Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to Astoria Waterfront Bridge Replacement Phase 2 Project, 68129-68143 [2019-26859]

Download as PDF jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 240 / Friday, December 13, 2019 / Notices RTF; or PDF. Please include your name, organization’s name (if any), and cite ‘‘iEdison RFI’’ in the subject line of all correspondence. DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE II. Request for Information All responses that comply with the requirements listed in the DATES and ADDRESSES sections of this RFI will be considered. All submissions, including attachments and other supporting materials, will become part of the public record and subject to public disclosure. NIST reserves the right to publish comments publicly, unedited and in their entirety. Sensitive personal information, such as account numbers or Social Security numbers, or names of other individuals, should not be included. Submissions will not be edited to remove any identifying or contact information. Do not submit confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive or protected information. 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Where practicable, please provide specific descriptions and/or screenshots of user interface screens or error messages. (3) What improvements could be made to the iEdison system that would reduce your organization’s reporting burdens, improve its experience, and facilitate your organization’s ability to comply with reporting requirements? [RTID 0648–XR043] Authority: 35 U.S.C. 202(c); DOO 30–2A. Kevin A. Kimball, Chief of Staff. [FR Doc. 2019–26860 Filed 12–12–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–13–P VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:42 Dec 12, 2019 Jkt 250001 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to Astoria Waterfront Bridge Replacement Phase 2 Project National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice; issuance of incidental harassment authorization. AGENCY: In accordance with the regulations implementing the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) as amended, notification is hereby given that NMFS has issued an incidental harassment authorization (IHA) to the City of Astoria to incidentally harass, by Level A and Level B harassment, marine mammals during construction activities associated with Phase Two of the Astoria Waterfront Bridge Replacement project in Astoria, OR. DATES: This Authorization is effective from December 9, 2019 through December 8, 2020. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Leah Davis, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, (301) 427–8401. Electronic copies of the application and supporting documents, as well as a list of the references cited in this document, may be obtained online at: https:// www.fisheries.noaa.gov/national/ marine-mammal-protection/incidentaltake-authorizations-constructionactivities. In case of problems accessing these documents, please call the contact listed above. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: SUMMARY: 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 PO 00000 Frm 00030 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 68129 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. The definitions of all applicable MMPA statutory terms cited above are included in the relevant sections below. Summary of Request On June 3, 2019 NMFS received a request from the City of Astoria (City) for an IHA to take marine mammals incidental to pile driving and construction work in Astoria, Oregon. The application was deemed adequate and complete on October 17, 2019. The City’s request was for take of a small number of California sea lion (Zalophus californianus) and harbor seal (Phoca vitulina richardii) by Level A and Level B harassment, and a small number of Steller sea lion (Eumetopias jubatus) by Level B harassment only. Neither the City nor NMFS expects serious injury or mortality to result from this activity, and, therefore, an IHA is appropriate. This IHA covers one year of a larger, two-year project that involves removal and replacement of six bridges on the Astoria, Oregon waterfront. NMFS previously issued an IHA to the City for removal and replacement of three bridges (83 FR 19243, May 2, 2018). The City 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 Monitoring and Mitigation Section. The monitoring report exposed the need for clarification of monitoring requirements, specifically those involving Protected Species Observer (PSO) coverage of Level A and Level B zones. NMFS clarified those requirements with the applicant. Description of the Specified Activity The City of Astoria, Oregon proposes to remove and replace three bridges connecting 6th, 8th, and 10th Streets with waterfront piers near the mouth of the Columbia River. The bridges are currently supported by decayed timber E:\FR\FM\13DEN1.SGM 13DEN1 jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with NOTICES 68130 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 240 / Friday, December 13, 2019 / Notices piles. Among all three bridges, an estimated 150 timber piles will be removed as will other timber structural elements and concrete footings. The contractor will install 65 temporary 36inch steel casings to help guide the installation of 65 permanent 24-inch steel piles. Pile driving and removal activities will be conducted using a vibratory and impact hammer. The contractor may need to conduct preboring inside of the temporary casings using a vibratory hammer and a 14-inch H-pile to prepare the new pile sites. In the event that preboring is not effective, the contractor may conduct down-the-hole drilling inside of the 36inch piles to prepare the site for the permanent piles. It is unlikely that the contractor will need to conduct downthe-hole drilling, as it was not necessary during Phase 1. However, in the event that down-the-hole drilling is required, this activity has been analyzed in regard to both potential impulsive and continuous characteristics (Reyff and Heyvaert, 2019) as described in the Federal Register notice for the proposed IHA (84 FR 59773; November 6, 2019).) The roadway and railway superstructures will also be replaced, and a temporary, above-water work platform will be created for the construction. The use of vibratory and impact hammers for pile driving and site preparation is expected to produce underwater sound at levels that may result in behavioral harassment or auditory injury of marine mammals. Human presence and use of general construction equipment may also lead to behavioral harassment of sea lions hauled out along the riverbank below the bridges. The impacted area extends outward from the three bridge sites to a maximum distance of 21.54 km (13.28 mi). The project will occur over one year beginning in December 2019, with in-water activities expected to occur over an estimated 21 days during the months of December through April. Work will occur during daylight hours. A detailed description of the planned project is provided in the Federal Register notice for the proposed IHA (84 FR 59773; November 6, 2019). Since that time, no changes have been made to the planned construction activities. Therefore, a detailed description is not provided here. Please refer to that Federal Register notice for the description of the specific activity. Comments and Responses A notice of NMFS’ proposal to issue an IHA to the City was published in the Federal Register on November 6, 2019 (84 FR 59773). That notice described, in VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:42 Dec 12, 2019 Jkt 250001 detail, the City’s proposed activity, the marine mammal species that may be affected by the activity, the anticipated effects on marine mammals and their habitat, proposed amount and manner of take, and proposed mitigation, monitoring and reporting measures. During the 30-day public comment period, NMFS received a comment letter from the Marine Mammal Commission (Commission); 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/incidentaltakeauthorizations-constructionactivities. Comment 1: The Commission stated that harbor seal takes were underestimated given a haulout within the Level B harassment zone (Desdemona Sands) that is larger than a haulout that boarders the Level B harassment zone which was used to estimate take. Based on information NMFS received from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW), NMFS estimates that up to 6,400 harbor seals may haul out at Desdemona Sands. As such, the Commission recommends that NMFS authorize the taking of 6,400 individual harbor seals to be taken no more than 21 times each rather than 1,197 harbor seal takes. Response: NMFS concurs and is authorizing Level B harassment take of up to 6,400 individuals. A portion of those individuals will likely be taken on multiple days, but no more than 21 days. For additional information, please see the Estimated Take section, below. Comment 2: The Commission recommends that NMFS obtain more recent pinniped haul-out count data from WDFW and ODFW before processing any additional authorizations for activities occurring in the Columbia River. Response: When NMFS receives another application for an IHA at a location on the Columbia River we will contact these agencies. Comment 3: The Commission states that NMFS’ standard 7-decibel (dB) source level reduction when bubble curtains are to be used during pile driving is not appropriate because bubble curtains that are placed immediately around the pile do not achieve consistent reductions in sound levels because they cannot attenuate ground-borne sound. The Commission recommends that NMFS consult with the relevant experts regarding the appropriate source level reduction factor to use to minimize far-field effects on marine mammals for all relevant PO 00000 Frm 00031 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 incidental take authorizations and, until the experts have been consulted, refrain from using a source level reduction factor when bubble curtains are to be implemented. Response: NMFS appreciates the Commission’s input and directs the reader to our recent response to a similar comment, which can be found at 84 FR 64833 (November 25, 2019). Comment 4: The Commission recommends that NMFS condition the final authorization to stipulate that pile driving and removal can occur during daylight hours only and include those conditions consistently in all Federal Register notices, draft authorizations, and final authorizations that do not involve activities occurring during nighttime. Response: The Federal Register notice for the proposed action (84 FR 59773, November 6, 2019) did not include a description of the time of day that the activity would take place. NMFS has noted below, in the Changes from Proposed IHA to Final IHA section, that the applicant has indeed clarified their intention for pile driving to occur during daylight hours. NMFS agrees that the Federal Register notice for a proposed action should detail whether an activity will take place during daylight hours only, or whether an activity may, or will, take place at night. NMFS bases its determinations on how an applicant describes their activities and expects that an applicant will carry out a project as it is described in the associated application and Federal Register notices. Additionally, NMFS includes here a requirement that ‘‘should environmental conditions deteriorate such that marine mammals within the entire shutdown zone would not be visible (e.g., fog, heavy rain), pile driving and removal must be delayed until the PSO is confident marine mammals within the shutdown zone could be detected.’’ This requirement implies that a shutdown zone should either be visible due to daylight, or an applicant must illuminate the shutdown zone to allow sufficient visibility. Therefore, NMFS does not agree that it is necessary to stipulate that the activity may only occur during daylight hours. Comment 5: The Commission recommends that NMFS (1) update its various templates for Federal Register notices and draft authorizations to reflect all standard measures and (2) conduct a more thorough review of the notices, draft authorizations, and final authorizations to ensure accuracy, completeness, and consistency. Response: NMFS thanks the Commission for its recommendation. NMFS makes every effort to keep E:\FR\FM\13DEN1.SGM 13DEN1 68131 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 240 / Friday, December 13, 2019 / Notices templates up-to-date and read notices thoroughly prior to publication and will continue this effort to publish the best possible product for public comment. Comment 6: The Commission recommends that NMFS refrain from issuing renewals for any authorization and instead use its abbreviated Federal Register notice process. Response: NMFS appreciates the streamlining achieved by the use of abbreviated Federal Register notices and intends to continue using them for proposed IHAs that include minor changes from previously issued IHAs, but which do not satisfy the renewal requirements. However, we believe our method for issuing renewals meets statutory requirements and maximizes efficiency, and we plan to continue considering requests for renewals. Comment 7: The Commission recommends that NMFS stipulate that a renewal is a one-time opportunity in all Federal Register notices requesting comments on the possibility of a renewal, on its web page detailing the renewal process, and in all draft and final authorizations that include a term and condition for a renewal. Response: NMFS thanks the Commission for its recommendation. Currently, Federal Register notices announcing proposed IHAs and the potential for a Renewal state, in the SUMMARY section, ‘‘NMFS is also requesting comments on a possible oneyear renewal that could be issued under certain circumstances and if all requirements are met.’’ Further, no notice for any additional Renewal is included in the Federal Register Notice for proposed Renewals, so the current process already ensures that only one Renewal will be issued. Comment 8: The Commission recommends that NMFS ensure that action proponents have met all renewal requirements prior to proposing to issue a renewal in the Federal Register, and follow the renewal process of informing all commenters on the original authorization of the opportunity to submit additional comments on the proposed renewal. Response: NMFS carefully considers whether applicants meet the criteria for a renewal upon request. NMFS will ensure that the Commission is contacted alongside other persons who commented on the initial IHA on all future proposed IHA Renewals, but notes that the Commission itself has consistently informally contacted NMFS regarding proposed IHAs and Renewals upon the Federal Register notice being posted for public inspection, the day prior to formal publication and the beginning of the public comment period, or the first day of the formal comment period without notification of upcoming proposed IHA from NMFS. Changes From the Proposed IHA to Final IHA The most substantive change, which is described above and in the Estimated Take section, is the increase in the take numbers for harbor seals, though we note here that these changes do not affect our negligible impact or small numbers determinations. The Federal Register notice for the proposed IHA mistakenly noted that in-water demolition work would begin in November 2019. Rather, in-water demolition work will begin in December 2019. The proposed notice also did not explicitly state that pile driving will occur during daylight hours only, which has been stated above in this notice. Additionally, there is a chance that harbor porpoise could be present in the project area, which was not discussed in the proposed Federal Register notice. However, harbor porpoise are not expected to occur within the Level A or Level B harassment zones for the reasons explained in the Description of Marine Mammals in the Area of Specified Activities section, below. Slight modifications were made to the mitigation measures; please see the Mitigation Measures section for additional information. Additionally, minor changes were made to Tables 3, 5, 6, 7, 13 and 14. 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 (SARs; 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 all species with expected potential for occurrence in Astoria and summarizes information related to the population or stock, including regulatory status under the MMPA and ESA and potential biological removal (PBR), where known. For taxonomy, we follow Committee on Taxonomy (2016). PBR is 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 (as described in NMFS’s SARs). While no mortality is anticipated or authorized here, PBR and annual serious injury and mortality from anthropogenic sources are included here as gross indicators of the status of the species and other threats. Marine mammal abundance estimates presented in this document represent the total number of individuals that make up a given stock or the total number estimated within a particular study or survey area. NMFS’s stock abundance estimates for most species represent the total estimate of individuals within the geographic area, if known, that comprises that stock. For some species, this geographic area may extend beyond U.S. waters. For Steller sea lion (Eumetopias jubatus) the stock abundance is the best estimate of pup and non-pup counts, which have not been corrected to account for animals at sea during abundance surveys. All managed stocks in this region are assessed in NMFS’s U.S. 2018 SARs (e.g., Caretta et al. 2019). All values presented in Table 1 are the most recent available at the time of publication and are available in the 2018 SARs (Caretta et al. 2019, Muto et al. 2019). jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with NOTICES TABLE 1—SPECIES WITH EXPECTED POTENTIAL FOR OCCURRENCE IN ASTORIA Common name Scientific name ESA/ MMPA status; strategic (Y/N) 1 Stock Stock abundance (CV, Nmin, most recent abundance survey) 2 Order Cetartiodactyla—Cetacea—Superfamily Mysticeti (baleen whales) Family Balaenopteridae (rorquals) VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:42 Dec 12, 2019 Jkt 250001 PO 00000 Frm 00032 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 E:\FR\FM\13DEN1.SGM 13DEN1 PBR Annual M/SI 3 68132 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 240 / Friday, December 13, 2019 / Notices TABLE 1—SPECIES WITH EXPECTED POTENTIAL FOR OCCURRENCE IN ASTORIA—Continued Common name ESA/ MMPA status; strategic (Y/N) 1 Scientific name Stock Humpback whale ............. Megaptera novaeangliae ........ Central North Pacific ............... -, -, Y Humpback whale ............. Megaptera novaeangliae ........ California/Oregon/Washington -, -, Y Harbor porpoise ...................... Phocoena phocoena ............... Northern OR/WA Coast .......... -, -, N Stock abundance (CV, Nmin, most recent abundance survey) 2 10,103 (0.300, 7,891, 2006). 2,900 (0.05, 2,784, 2014). 21,487 (0.44, 15,123, 2011). PBR Annual M/SI 3 83 ................... 26 16.7 ................ >=40.2 151 ................. ≥3.0 14,011 ............ >=321 2498 ............... 108 Undetermined 10.6 Order Carnivora—Superfamily Pinnipedia Family Otariidae (eared seals and sea lions): California sea lion ............ Steller sea lion ................. Family Phocidae (earless seals): Pacific harbor seal ........... Zalophus ................................. californianus ............................ Eumetopias jubatus ................ Phoca vitulina ......................... richardii ................................... U.S. ......................................... -, -, N Eastern U.S. ........................... -, -, N Oregon/Washington Coast ..... -, -, N 257,606 (N/A, 233,515, 2014). 41,638 (See SAR, 41,638, 2015). Unknown (Unknown, Unknown, 1999). jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD 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: www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/sars/. 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. Note—Italicized species are not expected to be taken or proposed for authorization. All species that could potentially occur in the proposed survey areas are included in Table 1. However, the temporal and spatial occurrence of humpback whales and harbor porpoises is such that take is not expected to occur, and they are not discussed further beyond the explanation provided here. Humpback whales occasionally enter the Columbia River to feed (Calambokidis, et al., 2017), however their presence is rare. They were not observed during Phase 1 of the City’s project (OBEC Consulting Engineers. 2019), and are not expected during Phase 2. Harbor porpoises are regularly observed in the ocean ward waters near the mouth of the Columbia River and are known to occur there year-round. Porpoise abundance peaks when anchovy (Engraulis mordax) abundance in the river and nearshore are highest, which is usually between April and August (Litz et al. 2008). Harbor porpoise take is not expected because the in-water work is expected to be complete prior to April (unless the entire IWWP extension is exercised), and the ensonified area is contained within the Columbia River. Additionally, harbor porpoise were not observed during Phase 1 of the City’s project (OBEC Consulting Engineers. 