Taking and Importing Marine Mammals; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to the U.S. Navy Training and Testing Activities in the Atlantic Fleet Training and Testing Study Area, 70712-70794 [2019-27098]

Download as PDF 70712 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 246 / Monday, December 23, 2019 / Rules and Regulations readiness-activities. In case of problems accessing these documents, please use the contact listed here (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Wendy Piniak, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, (301) 427–8401. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 218 [Docket No. 191211–0106] RIN 0648–BI85 Taking and Importing Marine Mammals; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to the U.S. Navy Training and Testing Activities in the Atlantic Fleet Training and Testing Study Area National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Final rule; notification of issuance of Letters of Authorization. AGENCY: NMFS, upon request from the U.S. Navy (Navy), issues these regulations pursuant to the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) to govern the taking of marine mammals incidental to the training and testing activities conducted in the Atlantic Fleet Training and Testing (AFTT) Study Area over the course of seven years, effectively extending the time period from November 13, 2023, to November 13, 2025. In August 2018, the MMPA was amended by the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2019 to allow for seven-year authorizations for military readiness activities, as compared to the previously allowed five years. The Navy’s activities qualify as military readiness activities pursuant to the MMPA as amended by the NDAA for Fiscal Year 2004. These regulations, which allow for the issuance of Letters of Authorization (LOAs) for the incidental take of marine mammals during the described activities and timeframes, prescribe the permissible methods of taking and other means of effecting the least practicable adverse impact on marine mammal species or stocks and their habitat, and establish requirements pertaining to the monitoring and reporting of such taking. DATES: Effective from December 23, 2019 to November 13, 2025. ADDRESSES: Copies of the Navy’s applications, NMFS’ proposed rule for these regulations, NMFS’ proposed and final rules and subsequent LOAs for the associated five-year AFTT Study Area regulations, other supporting documents cited herein, and a list of the references cited in this document may be obtained online at: www.fisheries.noaa.gov/ national/marine-mammal-protection/ incidental-take-authorizations-military- lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with RULES2 SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:56 Dec 20, 2019 Jkt 250001 Purpose of Regulatory Action These regulations, issued under the authority of the MMPA (16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.), extend the framework for authorizing the take of marine mammals incidental to the Navy’s training and testing activities (which qualify as military readiness activities) from the use of sonar and other transducers, inwater detonations, air guns, impact pile driving/vibratory extraction, and the movement of vessels throughout the AFTT Study Area, which includes areas of the western Atlantic Ocean along the East Coast of North America, portions of the Caribbean Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico. NMFS received an application from the Navy requesting to extend NMFS’ existing MMPA regulations (50 CFR part 218, subpart I; hereafter ‘‘2018 AFTT regulations’’) that authorize the take of marine mammals incidental to Navy training and testing activities conducted in the AFTT Study Area to cover seven years of the Navy’s activities, instead of five. Take is anticipated to occur by Level A harassment and Level B harassment as well as a very small number of serious injuries or mortalities incidental to the Navy’s training and testing activities. Section 101(a)(5)(A) of the MMPA (16 U.S.C. 1371(a)(5)(A)) directs 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, after notice and public comment, the agency makes certain findings and issues regulations that set forth permissible methods of taking pursuant to that activity, as well as monitoring and reporting requirements. Section 101(a)(5)(A) of the MMPA and the implementing regulations at 50 CFR part 216, subpart I, provide the legal basis for issuing this final rule and the subsequent LOAs. As directed by this legal authority, this final rule contains mitigation, monitoring, and reporting requirements. Summary of Major Provisions Within the Final Rule Following is a summary of the major provisions of this final rule regarding PO 00000 Frm 00002 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 the Navy’s activities. Major provisions include, but are not limited to: • The use of defined powerdown and shutdown zones (based on activity); • Measures to reduce or eliminate the likelihood of ship strikes, especially for North Atlantic right whales (Eubalaena glacialis) (NARW); • Operational limitations in certain areas and times that are biologically important (i.e., for foraging, migration, reproduction) for marine mammals; • Implementation of a Notification and Reporting Plan (for dead, live stranded, or marine mammals struck by a vessel); and • Implementation of a robust monitoring plan to improve our understanding of the environmental effects resulting from Navy training and testing activities. Additionally, the rule includes an adaptive management component that allows for timely modification of mitigation or monitoring measures based on new information, when appropriate. Background The MMPA prohibits the ‘‘take’’ of marine mammals, with certain exceptions. Sections 101(a)(5)(A) and (D) of the MMPA direct the Secretary of Commerce (as delegated to NMFS) to allow, upon request, the incidental, but not intentional, taking of small numbers of marine mammals by U.S. citizens who engage in a specified activity (other than commercial fishing) within a specified geographical region if certain findings are made and either regulations are issued or, if the taking is limited to harassment, a notice of a proposed authorization is provided to the public for review and the opportunity to submit comments. An authorization for incidental takings shall be granted if NMFS finds that the taking will have a negligible impact on the species or stocks and will not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of the species or stocks 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 this rule as ‘‘mitigation measures’’); and requirements pertaining to the monitoring and reporting of such takings. The MMPA defines ‘‘take’’ to mean to harass, hunt, capture, or kill, or attempt to harass, E:\FR\FM\23DER2.SGM 23DER2 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 246 / Monday, December 23, 2019 / Rules and Regulations lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with RULES2 hunt, capture, or kill any marine mammal. The Analysis and Negligible Impact Determination section below discusses the definition of ‘‘negligible impact.’’ The NDAA for Fiscal Year 2004 (2004 NDAA) (Pub. L. 108–136) amended section 101(a)(5) of the MMPA to remove the ‘‘small numbers’’ and ‘‘specified geographical region’’ provisions indicated above and amended the definition of ‘‘harassment’’ as it applies to a ‘‘military readiness activity’’ to read as follows (Section 3(18)(B) of the MMPA): (i) Any act that injures or has the significant potential to injure a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild (Level A Harassment); or (ii) Any act that disturbs or is likely to disturb a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild by causing disruption of natural behavioral patterns, including, but not limited to, migration, surfacing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or sheltering, to a point where such behavioral patterns are abandoned or significantly altered (Level B Harassment). In addition, the 2004 NDAA amended the MMPA as it relates to military readiness activities such that least practicable adverse impact shall include consideration of personnel safety, practicality of implementation, and impact on the effectiveness of the military readiness activity. More recently, section 316 of the NDAA for Fiscal Year 2019 (2019 NDAA) (Pub. L. 115–232), signed on August 13, 2018, amended the MMPA to allow incidental take rules for military readiness activities under section 101(a)(5)(A) to be issued for up to seven years. Prior to this amendment, all incidental take rules under section 101(a)(5)(A) were limited to five years. Summary of Request On November 14, 2018, NMFS issued a five-year final rule governing the taking of marine mammals incidental to Navy training and testing activities conducted in the AFTT Study Area (83 FR 57076; hereafter ‘‘2018 AFTT final rule’’). Previously, on August 13, 2018, and towards the end of the time period in which NMFS was processing the Navy’s request for the 2018 regulations, the 2019 NDAA amended the MMPA for military readiness activities to allow incidental take regulations to be issued for up to seven years instead of the previous five years. The Navy’s training and testing activities conducted in the AFTT Study Area qualify as military readiness activities pursuant to the MMPA, as amended by the 2004 NDAA. On November 16, 2018, the Navy submitted an application requesting that VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:56 Dec 20, 2019 Jkt 250001 NMFS extend the 2018 AFTT regulations and associated LOAs such that they would cover take incidental to seven years of training and testing activities instead of five, extending the expiration date from November 13, 2023 to November 13, 2025. A revised application correcting the estimated takes due to ship shock trials (Table 5.1–2) was submitted to NMFS by the Navy on January 18, 2019. In its November 16, 2018, application, as revised on January 18, 2019 (hereafter ‘‘2019 Navy application’’), the Navy proposed no changes to the nature of the specified activities covered by the 2018 AFTT final rule, the level of activity within and between years will be consistent with that previously analyzed in the 2018 AFTT final rule, and all activities will be conducted within the same boundaries of the AFTT Study Area identified in the 2018 AFTT final rule. Therefore, the training and testing activities (e.g., equipment and sources used, exercises conducted) and the mitigation, monitoring, and reporting measures are identical to those described and analyzed in the 2018 AFTT final rule. The only changes included in the Navy’s request were to conduct those same activities in the same region for an additional two years. In its request, the Navy included all information necessary to identify the type and amount of incidental take that may occur in the two additional years so NMFS could determine whether the analyses and conclusions regarding the impacts of the proposed activities on marine mammal species and stocks previously reached for five years of activities remain applicable for seven years of identical activity. The purpose of the Navy’s training and testing activities is to ensure that the Navy meets its mission mandated by Federal law (10 U.S.C. 8062), which is to maintain, train, and equip combatready naval forces capable of winning wars, deterring aggression, and maintaining freedom of the seas. The Navy executes this responsibility by establishing and executing training programs, including at-sea training and exercises, and ensuring naval forces have access to the ranges, operating areas (OPAREAs), and airspace needed to develop and maintain skills for conducting naval activities. The Navy’s mission is achieved in part by conducting training and testing within the AFTT Study Area. The 2019 Navy application reflects the same compilation of training and testing activities presented in the Navy’s June 16, 2017, initial rulemaking and LOA application (hereafter ‘‘2017 Navy application’’) and the 2018 AFTT PO 00000 Frm 00003 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 70713 regulations that were subsequently promulgated, which can be found at: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/ national/marine-mammal-protection/ incidental-take-authorizations-militaryreadiness-activities. These