan for In-Water Sea 
Turtle Data Collection--Preferred, $655,000.
     Developing Methods to Observe Sea Turtle Interactions in 
the Gulf of Mexico Menhaden Purse Seine Fishery--Preferred, $3,000,000.
     Reducing Juvenile Sea Turtle Bycatch Through Development 
of Reduced Bar Spacing in Turtle Excluder Devices--Preferred, 
$2,249,000.
     Long-term Nesting Beach Habitat Protection for Sea 
Turtles--Preferred, $7,000,000.

[[Page 67931]]

Marine Mammals

     Reducing Impacts to Cetaceans During Disasters by 
Improving Response Activities--Preferred, $4,287,000.
     Compilation of Environmental, Threats, and Animal data for 
Cetacean Population Health Analyses--Preferred, $5,808,500.
     Reduce Impacts of Anthropogenic Noise on Cetaceans--
Preferred, $8,992,200.
     Reduce and Mitigate Vessel Strike Mortality of Cetaceans--
Preferred, $3,834,000.

Mesophotic and Deep Benthic Communities

     Mapping, Ground-Truthing, and Predictive Habitat 
Modeling--Preferred, $35,909,000.
     Habitat Assessment and Evaluation--Preferred, $52,639,000.
     Coral Propagation Technique Development--Preferred, 
$16,951,000.
     Active Management and Protection--Preferred, $20,689,000.
    The Open Ocean TIG also analyzed five additional non-preferred 
alternatives, as well as a No Action alternative. None of these 
alternatives were selected at this time. One or more alternatives may 
be selected for implementation by the Open Ocean TIG in the Final RP/EA 
or in future restoration plans.
    The Open Ocean TIG has examined the injuries assessed by the DWH 
Trustees and evaluated restoration alternatives to address the 
injuries. In the Final RP/EA, the Open Ocean TIG presents to the public 
its final plan for providing partial compensation to the public for 
injured natural resources and ecological services in the Open Ocean 
Restoration Area. The proposed alternatives are intended to continue 
the process of using DWH restoration funding to restore natural 
resources injured or lost as a result of the Deepwater Horizon oil 
spill. The total estimated cost of the projects proposed as preferred 
is $225,776,700. Additional restoration planning for the Open Ocean 
Restoration Area will continue.
    In accordance with NEPA and as part of the Final RP/EA, the 
Trustees issued a FONSI. The FONSI is available in Appendix H of the 
Final RP II/EA.

Administrative Record

    The documents comprising the Administrative Record for the Final 
RP/EA can be viewed electronically at http://www.doi.gov/deepwaterhorizon/adminrecord.

Authority

    The authority of this action is the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (33 
U.S.C. 2701 et seq.) and its implementing Oil Pollution Act Natural 
Resource Damage Assessment regulations found at 15 CFR part 990 and the 
National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.).

    Dated: November 25, 2019.
Carrie Selberg,
Deputy Director, Office of Habitat Conservation, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2019-26745 Filed 12-11-19; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3510-22-P