2019) A detailed description of the of the species likely to be affected by the project, including brief introductions to VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:13 Dec 12, 2019 Jkt 250001 the species and relevant stocks as well as available information regarding population trends and threats, and information regarding local occurrence, were provided in the Federal Register notice for the proposed IHA (84 FR 59773; November 6, 2019); since that time, we are not aware of any changes in the status of these species and stocks; therefore, detailed descriptions are not provided here. Please refer to that Federal Register notice for these descriptions. Please also refer to NMFS’ website (https:// www.fisheries.noaa.gov/find-species) for generalized species accounts. Potential Effects of Specified Activities on Marine Mammals and Their Habitat Underwater noise from impact and vibratory pile driving and site preparation, as well as potential downthe-hole drilling activities associated with Phase Two of the Astoria Waterfront Bridge Replacement Project have the potential to result in harassment of marine mammals in the vicinity of the action area. The Federal Register notice for the proposed IHA (84 FR 59773; November 6, 2019) included a discussion of the potential effects of such disturbances on marine mammals and their habitat, therefore that information is not repeated in detail here; please refer to the Federal Register notice (84 FR 59773; November 6, 2019) for that information. PO 00000 Frm 00033 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 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 vibratory and impact pile hammers, potential drill, and other construction equipment has the potential to result in disruption of behavioral patterns for individual marine mammals. There is also some potential for auditory injury (Level A harassment) to California sea lions and harbor seals because they are more likely to occur closer to the project site, particularly considering the small, nearby California sea lion haulout. Auditory injury is unlikely to occur to E:\FR\FM\13DEN1.SGM 13DEN1 68133 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 240 / Friday, December 13, 2019 / Notices other groups, and the proposed mitigation and monitoring measures are expected to minimize the severity of such taking to the extent practicable. As described previously, no mortality or serious injury is anticipated or proposed to be 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 proposed 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). Thresholds have also been developed identifying the received level of in-air sound above which exposed pinnipeds would likely be behaviorally harassed. 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; Ellison et al., 2012). Based on what the available science indicates and the practical need to use a threshold based on a factor that is both predictable and measurable for most activities, NMFS uses a generalized acoustic threshold based on received level to estimate the onset of behavioral harassment. NMFS predicts that marine mammals are likely to be behaviorally harassed in a manner we consider Level B harassment when exposed to underwater anthropogenic noise above received levels of 120 dB re 1 mPa (rms) for continuous (e.g., vibratory piledriving, drilling) and above 160 dB re 1 mPa (rms) for non-explosive impulsive (e.g., seismic airguns) or intermittent (e.g., scientific sonar) sources. For in-air sounds, NMFS predicts that harbor seals exposed above received levels of 90 dB re 20 mPa (rms) will be behaviorally harassed, and other pinnipeds will be harassed when exposed above 100 dB re 20 mPa (rms). The City’s proposed activity includes the use of continuous (vibratory pile driving, preboring and potential downthe-hole drilling) and impulsive (impact pile driving and potential down-thehole drilling) sources, and therefore the 120 and 160 dB re 1 mPa (rms) are applicable for in-water noise. Level A harassment for non-explosive sources—NMFS’ Technical Guidance for Assessing the Effects of Anthropogenic Sound on Marine Mammal Hearing (Version 2.0) (Technical Guidance, 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). The City’s proposed activities include the use of impulsive (impact hammers, potential down-thehole drilling) and non-impulsive (vibratory hammers, potential down-thehole drilling) sources. These thresholds are provided in the Table 2. 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) Hearing Group Low-Frequency (LF) Cetaceans ...................................... Mid-Frequency (MF) Cetaceans ...................................... High-Frequency (HF) Cetaceans ..................................... Phocid Pinnipeds (PW) .................................................... (Underwater) .................................................................... Otariid Pinnipeds (OW) .................................................... (Underwater) .................................................................... Impulsive Cell 1: Lpk,flat: 219 dB; LE,LF,24h: 183 dB ......................... Cell 3: Lpk,flat: 230 dB; LE,MF,24h: 185 dB ........................ Cell 5: Lpk,flat: 202 dB; ..................................................... LE,HF,24h: 155 dB ............................................................. Cell 7: Lpk,flat: 218 dB; ..................................................... LE,PW,24h: 185 dB. ............................................................ Cell 9: Lpk,flat: 232 dB; ..................................................... LE,OW,24h: 203 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. jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with NOTICES * 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 that will feed into identifying the area VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:42 Dec 12, 2019 Jkt 250001 ensonified above the acoustic thresholds, which include source levels and transmission loss coefficient. PO 00000 Frm 00034 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 The sound field in the project area is the existing background noise plus additional construction noise from the proposed project. Marine mammals are E:\FR\FM\13DEN1.SGM 13DEN1 68134 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 240 / Friday, December 13, 2019 / Notices expected to be affected via sound generated by the primary components of the project (i.e., impact pile driving, vibratory pile driving and removal, site preparation). The maximum (underwater) area ensonified above the thresholds for behavioral harassment referenced above is 21.53km (13.38 mi) into the river channel during vibratory installation/removal of the 36-inch temporary steel casings, though this distance does not account for tide levels. There is a chance that pile installation work could be done during low tides, where exposed sand bars could significantly reduce the Level B ZOI. The project includes vibratory removal of timber piles, vibratory and impact pile installation of steel pipe piles and site preparation using a vibratory hammer and H-pile. Source levels of pile installation/removal activities and site preparation are based on reviews of measurements of the same or similar types and dimensions of piles available in the literature. Source levels for each pile size and driving method are presented in Table 3. Source levels for vibratory installation and removal of piles of the same diameter are assumed to be the same. The source level for vibratory removal of timber piles is from in-water measurements generated by the Greenbusch Group (2018) from the Seattle Pier 62 project (83 FR 39709; April 10, 2018). Hydroacoustic monitoring results from Pier 62 determined unweighted rms ranging from 140 dB to 169 dB. NMFS analyzed source measurements at different distances for all 63 individual timber piles that were removed at Pier 62 and normalized the values to 10 m. The results showed that the median is 152 dB SPLrms. TABLE 3—SOUND SOURCE LEVELS FOR IN-WATER ACTIVITIES Source level (at 10m) Pile size/type Method Literature source dB RMS 14-inch Timber ..................... 14-inch Steel H-pile ............. 24-inch Steel Pipe ............... 36-inch Steel Pipe ............... Vibratory .............................. Vibratory .............................. Vibratory .............................. Impact ................................. Vibratory .............................. 152 a 150 162 b 187 170 dB SELc dB peak .................... .................... .................... b 171 .................... .................... .................... .................... b 200 .................... The Greenbusch Group, Inc (2018). CalTrans (2015). WSDOT (2010). Loughlin (2005). CalTrans (2015). a Source level from 12-inch steel H-pile. 7dB reduction from use of bubble curtain. c Sound exposure level (dB re 1 μPa2-sec). b Includes It is anticipated that the contractor may employ two crews during construction to keep the project on schedule. This could result in concurrent use of a vibratory hammer and an impact hammer, however, the contractor will not operate two of the same hammer type concurrently. The hammers would be operated at two different bridges. The ensonified zones would likely overlap during concurrent use, but the multiple-source decibel addition method (Table 4) does not result in significant increases in the noise source when an impact hammer and vibratory hammer are operated at the same time, because the difference in noise source levels (Table 3) between the two hammers is greater than 10dB. TABLE 4—MULTIPLE-SOURCE DECIBEL ADDITION The general formula for underwater TL is: TL = B * Log10 (R1/R2), Add the following to the higher level Where TL = transmission loss in dB B = transmission loss coefficient R1 = the distance of the modeled SPL from the driven pile, and R2 = the distance from the driven pile of the initial measurement When two decibel values differ by: 0–1 dB .................................. 2–3 dB .................................. 4–9 dB .................................. > 10 dB ................................. 3 2 1 0 dB dB dB dB Transmission loss (TL) is the decrease in acoustic intensity as an acoustic pressure wave propagates out from a source. TL parameters vary with frequency, temperature, sea conditions, current, source and receiver depth, water depth, water chemistry, and bottom composition and topography. Absent site-specific acoustical monitoring with differing measured transmission loss, a practical spreading value of 15 is used as the transmission loss coefficient in the above formula. Site-specific transmission loss data for Astoria are not available, therefore the default coefficient of 15 is used to determine the distances to the Level A and Level B harassment thresholds. jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with NOTICES TABLE 5—IN-WATER ACTIVITY SOURCE LEVELS AND DISTANCES TO LEVEL B HARASSMENT THRESHOLDS Pile size/type Method 14-inch Timber .............. 14-inch Steel H-pile ...... 24-inch Steel Pipe ........ Vibratory ....................... Vibratory ....................... Vibratory ....................... Impact ........................... Vibratory ....................... 36-inch Steel Pipe (and down-the-hole drilling, as necessary). VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:42 Dec 12, 2019 Jkt 250001 PO 00000 Source level at 10 m (dB re 1 μPa rms) Level B threshold (dB re 1 μPa rms) 152 150 162 187 170 120 120 120 160 120 Frm 00035 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Propagation (xLogR) E:\FR\FM\13DEN1.SGM 15 15 15 15 15 13DEN1 Distance to Level B threshold (m) 1,359.4 1,000.0 6,309.6 631.0 21,544.4 Level B harassment ensonified area (km2) 3.2 1.8 55.3 0.8 212.3 68135 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 240 / Friday, December 13, 2019 / Notices In-Air Disturbance during General Construction Activities—Behavioral disturbance (Level B harassment take) may occur incidental to the use of construction equipment during general construction that is proposed in the dry, above water, or inland within close proximity to the river banks. These construction activities are associated with the removal and construction of the rail superstructures, removal of the existing concrete foundations, construction of abutment wingwalls, and the construction of a temporary work platform. Possible equipment and sound source levels are included in Table 1 of the Federal Register notice for the draft IHA (84 FR 59773; November 6, 2019). Using the Spherical Spreading Loss Model (20logR), a maximum sound source level of 93 dB RMS at 20 m, sound levels in-air would attenuate below the 90dB RMS Level B harassment threshold for harbor seals at 28 m, and below the 100 dB RMS threshold for all other pinnipeds at 9 m. Harbor seals are not expected to occur within 28m of the activity as there are no nearby haulouts, and are, therefore, not expected to be harassed by in-air sound. Additionally, the City is proposing a 10 m shutdown zone (Table 13) for all construction work to prevent injury from physical interaction with equipment. The City would therefore shut down equipment before hauled out sea lions could be acoustically harassed by the sound produced. No Level B harassment is expected to occur due to increased sounds from roadway construction. However, sea lions may be disturbed by the presence of construction equipment and increased human presence during above-water construction. 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 pile driving, NMFS User Spreadsheet predicts the distance at which, if a marine mammal remained at that distance the whole duration of the activity, it would incur PTS. Inputs entered in the User Spreadsheet (Table 6) and the resulting isopleths are reported below (Table 7). TABLE 6—USER SPREADSHEET INPUT PARAMETERS USED FOR CALCULATING LEVEL A HARASSMENT ISOPLETHS Pile size and installation method 14-inch Timber Vibratory. 14-inch Steel HPile. 24-inch Steel Vibratory. 36-inch Steel Vibratory. 24-inch Steel Impact (and down-the-hole drilling, if necessary). Weighting factor adjustment (kHz) Spreadsheet tab used Source level at 10 m Number of piles within 24-h period Duration to drive single pile (minutes) Number of strikes per pile Propagation (xLogR) Distance from source level measurement (meters) (A.1) Vibratory pile driving 2.5 152dB RMS SPL ............ 50 20 .................... 15 10 (A.1) Vibratory pile driving 2.5 150dB RMS SPL ............ 36 25 .................... 15 10 (A.1) Vibratory pile driving 2.5 162dB RMS SPL ............ 18 20 .................... 15 10 (A.1) Vibratory pile driving 2.5 170dB RMS SPL ............ 36 8 .................... 15 10 (E.1) Impact pile driving .. 2 171dB SEL/200 PK SPL 23 ........................ 500 15 10 The applicant may conduct down-thehole drilling, however a separate analysis is not provided for that activity, as it is was not necessary in Phase 1 of the project, and is not expected to be necessary in Phase 2. Should drilling be necessary, the Level B harassment zone will be considered to be the same as that calculated for vibratory installation/ removal of 36-inch steel piles, as that Level B harassment zone is clipped in all directions, and therefore is the most conservative a Level B harassment zone could be. A conservative Level B harassment zone is of particular importance due to the fact that the duration of drilling, should it be necessary, is unknown. The applicant will consider the Level A harassment zone for down-the-hole drilling to be the same as the Level A harassment zones calculated for impact pile driving of the 24-inch steel piles. These are the largest Level A harassment zones. TABLE 7—CALCULATED DISTANCES TO LEVEL A HARASSMENT ISOPLETHS Level A harassment zone (m) Pile size and installation method jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with NOTICES Phocids 14-inch 14-inch 24-inch 36-inch 24-inch Timber Vibratory ......................................................................................................................................... Steel H-Pile ................................................................................................................................................. Steel Vibratory ............................................................................................................................................ Steel Vibratory ............................................................................................................................................ Steel Impact (and down-the-hole drilling, if necessary) ............................................................................. VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:13 Dec 12, 2019 Jkt 250001 PO 00000 Frm 00036 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 E:\FR\FM\13DEN1.SGM 13DEN1 6.8 4.7 16 47 431.5 Otariids 0.5 0.3 1.1 3.3 31.4 68136 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 240 / Friday, December 13, 2019 / Notices Marine Mammal Occurrence and Take Calculation and Estimation In this section we provide the information about the presence, density, or group dynamics of marine mammals, and how it is brought together with the information provided above to produce a quantitative take estimate. Estimated takes of each species were calculated using information provided by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (Bryan Wright, pers. comm., August and November 2019), Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW, 2014) and the Marine Mammal Commission (Tiff Brookens, pers. comm., March 2018). Harbor Seal As noted in the Comments and Responses section, above, estimated Level B harassment take of harbor seal was modified based on a comment from the Commission and additional information from ODFW. The closest harbor seal haulout and pupping area is Desdemona Sands, which is downstream of the AstoriaMegler Bridge. Numbers of harbor seals hauled out at Desdemona Sands have been reported to reach into the thousands (Profita, 2015). While specific counts were unavailable, ODFW advised that the highest counts of harbor seals are in late winter/early spring (over 6,000 at Desdemona Sands in February) (Bryan Wright, pers. comm., November 2019). However, ODFW also provided a harbor seal count of 1,918 non-pups at Desdemona Sands from May 2014 (most recent ODWF survey), and described these as year-round residents. We would expect that the harbor seal counts would decrease from 6,400 individuals on either end of the late winter/early spring period (as low as 1,918 during the summer). Up to 6,400 individuals could be taken on in-water workdays during the late winter/early spring months, but we do not expect that many takes on every in-water work day. Because there is such a high variability in potential instances of Level B harassment take, NMFS is not authorizing a specific number of instances of Level B harassment take of harbor seals. Rather, NMFS is authorizing Level B harassment take of up to 6,400 individuals. A portion of those individuals will likely be taken on multiple days, but none to exceed 21 days. Most individuals will be taken notably fewer times, as NMFS does not expect that number of individuals to haul out at Desdemona Sands for the majority of the in-water work period. Additionally, while harbor seals are unlikely to occur in the Level A harassment zone during vibratory pile driving (based on Phase 1 monitoring), the applicant is concerned that if a few animals occurred in the Level A harassment zone during impact pile driving, they may need to shut down more frequently than is practical, given the IWWP restrictions previously discussed. As such, NMFS is proposing to observe a shutdown zone that is smaller than the Level A isopleth for impact pile driving and to issue small numbers of Level A harassment take of harbor seals (Table 11). This proposed take would avoid potentially excessive shut downs should a small group of harbor seals enter the project area on each day while impact pile driving activities (or down-the-hole drilling, as necessary) are underway. The Level A harassment take calculation for harbor seals authorizes instances of take, rather than individuals that will be taken as done for the Level B harassment take calculation for harbor seals. Level A harassment take of harbor seals was calculated by multiplying a group of two animals by 14 in-water work days. Level A takes may only occur during the subset of in-water work days when the applicant conducts impact pile driving (or down-the-hole drilling, as required), as the shutdown zone contains the entire Level A harassment zone for all other in-water work activities. Steller Sea Lion Counts of Steller sea lions at the East Mooring Basin are typically in the single digits (B. Wright, pers. comm., March 2018), while the average number of Steller sea lions observed at the South Jetty during the in-water work period (including the possible extension) from 2000–2014, was 272 animals (WDFW, 2014). When the applicant consulted ODFW for more recent Steller sea lion data, ODFW advised that there were only three more recent surveys, none of which occurred during the IWWP months (Bryan Wright, pers. comm., September 2019). The Level B harassment zones for Phase 2 extend far beyond the calculated zones for Phase 1, approaching the South Jetty. Therefore, NMFS expects that that average daily count from the South Jetty provides an appropriate daily count to calculate potential Steller sea lion Level B harassment take during Phase 2. Note the calculation is based on the average daily count, not the maximum. The maximum daily count was 606 animals, in the month of April. Considering that work will only occur in April if the entire IWWP extension is exercised, and the large difference between the maximum daily count and the average daily count, NMFS believes that using the maximum daily count would greatly overestimate potential take. For Phase 1 Level B harassment take calculations of Steller sea lions, daily estimates were based off of observations at Bonneville Dam and Willamette Falls, as these animals must transit past Astoria at some point in their travels from the Pacific to the upper Columbia River (83 FR 19243, May 2, 2018). The daily count was 67 animals, 63 at Bonneville Dam and four at Willamette Falls. However, NMFS believes that South Jetty estimates are more appropriate and more conservative for Phase 2 take calculations, given the larger Level B harassment zones, some of which extend downriver close to the South Jetty. Level B harassment take was calculated by multiplying the daily counts of Steller sea lions by days of inwater activity (Table 8). Steller sea lions do not haul out near the construction sites and would only be potentially harassed if they are transiting through the Level B harassment zone during the in-water work period (including the extension, if applicable). Steller sea lions are not expected to occur within the calculated Level A harassment zone for otariids (Table 7). No Level A harassment takes of Steller sea lions are proposed nor expected to be authorized. jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with NOTICES TABLE 8—LEVEL B HARASSMENT TAKE CALCULATION FOR STELLER SEA LION Species Maximum average/daily count Days of in-water activityb Total take (Level B) Steller sea lion ............................................................................................................................. a 272 21 5,712 a Average number of Steller sea lions observed at the South Jetty during the in-water work period (including the possible extension) from 2000–2014 (WDFW, 2014). b Includes in-water activity for the entire project. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:42 Dec 12, 2019 Jkt 250001 PO 00000 Frm 00037 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 E:\FR\FM\13DEN1.SGM 13DEN1 68137 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 240 / Friday, December 13, 2019 / Notices California Sea Lion Aerial surveys of the East Mooring Basin in Astoria from 2011 to 2018 (Bryan Wright, pers. comm., August 2019) were used to calculate in-water Level B harassment take of California sea lions, as in Phase 1 of this activity (83 FR 19243, May 2, 2018). The data provided to NMFS by ODFW included the maximum California sea lion count observed on a single day for each month throughout the survey period. These maximum counts at the East Mooring Basin ranged from 0 California sea lions on a single day in July 2017 to 3,834 on a single day in March 2016. A ‘‘daily average maximum’’ for each IWWP month (Table 9) was calculated by averaging the maximum counts on a single day for each survey month provided by ODFW. In addition to ODFW aerial surveys, the City conducted opportunistic surveys of pinnipeds at the bridge sites in December 2017. A maximum of four California sea lions were observed in the water surrounding the bridges and piers. Additional California sea lions were heard vocalizing from the riverbanks under the bridges but the exact number of sea lions could not be determined. during the above-water work period, not including the IWWP extension (May to October). Level B harassment takes of California sea lions from above-water activities were calculated by multiplying the maximum estimate from the City’s 2017 opportunistic surveys at Daily the bridge sites (16 animals) by the Month Average Maximum a estimated 11 days of work per month during the above-water work period. November ................................. 141 NMFS is proposing to authorize December ................................. 135 25,011 Level B harassment takes of January ..................................... 408 February ................................... 893 California sea lions associated with inMarch ........................................ 1191 water and above-water work during the April ........................................... 982 IWWP. The City expects approximately 21 in-water work days across Phase 2 of a Daily average maximum was calculated using data from aerial surveys of the East the project. However, because the exact Mooring Basin in Astoria from 2011 to 2018 construction schedule is unknown, (Bryan Wright, pers. comm., 2019). there are uncertainties in how many of the estimated work days will occur California sea lions are the most commonly observed marine mammal in during each month. Therefore, estimated Level B harassment take the area, and are known to haul out on during the IWWP (Table 10) is the riverbanks and structures near the calculated by multiplying the highest bridges, as described above. California daily average maximum (Table 9) during sea lions may be harassed by the IWWP months (including the underwater sound resulting from potential extension) by the estimated 21 vibratory pile removal and impact pile driving (at the distances listed above) as in-water work days. California sea lions exposed to in-air sound above Level B well as airborne sound resulting from harassment threshold during the IWWP roadway and railway demolition and are expected to have already been taken construction. As such, California sea by in-water activity, and therefore lions may be subject to harassment already be included in the take throughout the duration of Phase 2 of calculation. the project. NMFS is proposing to authorize 1,056 Total California sea lion Level B Level B harassment takes of California harassment takes (Table 10) are sea lions associated with above-water calculated as the sum of above-water construction activities taking place work period and IWWP takes. TABLE 9—DAILY AVERAGE MAXIMUM NUMBER OF CALIFORNIA SEA LIONS AT EAST MOORING BASIN FOR IWWP MONTHS, INCLUDING THE POTENTIAL EXTENSION TABLE 10—LEVEL B HARASSMENT TAKE CALCULATION OF CALIFORNIA SEA LION. Daily average maximum b Work period Potential number of workdays Takes per month IWWP a ......................................................................................................................................... May .............................................................................................................................................. June ............................................................................................................................................. July ............................................................................................................................................... August .......................................................................................................................................... September ................................................................................................................................... October ........................................................................................................................................ 1191 16 16 16 16 16 16 21 11 11 11 11 11 11 25,011 176 176 176 176 176 176 Total ...................................................................................................................................... ........................ ........................ 26,067 a IWWP includes the potential extension, as the month of March has the highest daily average maximum count. average maximums during above-water work months are estimates from the City’s opportunistic surveys at the Phase 1 bridge sites in December 2017. jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with NOTICES b Daily Only 4,204 Level B harassment takes of California sea lion were reported for Phase 1; however, the Phase 2 project area is much larger than the area within which marine mammals were reported in Phase 1. Therefore, NMFS expects California sea lion take to be higher for Phase 2 than was reported in the monitoring report for Phase 1. As discussed above, the City estimates that approximately 16 California sea VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:42 Dec 12, 2019 Jkt 250001 lions haul out near the project sites based on opportunistic surveys conducted in December 2017. Frequent construction shutdowns are of concern to the applicant, as there is a limited IWWP imposed by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and, therefore, the proposed mitigation zone does not entirely contain the area within the Level A harassment isopleth for impact pile driving. The applicant has PO 00000 Frm 00038 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 requested Level A harassment takes of California sea lions, as the animals that haulout nearby may enter the Level A harassment zone as they transit between the haulouts and their feeding areas in the Columbia River. NMFS is proposing to issue 224 Level A harassment takes of California sea lions (Table 11). The Level A harassment takes are calculated by multiplying the 16 animals that haulout E:\FR\FM\13DEN1.SGM 13DEN1 68138 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 240 / Friday, December 13, 2019 / Notices near the project site (City of Astoria December 2017 surveys) by 14 in-water work days. Level A takes may only occur during the subset of in-water work days when the applicant conducts impact pile driving (or down-the-hole drilling, as required), as the shutdown zone contains the entire Level A harassment zone for all other in-water work activities. TABLE 11—LEVEL A HARASSMENT TAKE CALCULATION OF HARBOR SEAL AND CALIFORNIA SEA LION Species Harbor seal .................................................................................................................................. California sea lion ........................................................................................................................ a December Estimated number of in-water work days Daily count 2 14 14 a 16 Level A harassment take 28 224 2017 survey estimates of California sea lions by the City at Phase 1 bridge sites. TABLE 12—TOTAL LEVEL A AND LEVEL B TAKE PROPOSED FOR AUTHORIZATION Level A harassment take Common name Stock Harbor seal ......................... Steller sea lion .................... California sea lion ............... Oregon/Washington Coast Eastern U.S. ....................... U.S. .................................... Level B harassment take 28 0 224 6,400 5,712 26,067 Total take 6,428 5,712 26,291 Stock abundance a 24,732 41,638 257,606 Percent of stock 26.0 13.7 10.2 jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with NOTICES a As noted in Table 3, there is no current estimate of abundance available for the Oregon/Washington Coast stock of harbor seal. The abundance estimate from 1999, included here, is the most recent. Mitigation Measures In order to issue an IHA under Section 101(a)(5)(D) of the MMPA, NMFS must set forth the permissible methods of taking pursuant to such activity, and other means of effecting the least practicable impact on such species or stock and its habitat, paying particular attention to rookeries, mating grounds, and areas of similar significance, and on the availability of such species or stock for taking for certain subsistence uses (latter not applicable for this action). NMFS regulations require applicants for incidental take authorizations to include information about the availability and feasibility (economic and technological) of equipment, methods, and manner of conducting such activity or other means of effecting the least practicable adverse impact upon the affected species or stocks and their habitat (50 CFR 216.104(a)(11)). In evaluating how mitigation may or may not be appropriate to ensure the least practicable adverse impact on species or stocks and their habitat, as well as subsistence uses where applicable, we carefully consider two primary factors: (1) The manner in which, and the degree to which, the successful implementation of the measure(s) is expected to reduce impacts to marine mammals, marine mammal species or stocks, and their habitat. This considers the nature of the potential adverse impact being mitigated (likelihood, scope, range). It further considers the likelihood that the measure will be VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:42 Dec 12, 2019 Jkt 250001 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. In addition to the measures described later in this section, the City will employ the following standard mitigation measures: • The City shall conduct briefings between construction supervisors and crews, marine mammal monitoring team, and City staff prior to the start of all construction work, and when new personnel join the work, in order to explain responsibilities, communication procedures, marine mammal monitoring protocol, and operational procedures; • For those marine mammals for which Level B harassment take has not been requested, in-water pile installation/removal and drilling will shut down immediately if such species are observed within or on a path towards the monitoring zone (i.e., Level B harassment zone); and • If observed take reaches the authorized limit for an authorized species, pile installation will be stopped as these species approach the Level B PO 00000 Frm 00039 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 harassment zone to avoid additional take. The following measures would apply to the City’s mitigation requirements: Establishment of Shutdown Zones— For all pile driving/removal and drilling activities, the City will establish appropriate 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). These shutdown zones would be used to prevent incidental Level A exposures from pile driving and removal for Steller sea lions, and to reduce the potential for such take of harbor seals and California sea lions. During all pile driving and removal activities, as well as above-water construction, a minimum shutdown zone of 10m would be enforced (Table 13) for all species to prevent physical injury from interaction with construction equipment. Additionally, a shutdown zone of 32m will be enforced for Steller sea lions during impact pile driving to reduce the likelihood of Level A harassment take (Table 13). The placement of Protected Species Observers (PSOs) during all pile driving and drilling activities (described in detail in the Monitoring and Reporting Section) will ensure shutdown zones are visible when they are on site. When PSOs are not on site, the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) inspector will be responsible for ensuring that activities shut down if a E:\FR\FM\13DEN1.SGM 13DEN1 68139 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 240 / Friday, December 13, 2019 / Notices marine mammal enters the shutdown zone. TABLE 13—SHUTDOWN ZONES Shutdown Zone (m) Construction Activity Harbor seal All Vibratory Pile Driving/Removal and Site Preparation ............................................................ 24-inch Steel Impact Pile Driving (and down-the-hole drilling, as necessary) ........................... Above-water Construction ........................................................................................................... Establishment of Monitoring Zones for Level B Harassment—The City would establish monitoring zones to correlate with Level B harassment zones or zones of influence. These 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 site preparation. For airborne noise, these thresholds are 90 dB RMS re 20mPa for harbor seals and 100 db RMS re: 20mPa for all other pinnipeds. Monitoring zones provide utility for observing by establishing monitoring protocols for areas adjacent to the shutdown zones. Monitoring zones 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. The proposed monitoring zones are described in Table 14. Placement of PSOs on the shorelines around the Columbia River allow PSOs to observe marine mammals within the project site, however, due to the size of the Level B harassment zone during some activities, not all Level B harassment takes will be visible to PSOs. Level B harassment exposures will be recorded and extrapolated based upon the number of observed takes, the percentage of the Level B zone that was not visible to PSOs, and the number of construction days when PSOs were not onsite. jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with NOTICES TABLE 14—MARINE MAMMAL MONITORING ZONES Construction activity Monitoring zone (m) Above-water Construction. 14-inch Timber Vibratory. 14-inch Steel H-Pile .. 24-inch Steel Vibratory. 36-inch Steel Vibratory (and down-thehole drilling, as necessary). 28 (harbor seal only). VerDate Sep<11>2014 1,360. 1,000. 6,310. 21,545. 17:42 Dec 12, 2019 Jkt 250001 TABLE 14—MARINE MAMMAL MONITORING ZONES—Continued Construction activity 24-inch Steel Impact Monitoring zone (m) 635. Soft Start—The use of soft-start procedures 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. For impact driving, an initial set of three strikes would be made by the hammer at 40 percent energy, followed by a 1-minute wait period, then two subsequent 3strike sets at 40 percent energy, with 1minute waiting periods, before initiating continuous driving. Soft start would be implemented at the start of each day’s impact pile driving and at any time following cessation of impact pile driving for a period of thirty minutes or longer. Soft start is not required during vibratory pile driving and removal activities. Pre-Activity Monitoring—Prior to the start of daily in-water construction activity, or whenever a break in pile driving/removal or site preparation of 30 minutes or longer occurs, PSOs will observe the shutdown and monitoring zones for a period of 30 minutes. The shutdown zone will be cleared when a marine mammal has not been observed within the zone for that 30-minute period. If a marine mammal is observed within the shutdown zone, a soft-start cannot proceed until the animal has been confirmed to have left the zone or has not been observed for 15 minutes. If the Level B harassment zone has been observed for 30 minutes and nonpermitted species are not observed within the zone, soft start procedures can commence and work can continue even if visibility becomes impaired within the Level B monitoring zone. When a marine mammal permitted for Level B harassment take is present in the Level B harassment zone, activities PO 00000 Frm 00040 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 50 10 Steller sea lion California sea lion 10 32 10 10 ........................ ........................ may begin and Level B take will be recorded. As stated above, if the entire Level B zone is not visible at the start of construction, piling or drilling activities can begin. If work ceases for more than 30 minutes, the pre-activity monitoring of both the Level B and shutdown zone will commence. Pile driving energy attenuator—Use of a marine pile-driving energy attenuator (i.e., air bubble curtain system) will be implemented by the City during impact pile driving of all steel pipe piles. The use of sound attenuation will reduce SPLs and the size of the zones of influence for Level A harassment and Level B harassment. The City’s FAHP permit describes the performance standards for the bubble curtain system. Poor Visibility—Should environmental conditions deteriorate such that marine mammals within the entire shutdown zone would not be visible (e.g., fog, heavy rain), pile driving and removal must be delayed until the PSO is confident marine mammals within the shutdown zone could be detected. Based on our evaluation of the applicant’s proposed measures, as well as other measures considered by NMFS, NMFS has preliminarily determined that the proposed mitigation measures 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 E:\FR\FM\13DEN1.SGM 13DEN1 68140 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 240 / Friday, December 13, 2019 / Notices jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with NOTICES mammals that are expected to be present in the proposed 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); • Mitigation and monitoring effectiveness. Marine Mammal Visual Monitoring Monitoring shall be conducted by NMFS-approved observers. Trained observers shall be placed at the best vantage point(s) practicable to monitor for marine mammals, and will implement shutdown or delay procedures when applicable through communication with the equipment operator. Observer training must be provided prior to project start, and shall include instruction on species identification (sufficient to distinguish the species in the project area), description and categorization of observed behaviors and interpretation of behaviors that may be construed as being reactions to the specified activity, proper completion of data forms, and other basic components of biological monitoring, including tracking of observed animals or groups of animals VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:42 Dec 12, 2019 Jkt 250001 such that repeat sound exposures may be attributed to individuals (to the extent possible). Monitoring would be conducted 30 minutes before, during, and 30 minutes after pile driving/removal and drilling 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/removal and drilling 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. Three PSOs will be on-site the first day and every third day thereafter during vibratory hammer installation/ removal and site preparation at each bridge. One observer will be stationed at the best practicable land-based vantage point to observe the Shutdown Zone and a portion of the Level A and Level B harassment zones. One observer will be stationed along the north bank of the river at the Washington State Department of Transportation Rest Area: Dismal Nitch. One observer will be stationed at the best practicable landbased vantage point to observe the remainder of the Level A and Level B harassment zones. Likely locations include the 6th Street viewing platform and the Pier 12 parking lot. If vibratory installation of the 36-inch casings occurs, this observer will be positioned along the north bank of the river downstream of the project site within the Chinook County Park. The ODOT on-site inspector will be trained in species identification and monitoring protocol and will be on-site during all vibratory removal and installation activities to confirm that no species enter the Shutdown Zones when PSOs are not onsite. Two PSOs will be on-site the first day of impact pile driving at each bridge, and every third day thereafter. One observer will be stationed at the best practicable land-based vantage point to observe the Shutdown Zone and a portion of the Level A and Level B harassment zones. One observer will be stationed at the best practicable landbased vantage point to observe the remainder of the Level A and Level B harassment zones. Likely locations include the 6th Street viewing platform, the Pier 12 parking lot, or the Washington State Department of Transportation Rest Area: Dismal Nitch on the north bank of the river. The ODOT on-site inspector will be trained in species identification and monitoring protocol and will be on-site during all PO 00000 Frm 00041 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 impact pile driving activities to confirm that no species enter the respective Shutdown Zones when PSOs are not onsite. PSOs would scan the waters using binoculars, and/or spotting scopes, and would use a handheld GPS or rangefinder device to verify the distance to each sighting from the project site. All PSOs would be trained in marine mammal identification and behaviors and are required to have no other project-related tasks while conducting monitoring. In addition, monitoring will be conducted by qualified observers, who will be placed at the best vantage point(s) practicable to monitor for marine mammals and implement shutdown/delay procedures when applicable by calling for the shutdown to the hammer operator. The City would adhere to the following observer qualifications: (i) Independent observers (i.e., not construction personnel) are required. (ii) At least one observer must have prior experience working as an observer. (iii) Other observers may substitute education (degree in biological science or related field) or training for experience. (iv) The City must submit observer CVs for approval by NMFS. Additional standard observer qualifications include: • Ability to conduct field observations and collect data according to assigned protocols Experience or training in the field identification of marine mammals, including the identification of behaviors; • Sufficient training, orientation, or experience with the construction operation to provide for personal safety during observations; • Writing skills sufficient to prepare a report of observations including but not limited to the number and species of marine mammals observed; dates and times when in-water construction activities were conducted; dates and times when in-water construction activities were suspended to avoid potential incidental injury from construction sound of marine mammals observed within a defined shutdown zone; and marine mammal behavior; and • 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. A draft marine mammal monitoring report would be submitted to NMFS within 90 days after the completion of site preparation and pile driving and removal activities. It will include an overall description of work completed, E:\FR\FM\13DEN1.SGM 13DEN1 68141 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 240 / Friday, December 13, 2019 / Notices a narrative regarding marine mammal sightings, and associated PSO data sheets. Specifically, the report must include: • Date and time that monitored activity begins or ends; • Construction activities occurring during each observation period; • Weather parameters (e.g., percent cover, visibility); • Water conditions (e.g., sea state, tide state); • Species, numbers, and, if possible, sex and age class of marine mammals; • Description of any observable marine mammal behavior patterns, including bearing and direction of travel and distance from pile driving activity; • Distance from pile driving activities to marine mammals and distance from the marine mammals to the observation point; • Locations of all marine mammal observations; • Other human activity in the area; and • An extrapolation of the estimated takes by Level B harassment based on the number of observed exposures within the Level B harassment zone, the percentage of the Level B harassment zone that was not visible, and the days when monitoring did not occur. 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, above. Activities would be able to continue while NMFS reviews the circumstances of the incident. NMFS would work with the City to determine whether modifications to the activities are appropriate. In the event that the City 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), the City would report the incident to the Chief of the Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, and the NMFS West Coast Stranding Hotline and/or by email to the West Coast Regional Stranding Coordinator, within 24 hours of the discovery. The City would provide photographs, video footage (if available), or other documentation of the stranded animal sighting to NMFS and the Marine Mammal Stranding Network. the City 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 the City to determine what is necessary to minimize the likelihood of further prohibited take and ensure MMPA compliance. The City would not be able to resume their activities until notified by NMFS via letter, email, or telephone. In the event that the City 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), the City would immediately report the incident to the Chief of the Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, and the NMFS West Coast Stranding Hotline and/or by email to the West Coast Regional Stranding Coordinator. The report would include the same information identified in the paragraph Phase 1 Monitoring Report The City’s monitoring report from Phase 1 of the project (OBEC, 2019) was frequently consulted in the NMFS evaluation of the City’s proposed activities and requested take for Phase 2 of the project. The Phase 1 monitoring report indicated recorded take of California sea lions and harbor seals (Table 18). Steller sea lions were not observed during Phase 1 (Table 15), however, due to their known presence in the area, Level B harassment take was still requested for Phase 2 activities. Additionally, as mentioned above, the calculated Level B harassment zones were significantly smaller for Phase 1 than for Phase 2. TABLE 15—PHASE 1 MONITORING RESULTS Number of takes recorded by PSOs Species jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with NOTICES California sea lion ............................. Steller sea lion .................................. Pacific harbor seal ............................ 604 0 53 Level A take was not requested nor authorized for Phase 1 activities, so the City used the calculated Level A isopleth as the shutdown zone to prevent Level A take. Shutdowns occurred on three days during Phase 1 activities. In all instances, shutdowns occurred when one or more California sea lion entered the shutdown zone. The Phase 1 and Phase 2 monitoring reports VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:42 Dec 12, 2019 Jkt 250001 Estimated takes on days PSOs not present 3600 (240 × 15 days) ....................... 0 ....................................................... 270 (18 × 15 days) ........................... will provide useful information for analyzing impacts to marine mammals for potential future projects in the lower Columbia River. Negligible Impact Analysis and Determination NMFS has defined negligible impact as an impact resulting from the specified activity that cannot be PO 00000 Total estimated Level B harassment takes Frm 00042 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 4204 0 323 Authorized Level B harassment take number 33,736 5,360 4,560 Percent of authorized takes that occurred 12.5 0 7.1 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 E:\FR\FM\13DEN1.SGM 13DEN1 jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with NOTICES 68142 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 240 / Friday, December 13, 2019 / Notices 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/removal and drilling activities associated with the project as outlined previously, have the potential to disturb or displace marine mammals. Specifically, the specified activities may result in take, in the form of Level A harassment and Level B harassment from underwater sounds generated from pile driving and removal. Potential takes could occur if individuals of these species are present in zones ensonified above the thresholds for Level A or Level B harassment, identified above, when these activities are underway. The takes from Level A and Level B harassment would be due to potential behavioral disturbance, TTS, and PTS. No mortality is anticipated given the nature of the activity. Level A harassment is only anticipated for California sea lion and harbor seal. The potential for Level A harassment is minimized through the construction method and the implementation of the planned mitigation measures (see Proposed Mitigation section). Effects on individuals that are taken by Level B harassment, on the basis of reports in the literature as well as monitoring from other similar activities, including Phase 1 of the City’s project, will likely be limited to reactions such as increased swimming speeds, increased surfacing time, or decreased foraging (if such activity were occurring) (e.g., Thorson and Reyff 2006; HDR, Inc. 2012; Lerma 2014; ABR 2016; OBEC, 2019). Most likely for pile driving, individuals will simply move away from the sound source and be temporarily displaced from the areas of pile driving and drilling, although even VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:42 Dec 12, 2019 Jkt 250001 this reaction has been observed primarily only in association with impact pile driving. Though some individual pinnipeds (especially harbor seals) could be expected to be taken over multiple days, the effects of the exposure are expected to be relatively minor, would not occur to any one individual across more than 21 days at the most, and therefore are not expected to result in impacts on reproduction or survival. The pile driving activities analyzed here are similar to Phase 1 activities and numerous other construction activities conducted in the Pacific Northwest, which have taken place with no known long-term adverse consequences from behavioral harassment. Level B harassment will be reduced to the level of least practicable adverse impact through use of mitigation measures described herein and, if sound produced by project activities is sufficiently disturbing, animals are likely to simply avoid the area while the activity is occurring. While vibratory driving (and potential drilling) associated with the proposed project may produce sound at distances of many kilometers from the project site, the project site itself is located on a busy waterfront and in a section of the Columbia River with high amounts of vessel traffic. Therefore, we expect that animals disturbed by project sound would simply avoid the area and use more-preferred habitats. In addition to the expected effects resulting from authorized Level B harassment, we anticipate that California sea lions and harbor seals may sustain some limited Level A harassment in the form of auditory injury. However, animals in these locations that experience PTS would likely only receive slight PTS, i.e. minor degradation of hearing capabilities within regions of hearing that align most completely with the frequency range of the energy produced by pile driving, i.e. the low-frequency region below 2 kHz, not severe hearing impairment or impairment in the regions of greatest hearing sensitivity. If hearing impairment occurs, it is most likely that the affected animal would lose a few decibels in its hearing sensitivity, which in most cases is not likely to meaningfully affect its ability to forage and communicate with conspecifics. As described above, we expect that marine mammals would be likely to move away from a sound source that represents an aversive stimulus, especially at levels that would be expected to result in PTS, given sufficient notice through use of soft start. The project also is not expected to have significant adverse effects on PO 00000 Frm 00043 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 affected marine mammals’ habitat. The project activities would not modify existing marine mammal habitat for a significant amount of time. The activities may cause some fish to leave the area of disturbance, thus temporarily impacting marine mammals’ foraging opportunities in a limited portion of the foraging range; but, because of the short duration of the activities and the relatively small area of the habitat that may be affected, the impacts to marine mammal habitat are not expected to cause significant or long-term negative consequences. Other than feeding and the haulout areas previously described, the project area does not include any areas or times of particular biological significance for the affected species. In summary and as described above, the following factors primarily support our preliminary 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 or serious injury is anticipated or authorized; • No serious injury is anticipated or authorized; • The Level A harassment exposures are anticipated to result only in slight PTS, within the lower frequencies associated with pile driving; • The anticipated incidents of Level B harassment would consist of, at worst, temporary modifications in behavior that would not result in fitness impacts to individuals; • The area impacted by the specified activity is very small relative to the overall habitat ranges of all species; • The activity is expected to occur over 21 or fewer in-water work days. 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 proposed monitoring and mitigation measures, NMFS preliminarily finds that the total marine mammal take from the proposed 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 E:\FR\FM\13DEN1.SGM 13DEN1 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 240 / Friday, December 13, 2019 / Notices 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. Up to 26.0 percent of the individuals in the harbor seal stock may be taken. When the number of takes of Steller sea lion and California sea lion are compared to the stock abundance, they represent 13.7 and 10.2 percent, respectively—however, the number of takes requested is based on the number of estimated exposures, not necessarily the number of individuals exposed, which could be fewer given that pinnipeds may remain in the general area of the project sites and the same individuals may be harassed multiple times over multiple days, rather than numerous individuals harassed once. Based on the analysis contained herein of the proposed activity (including the proposed mitigation and monitoring measures) and the anticipated take of marine mammals, NMFS preliminarily 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. jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with NOTICES Endangered Species Act (ESA) Section 7(a)(2) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA: 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) requires that each Federal agency insure that any action it authorizes, funds, or carries out is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any endangered or threatened species or result in the destruction or adverse modification of designated critical habitat. To ensure ESA compliance for the issuance of IHAs, NMFS consults internally, in this case with the NMFS West Coast Region Protected Resources Division Office, whenever we propose to authorize take for endangered or threatened species. No incidental take of ESA-listed marine mammals is authorized or expected to result from issuance of this IHA. Therefore, NMFS has determined that formal consultation under Section 7 of the ESA is not required for this action. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:42 Dec 12, 2019 Jkt 250001 Authorization NMFS has issued an IHA to the City of Astoria for the incidental take of marine mammal due to in-water and above-water construction work associated with Phase Two of the Astoria Waterfront Bridge Replacement project in in Astoria, OR from December 9, 2019 to December 8, 2020, provided the previously mentioned mitigation, monitoring and reporting requirements are incorporated. Dated: December 9, 2019. Donna S. Wieting, Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2019–26859 Filed 12–12–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Proposed Information Collection; Comment Request; Antarctic Marine Living Resources Conservation and Management Measures 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 take this opportunity 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 11, 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). All comments received are part of the public record. 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. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Requests for additional information or copies of the information collection instrument and instructions should be directed to MiAe Kim, Office of International Affairs and Seafood SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00044 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 68143 Inspection, 1315 East-West Hwy, Silver Spring, MD 20910; (301) 427–8365, mi.ae.kim@noaa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Abstract This is a request for revision of an existing information collection. The 1982 Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources established the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) for the purpose of protecting and conserving the marine living resources in the waters surrounding Antarctica. The Convention is based upon an ecosystem approach to the conservation of marine living resources and incorporates standards designed to ensure the conservation of individual populations and species and the Antarctic marine ecosystem as a whole. The United States (U.S.) is a contracting party to the Convention and a member of CCAMLR and the Scientific Committee established by the Convention. On November 8, 1984, the President signed Public Law 98–623, the Antarctic Marine Living Resources Convention Act (the Act). The Act directs and authorizes the United States to take actions necessary to meet its treaty obligations as a contracting party to the Convention. The regulations implementing the Act are at 50 CFR part 300, subpart G. The record keeping and reporting requirements at 50 CFR part 300 form the basis for this collection of information. The reporting requirements included in this collection concern CCAMLR Ecosystem Monitoring Program (CEMP) activities, scientific research in the CAMLR Convention Area, U.S. vessel permit applicants and/ or harvesting vessel operators, and U.S. importers, exporters, and re-exporters of AMLR. U.S. regulations require U.S. individuals engaged in AMLR harvesting, transshipping, and importing or entering and/or conducting activities in a CEMP site to apply for and hold a permit for such activities. Individuals involved in certain scientific research in the CAMLR Convention Area are required to report information. Members of the Commission are required to provide, in the manner and at such intervals as may be prescribed, information about harvesting activities, including fishing areas and vessels, so as to enable reliable catch and effort statistics to be compiled. As part of U.S. obligations to monitor and control the import, export, and reexport of Antarctic marine living E:\FR\FM\13DEN1.SGM 13DEN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 84, Number 240 (Friday, December 13, 2019)]
[Notices]
[Pages 68129-68143]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2019-26859]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