activities are deemed by the Navy necessary to accomplish military readiness requirements and are anticipated to continue into the reasonably foreseeable future. The 2019 Navy application and this rule cover training and testing activities that will occur over seven years, including the five years already authorized under the 2018 AFTT regulations, with the regulations valid from the publication date of this final rule through November 13, 2025. Summary of the Regulations NMFS is extending the incidental take regulations and associated LOAs through November 13, 2025, to cover the same Navy activities covered by the 2018 AFTT regulations. The 2018 AFTT final rule was recently published and its analysis remains current and valid. In its 2019 application, the Navy proposed no changes to the nature (e.g., equipment and sources used, exercises conducted) or level of the specified activities within or between years or to the boundaries of the AFTT Study Area. The mitigation, monitoring, and reporting measures are identical to those described and analyzed in the 2018 AFTT final rule. The regulatory language included at the end of this final rule, which will be published at 50 CFR part 218, subpart I, also is the same as the AFTT 2018 regulations, except for a small number of minor, technical changes. No new information has been received from the Navy, or otherwise become available to NMFS, since publication of the 2018 AFTT final rule that significantly changes the analyses supporting the 2018 findings. Where there is any new information pertinent to the descriptions, analyses, or findings required to authorize incidental take for military readiness activities under MMPA section 101(a)(5)(A), that information is provided in the appropriate sections below. Because the activities included in the 2019 Navy application have not changed and the analyses and findings included in the documents provided and produced in support of the 2018 AFTT final rule remain current and applicable, this final rule relies heavily on and references to the applicable information and analyses in those documents. Below is a list of the primary documents referenced in this final rule. The list indicates the short name by which the document is referenced in this final rule, as well as E:\FR\FM\23DER2.SGM 23DER2 70714 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 246 / Monday, December 23, 2019 / Rules and Regulations the full titles of the cited documents. All of the documents can be found at: www.fisheries.noaa.gov/national/ marine-mammal-protection/incidentaltake-authorizations-military-readinessactivities and https:// www.public.navy.mil/usff/ environmental/Pages/aftt.aspx. • NMFS March 13, 2018, Atlantic Fleet Training and Testing (AFTT) proposed rule (83 FR 10954; hereafter ‘‘2018 AFTT proposed rule’’); • NMFS November 14, 2018, Atlantic Fleet Training and Testing (AFTT) final rule (83 FR 57076; hereafter ‘‘2018 AFTT final rule’’); • NMFS May 13, 2019, Atlantic Fleet Training and Testing (AFTT) proposed rule (84 FR 21126; hereafter ‘‘2019 AFTT proposed rule’’); • Navy June 16, 2017, MMPA rulemaking and LOA application (hereafter ‘‘2017 Navy application’’); • Navy January 18, 2019, MMPA rulemaking and LOA extension application (hereafter ‘‘2019 Navy application’’); and • September 14, 2018, Atlantic Fleet Training and Testing (AFTT) Final Environmental Impact Statement/ Overseas Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS/OEIS) (hereafter ‘‘2018 AFTT FEIS/OEIS’’). lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with RULES2 Description of the Specified Activity The Navy requested authorization to take marine mammals incidental to conducting training and testing activities. The Navy has determined that acoustic and explosives stressors are most likely to result in impacts on marine mammals that could rise to the level of harassment. A small number of serious injuries or mortalities are also possible from vessel strikes or exposure to explosive detonations. Detailed descriptions of these activities are provided in Chapter 2 of the 2018 AFTT FEIS/OEIS and in the 2017 and 2019 Navy applications. Overview of Training and Testing Activities The Navy routinely trains in the AFTT Study Area in preparation for national defense missions. Training and testing activities and components covered in the 2019 Navy application are described in detail in the Overview of Training and Testing Activities sections of the 2018 AFTT proposed rule and the 2018 AFTT final rule and Chapter 2 of the 2018 AFTT FEIS/OEIS. Each military training and testing activity described meets mandated Fleet requirements to deploy ready forces. The Navy proposed no changes to the specified activities described and analyzed in the 2018 AFTT final rule. VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:56 Dec 20, 2019 Jkt 250001 The boundaries of the AFTT Study Area (see Figure 1.2–1 of the 2019 Navy application); the training and testing activities (e.g., equipment and sources used, exercises conducted); manner of and amount of vessel movement; and standard operating procedures presented in this final rule are identical to those described and analyzed in the 2018 AFTT final rule. Dates and Duration The specified activities will occur at any time during the seven-year period of validity of the regulations. The number of training and testing activities are described in the Detailed Description of the Specified Activities section (Tables 1 through 4). Specified Geographical Region The geographic extent of the AFTT Study Area is identical to that described in the 2018 AFTT final rule. The AFTT Study Area (see Figure 2–1 of the 2019 Navy application) includes areas of the western Atlantic Ocean along the east coast of North America, the Gulf of Mexico, and portions of the Caribbean Sea. The AFTT Study Area begins at the mean high tide line along the U.S. coast and extends east to the 45-degree west longitude line, north to the 65-degree north latitude line, and south to approximately the 20-degree north latitude line. The AFTT Study Area also includes Navy pierside locations, bays, harbors, and inland waterways, and civilian ports where training and testing occurs. The AFTT Study Area generally follows the Commander Task Force 80 area of operations, covering approximately 2.6 million nautical miles squared (nmi2; approximately 6.7 million kilometers squared) of ocean area, and includes designated Navy range complexes and associated operating areas (OPAREAs) and special use airspace. While the AFTT Study Area itself is very large, the vast majority of Navy training and testing occurs in designated range complexes and testing ranges. A Navy range complex consists of geographic areas that encompass a water component (above and below the surface) and airspace, and may encompass a land component where training and testing of military platforms, tactics, munitions, explosives, and electronic warfare systems occur. Range complexes include established OPAREAs, which may be further divided to provide better control of the area for safety reasons. Additional detail on range complexes and testing ranges was provided in the Duration and Location section of the 2018 AFTT proposed rule; please see PO 00000 Frm 00004 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 the 2018 AFTT proposed rule or the 2017 Navy application for more information. Description of Acoustic and Explosive Stressors The Navy uses a variety of sensors, platforms, weapons, and other devices, including ones used to ensure the safety of Sailors and Marines, to meet its mission. Training and testing with these systems may introduce acoustic (sound) energy or shock waves from explosives into the environment. The specific components that could act as stressors by having direct or indirect impacts on the environment are described in detail in the Description of Acoustic and Explosive Stressors section of the 2018 AFTT final rule and Chapter 2 of the 2018 AFTT FEIS/OEIS. The Navy proposed no changes to the nature of the specified activities and, therefore, the acoustic and explosive stressors are identical to those described and analyzed in the 2018 AFTT final rule. Other Stressor—Vessel Strike Vessel strikes are not specific to any particular training or testing activity, but rather a limited, sporadic, and incidental result of Navy vessel movement within the AFTT Study Area. Navy vessels transit at speeds that are optimal for fuel conservation or to meet training and testing requirements. The average speed of large Navy ships ranges between 10 and 15 knots and submarines generally operate at speeds in the range of 8–13 knots, while a few specialized vessels can travel at faster speeds. By comparison, this is slower than most commercial vessels where full speed for a container ship is typically 24 knots (Bonney and Leach, 2010). Should a vessel strike occur, it would likely result in incidental take from serious injury and/or mortality and, accordingly, for the purposes of the analysis we assume that any ship strike would result in serious injury or mortality. The Navy proposed no changes to the nature of the specified activities, the training and testing activities, the manner of or amount of vessel movement, and standard operating procedures. Therefore, the description of vessel strikes as a stressor is the same as those presented in the Other Stressor—Vessel Strike sections of the 2018 AFTT proposed rule and 2018 AFTT final rule. Detailed Description of the Specified Activities The Navy’s specified activities are presented and analyzed as a representative year of training to E:\FR\FM\23DER2.SGM 23DER2 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 246 / Monday, December 23, 2019 / Rules and Regulations account for the natural fluctuation of training cycles and deployment schedules in any seven-year period. In the 2018 AFTT final rule, NMFS analyzed activities based on the Navy conducting three years of a representative level of activity and two years of a maximum level of activity. For the purposes of this rulemaking, the Navy presented and NMFS analyzed activities based on the additional two years of training and testing consisting of one additional year of a maximum level of activity and one year of a representative level of activity consistent with the pattern set forth in the 2018 AFTT final rule, the 2018 AFTT FEIS/OEIS, and the 2017 Navy application. Training Activities The number of planned training activities that could occur annually and the duration of those activities remains identical to those presented in Table 4 of the 2018 AFTT final rule, and are not repeated here. The number of planned training activities that could occur over 70715 the seven-year period are presented in Table 1. The table is organized according to primary mission areas and includes the activity name, associated stressors applicable to these regulations, sound source bin, number of activities, and locations of those activities in the AFTT Study Area. For further information regarding the primary platform used (e.g., ship or aircraft type) see Appendix A (Navy Activity Descriptions) of the 2018 AFTT FEIS/ OEIS. TABLE 1—TRAINING ACTIVITIES ANALYZED FOR SEVEN-YEAR PERIOD IN THE AFTT STUDY AREA Stressor category Activity name Activity description 7-Year number of activities 1 Source bin Location 2 Major Training Exercise—Large Integrated Anti-Submarine Warfare Acoustic ................. Composite Training Unit Exercise. Aircraft carrier and its associated aircraft integrate with surface and submarine units in a challenging multithreat operational environment in order to certify them for deployment. ASW1, ASW2, ASW3, ASW4, ASW5, HF1, LF6, MF1, MF3, MF4, MF5, MF11, MF12. 