[RTID 0648-XR043]


Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; 
Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to Astoria Waterfront Bridge 
Replacement Phase 2 Project

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

ACTION: Notice; issuance of 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 NMFS has issued an incidental harassment authorization (IHA) to 
the City of Astoria to incidentally harass, by Level A and Level B 
harassment, marine mammals during construction activities associated 
with Phase Two of the Astoria Waterfront Bridge Replacement project in 
Astoria, OR.

DATES: This Authorization is effective from December 9, 2019 through 
December 8, 2020.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Leah Davis, Office of Protected 
Resources, NMFS, (301) 427-8401. Electronic copies of the application 
and supporting documents, as well as a list of the references cited in 
this document, may be obtained online at: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/national/marine-mammal-protection/incidental-take-authorizations-construction-activities. 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.
    The definitions of all applicable MMPA statutory terms cited above 
are included in the relevant sections below.

Summary of Request

    On June 3, 2019 NMFS received a request from the City of Astoria 
(City) for an IHA to take marine mammals incidental to pile driving and 
construction work in Astoria, Oregon. The application was deemed 
adequate and complete on October 17, 2019. The City's request was for 
take of a small number of California sea lion (Zalophus californianus) 
and harbor seal (Phoca vitulina richardii) by Level A and Level B 
harassment, and a small number of Steller sea lion (Eumetopias jubatus) 
by Level B harassment only. Neither the City nor NMFS expects serious 
injury or mortality to result from this activity, and, therefore, an 
IHA is appropriate.
    This IHA covers one year of a larger, two-year project that 
involves removal and replacement of six bridges on the Astoria, Oregon 
waterfront. NMFS previously issued an IHA to the City for removal and 
replacement of three bridges (83 FR 19243, May 2, 2018). The City 
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 Monitoring and Mitigation 
Section. The monitoring report exposed the need for clarification of 
monitoring requirements, specifically those involving Protected Species 
Observer (PSO) coverage of Level A and Level B zones. NMFS clarified 
those requirements with the applicant.

Description of the Specified Activity

    The City of Astoria, Oregon proposes to remove and replace three 
bridges connecting 6th, 8th, and 10th Streets with waterfront piers 
near the mouth of the Columbia River. The bridges are currently 
supported by decayed timber

[[Page 68130]]

piles. Among all three bridges, an estimated 150 timber piles will be 
removed as will other timber structural elements and concrete footings. 
The contractor will install 65 temporary 36-inch steel casings to help 
guide the installation of 65 permanent 24-inch steel piles. Pile 
driving and removal activities will be conducted using a vibratory and 
impact hammer. The contractor may need to conduct preboring inside of 
the temporary casings using a vibratory hammer and a 14-inch H-pile to 
prepare the new pile sites. In the event that preboring is not 
effective, the contractor may conduct down-the-hole drilling inside of 
the 36-inch piles to prepare the site for the permanent piles. It is 
unlikely that the contractor will need to conduct down-the-hole 
drilling, as it was not necessary during Phase 1. However, in the event 
that down-the-hole drilling is required, this activity has been 
analyzed in regard to both potential impulsive and continuous 
characteristics (Reyff and Heyvaert, 2019) as described in the Federal 
Register notice for the proposed IHA (84 FR 59773; November 6, 2019).) 
The roadway and railway superstructures will also be replaced, and a 
temporary, above-water work platform will be created for the 
construction. The use of vibratory and impact hammers for pile driving 
and site preparation is expected to produce underwater sound at levels 
that may result in behavioral harassment or auditory injury of marine 
mammals. Human presence and use of general construction equipment may 
also lead to behavioral harassment of sea lions hauled out along the 
riverbank below the bridges.
    The impacted area extends outward from the three bridge sites to a 
maximum distance of 21.54 km (13.28 mi). The project will occur over 
one year beginning in December 2019, with in-water activities expected 
to occur over an estimated 21 days during the months of December 
through April. Work will occur during daylight hours.
    A detailed description of the planned project is provided in the 
Federal Register notice for the proposed IHA (84 FR 59773; November 6, 
2019). Since that time, no changes have been made to the planned 
construction activities. Therefore, a detailed description is not 
provided here. Please refer to that Federal Register notice for the 
description of the specific activity.

Comments and Responses

    A notice of NMFS' proposal to issue an IHA to the City was 
published in the Federal Register on November 6, 2019 (84 FR 59773). 
That notice described, in detail, the City's proposed activity, the 
marine mammal species that may be affected by the activity, the 
anticipated effects on marine mammals and their habitat, proposed 
amount and manner of take, and proposed mitigation, monitoring and 
reporting measures. During the 30-day public comment period, NMFS 
received a comment letter from the Marine Mammal Commission 
(Commission); 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-takeauthorizations-construction-activities.
    Comment 1: The Commission stated that harbor seal takes were 
underestimated given a haulout within the Level B harassment zone 
(Desdemona Sands) that is larger than a haulout that boarders the Level 
B harassment zone which was used to estimate take. Based on information 
NMFS received from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW), 
NMFS estimates that up to 6,400 harbor seals may haul out at Desdemona 
Sands. As such, the Commission recommends that NMFS authorize the 
taking of 6,400 individual harbor seals to be taken no more than 21 
times each rather than 1,197 harbor seal takes.
    Response: NMFS concurs and is authorizing Level B harassment take 
of up to 6,400 individuals. A portion of those individuals will likely 
be taken on multiple days, but no more than 21 days. For additional 
information, please see the Estimated Take section, below.
    Comment 2: The Commission recommends that NMFS obtain more recent 
pinniped haul-out count data from WDFW and ODFW before processing any 
additional authorizations for activities occurring in the Columbia 
River.
    Response: When NMFS receives another application for an IHA at a 
location on the Columbia River we will contact these agencies.
    Comment 3: The Commission states that NMFS' standard 7-decibel (dB) 
source level reduction when bubble curtains are to be used during pile 
driving is not appropriate because bubble curtains that are placed 
immediately around the pile do not achieve consistent reductions in 
sound levels because they cannot attenuate ground-borne sound. The 
Commission recommends that NMFS consult with the relevant experts 
regarding the appropriate source level reduction factor to use to 
minimize far-field effects on marine mammals for all relevant 
incidental take authorizations and, until the experts have been 
consulted, refrain from using a source level reduction factor when 
bubble curtains are to be implemented.
    Response: NMFS appreciates the Commission's input and directs the 
reader to our recent response to a similar comment, which can be found 
at 84 FR 64833 (November 25, 2019).
    Comment 4: The Commission recommends that NMFS condition the final 
authorization to stipulate that pile driving and removal can occur 
during daylight hours only and include those conditions consistently in 
all Federal Register notices, draft authorizations, and final 
authorizations that do not involve activities occurring during 
nighttime.
    Response: The Federal Register notice for the proposed action (84 
FR 59773, November 6, 2019) did not include a description of the time 
of day that the activity would take place. NMFS has noted below, in the 
Changes from Proposed IHA to Final IHA section, that the applicant has 
indeed clarified their intention for pile driving to occur during 
daylight hours. NMFS agrees that the Federal Register notice for a 
proposed action should detail whether an activity will take place 
during daylight hours only, or whether an activity may, or will, take 
place at night. NMFS bases its determinations on how an applicant 
describes their activities and expects that an applicant will carry out 
a project as it is described in the associated application and Federal 
Register notices. Additionally, NMFS includes here a requirement that 
``should environmental conditions deteriorate such that marine mammals 
within the entire shutdown zone would not be visible (e.g., fog, heavy 
rain), pile driving and removal must be delayed until the PSO is 
confident marine mammals within the shutdown zone could be detected.'' 
This requirement implies that a shutdown zone should either be visible 
due to daylight, or an applicant must illuminate the shutdown zone to 
allow sufficient visibility. Therefore, NMFS does not agree that it is 
necessary to stipulate that the activity may only occur during daylight 
hours.
    Comment 5: The Commission recommends that NMFS (1) update its 
various templates for Federal Register notices and draft authorizations 
to reflect all standard measures and (2) conduct a more thorough review 
of the notices, draft authorizations, and final authorizations to 
ensure accuracy, completeness, and consistency.
    Response: NMFS thanks the Commission for its recommendation. NMFS 
makes every effort to keep

[[Page 68131]]

templates up-to-date and read notices thoroughly prior to publication 
and will continue this effort to publish the best possible product for 
public comment.
    Comment 6: The Commission recommends that NMFS refrain from issuing 
renewals for any authorization and instead use its abbreviated Federal 
Register notice process.
    Response: NMFS appreciates the streamlining achieved by the use of 
abbreviated Federal Register notices and intends to continue using them 
for proposed IHAs that include minor changes from previously issued 
IHAs, but which do not satisfy the renewal requirements. However, we 
believe our method for issuing renewals meets statutory requirements 
and maximizes efficiency, and we plan to continue considering requests 
for renewals.
    Comment 7: The Commission recommends that NMFS stipulate that a 
renewal is a one-time opportunity in all Federal Register notices 
requesting comments on the possibility of a renewal, on its web page 
detailing the renewal process, and in all draft and final 
authorizations that include a term and condition for a renewal.
    Response: NMFS thanks the Commission for its recommendation. 
Currently, Federal Register notices announcing proposed IHAs and the 
potential for a Renewal state, in the SUMMARY section, ``NMFS is also 
requesting comments on a possible one-year renewal that could be issued 
under certain circumstances and if all requirements are met.'' Further, 
no notice for any additional Renewal is included in the Federal 
Register Notice for proposed Renewals, so the current process already 
ensures that only one Renewal will be issued.
    Comment 8: The Commission recommends that NMFS ensure that action 
proponents have met all renewal requirements prior to proposing to 
issue a renewal in the Federal Register, and follow the renewal process 
of informing all commenters on the original authorization of the 
opportunity to submit additional comments on the proposed renewal.
    Response: NMFS carefully considers whether applicants meet the 
criteria for a renewal upon request. NMFS will ensure that the 
Commission is contacted alongside other persons who commented on the 
initial IHA on all future proposed IHA Renewals, but notes that the 
Commission itself has consistently informally contacted NMFS regarding 
proposed IHAs and Renewals upon the Federal Register notice being 
posted for public inspection, the day prior to formal publication and 
the beginning of the public comment period, or the first day of the 
formal comment period without notification of upcoming proposed IHA 
from NMFS.

Changes From the Proposed IHA to Final IHA

    The most substantive change, which is described above and in the 
Estimated Take section, is the increase in the take numbers for harbor 
seals, though we note here that these changes do not affect our 
negligible impact or small numbers determinations. The Federal Register 
notice for the proposed IHA mistakenly noted that in-water demolition 
work would begin in November 2019. Rather, in-water demolition work 
will begin in December 2019. The proposed notice also did not 
explicitly state that pile driving will occur during daylight hours 
only, which has been stated above in this notice. Additionally, there 
is a chance that harbor porpoise could be present in the project area, 
which was not discussed in the proposed Federal Register notice. 
However, harbor porpoise are not expected to occur within the Level A 
or Level B harassment zones for the reasons explained in the 
Description of Marine Mammals in the Area of Specified Activities 
section, below. Slight modifications were made to the mitigation 
measures; please see the Mitigation Measures section for additional 
information. Additionally, minor changes were made to Tables 3, 5, 6, 
7, 13 and 14.

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 (SARs; 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 all species with expected potential for occurrence in 
Astoria and summarizes information related to the population or stock, 
including regulatory status under the MMPA and ESA and potential 
biological removal (PBR), where known. For taxonomy, we follow 
Committee on Taxonomy (2016). PBR is 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 (as described in NMFS's 
SARs). While no mortality is anticipated or authorized here, PBR and 
annual serious injury and mortality from anthropogenic sources are 
included here as gross indicators of the status of the species and 
other threats.
    Marine mammal abundance estimates presented in this document 
represent the total number of individuals that make up a given stock or 
the total number estimated within a particular study or survey area. 
NMFS's stock abundance estimates for most species represent the total 
estimate of individuals within the geographic area, if known, that 
comprises that stock. For some species, this geographic area may extend 
beyond U.S. waters. For Steller sea lion (Eumetopias jubatus) the stock 
abundance is the best estimate of pup and non-pup counts, which have 
not been corrected to account for animals at sea during abundance 
surveys. All managed stocks in this region are assessed in NMFS's U.S. 
2018 SARs (e.g., Caretta et al. 2019). All values presented in Table 1 
are the most recent available at the time of publication and are 
available in the 2018 SARs (Caretta et al. 2019, Muto et al. 2019).

                                           Table 1--Species With Expected Potential for Occurrence in Astoria
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                     ESA/MMPA     Stock abundance (CV,
                                                                                     status;        Nmin, most recent                          Annual M/
            Common name                Scientific name             Stock         strategic (Y/N)    abundance survey)            PBR             SI \3\
                                                                                       \1\                 \2\
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                          Order Cetartiodactyla--Cetacea--Superfamily Mysticeti (baleen whales)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Family Balaenopteridae (rorquals)

[[Page 68132]]

 
    Humpback whale................  Megaptera              Central North         -, -, Y          10,103 (0.300,        83...................         26
                                     novaeangliae.          Pacific.                               7,891, 2006).
    Humpback whale................  Megaptera              California/Oregon/    -, -, Y          2,900 (0.05, 2,784,   16.7.................  =321
                                    californianus........                                          233,515, 2014).
    Steller sea lion..............  Eumetopias jubatus...  Eastern U.S.........  -, -, N          41,638 (See SAR,      2498.................        108
                                                                                                   41,638, 2015).
Family Phocidae (earless seals):
    Pacific harbor seal...........  Phoca vitulina.......  Oregon/Washington     -, -, N          Unknown (Unknown,     Undetermined.........       10.6
                                    richardii............   Coast.                                 Unknown, 1999).
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\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: www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/sars/. 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.
Note--Italicized species are not expected to be taken or proposed for authorization.

    All species that could potentially occur in the proposed survey 
areas are included in Table 1. However, the temporal and spatial 
occurrence of humpback whales and harbor porpoises is such that take is 
not expected to occur, and they are not discussed further beyond the 
explanation provided here. Humpback whales occasionally enter the 
Columbia River to feed (Calambokidis, et al., 2017), however their 
presence is rare. They were not observed during Phase 1 of the City's 
project (OBEC Consulting Engineers. 2019), and are not expected during 
Phase 2. Harbor porpoises are regularly observed in the ocean ward 
waters near the mouth of the Columbia River and are known to occur 
there year-round. Porpoise abundance peaks when anchovy (Engraulis 
mordax) abundance in the river and nearshore are highest, which is 
usually between April and August (Litz et al. 2008). Harbor porpoise 
take is not expected because the in-water work is expected to be 
complete prior to April (unless the entire IWWP extension is 
exercised), and the ensonified area is contained within the Columbia 
River. Additionally, harbor porpoise were not observed during Phase 1 
of the City's project (OBEC Consulting Engineers. 2019)
    A detailed description of the of the species likely to be affected 
by the project, including brief introductions to the species and 
relevant stocks as well as available information regarding population 
trends and threats, and information regarding local occurrence, were 
provided in the Federal Register notice for the proposed IHA (84 FR 
59773; November 6, 2019); since that time, we are not aware of any 
changes in the status of these species and stocks; therefore, detailed 
descriptions are not provided here. Please refer to that Federal 
Register notice for these descriptions. Please also refer to NMFS' 
website (https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/find-species) for generalized 
species accounts.

Potential Effects of Specified Activities on Marine Mammals and Their 
Habitat

    Underwater noise from impact and vibratory pile driving and site 
preparation, as well as potential down-the-hole drilling activities 
associated with Phase Two of the Astoria Waterfront Bridge Replacement 
Project have the potential to result in harassment of marine mammals in 
the vicinity of the action area. The Federal Register notice for the 
proposed IHA (84 FR 59773; November 6, 2019) included a discussion of 
the potential effects of such disturbances on marine mammals and their 
habitat, therefore that information is not repeated in detail here; 
please refer to the Federal Register notice (84 FR 59773; November 6, 
2019) for that information.

Estimated Take

    This section provides an estimate of the number of incidental takes 
authorized through this IHA, which will inform both NMFS' consideration 
of ``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 vibratory and impact pile hammers, potential drill, and other 
construction equipment has the potential to result in disruption of 
behavioral patterns for individual marine mammals. There is also some 
potential for auditory injury (Level A harassment) to California sea 
lions and harbor seals because they are more likely to occur closer to 
the project site, particularly considering the small, nearby California 
sea lion haulout. Auditory injury is unlikely to occur to

[[Page 68133]]

other groups, and the proposed mitigation and monitoring measures are 
expected to minimize the severity of such taking to the extent 
practicable.
    As described previously, no mortality or serious injury is 
anticipated or proposed to be 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 proposed 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). Thresholds have also 
been developed identifying the received level of in-air sound above 
which exposed pinnipeds would likely be behaviorally harassed.
    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; 
Ellison et al., 2012). Based on what the available science indicates 
and the practical need to use a threshold based on a factor that is 
both predictable and measurable for most activities, NMFS uses a 
generalized acoustic threshold based on received level to estimate the 
onset of behavioral harassment. NMFS predicts that marine mammals are 
likely to be behaviorally harassed in a manner we consider Level B 
harassment when exposed to underwater anthropogenic noise above 
received levels of 120 dB re 1 [mu]Pa (rms) for continuous (e.g., 
vibratory pile-driving, drilling) and above 160 dB re 1 [mu]Pa (rms) 
for non-explosive impulsive (e.g., seismic airguns) or intermittent 
(e.g., scientific sonar) sources. For in-air sounds, NMFS predicts that 
harbor seals exposed above received levels of 90 dB re 20 [mu]Pa (rms) 
will be behaviorally harassed, and other pinnipeds will be harassed 
when exposed above 100 dB re 20 [mu]Pa (rms).
    The City's proposed activity includes the use of continuous 
(vibratory pile driving, preboring and potential down-the-hole 
drilling) and impulsive (impact pile driving and potential down-the-
hole drilling) sources, and therefore the 120 and 160 dB re 1 [mu]Pa 
(rms) are applicable for in-water noise.
    Level A harassment for non-explosive sources--NMFS' Technical 
Guidance for Assessing the Effects of Anthropogenic Sound on Marine 
Mammal Hearing (Version 2.0) (Technical Guidance, 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). The City's proposed activities include 
the use of impulsive (impact hammers, potential down-the-hole drilling) 
and non-impulsive (vibratory hammers, potential down-the-hole drilling) 
sources.
    These thresholds are provided in the Table 2. 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\*\                                                                          Non-
          (received level)                 Hearing Group                       Impulsive                 impulsive
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- -----------
Low-Frequency (LF) Cetaceans........  Cell 1: Lpk,flat: 219    Cell 2: LE,LF,24h: 199 dB.
                                       dB; LE,LF,24h: 183 dB.
Mid-Frequency (MF) Cetaceans........  Cell 3: Lpk,flat: 230    Cell 4: LE,MF,24h: 198 dB.
                                       dB; LE,MF,24h: 185 dB.
High-Frequency (HF) Cetaceans.......  Cell 5: Lpk,flat: 202    Cell 6: LE,HF,24h: 173 dB.
                                       dB;.
                                      LE,HF,24h: 155 dB......
Phocid Pinnipeds (PW)...............  Cell 7: Lpk,flat: 218    Cell 8: LE,PW,24h: 201 dB.
(Underwater)........................   dB;.
                                      LE,PW,24h: 185 dB......
Otariid Pinnipeds (OW)..............  Cell 9: Lpk,flat: 232    Cell 10: LE,OW,24h: 219 dB.
(Underwater)........................   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.
    The sound field in the project area is the existing background 
noise plus additional construction noise from the proposed project. 
Marine mammals are

[[Page 68134]]

expected to be affected via sound generated by the primary components 
of the project (i.e., impact pile driving, vibratory pile driving and 
removal, site preparation). The maximum (underwater) area ensonified 
above the thresholds for behavioral harassment referenced above is 
21.53km (13.38 mi) into the river channel during vibratory 
installation/removal of the 36-inch temporary steel casings, though 
this distance does not account for tide levels. There is a chance that 
pile installation work could be done during low tides, where exposed 
sand bars could significantly reduce the Level B ZOI.
    The project includes vibratory removal of timber piles, vibratory 
and impact pile installation of steel pipe piles and site preparation 
using a vibratory hammer and H-pile. Source levels of pile 
installation/removal activities and site preparation are based on 
reviews of measurements of the same or similar types and dimensions of 
piles available in the literature. Source levels for each pile size and 
driving method are presented in Table 3. Source levels for vibratory 
installation and removal of piles of the same diameter are assumed to 
be the same.
    The source level for vibratory removal of timber piles is from in-
water measurements generated by the Greenbusch Group (2018) from the 
Seattle Pier 62 project (83 FR 39709; April 10, 2018). Hydroacoustic 
monitoring results from Pier 62 determined unweighted rms ranging from 
140 dB to 169 dB. NMFS analyzed source measurements at different 
distances for all 63 individual timber piles that were removed at Pier 
62 and normalized the values to 10 m. The results showed that the 
median is 152 dB SPLrms.

                                                  Table 3--Sound Source Levels for In-Water Activities
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                     Source level (at 10m)
           Pile size/type                    Method         ---------------------------------------                   Literature source
                                                                dB RMS     dB SEL\c\     dB peak
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
14-inch Timber.....................  Vibratory.............          152  ...........  ...........  The Greenbusch Group, Inc (2018).
14-inch Steel H-pile...............  Vibratory.............      \a\ 150  ...........  ...........  CalTrans (2015).
24-inch Steel Pipe.................  Vibratory.............          162  ...........  ...........  WSDOT (2010).
                                     Impact................      \b\ 187      \b\ 171      \b\ 200  Loughlin (2005).
36-inch Steel Pipe.................  Vibratory.............          170  ...........  ...........  CalTrans (2015).
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\a\ Source level from 12-inch steel H-pile.
\b\ Includes 7dB reduction from use of bubble curtain.
\c\ Sound exposure level (dB re 1 [mu]Pa\2\-sec).

    It is anticipated that the contractor may employ two crews during 
construction to keep the project on schedule. This could result in 
concurrent use of a vibratory hammer and an impact hammer, however, the 
contractor will not operate two of the same hammer type concurrently. 
The hammers would be operated at two different bridges. The ensonified 
zones would likely overlap during concurrent use, but the multiple-
source decibel addition method (Table 4) does not result in significant 
increases in the noise source when an impact hammer and vibratory 
hammer are operated at the same time, because the difference in noise 
source levels (Table 3) between the two hammers is greater than 10dB.

                Table 4--Multiple-Source Decibel Addition
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                              Add the
                                                           following  to
           When two decibel values  differ by:              the higher
                                                               level
------------------------------------------------------------------------
0-1 dB..................................................            3 dB
2-3 dB..................................................            2 dB
4-9 dB..................................................            1 dB
> 10 dB.................................................            0 dB
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Transmission loss (TL) is the decrease in acoustic intensity as an 
acoustic pressure wave propagates out from a source. TL parameters vary 
with frequency, temperature, sea conditions, current, source and 
receiver depth, water depth, water chemistry, and bottom composition 
and topography. The general formula for underwater TL is:

TL = B * Log10 (R1/R2),

Where
TL = transmission loss in dB
B = transmission loss coefficient
R1 = the distance of the modeled SPL from the driven 
pile, and
R2 = the distance from the driven pile of the initial 
measurement

    Absent site-specific acoustical monitoring with differing measured 
transmission loss, a practical spreading value of 15 is used as the 
transmission loss coefficient in the above formula. Site-specific 
transmission loss data for Astoria are not available, therefore the 
default coefficient of 15 is used to determine the distances to the 
Level A and Level B harassment thresholds.

                                 Table 5--In-Water Activity Source Levels and Distances to Level B Harassment Thresholds
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                                                              Level B
                                                                     Source level  at       Level B         Propagation     Distance to     harassment
             Pile size/type                        Method             10 m  (dB re 1   threshold  (dB re      (xLogR)         Level B       ensonified
                                                                      [micro]Pa rms)    1 [micro]Pa rms)                  threshold  (m)   area  (km\2\)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
14-inch Timber.........................  Vibratory................                152                120              15         1,359.4             3.2
14-inch Steel H-pile...................  Vibratory................                150                120              15         1,000.0             1.8
24-inch Steel Pipe.....................  Vibratory................                162                120              15         6,309.6            55.3
                                         Impact...................                187                160              15           631.0             0.8
36-inch Steel Pipe (and down-the-hole    Vibratory................                170                120              15        21,544.4           212.3
 drilling, as necessary).
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


[[Page 68135]]

    In-Air Disturbance during General Construction Activities--
Behavioral disturbance (Level B harassment take) may occur incidental 
to the use of construction equipment during general construction that 
is proposed in the dry, above water, or inland within close proximity 
to the river banks. These construction activities are associated with 
the removal and construction of the rail superstructures, removal of 
the existing concrete foundations, construction of abutment wingwalls, 
and the construction of a temporary work platform. Possible equipment 
and sound source levels are included in Table 1 of the Federal Register 
notice for the draft IHA (84 FR 59773; November 6, 2019). Using the 
Spherical Spreading Loss Model (20logR), a maximum sound source level 
of 93 dB RMS at 20 m, sound levels in-air would attenuate below the 
90dB RMS Level B harassment threshold for harbor seals at 28 m, and 
below the 100 dB RMS threshold for all other pinnipeds at 9 m. Harbor 
seals are not expected to occur within 28m of the activity as there are 
no nearby haulouts, and are, therefore, not expected to be harassed by 
in-air sound. Additionally, the City is proposing a 10 m shutdown zone 
(Table 13) for all construction work to prevent injury from physical 
interaction with equipment. The City would therefore shut down 
equipment before hauled out sea lions could be acoustically harassed by 
the sound produced. No Level B harassment is expected to occur due to 
increased sounds from roadway construction. However, sea lions may be 
disturbed by the presence of construction equipment and increased human 
presence during above-water construction.
    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 pile 
driving, NMFS User Spreadsheet predicts the distance at which, if a 
marine mammal remained at that distance the whole duration of the 
activity, it would incur PTS. Inputs entered in the User Spreadsheet 
(Table 6) and the resulting isopleths are reported below (Table 7).

                                                  Table 6--User Spreadsheet Input Parameters Used for Calculating Level A Harassment Isopleths
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                                                                                                      Distance
                                                                             Weighting                                        Number of     Duration to    Number of                 from source
  Pile size and installation method            Spreadsheet tab used            factor           Source level at 10 m            piles      drive single   strikes per  Propagation      level
                                                                             adjustment                                      within 24-h       pile           pile        (xLogR)    measurement
                                                                               (kHz)                                            period       (minutes)                                (meters)
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
14-inch Timber Vibratory.............  (A.1) Vibratory pile driving.......          2.5  152dB RMS SPL.....................           50              20  ...........           15            10
14-inch Steel H-Pile.................  (A.1) Vibratory pile driving.......          2.5  150dB RMS SPL.....................           36              25  ...........           15            10
24-inch Steel Vibratory..............  (A.1) Vibratory pile driving.......          2.5  162dB RMS SPL.....................           18              20  ...........           15            10
36-inch Steel Vibratory..............  (A.1) Vibratory pile driving.......          2.5  170dB RMS SPL.....................           36               8  ...........           15            10
24-inch Steel Impact (and down-the-    (E.1) Impact pile driving..........            2  171dB SEL/200 PK SPL..............           23  ..............          500           15            10
 hole drilling, if necessary).
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The applicant may conduct down-the-hole drilling, however a 
separate analysis is not provided for that activity, as it is was not 
necessary in Phase 1 of the project, and is not expected to be 
necessary in Phase 2. Should drilling be necessary, the Level B 
harassment zone will be considered to be the same as that calculated 
for vibratory installation/removal of 36-inch steel piles, as that 
Level B harassment zone is clipped in all directions, and therefore is 
the most conservative a Level B harassment zone could be. A 
conservative Level B harassment zone is of particular importance due to 
the fact that the duration of drilling, should it be necessary, is 
unknown. The applicant will consider the Level A harassment zone for 
down-the-hole drilling to be the same as the Level A harassment zones 
calculated for impact pile driving of the 24-inch steel piles. These 
are the largest Level A harassment zones.