17 VACAPES RC Navy Cherry Point RC JAX RC. 28 14 JAX RC. VACAPES RC. 42 21 21 JAX RC. Navy Cherry Point RC. VACAPES RC. 14 7 7 JAX RC. Navy Cherry Point RC. VACAPES RC. 28 28 35 JAX RC. Navy Cherry Point RC. VACAPES RC. 28 84 14 266 GOMEX RC. JAX RC. Navy Cherry Point RC. VACAPES RC. Major Training Exercises—Medium Integrated Anti-Submarine Warfare Acoustic ................. Fleet Exercises/ Sustainment Exercise. Aircraft carrier and its associated aircraft integrates with surface and submarine units in a challenging multithreat operational environment in order to maintain their ability to deploy. ASW1, ASW2, ASW3, ASW4, HF1, LF6, MF1, MF3, MF4, MF5, MF11, MF12. I Integrated/Coordinated Training—Small Integrated Anti-Submarine Warfare Training Acoustic ................. Naval Undersea Warfare Training Assessment Course. Multiple ships, aircraft, and submarines integrate the use of their sensors to search for, detect, classify, localize, and track a threat submarine in order to launch an exercise torpedo. ASW1, ASW3, ASW4, HF1, LF6, MF1, MF3, MF4, MF5, MF12. Integrated/Coordinated Training—Medium Coordinated Anti-Submarine Warfare Training Acoustic ................. Anti-Submarine Warfare Tactical Development Exercise. Surface ships, aircraft, and submarines coordinate to search for, detect, and track submarines. ASW1, ASW3, ASW4, HF1, LF6, MF1, MF3, MF4, MF5, MF11, MF12. Integrated/Coordinated Training—Small Coordinated Anti-Submarine Warfare Training Acoustic ................. Group Sail ........................ Surface ships and helicopters search for, detect, and track threat submarines. ASW2, ASW3, ASW4, HF1, MF1, MF3, MF4, MF5, MF11, MF12. Amphibious Warfare Explosive ............... Naval Surface Fire Support Exercise—At Sea. Surface ship crews use large-caliber guns to support forces ashore; however, the land target is simulated at sea. Rounds are scored by passive acoustic buoys located at or near the target area. E5 ..................................... I Anti-Submarine Warfare lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with RULES2 Acoustic ................. Acoustic ................. Acoustic ................. VerDate Sep<11>2014 Anti-submarine Warfare Torpedo Exercise—Helicopter. Helicopter aircrews search for, track, and detect submarines. Recoverable air launched torpedoes are employed against submarine targets. Anti-submarine Warfare Maritime patrol aircraft aircrews search Torpedo Exercise— for, track, and detect submarines. Maritime Patrol Aircraft. Recoverable air launched torpedoes are employed against submarine targets. Anti-Submarine Warfare Surface ship crews search for, track, Torpedo Exercise—Ship. and detect submarines. Exercise torpedoes are used. 19:56 Dec 20, 2019 Jkt 250001 PO 00000 Frm 00005 Fmt 4701 MF4, MF5, TORP1 .......... 98 28 JAX RC. VACAPES RC. MF5, TORP1 .................... 98 28 JAX RC. VACAPES RC. ASW3, MF1, TORP1 ....... 112 35 JAX RC. VACAPES RC. Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\23DER2.SGM 23DER2 70716 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 246 / Monday, December 23, 2019 / Rules and Regulations TABLE 1—TRAINING ACTIVITIES ANALYZED FOR SEVEN-YEAR PERIOD IN THE AFTT STUDY AREA—Continued Stressor category Activity name Activity description Source bin Acoustic ................. Anti-Submarine Warfare Torpedo Exercise— Submarine. Anti-Submarine Warfare Tracking Exercise—Helicopter. Submarine crews search for, track, and detect submarines. Exercise torpedoes are used. Helicopter aircrews search for, track, and detect submarines. ASW4, HF1, MF3, TORP2 Acoustic ................. Anti-Submarine Warfare Tracking Exercise— Maritime Patrol Aircraft. Maritime patrol aircraft aircrews search for, track, and detect submarines. ASW5, ASW2, MF5 ......... Acoustic ................. Anti-Submarine Warfare Tracking Exercise— Ship. Surface ship crews search for, track, and detect submarines. ASW1, ASW3, MF1, MF11, MF12. Acoustic ................. Anti-Submarine Warfare Tracking Exercise— Submarine. Submarine crews search for, track, and detect submarines. ASW4, HF1, MF3 ............. Acoustic ................. 7-Year number of activities 1 Location 2 84 42 14 168 2,590 84 56 630 1,232 3,675 322 * 35 * 770 * 35 * 3,080 * 385 * 1,540 308 7 91 126 42 JAX RC. Northeast RC. VACAPES RC. Other AFTT Areas. JAX RC. Navy Cherry Point RC. VACAPES RC. Northeast RC. VACAPES RC. JAX RC. Navy Cherry Point RC. Northeast RC. Other AFTT Areas. GOMEX RC. JAX RC. Navy Cherry Point RC. VACAPES RC. Other AFTT Areas. JAX RC. Navy Cherry Point RC. Northeast RC. VACAPES RC. E2 ..................................... 14 14 14 28 35 GOMEX RC. JAX RC. Navy Cherry Point RC. Northeast RC. VACAPES RC. 462 2,219 2,597 1,708 10,780 4 MF4, MF5 ......................... Expeditionary Warfare Explosive ............... Maritime Security Operations—Anti-Swimmer Grenades. Small boat crews engage in force protection activities by using anti-swimmer grenades to defend against hostile divers. Mine Warfare Acoustic ................. Airborne Mine Countermeasure—Mine Detection. Helicopter aircrews detect mines using towed or laser mine detection systems. HF4 .................................. Acoustic, Explosive Civilian Port Defense— Homeland Security AntiTerrorism/Force Protection Exercise. Maritime security personnel train to protect civilian ports against enemy efforts to interfere with access to those ports. HF4, SAS2, E2, E4 .......... Acoustic ................. Coordinated Unit Level Helicopter Airborne Mine Countermeasure Exercise. HF4 .................................. 14 14 14 14 Acoustic, Explosive Mine Countermeasures— Mine Neutralization— Remotely Operated Vehicle. Mine Countermeasures— Ship Sonar. A detachment of helicopter aircrews train as a unit in the use of airborne mine countermeasures, such as towed mine detection and neutralization systems. Ship, small boat, and helicopter crews locate and disable mines using remotely operated underwater vehicles. HF4, E4 ............................ Ship crews detect and avoid mines while navigating restricted areas or channels using active sonar. Personnel disable threat mines using explosive charges. HF4 .................................. 924 497 497 4,410 154 371 371 42 112 140 119 112 3,668 GOMEX RC. JAX RC. Navy Cherry Point RC. VACAPES RC. GOMEX RC. JAX RC. VACAPES RC. Lower Chesapeake Bay. GOMEX RC. JAX RC. Key West RC. Navy Cherry Point RC. VACAPES RC. 469 3,038 756 2,303 GOMEX RC. JAX RC. Navy Cherry Point RC. VACAPES RC. Acoustic ................. Explosive ............... Mine Neutralization—Explosive Ordnance Disposal. E4, E5, E6, E7 ................. GOMEX RC. JAX RC. Navy Cherry Point RC. NSWC Panama City. VACAPES RC. Beaumont, TX; Boston, MA; Corpus Christi, TX; Delaware Bay, DE; Earle, NJ; GOMEX RC, Hampton Roads, VA; JAX RC, Kings Bay, GA; NS Mayport, Morehead City, NC; Port Canaveral, FL; Savannah, GA; Tampa Bay, FL; VACAPES RC, Wilmington, NC. GOMEX RC. JAX RC. Navy Cherry Point RC. VACAPES RC. lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with RULES2 Surface Warfare Explosive ............... VerDate Sep<11>2014 Bombing Exercise Air-toSurface. 23:32 Dec 20, 2019 Jkt 250001 Fixed-wing aircrews deliver against surface targets. PO 00000 Frm 00006 Fmt 4701 bombs E9, E10, E12 .................... Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\23DER2.SGM 23DER2 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 246 / Monday, December 23, 2019 / Rules and Regulations 70717 TABLE 1—TRAINING ACTIVITIES ANALYZED FOR SEVEN-YEAR PERIOD IN THE AFTT STUDY AREA—Continued lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with RULES2 Stressor category Activity name Activity description Source bin Explosive ............... Gunnery Exercise Surface-to-Surface Boat Medium-Caliber. Small boat crews fire medium-caliber guns at surface targets. E1 ..................................... Explosive ............... Gunnery Exercise Surface-to-Surface Ship Large-Caliber. Surface ship crews fire large-caliber guns at surface targets. E3,E5 ............................... Explosive ............... Gunnery Exercise Surface-to-Surface Ship Medium-Caliber. Surface ship crews fire medium-caliber guns at surface targets. E1 ..................................... Explosive ............... Integrated Live Fire Exercise. E1, E3, E6, E10 ............... Explosive ............... Missile Exercise Air-toSurface. Explosive ............... Missile Exercise Air-toSurface—Rocket. Naval forces defend against a swarm of surface threats (ships or small boats) with bombs, missiles, rockets, and small-, medium- and large-caliber guns. Fixed-wing and helicopter aircrews fire air-to-surface missiles at surface targets. Helicopter aircrews fire both precisionguided and unguided rockets at surface targets. Explosive ............... Missile Exercise Surfaceto-Surface. E6, E10 ............................ Acoustic, Explosive Sinking Exercise .............. Acoustic ................. Elevated Causeway System. Acoustic ................. Submarine Navigation ...... Surface ship crews defend against surface threats (ships or small boats) and engage them with missiles. Aircraft, ship, and submarine crews deliberately sink a seaborne target, usually a decommissioned ship (made environmentally safe for sinking according to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standards), with a variety of munitions. A temporary pier is constructed off the beach. Supporting pilings are driven into the sand and then later removed. Submarine crews operate sonar for navigation and object detection while transiting into and out of port during reduced visibility. Acoustic ................. Submarine Sonar Maintenance. Maintenance of submarine sonar systems is conducted pierside or at sea. MF3 .................................. Acoustic ................. Submarine Under Ice Certification. Submarine crews train to operate under ice. Ice conditions are simulated during training and certification events. HF1 .................................. Acoustic ................. Surface Ship Object Detection. HF8, MF1K ....................... Acoustic ................. Surface Ship sonar Maintenance. Surface ship crews operate sonar for navigation and object detection while transiting in and out of port during reduced visibility. Maintenance of surface ship sonar systems is conducted pierside or at sea. 7-Year number of activities 1 E6, E8, E10 ...................... E3 ..................................... Location 2 42 182 896 14 1,820 70 63 357 245 525 287 231 1,127 504 2,247 14 14 GOMEX RC. JAX RC. Navy Cherry Point RC. Northeast RC. VACAPES RC. Other AFTT Areas. GOMEX RC. JAX RC. Navy Cherry Point RC. VACAPES RC. Other AFTT Areas. GOMEX RC. JAX RC. Navy Cherry Point RC. VACAPES RC. VACAPES RC. JAX RC. 714 364 616 70 714 70 644 112 84 JAX RC. Navy Cherry Point RC. VACAPES RC. GOMEX RC. JAX RC. Navy Cherry Point RC. VACAPES RC. JAX RC. VACAPES RC. TORP2, E5, E8, E9, E10, E11. 7 SINKEX Box. Impact hammer or vibratory extractor. 7 7 Lower Chesapeake Bay. Navy Cherry Point RC. HF1, MF3 ......................... HF8, MF1 ......................... 1,183 21 21 588 161 84 462 63 14 238 602 14 88 326 21 21 63 63 532 1,134 NSB New London. NSB Kings Bay. NS Mayport. NS Norfolk. Port Canaveral, FL. Other AFTT Areas. NSB New London. JAX RC. NSB Kings Bay. NS Norfolk. Northeast RC. Port Canaveral, FL. Navy Cherry Point RC. VACAPES RC. JAX RC. Navy Cherry Point RC. Northeast RC. VACAPES RC. NS Mayport. NS Norfolk. 