      Table 7--Calculated Distances to Level A Harassment Isopleths
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                           Level A harassment zone  (m)
    Pile size and installation method    -------------------------------
                                              Phocids        Otariids
------------------------------------------------------------------------
14-inch Timber Vibratory................             6.8             0.5
14-inch Steel H-Pile....................             4.7             0.3
24-inch Steel Vibratory.................              16             1.1
36-inch Steel Vibratory.................              47             3.3
24-inch Steel Impact (and down-the-hole            431.5            31.4
 drilling, if necessary)................
------------------------------------------------------------------------


[[Page 68136]]

Marine Mammal Occurrence and Take Calculation and Estimation

    In this section we provide the information about the presence, 
density, or group dynamics of marine mammals, and how it is brought 
together with the information provided above to produce a quantitative 
take estimate. Estimated takes of each species were calculated using 
information provided by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife 
(Bryan Wright, pers. comm., August and November 2019), Washington 
Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW, 2014) and the Marine Mammal 
Commission (Tiff Brookens, pers. comm., March 2018).
Harbor Seal
    As noted in the Comments and Responses section, above, estimated 
Level B harassment take of harbor seal was modified based on a comment 
from the Commission and additional information from ODFW.
    The closest harbor seal haulout and pupping area is Desdemona 
Sands, which is downstream of the Astoria-Megler Bridge. Numbers of 
harbor seals hauled out at Desdemona Sands have been reported to reach 
into the thousands (Profita, 2015). While specific counts were 
unavailable, ODFW advised that the highest counts of harbor seals are 
in late winter/early spring (over 6,000 at Desdemona Sands in February) 
(Bryan Wright, pers. comm., November 2019). However, ODFW also provided 
a harbor seal count of 1,918 non-pups at Desdemona Sands from May 2014 
(most recent ODWF survey), and described these as year-round residents. 
We would expect that the harbor seal counts would decrease from 6,400 
individuals on either end of the late winter/early spring period (as 
low as 1,918 during the summer). Up to 6,400 individuals could be taken 
on in-water workdays during the late winter/early spring months, but we 
do not expect that many takes on every in-water work day.
    Because there is such a high variability in potential instances of 
Level B harassment take, NMFS is not authorizing a specific number of 
instances of Level B harassment take of harbor seals. Rather, NMFS is 
authorizing Level B harassment take of up to 6,400 individuals. A 
portion of those individuals will likely be taken on multiple days, but 
none to exceed 21 days. Most individuals will be taken notably fewer 
times, as NMFS does not expect that number of individuals to haul out 
at Desdemona Sands for the majority of the in-water work period.
    Additionally, while harbor seals are unlikely to occur in the Level 
A harassment zone during vibratory pile driving (based on Phase 1 
monitoring), the applicant is concerned that if a few animals occurred 
in the Level A harassment zone during impact pile driving, they may 
need to shut down more frequently than is practical, given the IWWP 
restrictions previously discussed. As such, NMFS is proposing to 
observe a shutdown zone that is smaller than the Level A isopleth for 
impact pile driving and to issue small numbers of Level A harassment 
take of harbor seals (Table 11). This proposed take would avoid 
potentially excessive shut downs should a small group of harbor seals 
enter the project area on each day while impact pile driving activities 
(or down-the-hole drilling, as necessary) are underway. The Level A 
harassment take calculation for harbor seals authorizes instances of 
take, rather than individuals that will be taken as done for the Level 
B harassment take calculation for harbor seals. Level A harassment take 
of harbor seals was calculated by multiplying a group of two animals by 
14 in-water work days. Level A takes may only occur during the subset 
of in-water work days when the applicant conducts impact pile driving 
(or down-the-hole drilling, as required), as the shutdown zone contains 
the entire Level A harassment zone for all other in-water work 
activities.
Steller Sea Lion
    Counts of Steller sea lions at the East Mooring Basin are typically 
in the single digits (B. Wright, pers. comm., March 2018), while the 
average number of Steller sea lions observed at the South Jetty during 
the in-water work period (including the possible extension) from 2000-
2014, was 272 animals (WDFW, 2014). When the applicant consulted ODFW 
for more recent Steller sea lion data, ODFW advised that there were 
only three more recent surveys, none of which occurred during the IWWP 
months (Bryan Wright, pers. comm., September 2019). The Level B 
harassment zones for Phase 2 extend far beyond the calculated zones for 
Phase 1, approaching the South Jetty. Therefore, NMFS expects that that 
average daily count from the South Jetty provides an appropriate daily 
count to calculate potential Steller sea lion Level B harassment take 
during Phase 2. Note the calculation is based on the average daily 
count, not the maximum. The maximum daily count was 606 animals, in the 
month of April. Considering that work will only occur in April if the 
entire IWWP extension is exercised, and the large difference between 
the maximum daily count and the average daily count, NMFS believes that 
using the maximum daily count would greatly overestimate potential 
take.
    For Phase 1 Level B harassment take calculations of Steller sea 
lions, daily estimates were based off of observations at Bonneville Dam 
and Willamette Falls, as these animals must transit past Astoria at 
some point in their travels from the Pacific to the upper Columbia 
River (83 FR 19243, May 2, 2018). The daily count was 67 animals, 63 at 
Bonneville Dam and four at Willamette Falls. However, NMFS believes 
that South Jetty estimates are more appropriate and more conservative 
for Phase 2 take calculations, given the larger Level B harassment 
zones, some of which extend downriver close to the South Jetty.
    Level B harassment take was calculated by multiplying the daily 
counts of Steller sea lions by days of in-water activity (Table 8).
    Steller sea lions do not haul out near the construction sites and 
would only be potentially harassed if they are transiting through the 
Level B harassment zone during the in-water work period (including the 
extension, if applicable). Steller sea lions are not expected to occur 
within the calculated Level A harassment zone for otariids (Table 7). 
No Level A harassment takes of Steller sea lions are proposed nor 
expected to be authorized.

                        Table 8--Level B Harassment Take Calculation for Steller Sea Lion
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                   Maximum        Days of  in-
                           Species                              average/daily        water          Total take
                                                                    count         activity\b\       (Level B)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Steller sea lion.............................................         \a\ 272               21            5,712
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\a\ Average number of Steller sea lions observed at the South Jetty during the in-water work period (including
  the possible extension) from 2000-2014 (WDFW, 2014).
\b\ Includes in-water activity for the entire project.


[[Page 68137]]

California Sea Lion
    Aerial surveys of the East Mooring Basin in Astoria from 2011 to 
2018 (Bryan Wright, pers. comm., August 2019) were used to calculate 
in-water Level B harassment take of California sea lions, as in Phase 1 
of this activity (83 FR 19243, May 2, 2018). The data provided to NMFS 
by ODFW included the maximum California sea lion count observed on a 
single day for each month throughout the survey period. These maximum 
counts at the East Mooring Basin ranged from 0 California sea lions on 
a single day in July 2017 to 3,834 on a single day in March 2016. A 
``daily average maximum'' for each IWWP month (Table 9) was calculated 
by averaging the maximum counts on a single day for each survey month 
provided by ODFW. In addition to ODFW aerial surveys, the City 
conducted opportunistic surveys of pinnipeds at the bridge sites in 
December 2017. A maximum of four California sea lions were observed in 
the water surrounding the bridges and piers. Additional California sea 
lions were heard vocalizing from the riverbanks under the bridges but 
the exact number of sea lions could not be determined.

  Table 9--Daily Average Maximum Number of California Sea lions at East
    Mooring Basin for IWWP Months, Including the Potential Extension
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                Daily
                           Month                               Average
                                                             Maximum \a\
------------------------------------------------------------------------
November...................................................          141
December...................................................          135
January....................................................          408
February...................................................          893
March......................................................         1191
April......................................................          982
------------------------------------------------------------------------
\a\ Daily average maximum was calculated using data from aerial surveys
  of the East Mooring Basin in Astoria from 2011 to 2018 (Bryan Wright,
  pers. comm., 2019).

    California sea lions are the most commonly observed marine mammal 
in the area, and are known to haul out on the riverbanks and structures 
near the bridges, as described above. California sea lions may be 
harassed by underwater sound resulting from vibratory pile removal and 
impact pile driving (at the distances listed above) as well as airborne 
sound resulting from roadway and railway demolition and construction. 
As such, California sea lions may be subject to harassment throughout 
the duration of Phase 2 of the project.
    NMFS is proposing to authorize 1,056 Level B harassment takes of 
California sea lions associated with above-water construction 
activities taking place during the above-water work period, not 
including the IWWP extension (May to October). Level B harassment takes 
of California sea lions from above-water activities were calculated by 
multiplying the maximum estimate from the City's 2017 opportunistic 
surveys at the bridge sites (16 animals) by the estimated 11 days of 
work per month during the above-water work period.
    NMFS is proposing to authorize 25,011 Level B harassment takes of 
California sea lions associated with in-water and above-water work 
during the IWWP. The City expects approximately 21 in-water work days 
across Phase 2 of the project. However, because the exact construction 
schedule is unknown, there are uncertainties in how many of the 
estimated work days will occur during each month. Therefore, estimated 
Level B harassment take during the IWWP (Table 10) is calculated by 
multiplying the highest daily average maximum (Table 9) during the IWWP 
months (including the potential extension) by the estimated 21 in-water 
work days. California sea lions exposed to in-air sound above Level B 
harassment threshold during the IWWP are expected to have already been 
taken by in-water activity, and therefore already be included in the 
take calculation.
    Total California sea lion Level B harassment takes (Table 10) are 
calculated as the sum of above-water work period and IWWP takes.

                      Table 10--Level B Harassment Take Calculation of California Sea Lion.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                     Potential
                           Work period                             Daily average     number of       Takes per
                                                                    maximum \b\      workdays          month
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
IWWP \a\........................................................            1191              21          25,011
May.............................................................              16              11             176
June............................................................              16              11             176
July............................................................              16              11             176
August..........................................................              16              11             176
September.......................................................              16              11             176
October.........................................................              16              11             176
rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr
    Total.......................................................  ..............  ..............          26,067
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\a\ IWWP includes the potential extension, as the month of March has the highest daily average maximum count.
\b\ Daily average maximums during above-water work months are estimates from the City's opportunistic surveys at
  the Phase 1 bridge sites in December 2017.

    Only 4,204 Level B harassment takes of California sea lion were 
reported for Phase 1; however, the Phase 2 project area is much larger 
than the area within which marine mammals were reported in Phase 1. 
Therefore, NMFS expects California sea lion take to be higher for Phase 
2 than was reported in the monitoring report for Phase 1.
    As discussed above, the City estimates that approximately 16 
California sea lions haul out near the project sites based on 
opportunistic surveys conducted in December 2017. Frequent construction 
shutdowns are of concern to the applicant, as there is a limited IWWP 
imposed by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and, therefore, 
the proposed mitigation zone does not entirely contain the area within 
the Level A harassment isopleth for impact pile driving. The applicant 
has requested Level A harassment takes of California sea lions, as the 
animals that haulout nearby may enter the Level A harassment zone as 
they transit between the haulouts and their feeding areas in the 
Columbia River.
    NMFS is proposing to issue 224 Level A harassment takes of 
California sea lions (Table 11). The Level A harassment takes are 
calculated by multiplying the 16 animals that haulout

[[Page 68138]]

near the project site (City of Astoria December 2017 surveys) by 14 in-
water work days. Level A takes may only occur during the subset of in-
water work days when the applicant conducts impact pile driving (or 
down-the-hole drilling, as required), as the shutdown zone contains the 
entire Level A harassment zone for all other in-water work activities.

              Table 11--Level A Harassment Take Calculation of Harbor Seal and California Sea Lion
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                     Estimated
                                                                                  number of  in-      Level A
                             Species                                Daily count     water work      harassment
                                                                                       days            take
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Harbor seal.....................................................               2              14              28
California sea lion.............................................          \a\ 16              14             224
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\a\ December 2017 survey estimates of California sea lions by the City at Phase 1 bridge sites.


                                           Table 12--Total Level A and Level B Take Proposed for Authorization
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                              Level A         Level B
                Common name                             Stock               harassment      harassment      Total take         Stock        Percent of
                                                                               take            take                          abundance         stock
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Harbor seal...............................  Oregon/Washington Coast.....              28           6,400           6,428      \a\ 24,732            26.0
Steller sea lion..........................  Eastern U.S.................               0           5,712           5,712          41,638            13.7
California sea lion.......................  U.S.........................             224          26,067          26,291         257,606            10.2
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\a\ As noted in Table 3, there is no current estimate of abundance available for the Oregon/Washington Coast stock of harbor seal. The abundance
  estimate from 1999, included here, is the most recent.

Mitigation Measures

    In order to issue an IHA under Section 101(a)(5)(D) of the MMPA, 
NMFS must set forth the permissible methods of taking pursuant to such 
activity, and other means of effecting the least practicable impact on 
such species or stock and its habitat, paying particular attention to 
rookeries, mating grounds, and areas of similar significance, and on 
the availability of such species or stock for taking for certain 
subsistence uses (latter not applicable for this action). NMFS 
regulations require applicants for incidental take authorizations to 
include information about the availability and feasibility (economic 
and technological) of equipment, methods, and manner of conducting such 
activity or other means of effecting the least practicable adverse 
impact upon the affected species or stocks and their habitat (50 CFR 
216.104(a)(11)).
    In evaluating how mitigation may or may not be appropriate to 
ensure the least practicable adverse impact on species or stocks and 
their habitat, as well as subsistence uses where applicable, we 
carefully consider two primary factors:
    (1) The manner in which, and the degree to which, the successful 
implementation of the measure(s) is expected to reduce impacts to 
marine mammals, marine mammal species or stocks, and their habitat. 
This considers the nature of the potential adverse impact being 
mitigated (likelihood, scope, range). It further considers the 
likelihood that the measure will be effective if implemented 
(probability of accomplishing the mitigating result if implemented as 
planned), the likelihood of effective implementation (probability 
implemented as planned), and;
    (2) the practicability of the measures for applicant 
implementation, which may consider such things as cost, impact on 
operations, and, in the case of a military readiness activity, 
personnel safety, practicality of implementation, and impact on the 
effectiveness of the military readiness activity.
    In addition to the measures described later in this section, the 
City will employ the following standard mitigation measures:
     The City shall conduct briefings between construction 
supervisors and crews, marine mammal monitoring team, and City staff 
prior to the start of all construction work, and when new personnel 
join the work, in order to explain responsibilities, communication 
procedures, marine mammal monitoring protocol, and operational 
procedures;
     For those marine mammals for which Level B harassment take 
has not been requested, in-water pile installation/removal and drilling 
will shut down immediately if such species are observed within or on a 
path towards the monitoring zone (i.e., Level B harassment zone); and
     If observed take reaches the authorized limit for an 
authorized species, pile installation will be stopped as these species 
approach the Level B harassment zone to avoid additional take.
    The following measures would apply to the City's mitigation 
requirements:
    Establishment of Shutdown Zones--For all pile driving/removal and 
drilling activities, the City will establish appropriate 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). 
These shutdown zones would be used to prevent incidental Level A 
exposures from pile driving and removal for Steller sea lions, and to 
reduce the potential for such take of harbor seals and California sea 
lions. During all pile driving and removal activities, as well as 
above-water construction, a minimum shutdown zone of 10m would be 
enforced (Table 13) for all species to prevent physical injury from 
interaction with construction equipment. Additionally, a shutdown zone 
of 32m will be enforced for Steller sea lions during impact pile 
driving to reduce the likelihood of Level A harassment take (Table 13). 
The placement of Protected Species Observers (PSOs) during all pile 
driving and drilling activities (described in detail in the Monitoring 
and Reporting Section) will ensure shutdown zones are visible when they 
are on site. When PSOs are not on site, the Oregon Department of 
Transportation (ODOT) inspector will be responsible for ensuring that 
activities shut down if a

[[Page 68139]]

marine mammal enters the shutdown zone.

                                            Table 13--Shutdown Zones
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                 Shutdown Zone (m)
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                      Construction Activity                                         Steller sea   California sea
                                                                    Harbor seal        lion            lion
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
All Vibratory Pile Driving/Removal and Site Preparation.........              50              10              10
24-inch Steel Impact Pile Driving (and down-the-hole drilling,    ..............              32  ..............
 as necessary)..................................................
Above-water Construction........................................              10              10  ..............
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Establishment of Monitoring Zones for Level B Harassment--The City 
would establish monitoring zones to correlate with Level B harassment 
zones or zones of influence. These 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 site preparation. For airborne 
noise, these thresholds are 90 dB RMS re 20[mu]Pa for harbor seals and 
100 db RMS re: 20[mu]Pa for all other pinnipeds. Monitoring zones 
provide utility for observing by establishing monitoring protocols for 
areas adjacent to the shutdown zones. Monitoring zones 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. The 
proposed monitoring zones are described in Table 14. Placement of PSOs 
on the shorelines around the Columbia River allow PSOs to observe 
marine mammals within the project site, however, due to the size of the 
Level B harassment zone during some activities, not all Level B 
harassment takes will be visible to PSOs. Level B harassment exposures 
will be recorded and extrapolated based upon the number of observed 
takes, the percentage of the Level B zone that was not visible to PSOs, 
and the number of construction days when PSOs were not onsite.