350 350 840 1,645 840 JAX RC. NS Mayport. Navy Cherry Point RC. NS Norfolk. VACAPES RC. 1 The number of training activities that could occur annually and the duration of those activities remains identical to those presented in Table 4 of the 2018 AFTT final rule. 2 Locations given are areas where activities typically occur. However, activities could be conducted in other locations within the Study Area. Where multiple locations are provided within a single cell, the number of activities could occur in any of the locations, not in each of the locations. * For Anti-Submarine Warfare Tracking Exercise—Ship, 50 percent of requirements are met through synthetic training or other training exercises. Notes: GOMEX: Gulf of Mexico; JAX: Jacksonville; NS: Naval Station; NSB: Naval Submarine Base; NSWC: Naval Surface Warfare Center; RC: Range Complex; VACAPES: Virginia Capes. VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:56 Dec 20, 2019 Jkt 250001 PO 00000 Frm 00007 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\23DER2.SGM 23DER2 70718 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 246 / Monday, December 23, 2019 / Rules and Regulations Testing Activities The number of planned testing activities that could occur annually and the duration of those activities are identical to those presented in Tables 5 through 7 of the 2018 AFTT final rule, and are not repeated here. Similar to the 2017 Navy application, the Navy’s planned testing activities presented here are based on the level of testing activities anticipated to be conducted into the reasonably foreseeable future, with adjustments that account for changes in the types and tempo (increases or decreases) of testing activities to meet current and future military readiness requirements. The number of planned testing activities that could occur for the seven-year period are presented in Tables 2 through 4. The number of ship shock trials for the seven-year period will remain the same as the number covered by the 2018 AFTT final rule. Naval Air Systems Command The Naval Air Systems Command testing activities that could occur over the seven-year period within the AFTT Study Area are presented in Table 2. TABLE 2—NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND TESTING ACTIVITIES ANALYZED FOR SEVEN-YEAR PERIOD IN THE AFTT STUDY AREA Stressor category Activity name Activity description Source bin 7-Year number of activities 1 Location 2 Anti-Submarine Warfare Acoustic .......... Anti-Submarine Warfare Torpedo Test. Acoustic, Explosive. Anti-Submarine Warfare Tracking Test—Helicopter. Acoustic, Explosive. Anti-Submarine Warfare Tracking Test—Maritime Patrol Aircraft. Acoustic .......... Kilo Dip ............................. Acoustic, Explosive. Sonobuoy Lot Acceptance Test. This event is similar to the training event torpedo exercise. Test evaluates anti-submarine warfare systems onboard rotary-wing (e.g., helicopter) and fixed-wing aircraft and the ability to search for, detect, classify, localize, track, and attack a submarine or similar target. This event is similar to the training event anti-submarine warfare tracking exercise—helicopter. The test evaluates the sensors and systems used to detect and track submarines and to ensure that helicopter systems used to deploy the tracking system perform to specifications. The test evaluates the sensors and systems used by maritime patrol aircraft to detect and track submarines and to ensure that aircraft systems used to deploy the tracking systems perform to specifications and meet operational requirements. Functional check of a helicopter deployed dipping sonar system prior to conducting a testing or training event using the dipping sonar system. MF5, TORP1 .................... 209 523 JAX RC. VACAPES RC. MF4, MF5, E3 .................. 34 36 64 442 1,368 GOMEX RC. JAX RC. Key West RC. Northeast RC VACAPES RC. Sonobuoys are deployed from surface vessels and aircraft to verify the integrity and performance of a production lot or group of sonobuoys in advance of delivery to the fleet for operational use. ASW2, ASW5, HF5, HF6, LF4, MF5, MF6, E1, E3, E4. ASW2, ASW5, E1, E3, MF5, MF6. 85 133 76 101 279 175 MF4 .................................. 22 12 12 12 200 1,120 GOMEX RC. JAX RC. Key West RC. Navy Cherry Point RC. Northeast RC. VACAPES RC. GOMEX RC. JAX RC. Key West RC. Northeast RC. VACAPES RC. Key West RC. Mine Warfare lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with RULES2 Acoustic ................. Airborne Dipping Sonar Minehunting Test. Explosive ........ Airborne Mine Neutralization System Test. Acoustic .......... Airborne Sonobuoy Minehunting Test. VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:56 Dec 20, 2019 Jkt 250001 A mine-hunting dipping sonar system that is deployed from a helicopter and uses high-frequency sonar for the detection and classification of bottom and moored mines. A test of the airborne mine neutralization system evaluates the system’s ability to detect and destroy mines from an airborne mine countermeasures capable helicopter. The airborne mine neutralization system uses up to four unmanned underwater vehicles equipped with highfrequency sonar, video cameras, and explosive and non-explosive neutralizers. A mine-hunting system made up of a field of sonobuoys deployed by a helicopter. A field of sonobuoys, using high-frequency sonar, is used to detect and classify bottom and moored mines. PO 00000 Frm 00008 Fmt 4701 HF4 .................................. 144 66 NSWC Panama City. VACAPES RC. E4 ..................................... 154 215 NSWC Panama City. VACAPES RC. HF6 .................................. 364 168 NSWC Panama City. VACAPES RC. Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\23DER2.SGM 23DER2 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 246 / Monday, December 23, 2019 / Rules and Regulations 70719 TABLE 2—NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND TESTING ACTIVITIES ANALYZED FOR SEVEN-YEAR PERIOD IN THE AFTT STUDY AREA—Continued Stressor category Activity name Activity description Source bin 7-Year number of activities 1 Location 2 Surface Warfare Explosive ........ Air-to-Surface Bombing Test. Explosive ........ Air-to-Surface Gunnery Test. Explosive ........ Air-to-Surface Missile Test Explosive ........ Rocket Test ...................... This event is similar to the training event bombing exercise air-to-surface. Fixed-wing aircraft test the delivery of bombs against surface maritime targets with the goal of evaluating the bomb, the bomb carry and delivery system, and any associated systems that may have been newly developed or enhanced. This event is similar to the training event gunnery exercise air-to-surface. Fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircrews evaluate new or enhanced aircraft guns against surface maritime targets to test that the guns, gun ammunition, or associated systems meet required specifications or to train aircrews in the operation of a new or enhanced weapon system. This event is similar to the training event missile exercise air-to-surface. Test may involve both fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft launching missiles at surface maritime targets to evaluate the weapon system or as part of another system’s integration test. Rocket tests evaluate the integration, accuracy, performance, and safe separation of guided and unguided 2.75-inch rockets fired from a hovering or forward-flying helicopter. E9 ..................................... 140 VACAPES RC. E1 ..................................... 295 890 JAX RC. VACAPES RC. E6, E9, E10 ...................... 30 234 234 GOMEX RC. JAX RC. VACAPES RC. E3 ..................................... 121 233 JAX RC. VACAPES RC. Other Testing Activities Acoustic .......... 1 The Undersea Range System Test. I Following installation of a Navy underwater warfare training and testing range, tests of the nodes (components of the range) will be conducted to include node surveys and testing of node transmission functionality. MF9, BB4 ......................... I 66 JAX RC. I number of testing activities that could occur annually and the duration of those activities are identical to those presented in Table 5 of the 2018 AFTT final rule. 2 Locations given are areas where activities typically occur. However, activities could be conducted in other locations within the Study Area. Notes: GOMEX: Gulf of Mexico; JAX: Jacksonville; NSWC: Naval Surface Warfare Center; RC: Range Complex; VACAPES: Virginia Capes. Naval Sea Systems Command The Naval Sea Systems Command testing activities that could occur over the seven-year period within the AFTT Study Area are presented in Table 3. TABLE 3—NAVAL SEA SYSTEMS COMMAND TESTING ACTIVITIES ANALYZED FOR SEVEN-YEAR PERIOD IN THE AFTT STUDY AREA Stressor category Activity name Activity description Source bin 7-year number of activities 1 Location 2 lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with RULES2 Anti-Submarine Warfare Acoustic ...... Anti-Submarine Warfare Mission Package Testing. Acoustic ...... At-Sea Sonar Testing VerDate Sep<11>2014 22:27 Dec 20, 2019 Jkt 250001 Ships and their supporting platforms (e.g., helicopters, unmanned aerial systems) detect, localize, and attack submarines. At-sea testing to ensure systems are fully functional in an open ocean environment. PO 00000 Frm 00009 Fmt 4701 ASW1, ASW2, ASW3, ASW5, MF1, MF4, MF5, MF12, TORP1. 294 28 28 182 ASW3, ASW4, HF1, LF5, M3, MF1, MF1K, MF3, MF5, MF9, MF11, TORP2. Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\23DER2.SGM 23DER2 JAX RC. Newport, RI. NUWC Newport. VACAPES RC. 14 JAX RC, Navy Cherry Point RC, Northeast RC, VACAPES RC. 7 JAX RC, Navy Cherry Point RC, VACAPES RC. 70720 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 246 / Monday, December 23, 2019 / Rules and Regulations TABLE 3—NAVAL SEA SYSTEMS COMMAND TESTING ACTIVITIES ANALYZED FOR SEVEN-YEAR PERIOD IN THE AFTT STUDY AREA—Continued Stressor category Activity name Activity description Source bin 7-year number of activities 1 14 28 14 Acoustic ...... Pierside Sonar Testing. Acoustic ...... Submarine Sonar Testing/Maintenance. Acoustic ...... Surface Ship Sonar Testing/Maintenance. Acoustic, Explosive. Torpedo (Explosive) Testing. Pierside testing to ensure systems are fully functional in a controlled pierside environment prior to at-sea test activities. Pierside testing of submarine systems occurs periodically following major maintenance periods and for routine maintenance. Pierside and at-sea testing of ship systems occur periodically following major maintenance periods and for routine maintenance. Air, surface, or submarine crews employ explosive and non-explosive torpedoes against artificial targets. 56 84 7 ASW3, HF1, HF3, HF8, M3, MF1, MF1K, MF3, MF9, MF10. 77 35 28 56 91 14 21 14 112 168 HF1, HF3, M3, MF3 .. lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with RULES2 Acoustic ...... Torpedo (Non-Explosive) Testing. Countermeasure Testing. Air, surface, or submarine crews employ non-explosive torpedoes against submarines or surface vessels. When performed on a testing range, these torpedoes may be launched from a range craft or fixed structures and may use artificial targets. Countermeasure testing involves the testing of systems that will detect, localize, track, and attack incoming weapons including marine vessel targets. Testing includes surface ship torpedo defense systems and marine vessel stopping payloads. offshore Fort Pierce, FL, GOMEX RC, JAX RC, SFOMF, Northeast RC, VACAPES RC. JAX RC. Navy Cherry Point RC. NUWC Newport. VACAPES RC. NSB New London, NS Norfolk, Port Canaveral, FL. Bath, ME. NSB New London. NSB Kings Bay. Newport, RI. NS Norfolk. Pascagoula, MS. Port Canaveral, FL. PNS. Norfolk, VA. PNS. ASW3, MF1, MF1K, MF9, MF10. 7 7 21 21 JAX RC. NS Mayport. NS Norfolk. VACAPES RC. ASW3, HF1, HF5, HF6, MF1, MF3, MF4, MF5, MF6, TORP1, TORP2, E8, E11. 28 GOMEX RC, offshore Fort Pierce, FL, Key West RC, Navy Cherry Point RC, Northeast RC, VACAPES RC,. GOMEX RC, JAX RC, Northeast RC, VACAPES RC. GOMEX RC. offshore Fort Pierce, FL. JAX RC. Navy Cherry Point RC. Northeast RC. NUWC Newport. VACAPES RC GOMEX RC, JAX RC, NUWC Newport, VACAPES RC, Key West RC. 14 Acoustic ...... Location 2 ASW3, ASW4, HF1, HF6, MF1, MF3, MF4, MF5, MF6, TORP1, TORP2, TORP 3. 49 77 12 49 54 210 77 35 ASW3, HF5, TORP1, TORP2. 20 GOMEX RC, JAX RC, Northeast RC, VACAPES RC. 91 42 NSWC Panama City. VACAPES RC. Mine Warfare Acoustic, Explosive. VerDate Sep<11>2014 Mine Countermeasure and Neutralization Testing. 22:27 Dec 20, 2019 Jkt 250001 Air, surface, and subsurface vessels neutralize threat mines and mine-like objects. PO 00000 Frm 00010 Fmt 4701 E4, E11 ..................... Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\23DER2.SGM 23DER2 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 246 / Monday, December 23, 2019 / Rules and Regulations 70721 TABLE 3—NAVAL SEA SYSTEMS COMMAND TESTING ACTIVITIES ANALYZED FOR SEVEN-YEAR PERIOD IN THE AFTT STUDY AREA—Continued Stressor category Activity name Activity description Source bin Acoustic, Explosive. Mine Countermeasure Mission Package Testing. Vessels and associated aircraft conduct mine countermeasure operations. HF4, SAS2, E4 .......... Acoustic ...... Mine Detection and Classification Testing. Air, surface, and subsurface vessels and systems detect, classify, and avoid mines and mine-like objects. Vessels also assess their potential susceptibility to mines and mine-like objects. HF1,HF4, HF8, MF1, MF1K, MF9. 7-year number of activities 1 Location 2 133 70 77 14 35 42 70 359 66 28 21 GOMEX RC. JAX RC. NSWC Panama City. SFOMF. VACAPES RC. GOMEX RC. Navy Cherry Point RC. NSWC Panama City. Riviera Beach, FL. SFOMF. VACAPES RC. Surface Warfare Explosive ..... Gun Testing—Large Caliber. Crews defend against targets with large-caliber guns. E3, E5 ....................... 84 7 7 7 7 Explosive ..... Explosive ..... Gun Testing—Medium-Caliber. Missile and Rocket Testing. Airborne and surface crews defend against targets with medium-caliber guns. Missile and rocket testing includes various missiles or rockets fired from submarines and surface combatants. Testing of the launching system and ship defense is performed. E1 .............................. 7 231 35 84 E6, E10 ..................... 714 34 91 GOMEX RC, JAX RC, Key West RC, Navy Cherry Point RC, Northeast RC, VACAPES RC. GOMEX RC. JAX RC. Key West RC. Navy Cherry Point RC. Northeast RC. NSWC Panama City. VACAPES RC. GOMEX RC, JAX RC, Key West RC, Navy Cherry Point RC, Northeast RC, VACAPES RC. NSWC Panama City. VACAPES RC. GOMEX RC, JAX RC, Key West RC, Navy Cherry Point RC, Northeast RC, VACAPES RC. 7 14 35 154 GOMEX RC. JAX RC. Northeast RC. VACAPES RC. 112 GOMEX RC, JAX RC, NUWC Newport. Unmanned Systems lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with RULES2 Acoustic, Explosive. Unmanned Underwater Vehicle Testing. Testing involves the development or upgrade of unmanned underwater vehicles. This may include testing of mine detection capabilities, evaluating the basic functions of individual platforms, or complex events with multiple vehicles. ASW4, FLS2, HF1, HF4, HF5, HF6, HF7, LF5, MF9, MF10, SAS1, SA2, SAS3, VHF1, E8. 287 175 1,018 2,158 63 294 GOMEX RC. JAX RC. NSWC Panama City. NUWC Newport. Riviera Beach, FL. SFOMF. Vessel Evaluation Explosive ..... VerDate Sep<11>2014 Large Ship Shock Trial. 22:27 Dec 20, 2019 Jkt 250001 Underwater detonations are used to test new ships or major upgrades. PO 00000 Frm 00011 Fmt 4701 E17 ............................ Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\23DER2.SGM 1 23DER2 GOMEX RC, JAX RC, VACAPES RC. 70722 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 246 / Monday, December 23, 2019 / Rules and Regulations TABLE 3—NAVAL SEA SYSTEMS COMMAND TESTING ACTIVITIES ANALYZED FOR SEVEN-YEAR PERIOD IN THE AFTT STUDY AREA—Continued Stressor category Activity name Explosive ..... Surface Warfare Testing. Acoustic ...... Undersea Warfare Testing. Explosive ..... Small Ship Shock Trial. Acoustic ...... Submarine Sea Trials—Weapons System Testing. Activity description Source bin 7-year number of activities 1 Tests capability of shipboard E1, E5, E8 ................. sensors to detect, track, and engage surface targets. Testing may include ships defending against surface targets using explosive and non-explosive rounds, gun system structural test firing and demonstration of the response to Call for Fire against land-based targets (simulated by sea-based locations). Ships demonstrate capability of ASW3, ASW4, HF4, countermeasure systems and HF8, MF1, MF1K, underwater surveillance, weapMF4, MF5, MF9, ons engagement, and commuMF10, TORP1, nications systems. This tests TORP2. ships’ ability to detect, track, and engage underwater targets. Underwater detonations are used to test new ships or major upgrades. Submarine weapons and sonar systems are tested at-sea to meet integrated combat system certification requirements. Location 2 14 91 7 70 63 GOMEX RC. JAX RC. Key West RC. Northeast RC. VACAPES RC. 14 6 JAX RC, VACAPES RC. JAX RC, Navy Cherry Point RC, SFOMF, VACAPES RC. 14 42 14 3 GOMEX RC. JAX RC. VACAPES RC. JAX RC, VACAPES RC. 14 28 28 28 Offshore Fort Pierce, FL, GOMEX RC, JAX RC, SFOMF, Northeast RC, VACAPES RC. JAX RC. Northeast RC. VACAPES RC. MF3, MF9 .................. 28 1,848 Key West RC. NSWC Panama City. FLS2, HF5, HF7, LF5, MF9, SAS2. 231 AG, ASW3, ASW4, HF5, HF6, LF4, LF5, MF9, MF10, SD1, SD2. HF6, LF4, MF9 .......... 28 77 1,330 252 NUWC Newport. ASW2, HF1, LF4, LF5, LF6, M3, MF9, MF10. 7 413 JAX RC. SFOMF. E16 ............................ HF1, M3, MF3, MF9, MF10, TORP2. lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with RULES2 Other Testing Activities Acoustic ...... Insertion/Extraction .... Acoustic ...... Acoustic Component Testing. Acoustic ...... Semi-Stationary Equipment Testing. Acoustic ...... Towed Equipment Testing. Acoustic ...... Signature Analysis Operations. Testing of submersibles capable of inserting and extracting personnel and payloads into denied areas from strategic distances. Various surface vessels, moored equipment, and materials are tested to evaluate performance in the marine environment. Semi-stationary equipment (e.g., hydrophones) is deployed to determine functionality. Surface vessels or unmanned surface vehicles deploy and tow equipment to determine functionality of towed systems. Surface ship and submarine testing of electromagnetic, acoustic, optical, and radar signature measurements. SFOMF. Newport, RI. NSWC Panama City. NUWC Newport. 1 The number of testing activities that could occur annually and the duration of those activities are identical to those presented in Table 6 of the 2018 AFTT final rule. 2 Locations given are areas where activities typically occur. However, activities could be conducted in other locations within the Study Area. Where multiple locations are provided within a single cell, the number of activities could occur in any of the locations, not in each of the locations. Notes: JEB LC–FS: Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story; NS: Naval Station; NSB: Naval Submarine Base; NSWC: Naval Surface Warfare Center; NUWC: Naval Undersea Warfare Center; PNS: Portsmouth Naval Shipyard; SFOMF: South Florida Ocean Measurement Facility Testing Range. VerDate Sep<11>2014 22:34 Dec 20, 2019 Jkt 250001 PO 00000 Frm 00012 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\23DER2.SGM 23DER2 70723 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 246 / Monday, December 23, 2019 / Rules and Regulations Office of Naval Research seven-year period within the AFTT Study Area are presented in Table 4. The Office of Naval Research testing activities that could occur over the TABLE 4—OFFICE OF NAVAL RESEARCH TESTING ACTIVITIES ANALYZED FOR SEVEN-YEAR PERIOD IN THE AFTT STUDY AREA Stressor category Activity name Activity description 7-Year number of activities 1 Source bin Location Acoustic and Oceanographic Science and Technology Acoustic, Explosive Acoustic and Oceanographic Research. Acoustic ................. Emerging Mine Countermeasure Technology Research. Research using active transmissions from sources deployed from ships and unmanned underwater vehicles. Research sources can be used as proxies for current and future Navy systems. Test involves the use of broadband acoustic sources on unmanned underwater vehicles. AG, ASW2, BB4, BB5, BB6, BB7, LF3, LF4, LF5, MF8, MF9, MF14, E1. 30 60 16 14 GOMEX RC. Northeast RC. VACAPES RC. Other AFTT Areas. BB1, BB2, SAS4 .............. 7 14 7 JAX RC. Northeast RC. VACAPES RC. 1 The number of testing activities that could occur annually and the duration of those activities are identical to those presented in Table 7 of the 2018 AFTT final rule. Notes: GOMEX: Gulf of Mexico; JAX: Jacksonville, Florida; RC: Range Complex; VACAPES: Virginia Capes Summary of Acoustic and Explosive Sources Analyzed for Training and Testing Tables 5 through 8 show the acoustic source classes and numbers, explosive source bins and numbers, airgun sources, and pile driving and removal activities associated with the Navy’s planned training and testing activities over the seven-year period in the AFTT Study Area that were analyzed in the 2019 Navy application and for this final rule. The annual numbers for acoustic source classes, explosive source bins, and airgun sources, as well as the annual pile driving and removal activities associated with Navy training and testing activities in the AFTT Study Area are identical to those presented in Tables 8 through 11 of the 2018 AFTT final rule, and are not repeated here. Consistent with the periodicity in the 2018 AFTT final rule, the Navy included the addition of two pile driving/extraction activities for each of the two additional years. Table 5 describes the acoustic source classes (i.e., low-frequency (LF), midfrequency (MF), and high-frequency (HF)) that could occur over seven years under the planned training and testing activities. Acoustic source bin use in the activities would vary annually. The seven-year totals for the planned training and testing activities take into account that annual variability. TABLE 5—ACOUSTIC SOURCE CLASSES ANALYZED AND NUMBER USED FOR SEVEN-YEAR PERIOD FOR TRAINING AND TESTING ACTIVITIES IN THE AFTT STUDY AREA. 7-Year total Source class category Bin Unit 1 Description Training Low-Frequency (LF): Sources produce signals less than 1 kHz. that LF3 ........ LF sources greater than 200 dB .............. H ............ LF4 ......... LF sources equal to 180 dB and up to 200 dB. LF sources less than 180 dB ................... LF sources greater than 200 dB with long pulse lengths. H C H H MF1 ........ MF1K ..... LF5 ......... LF6 ......... Mid-Frequency (MF): Tactical and nontactical sources that produce signals between 1–10 kHz. MF3 ........ MF4 ........ MF5 ........ lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with RULES2 MF6 ........ MF8 ........ MF9 ........ MF10 ...... VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:56 Dec 20, 2019 Jkt 250001 PO 00000 Testing 0 9,156 ............ ............ ............ ............ 0 0 60 1,104 6,797 140 12,264 280 Hull-mounted surface ship sonars (e.g., AN/SQS–53C and AN/SQS–61). H ............ 36,833 23,358 Kingfisher mode associated with MF1 sonars. Hull-mounted submarine sonars (e.g., AN/BQQ–10). Helicopter-deployed dipping sonars (e.g., AN/AQS–22 and AN/AQS–13). Active acoustic sonobuoys (e.g., DICASS). Active underwater sound signal devices (e.g., MK84). Active sources (greater than 200 dB) not otherwise binned. H ............ 819 1,064 H ............ 14,604 8,799 H ............ 4,196 3,797 C ............ 47,340 38,663 C ............ 0 8,986 H ............ 0 2,436 Active sources (equal to 180 dB and up H ............ to 200 dB) not otherwise binned. Active sources (greater than 160 dB, but H ............ less than 180 dB) not otherwise binned. 0 52,128 6,088 39,830 Frm 00013 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\23DER2.SGM 23DER2 70724 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 246 / Monday, December 23, 2019 / Rules and Regulations TABLE 5—ACOUSTIC SOURCE CLASSES ANALYZED AND NUMBER USED FOR SEVEN-YEAR PERIOD FOR TRAINING AND TESTING ACTIVITIES IN THE AFTT STUDY AREA.—Continued 7-Year total Source class category Bin Unit 1 Description Training MF11 ...... MF12 ...... MF14 ...... High-Frequency (HF): Tactical and nontactical sources that produce signals between 10—100 kHz. 9,968 H ............ 2,658 9,716 H ............ 0 10,080 H ............ 13,504 2,772 HF3 ........ H ............ 34,275 215 H ............ 41,717 179,516 H ............ C ............ H ............ 0 0 0 13,624 280 15,254 H ............ 0 8,568 H ............ 140 14,587 VHF1 ...... Other hull-mounted submarine sonars (classified). Mine detection, classification, and neutralization sonar (e.g., AN/SQS–20). Active sources (greater than 200 dB) not otherwise binned. Active sources (equal to 180 dB and up to 200 dB) not otherwise binned. Active sources (greater than 160 dB, but less than 180 dB) not otherwise binned. Hull-mounted surface ship sonars (e.g., AN/SQS–61). VHF sources greater than 200 dB ........... H ............ 0 84 ASW1 ..... MF systems operating above 200 dB ...... H ............ 4,251 5,740 ASW2 ..... MF Multistatic Active Coherent sonobuoy (e.g., AN/SSQ–125). MF towed active acoustic countermeasure systems (e.g., AN/SLQ–25). MF expendable active acoustic device countermeasures (e.g., MK 3). MF sonobuoys with high duty cycles ....... C ............ 10,572 35,842 H ............ 34,275 21,737 C ............ 2,994 24,043 H ............ 4,244 4,316 HF6 ........ HF7 ........ HF8 ........ ASW3 ..... ASW4 ..... ASW5 ..... lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with RULES2 6,495 Hull-mounted submarine sonars (e.g., AN/BQQ–10). HF5 ........ Torpedoes (TORP): Source classes associated with the active acoustic signals produced by torpedoes. H ............ HF1 ........ HF4 ........ Very High-Frequency Sonars (VHF): Non-tactical sources that produce signals between 100—200 kHz. Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW): Tactical sources (e.g., active sonobuoys and acoustic counter-measures systems) used during ASW training and testing activities. Hull-mounted surface ship sonars with an active duty cycle greater than 80%. Towed array surface ship sonars with an active duty cycle greater than 80%. Oceanographic MF sonar ......................... Testing TORP1 ... Lightweight torpedo (e.g., MK 46, MK 54, or Anti-Torpedo Torpedo). C ............ 