                Table 14--Marine Mammal Monitoring Zones
------------------------------------------------------------------------
           Construction activity                 Monitoring zone (m)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Above-water Construction..................  28 (harbor seal only).
14-inch Timber Vibratory..................  1,360.
14-inch Steel H-Pile......................  1,000.
24-inch Steel Vibratory...................  6,310.
36-inch Steel Vibratory (and down-the-hole  21,545.
 drilling, as necessary).
24-inch Steel Impact......................  635.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Soft Start--The use of soft-start procedures 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. For impact driving, an initial set 
of three strikes would be made by the hammer at 40 percent energy, 
followed by a 1-minute wait period, then two subsequent 3-strike sets 
at 40 percent energy, with 1-minute waiting periods, before initiating 
continuous driving. Soft start would be implemented at the start of 
each day's impact pile driving and at any time following cessation of 
impact pile driving for a period of thirty minutes or longer. Soft 
start is not required during vibratory pile driving and removal 
activities.
    Pre-Activity Monitoring--Prior to the start of daily in-water 
construction activity, or whenever a break in pile driving/removal or 
site preparation of 30 minutes or longer occurs, PSOs will observe the 
shutdown and monitoring zones for a period of 30 minutes. The shutdown 
zone will be cleared when a marine mammal has not been observed within 
the zone for that 30-minute period. If a marine mammal is observed 
within the shutdown zone, a soft-start cannot proceed until the animal 
has been confirmed to have left the zone or has not been observed for 
15 minutes. If the Level B harassment zone has been observed for 30 
minutes and non-permitted species are not observed within the zone, 
soft start procedures can commence and work can continue even if 
visibility becomes impaired within the Level B monitoring zone. When a 
marine mammal permitted for Level B harassment take is present in the 
Level B harassment zone, activities may begin and Level B take will be 
recorded. As stated above, if the entire Level B zone is not visible at 
the start of construction, piling or drilling activities can begin. If 
work ceases for more than 30 minutes, the pre-activity monitoring of 
both the Level B and shutdown zone will commence.
    Pile driving energy attenuator--Use of a marine pile-driving energy 
attenuator (i.e., air bubble curtain system) will be implemented by the 
City during impact pile driving of all steel pipe piles. The use of 
sound attenuation will reduce SPLs and the size of the zones of 
influence for Level A harassment and Level B harassment. The City's 
FAHP permit describes the performance standards for the bubble curtain 
system.
    Poor Visibility--Should environmental conditions deteriorate such 
that marine mammals within the entire shutdown zone would not be 
visible (e.g., fog, heavy rain), pile driving and removal must be 
delayed until the PSO is confident marine mammals within the shutdown 
zone could be detected.
    Based on our evaluation of the applicant's proposed measures, as 
well as other measures considered by NMFS, NMFS has preliminarily 
determined that the proposed mitigation measures 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

[[Page 68140]]

mammals that are expected to be present in the proposed 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);
     Mitigation and monitoring effectiveness.

Marine Mammal Visual Monitoring

    Monitoring shall be conducted by NMFS-approved observers. Trained 
observers shall be placed at the best vantage point(s) practicable to 
monitor for marine mammals, and will implement shutdown or delay 
procedures when applicable through communication with the equipment 
operator. Observer training must be provided prior to project start, 
and shall include instruction on species identification (sufficient to 
distinguish the species in the project area), description and 
categorization of observed behaviors and interpretation of behaviors 
that may be construed as being reactions to the specified activity, 
proper completion of data forms, and other basic components of 
biological monitoring, including tracking of observed animals or groups 
of animals such that repeat sound exposures may be attributed to 
individuals (to the extent possible).
    Monitoring would be conducted 30 minutes before, during, and 30 
minutes after pile driving/removal and drilling 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/removal and drilling 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.
    Three PSOs will be on-site the first day and every third day 
thereafter during vibratory hammer installation/removal and site 
preparation at each bridge. One observer will be stationed at the best 
practicable land-based vantage point to observe the Shutdown Zone and a 
portion of the Level A and Level B harassment zones. One observer will 
be stationed along the north bank of the river at the Washington State 
Department of Transportation Rest Area: Dismal Nitch. One observer will 
be stationed at the best practicable land-based vantage point to 
observe the remainder of the Level A and Level B harassment zones. 
Likely locations include the 6th Street viewing platform and the Pier 
12 parking lot. If vibratory installation of the 36-inch casings 
occurs, this observer will be positioned along the north bank of the 
river downstream of the project site within the Chinook County Park. 
The ODOT on-site inspector will be trained in species identification 
and monitoring protocol and will be on-site during all vibratory 
removal and installation activities to confirm that no species enter 
the Shutdown Zones when PSOs are not onsite.
    Two PSOs will be on-site the first day of impact pile driving at 
each bridge, and every third day thereafter. One observer will be 
stationed at the best practicable land-based vantage point to observe 
the Shutdown Zone and a portion of the Level A and Level B harassment 
zones. One observer will be stationed at the best practicable land-
based vantage point to observe the remainder of the Level A and Level B 
harassment zones. Likely locations include the 6th Street viewing 
platform, the Pier 12 parking lot, or the Washington State Department 
of Transportation Rest Area: Dismal Nitch on the north bank of the 
river. The ODOT on-site inspector will be trained in species 
identification and monitoring protocol and will be on-site during all 
impact pile driving activities to confirm that no species enter the 
respective Shutdown Zones when PSOs are not onsite.
    PSOs would scan the waters using binoculars, and/or spotting 
scopes, and would use a handheld GPS or range-finder device to verify 
the distance to each sighting from the project site. All PSOs would be 
trained in marine mammal identification and behaviors and are required 
to have no other project-related tasks while conducting monitoring. In 
addition, monitoring will be conducted by qualified observers, who will 
be placed at the best vantage point(s) practicable to monitor for 
marine mammals and implement shutdown/delay procedures when applicable 
by calling for the shutdown to the hammer operator. The City would 
adhere to the following observer qualifications:
    (i) Independent observers (i.e., not construction personnel) are 
required.
    (ii) At least one observer must have prior experience working as an 
observer.
    (iii) Other observers may substitute education (degree in 
biological science or related field) or training for experience.
    (iv) The City must submit observer CVs for approval by NMFS.
    Additional standard observer qualifications include:
     Ability to conduct field observations and collect data 
according to assigned protocols Experience or training in the field 
identification of marine mammals, including the identification of 
behaviors;
     Sufficient training, orientation, or experience with the 
construction operation to provide for personal safety during 
observations;
     Writing skills sufficient to prepare a report of 
observations including but not limited to the number and species of 
marine mammals observed; dates and times when in-water construction 
activities were conducted; dates and times when in-water construction 
activities were suspended to avoid potential incidental injury from 
construction sound of marine mammals observed within a defined shutdown 
zone; and marine mammal behavior; and
     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.
    A draft marine mammal monitoring report would be submitted to NMFS 
within 90 days after the completion of site preparation and pile 
driving and removal activities. It will include an overall description 
of work completed,

[[Page 68141]]

a narrative regarding marine mammal sightings, and associated PSO data 
sheets. Specifically, the report must include:
     Date and time that monitored activity begins or ends;
     Construction activities occurring during each observation 
period;
     Weather parameters (e.g., percent cover, visibility);
     Water conditions (e.g., sea state, tide state);
     Species, numbers, and, if possible, sex and age class of 
marine mammals;
     Description of any observable marine mammal behavior 
patterns, including bearing and direction of travel and distance from 
pile driving activity;
     Distance from pile driving activities to marine mammals 
and distance from the marine mammals to the observation point;
     Locations of all marine mammal observations;
     Other human activity in the area; and
     An extrapolation of the estimated takes by Level B 
harassment based on the number of observed exposures within the Level B 
harassment zone, the percentage of the Level B harassment zone that was 
not visible, and the days when monitoring did not occur.
    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, the City 
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 the City to 
determine what is necessary to minimize the likelihood of further 
prohibited take and ensure MMPA compliance. The City would not be able 
to resume their activities until notified by NMFS via letter, email, or 
telephone.
    In the event that the City 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), 
the City would immediately report the incident to the Chief of the 
Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, 
and the NMFS West Coast Stranding Hotline and/or by email to 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 the City to determine whether modifications to the 
activities are appropriate.
    In the event that the City 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), the City would report the incident 
to the Chief of the Permits and Conservation Division, Office of 
Protected Resources, NMFS, and the NMFS West Coast Stranding Hotline 
and/or by email to the West Coast Regional Stranding Coordinator, 
within 24 hours of the discovery. The City would provide photographs, 
video footage (if available), or other documentation of the stranded 
animal sighting to NMFS and the Marine Mammal Stranding Network.

Phase 1 Monitoring Report

    The City's monitoring report from Phase 1 of the project (OBEC, 
2019) was frequently consulted in the NMFS evaluation of the City's 
proposed activities and requested take for Phase 2 of the project. The 
Phase 1 monitoring report indicated recorded take of California sea 
lions and harbor seals (Table 18). Steller sea lions were not observed 
during Phase 1 (Table 15), however, due to their known presence in the 
area, Level B harassment take was still requested for Phase 2 
activities. Additionally, as mentioned above, the calculated Level B 
harassment zones were significantly smaller for Phase 1 than for Phase 
2.

                                      Table 15--Phase 1 monitoring results
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                       Total
                                   Number of     Estimated takes     estimated      Authorized      Percent of
            Species             takes recorded  on days PSOs not      Level B         Level B       authorized
                                    by PSOs          present        harassment      harassment      takes that
                                                                       takes       take  number      occurred
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
California sea lion...........             604  3600 (240 x 15              4204          33,736            12.5
                                                 days).
Steller sea lion..............               0  0...............               0           5,360               0
Pacific harbor seal...........              53  270 (18 x 15                 323           4,560             7.1
                                                 days).
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Level A take was not requested nor authorized for Phase 1 
activities, so the City used the calculated Level A isopleth as the 
shutdown zone to prevent Level A take. Shutdowns occurred on three days 
during Phase 1 activities. In all instances, shutdowns occurred when 
one or more California sea lion entered the shutdown zone. The Phase 1 
and Phase 2 monitoring reports will provide useful information for 
analyzing impacts to marine mammals for potential future projects in 
the lower Columbia River.

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

[[Page 68142]]

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/removal and drilling activities associated with the 
project as outlined previously, have the potential to disturb or 
displace marine mammals. Specifically, the specified activities may 
result in take, in the form of Level A harassment and Level B 
harassment from underwater sounds generated from pile driving and 
removal. Potential takes could occur if individuals of these species 
are present in zones ensonified above the thresholds for Level A or 
Level B harassment, identified above, when these activities are 
underway.
    The takes from Level A and Level B harassment would be due to 
potential behavioral disturbance, TTS, and PTS. No mortality is 
anticipated given the nature of the activity. Level A harassment is 
only anticipated for California sea lion and harbor seal. The potential 
for Level A harassment is minimized through the construction method and 
the implementation of the planned mitigation measures (see Proposed 
Mitigation section).
    Effects on individuals that are taken by Level B harassment, on the 
basis of reports in the literature as well as monitoring from other 
similar activities, including Phase 1 of the City's project, will 
likely be limited to reactions such as increased swimming speeds, 
increased surfacing time, or decreased foraging (if such activity were 
occurring) (e.g., Thorson and Reyff 2006; HDR, Inc. 2012; Lerma 2014; 
ABR 2016; OBEC, 2019). Most likely for pile driving, individuals will 
simply move away from the sound source and be temporarily displaced 
from the areas of pile driving and drilling, although even this 
reaction has been observed primarily only in association with impact 
pile driving. Though some individual pinnipeds (especially harbor 
seals) could be expected to be taken over multiple days, the effects of 
the exposure are expected to be relatively minor, would not occur to 
any one individual across more than 21 days at the most, and therefore 
are not expected to result in impacts on reproduction or survival. The 
pile driving activities analyzed here are similar to Phase 1 activities 
and numerous other construction activities conducted in the Pacific 
Northwest, which have taken place with no known long-term adverse 
consequences from behavioral harassment. Level B harassment will be 
reduced to the level of least practicable adverse impact through use of 
mitigation measures described herein and, if sound produced by project 
activities is sufficiently disturbing, animals are likely to simply 
avoid the area while the activity is occurring. While vibratory driving 
(and potential drilling) associated with the proposed project may 
produce sound at distances of many kilometers from the project site, 
the project site itself is located on a busy waterfront and in a 
section of the Columbia River with high amounts of vessel traffic. 
Therefore, we expect that animals disturbed by project sound would 
simply avoid the area and use more-preferred habitats.
    In addition to the expected effects resulting from authorized Level 
B harassment, we anticipate that California sea lions and harbor seals 
may sustain some limited Level A harassment in the form of auditory 
injury. However, animals in these locations that experience PTS would 
likely only receive slight PTS, i.e. minor degradation of hearing 
capabilities within regions of hearing that align most completely with 
the frequency range of the energy produced by pile driving, i.e. the 
low-frequency region below 2 kHz, not severe hearing impairment or 
impairment in the regions of greatest hearing sensitivity. If hearing 
impairment occurs, it is most likely that the affected animal would 
lose a few decibels in its hearing sensitivity, which in most cases is 
not likely to meaningfully affect its ability to forage and communicate 
with conspecifics. As described above, we expect that marine mammals 
would be likely to move away from a sound source that represents an 
aversive stimulus, especially at levels that would be expected to 
result in PTS, given sufficient notice through use of soft start.
    The project also is not expected to have significant adverse 
effects on affected marine mammals' habitat. The project activities 
would not modify existing marine mammal habitat for a significant 
amount of time. The activities may cause some fish to leave the area of 
disturbance, thus temporarily impacting marine mammals' foraging 
opportunities in a limited portion of the foraging range; but, because 
of the short duration of the activities and the relatively small area 
of the habitat that may be affected, the impacts to marine mammal 
habitat are not expected to cause significant or long-term negative 
consequences. Other than feeding and the haulout areas previously 
described, the project area does not include any areas or times of 
particular biological significance for the affected species.
    In summary and as described above, the following factors primarily 
support our preliminary 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 or serious injury is anticipated or 
authorized;
     No serious injury is anticipated or authorized;
     The Level A harassment exposures are anticipated to result 
only in slight PTS, within the lower frequencies associated with pile 
driving;
     The anticipated incidents of Level B harassment would 
consist of, at worst, temporary modifications in behavior that would 
not result in fitness impacts to individuals;
     The area impacted by the specified activity is very small 
relative to the overall habitat ranges of all species;
     The activity is expected to occur over 21 or fewer in-
water work days.
    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 proposed monitoring and 
mitigation measures, NMFS preliminarily finds that the total marine 
mammal take from the proposed 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

[[Page 68143]]

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.
    Up to 26.0 percent of the individuals in the harbor seal stock may 
be taken. When the number of takes of Steller sea lion and California 
sea lion are compared to the stock abundance, they represent 13.7 and 
10.2 percent, respectively--however, the number of takes requested is 
based on the number of estimated exposures, not necessarily the number 
of individuals exposed, which could be fewer given that pinnipeds may 
remain in the general area of the project sites and the same 
individuals may be harassed multiple times over multiple days, rather 
than numerous individuals harassed once.
    Based on the analysis contained herein of the proposed activity 
(including the proposed mitigation and monitoring measures) and the 
anticipated take of marine mammals, NMFS preliminarily 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.

Endangered Species Act (ESA)

    Section 7(a)(2) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA: 16 
U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) requires that each Federal agency insure that any 
action it authorizes, funds, or carries out is not likely to jeopardize 
the continued existence of any endangered or threatened species or 
result in the destruction or adverse modification of designated 
critical habitat. To ensure ESA compliance for the issuance of IHAs, 
NMFS consults internally, in this case with the NMFS West Coast Region 
Protected Resources Division Office, whenever we propose to authorize 
take for endangered or threatened species.
    No incidental take of ESA-listed marine mammals is authorized or 
expected to result from issuance of this IHA. Therefore, NMFS has 
determined that formal consultation under Section 7 of the ESA is not 
required for this action.

Authorization

    NMFS has issued an IHA to the City of Astoria for the incidental 
take of marine mammal due to in-water and above-water construction work 
associated with Phase Two of the Astoria Waterfront Bridge Replacement 
project in in Astoria, OR from December 9, 2019 to December 8, 2020, 
provided the previously mentioned mitigation, monitoring and reporting 
requirements are incorporated.

    Dated: December 9, 2019.
Donna S. Wieting,
Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries 
Service.
[FR Doc. 2019-26859 Filed 12-12-19; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3510-22-P