399 6,122 TORP2 ... TORP 3 .. Heavyweight torpedo (e.g., MK 48) ......... Heavyweight torpedo (e.g., MK 48) ......... C ............ C ............ 560 0 2,600 640 Forward Looking Sonar (FLS): Forward or upward looking object avoidance sonars used for ship navigation and safety. FLS2 ...... HF sources with short pulse lengths, narrow beam widths, and focused beam patterns. H ............ 0 8,568 Acoustic Modems (M): Systems used to transmit data through the water. M3 .......... MF acoustic modems (greater than 190 dB). H ............ 0 4,436 Swimmer Detection Sonars (SD): Systems used to detect divers and submerged swimmers. SD1— SD2. HF and VHF sources with short pulse lengths, used for the detection of swimmers and other objects for the purpose of port security. H ............ 0 1,232 Synthetic Aperture Sonars (SAS): Sonars in which active acoustic signals are post-processed to form high-resolution images of the seafloor. SAS1 ...... MF SAS systems ...................................... H ............ 0 6,720 SAS2 ...... SAS3 ...... SAS4 ...... H ............ H ............ H ............ 33,600 0 0 24,584 6,720 6,720 BB1 ........ HF SAS systems ...................................... VHF SAS systems .................................... MF to HF broadband mine countermeasure sonar. MF to HF mine countermeasure sonar .... H ............ 0 6,720 BB2 ........ HF to VHF mine countermeasure sonar .. H ............ 0 6,720 Broadband Sound Sources (BB): Sonar systems with large frequency spectra, used for various purposes. VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:56 Dec 20, 2019 Jkt 250001 PO 00000 Frm 00014 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\23DER2.SGM 23DER2 70725 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 246 / Monday, December 23, 2019 / Rules and Regulations TABLE 5—ACOUSTIC SOURCE CLASSES ANALYZED AND NUMBER USED FOR SEVEN-YEAR PERIOD FOR TRAINING AND TESTING ACTIVITIES IN THE AFTT STUDY AREA.—Continued 7-Year total Source class category Bin Unit 1 Description Training BB4 BB5 BB6 BB7 ........ ........ ........ ........ LF to MF oceanographic source .............. LF to MF oceanographic source .............. HF oceanographic source ........................ LF oceanographic source ......................... H H H C ............ ............ ............ ............ Testing 0 0 0 0 10,884 4,704 4,704 840 1H = hours; C = count (e.g., number of individual pings or individual sonobuoys). Note: dB = decibel Table 6 describes the number of air gun shots that could occur over seven years under the planned training and testing activities. TABLE 6—TRAINING AND TESTING AIR GUN SOURCES QUANTITATIVELY ANALYZED IN THE AFTT STUDY AREA 7-Year total 2 Source class category Bin Unit 1 Training Air Guns (AG): Small underwater air guns ..................................................................... AG .......... C ............ Testing 0 4,228 1C = count. One count (C) of AG is equivalent to 100 air gun firings. 2 The annual numbers for airgun sources associated with Navy training and testing activities in the AFTT Study Area are identical to those presented in Table 9 in the 2018 AFTT final rule. Table 7 summarizes the impact pile driving and vibratory pile removal activities that could occur during a 24hour period. Annually, for impact pile driving, the Navy will drive 119 piles, two times a year for a total of 238 piles. Over the seven-year period of the rule, the Navy will drive a total of 1,666 piles by impact pile driving. Annually, for vibratory pile removal, the Navy will remove 119 piles, two times a year for a total of 238 piles. Over the seven-year period of the rule, the Navy will remove a total of 1,666 piles by vibratory pile removal. TABLE 7—SUMMARY OF PILE DRIVING AND REMOVAL ACTIVITIES PER 24-HOUR PERIOD IN THE AFTT STUDY AREA Piles per 24-hour period Method Pile Driving (Impact) .................................................................................................................... Pile Removal (Vibratory) .............................................................................................................. Table 8 describes the number of inwater explosives that could be used in any year under the planned training and testing activities. Under the activities, bin use would vary annually, and the seven-year totals for the planned Time per pile (minutes) 6 12 Total estimated time of noise per 24-hour period (minutes) 15 6 90 72 training and testing activities take into account that annual variability. TABLE 8—EXPLOSIVE SOURCE BINS ANALYZED AND NUMBER USED FOR SEVEN-YEAR PERIOD FOR TRAINING AND TESTING ACTIVITIES WITHIN THE AFTT STUDY AREA Net explosive weight 1 (lb.) lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with RULES2 Bin . E1 ...................... E2 ...................... E3 ...................... E4 ...................... E5 ...................... E6 ...................... E7 ...................... E8 ...................... E9 ...................... E10 .................... E11 .................... VerDate Sep<11>2014 0.1–0.25 >0.25–0.5 >0.5–2.5 >2.5–5 >5–10 >10–20 > 20–60 >60–100 >100–250 >250–500 >500–650 19:56 Dec 20, 2019 7-Year Total 2 Example explosive source Training Medium-caliber projectile ............................................................................. Medium-caliber projectile ............................................................................. Large-caliber projectile ................................................................................. Mine neutralization charge ........................................................................... 5-inch projectile ............................................................................................ Hellfire missile .............................................................................................. Demo block/shaped charge ......................................................................... Light-weight torpedo ..................................................................................... 500 lb. bomb ................................................................................................ Harpoon missile ............................................................................................ 650 lb. mine .................................................................................................. Jkt 250001 PO 00000 Frm 00015 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\23DER2.SGM 23DER2 53,900 1,486 32,144 913 10,052 4,214 28 154 462 630 7 Testing 160,880 0 20,162 5,330 9,275 276 0 231 28 566 70 70726 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 246 / Monday, December 23, 2019 / Rules and Regulations TABLE 8—EXPLOSIVE SOURCE BINS ANALYZED AND NUMBER USED FOR SEVEN-YEAR PERIOD FOR TRAINING AND TESTING ACTIVITIES WITHIN THE AFTT STUDY AREA—Continued Example explosive source >650–1,000 >7,250–14,500 >14,500– 58,000 2,000 lb. bomb ............................................................................................. Littoral Combat Ship full ship shock trial ...................................................... Aircraft carrier full ship shock trial ................................................................ Bin E12 .................... E16 2 ................. E17 2 ................. 7-Year Total 2 Net explosive weight 1 (lb.) Training 126 0 0 Testing 0 12 4 lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with RULES2 1 Net Explosive Weight refers to the equivalent amount of Trinitrotoluene (TNT) the actual weight of a munition may be larger due to other components. 2 The annual numbers for explosive source bins associated with Navy training and testing activities in the AFTT Study Area are identical to those presented in Table 11 in the 2018 AFTT final rule. Note: Shock trials consist of four explosions each. In any given year there could be 0–3 small ship shock trials (E16) and 0–1 large ship shock trials (E17). Over a 7-year period, there could be three small ship shock trials (E16) and one large ship shock trial (E17) which is the same amount of ship shock trial events that could occur over the original five-year period. Therefore, there is no increase in ship shock trial events under this final rule. Vessel Movement Standard Operating Procedures Vessel movements associated with the planned activities include both surface and sub-surface operations. Vessels used as part of the activities include ships, submarines, unmanned vessels, and boats ranging in size from small, 22 feet (ft) (7 meters (m)) rigid hull inflatable boats to aircraft carriers with lengths up to 1,092 ft. (333 m). Large Navy ships greater than 60 ft (18 m) generally operate at speeds in the range of 10 to 15 kn for fuel conservation. Submarines generally operate at speeds in the range of 8 to 13 kn in transits and less than those speeds for certain tactical maneuvers. Small craft, less than 60 ft (18 m) in length, have much more variable speeds (dependent on the mission). For small craft types, sizes and speeds vary during training and testing. Speeds generally range from 10 to 14 kn. While these speeds for large and small crafts are representative of most events, some vessels need to temporarily operate outside of these parameters. A full description of Navy vessels that are used during training and testing activities and will be used under the seven-year period of this rule can be found in the 2017 Navy application and Chapter 2 of the 2018 AFTT FEIS/OEIS. The manner in which Navy vessels will be used during training and testing activities, the speeds at which they operate, the number of vessels that will be used during various activities, and the locations in which Navy vessel movement will be concentrated within the AFTT Study Area are identical to those analyzed in the 2018 AFTT final rule. The only change related to the Navy’s request regarding Navy vessel movement is the vessel use associated with the additional two years of Navy activities. For training and testing to be effective, personnel must be able to safely use their sensors and weapon systems as they are intended to be used in a real-world situation and to their optimum capabilities. While standard operating procedures are designed for the safety of personnel and equipment and to ensure the success of training and testing activities, their implementation often yields additional benefits on environmental, socioeconomic, public health and safety, and cultural resources. Because standard operating procedures are essential to safety and mission success, the Navy considers them to be part of the planned activities and has included them in the environmental analysis. Details on standard operating procedures were provided in the 2018 AFTT proposed rule; please see the 2018 AFTT proposed rule, the 2017 Navy application, and Chapter 2 of the 2018 AFTT FEIS/OEIS for more information. The Standard Operating Procedures for the seven-year period will be identical to those in place under the 2018 AFTT final rule. VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:56 Dec 20, 2019 Jkt 250001 Comments and Responses On February 1, 2019, we published a notice of receipt (NOR) of the Navy’s application in the Federal Register (84 FR 1069), and requested comments and information related to the Navy’s request. The review and comment period for the NOR ended on March 4, 2019. We reviewed and considered all comments and information received on the NOR in development of the proposed rule. We published a proposed rule in the Federal Register on May 13, 2019 (84 FR 21126), with a 30-day comment period. In that proposed rule, we requested public input on the request for authorization described PO 00000 Frm 00016 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 therein, our analyses, and the proposed authorizations and requested that interested persons submit relevant information, suggestions, and comments. During the 30-day comment period, we received eight comment letters. Of this total, one submission was from the Marine Mammal Commission (hereafter ‘‘Commission’’), one letter was from an organization or individual acting in an official capacity (e.g., nongovernmental organization (NGO)) and six submissions were from private citizens. NMFS has reviewed and considered all public comments received on the proposed rule and issuance of the LOAs. All relevant comments and our responses are described below. We provide no response to specific comments that addressed species or statutes not relevant to our proposed authorization under section 101(a)(5)(A) of the MMPA (e.g., comments related to sea turtles). The majority of the six comment letters from private citizens expressed general opposition toward the Navy’s proposed training and testing activities and requested that NMFS not issue the LOAs, but without providing information relevant to NMFS’ decisions. These comments appear to indicate a lack of understanding of the MMPA’s requirement that NMFS ‘‘shall issue’’ requested authorizations when certain findings (see the Background section) are met; therefore, these comments were not considered further. The remaining comments are addressed below. Both the Commission and NGO included their comments submitted on the 2018 AFTT proposed rule. The Commission did not reiterate their 2018 AFTT proposed rule recommendations in their comment letter but maintained that the recommendations that NMFS did not incorporate into the 2018 AFTT final rule are still relevant and pertain E:\FR\FM\23DER2.SGM 23DER2 lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with RULES2 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 246 / Monday, December 23, 2019 / Rules and Regulations to the extension of the five-year rule and asked that they be reviewed again in the course of considering the new sevenyear rule. The NGO attached their 2018 AFTT proposed rule comment letter and their comments on the Notice of Receipt of the 2019 Navy application. They stated that ‘‘most of the issues raised [in their 2018 AFTT proposed rule comment letter] were not adequately addressed in the 2018–2023 Final Rule’’ and asked that NMFS renew consideration of their prior comments. To the extent they raised concerns with how ‘‘most’’ issues were addressed previously, it did not identify which issues those were. NMFS reviewed, considered, and responded to all comments received on the 2018 AFTT proposed rule and issuance of the proposed LOAs. Please see the 2018 AFTT final rule Comments and Responses section for a summary of the comments received and NMFS’ responses to these comments. As the NGO resubmitted their comments on the Notice of Receipt of the 2019 Navy Application, we respond to those comments below. Comment 1: Commenters noted that NMFS did not propose to authorize beaked whale mortalities subsequent to MFA sonar use for any of the Navy’s Phase III activities and states that that approach is inconsistent with the tack taken for both the Trajectory Analysis Planner (TAP) I and Phase II activities. The Commenters noted that for the previous final rule for AFTT (78 FR 73009; December 4, 2013), NMFS authorized up to 10 beaked whale mortality takes during the five-year period of the final rule (78 FR 73067; December 4, 2013). They noted that NMFS justified authorizing those mortalities by stating that, although NMFS and the Navy do not anticipate any beaked whale strandings to occur and no strandings have ever been reported in the AFTT Study Area, NMFS cannot conclude with certainty the degree to which mitigation measures would eliminate or reduce the potential for serious injury or mortality (78 FR 73043; December 4, 2013). The Commenters stated that this justification is still applicable. The Commenters asserted that NMFS indicated that steep bathymetry, multiple hull-mounted platforms using sonar simultaneously, constricted channels, and strong surface ducts are not all present together in the AFTT Study Area during the specified activities (83 FR 57116; November 14, 2018), and that NMFS specified that it did not authorize beaked whale mortalities in the 2018 AFTT final rule based on the lack of those factors and VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:56 Dec 20, 2019 Jkt 250001 the lack of any strandings associated with Navy sonar use in the AFTT Study Area (83 FR 57116; November 14, 2018). The Commenters stated that this does not comport with NMFS’ acknowledgement in the 2018 AFTT proposed rule that all five of those factors are not necessary for a stranding to occur (83 FR 11012; March 13, 2018). They go on to state that ‘‘NMFS still cannot conclude with certainty the degree to which mitigation measures would eliminate or reduce the potential for serious injury or mortality. This is especially true for a species that is cryptic and difficult for researchers, let alone Navy Lookouts, to observe visually in order to implement mitigation measures, and while passive acoustic monitoring could readily detect beaked whales, it is not used by the Navy as part of its mitigation measures involving MFA sonar.’’ Given that the potential for beaked whale mortalities cannot be obviated, the Commenters recommend that NMFS authorize at least 10 mortality takes of beaked whales subsequent to MFA sonar use, consistent with the AFTT Phase II final rule (83 FR 57076). Response: NMFS does not disregard the fact that it is possible for naval activities using hull-mounted tactical sonar to contribute to the death of marine mammals in certain circumstances (that are not present in the AFTT Study Area) via strandings resulting from behaviorally mediated physiological impacts or other gasrelated injuries. NMFS included a discussion in the 2018 AFTT proposed and final rules of these potential causes and outlines the few cases where active naval sonar (in the U.S. or, largely, elsewhere) has either potentially contributed to or (as with the Bahamas example) been more definitively causally linked with marine mammal strandings. As noted, there are a suite of factors that have been associated with these specific cases of strandings directly associated with sonar (steep bathymetry, multiple hull-mounted platforms using sonar simultaneously, constricted channels, strong surface ducts, etc.). The Commenters are incorrect, however, in implying that NMFS found all these features must be present together. While not all of these factors must be present for a beaked whale stranding to occur, steep bathymetry and constricted channels specifically are not present in the AFTT Study Area, and surface ducts are not consistently present at any location. Further, in addition to the mitigation and monitoring measures in place (visual monitoring, passive acoustic PO 00000 Frm 00017 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 70727 monitoring when practicable, etc., see the 2018 AFTT final rule Mitigation and Monitoring sections for a full description of these measures) the Navy minimizes active sonar military readiness activities when these features are present (in other areas outside of the AFTT Study Area) to the maximum extent practicable to meet specific training or testing requirements. Additionally, there have never been any strandings associated with Navy sonar use in the AFTT Study Area, including in the five years of Navy activities since the 2013 authorizations referenced by the Commenters. For these reasons as well as the other reasons discussed more fully in the 2018 AFTT final rule (e.g., mitigation measures, monitoring, etc.), NMFS does not anticipate that the Navy’s AFTT training and testing activities will result in beaked whale strandings and mortality, and none are authorized. Comment 2: Commenters stated that NMFS cannot amend the existing fiveyear rule without undertaking a new negligible impact analysis for the full seven years of AFTT activity. They stated that while the Navy has not proposed any changes in activity parameters for the take that NMFS previously authorized, the addition of two years of explosives, sonar, and other disruptive activities alters the scope of that previous analysis. They go one to state that barring a negligible impact finding predicated on seven years of activity, taking into account the full extent of mortality, injury, and significant behavioral disruption that that entails, NMFS cannot amend the rule as the Navy has requested. Response: NMFS agrees and conducted a negligible impact analysis for the full seven years of Navy training and testing activity in the AFTT Study Area in both the 2019 AFTT proposed rule and this final rule. Please see the Analysis and Negligible Impact Determination section below. Comment 3: Commenters stated that NMFS must rigorously assess cumulative impacts on the same populations from other authorized and reasonably foreseeable activities, including the five large-scale seismic surveys that NMFS authorized in November, 2018 as well as the additional five years of oil and gas exploration that BOEM included in its 2014 Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for Atlantic seismic, to which NMFS tiered its November environmental assessments. They note that NMFS has repeatedly recognized the importance of accounting for cumulative effects of human activity on marine mammal populations, including E:\FR\FM\23DER2.SGM 23DER2 lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with RULES2 70728 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 246 / Monday, December 23, 2019 / Rules and Regulations the cumulative effects of acoustic disturbance and masking, but that despite this NMFS has made its negligible impact findings as though each authorized activity were taking place in a vacuum, resulting in an acoustic environment where the same populations are repeatedly harmed. The Commenters note that at particular risk are range-restricted populations that are resident off Cape Hatteras; as well as species already suffering from poor individual fitness, most notably the North Atlantic right whale. Response: We recognize the need to address total impacts from the Navy’s activities, and that the total impacts of the Navy’s training and testing activities could be greater than the impacts of any one particular activity. The total impacts of the Navy’s training and testing activities were evaluated for each species and stock in the Group and Species-Specific Analyses section of the Analysis and Negligible Impact Determination section of this rule and the 2018 AFTT final rule. See also the 2018 AFTT FEIS/OEIS, which evaluated the impacts of a maximum amount of activities, and which NMFS has adopted as the basis for its Record of Decision for the issuance of the final rule and LOAs. As described in the 2019 AFTT proposed rule and this final rule along with the 2018 AFTT final rule, the preamble for NMFS’ implementing regulations under section 101(a)(5) (54 FR 40338; September 29, 1989) explains in responses to comments that the impacts from other past and ongoing anthropogenic activities are incorporated into the negligible impact analysis via their impacts on the environmental baseline. Consistent with that direction, NMFS here has factored into its negligible impact analyses the impacts of other past and ongoing anthropogenic activities via their impacts on the baseline (e.g., as reflected in the density/distribution and status of the species, population size and growth rate, and relevant stressors (such as incidental mortality in commercial fisheries, UMEs, or oil spills)). See the Analysis and Negligible Impact Determination section of this rule and the 2018 AFTT final rule. Our 1989 final rule for the MMPA implementing regulations also addressed how cumulative effects from unrelated activities would be considered. There we stated that such effects are not considered in making findings under section 101(a)(5) concerning negligible impact, but that NMFS would consider cumulative effects that are reasonably foreseeable when preparing a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:56 Dec 20, 2019 Jkt 250001 analysis and also that reasonably foreseeable cumulative effects would be considered under section 7 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) for ESAlisted species. The cumulative effects of the incremental impact of the proposed action when added to other past, present, and reasonably foreseeable future actions (as well as the effects of climate change) were evaluated against the appropriate resources and regulatory baselines in the 2018 AFTT FEIS/OIES. The best available science and a comprehensive review of past, present, and reasonably foreseeable actions (including the potential for oil and gas exploration in the Atlantic, as the commenter notes) was used to develop the Cumulative Impacts analysis. This analysis is contained in Chapter 4 of the 2018 AFTT FEIS/OIES. As required under NEPA, the level and scope of the analysis is commensurate with the scope of potential impacts of the action and the extent and character of the potentially-impacted resources (e.g., the geographic boundaries for cumulative impacts analysis for some resources are expanded to include activities outside the AFTT Study Area that might impact migratory or wide-ranging animals), as reflected in the resource-specific discussions in Chapter 3 (Affected Environment and Environmental Consequences) of the 2018 AFTT FEIS/ OEIS. The 2018 AFTT FEIS/OEIS considered the proposed training and testing activities alongside other actions in the region whose impacts may be additive to those of the proposed training and testing. Past and present actions are also included in the analytical process as part of the affected environmental baseline conditions presented in Chapter 3 of the 2018 AFTT FEIS/OEIS. The 2018 AFTT FEIS/ OEIS did so in accordance with 1997 Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) guidance. Per the guidance, a qualitative approach and best professional judgment are appropriate where precise measurements are not available. Where precise measurements and/or methodologies were available they were used. Guidance from CEQ states it ‘‘is not practical to analyze cumulative effects of an action on the universe; the list of environmental effects must focus on those that are truly meaningful.’’ Further, the U.S. EPA reviewed the 2018 AFTT FEIS/OEIS and rated the document as LO—lack of objections—which means it did not identify any environmental impact requiring substantive changes to the proposal. Information on the NEPA PO 00000 Frm 00018 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 analysis is provided in Section 4.1.1 (Determination of Significance). Comment 4: Commenters stated that NMFS should rigorously review its adaptive management procedures for military readiness activities for transparency, enforceability, and effectiveness, to strengthen their integrity for a seven-year authorization cycle. They particularly noted the need to ensure that research required, or simply recommended, by NMFS during the rulemaking process is actually completed by the Navy, as adaptive management cannot proceed if the underlying research to resolve uncertainties is not performed. Response: NMFS has rigorously reviewed its adaptive management procedures for military readiness activities for transparency, enforceability, and effectiveness and continues to do so on an annual basis. In addition to the comprehensive written reports provided by the Navy and reviewed by NMFS, NMFS holds dual-purpose annual Monitoring and Adaptive Management meetings with the Navy that address all of the concerns the commenter raises. First, the Navy annually convenes the researchers conducting the monitoring studies required by the MMPA rules for Navy Training and Testing (along with NMFS and Commission staff) to discuss their work and results, allowing for direct meaningful discourse between the researchers on the ground and regulators, as well as the opportunity for the researchers to highlight challenges and recommendations for future work. Second, NMFS, the Commission, and Navy staff meet to specifically discuss: (1) Exercise Reports detailing the nonclassified extent of activities conducted, associated mitigation implemented, and marine mammals detected; (2) the list of monitoring projects and which are finishing, continuing, or newly starting; (3) new science potentially applicable in an adaptive management context, and; (4) whether any changes to monitoring or mitigation are appropriate pursuant to the Adaptive Management provisions. Comment 5: Commenters stated that NMFS must improve its negligible impact analysis and mitigation in issuing a new rule. They note that the Navy’s application proposed no substantial changes in its take estimation, impact assessment, or mitigation measures, notwithstanding the issues raised during the previous rulemaking by Commenters. Response: NMFS reviewed, considered, and responded to all comments received on the 2018 AFTT proposed rule and issuance of the proposed LOAs. Please see the 2018 E:\FR\FM\23DER2.SGM 23DER2 lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with RULES2 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 246 / Monday, December 23, 2019 / Rules and Regulations AFTT final rule Comments and Responses section for a summary of the comments received and NMFS’ responses to these comments. The 2019 AFTT proposed rule and this final rule contain thorough and complete analysis of the incidental take that is estimated or has the potential to occur from the Navy’s activities, along with analysis of appropriate mitigation measures under the least practicable adverse impact standard. All analysis, including the negligible impact analysis for each species and stock, has been updated from the 2018 AFTT final rule as appropriate based on the Navy’s application, any new information, and in consideration of all comments received. Comment 6: Commenters stated that NMFS presents a flawed updated vessel strike analysis. The Commenters stated that the Navy made its take authorization request based on a Poisson distribution using ship-strike data (from strikes involving Navy vessels only) between 2009 and 2018 in the AFTT Study Area, as well as historical at-sea days in the AFTT Study Area from 2009–2018 and estimated potential at-sea days for the period from 2018–2025 covered by the requested regulations. This distribution predicted the probabilities of a specific number of strikes over the 2018–2025 period. The Commenters go on to state that in its take analysis, NMFS considered two factors in addition to those included in the Navy’s request: (1) the relative likelihood of hitting members of one stock versus another, based on available data from all vessel strikes enumerated in the agency’s Stock Assessment Reports (SARs); and (2) whether the Navy has ever definitively struck an individual from a particular stock and, if so, how many times. The Commenters stated that, thus in determining vessel strike probability, the agency’s analysis only factors in vessel strikes reported by the Navy, rather than more objectively taking into account the total number of Navy ships that will be operating in the AFTT Study Area. The Commenters stated that some conditions the Navy operates in, including darkness and high sea states, would likely make it impossible to detect every vessel strike that occurred. In addition, some of the features of military vessels that NMFS notes as reducing vessel strike probability, such as the use of marine mammal Lookouts, would also only be effective in periods of good visibility. Therefore, the agency should not use the number of vessel strikes reported by the Navy as the basis for its vessel strike analysis. The Commenters stated that VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:56 Dec 20, 2019 Jkt 250001 NMFS instead should analyze the likelihood of a ship hitting a particular stock in the AFTT Study Area (as based on the SARs) and the total number of Navy vessels, or the total amount of Navy vessel time spent operating within the AFTT Study Area. Response: The Commenters are correct in stating that the Navy requested incidental takes due to vessel strikes based on probabilities derived from a Poisson distribution using Navy ship strike data between 2009 and 2018 in the AFTT Study Area (the time period from when current vessel strike mitigation measures were instituted until the Navy conducted the analysis for the 2019 Navy application, with no new ship strikes occurring since this analysis), as well as historical at-sea days in the AFTT Study Area from 2009–2018 and estimated potential atsea days for the period from 2018 to 2025 covered by the requested regulations. NMFS concurs with the Navy that it is appropriate to use Navy ship strike data in this analysis, rather than all known ship strikes (as presented in the SARs), because there are key differences between Navy vessels and commercial vessels, as described in the Authorized Take from Vessel Strikes section, which reduce the potential of ship strikes by Navy vessels and provide confidence that any ship strike that did occur would be detected and reported. The Navy also implements mitigation measures (Lookouts, passive sonar when practicable, etc.) that are not implemented by commercial vessels. While visibility is decreased in certain situations, such as nighttime as described by the commenters, ships operated by or for the Navy have personnel assigned to stand watch at all times, day and night, when underway for safety of navigation, collision avoidance, range clearance, and manoverboard precautions. After sunset and prior to sunrise, watch personnel employ night visual search techniques, which can include the use of night vision devices. The Navy is able to detect if a whale is struck due to the diligence of standard watch personnel and Lookouts stationed specifically to observe for marine mammals while a vessel is underway, day and night. These measures make it highly unlikely that a Navy vessel would strike a whale, dolphin, porpoise, or pinniped without detecting and reporting it and, accordingly, NMFS is confident that the Navy’s reported strikes are accurate and appropriate for use in the analysis. NMFS uses all available information to determine the likelihood of vessel strike to a particular stock. As the PO 00000 Frm 00019 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 70729 commenter correctly asserts, NMFS considered two factors in addition to those considered in the Navy’s request: (1) The relative likelihood of hitting one stock versus another based on available strike data from all vessel types as denoted in the SARs and (2) whether the Navy has ever definitively struck an individual from a particular stock and, if so, how many times. For a detailed description of the methods used to analyze the likelihood of vessel strikes, see the Authorized Take from Vessel Strikes section. However, the analysis does take into account the total number of Navy ships that will be operating in the AFTT Study Area. The estimated potential at-sea days for the period from 2018 to 2025 takes into account both the number of vessels and the number of days each vessel will operate in the AFTT Study Area. In other words, the number of vessel at-sea days directly reflects the number of vessels. Indeed this metric does exactly what the commenter suggests, which is that NMFS ‘‘analyze the likelihood of a ship hitting a particular stock in the AFTT Study Area (as based on the SARs) and the total number of Navy vessels, or the total amount of Navy vessel time spent operating within the AFTT Study Area.’’ Comment 7: Commenters stated that NMFS’ adjustment of injury and mortality numbers for ‘‘mitigation effectiveness’’ remains arbitrary. The Commenters noted that in the 2018 AFTT final rule, NMFS stated that the Navy quantitatively assessed the effectiveness of its monitoring-based mitigation on a per-scenario basis using four factors: (1) Species sightability; (2) a Lookout’s ability to observe the range to permanent threshold shift and range to mortality; (3) the portion of time when mitigation could be observed during periods of poor visibility or at night; and (4) the ability of sound sources to be positively controlled (i.e., powered down) (83 FR 57076, 57115; November 14, 2018). The Commenters noted that NMFS then concluded that the Navy adequately accounted for mitigation effectiveness in its adjustment of take. The Commenters stated that while NMFS explained its support of the Navy’s approach, as requested in these Commenters’ comments on the 2018 AFTT proposed rule, the adjustments the Navy makes to account for reduced mitigation effectiveness at night or during periods of poor visibility still overestimate the potential level of mitigation effectiveness. The Commenters provided the following example to support this statement: ‘‘If a scenario occurs in a high sea state (Beaufort sea E:\FR\FM\23DER2.SGM 23DER2 lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with RULES2 70730 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 246 / Monday, December 23, 2019 / Rules and Regulations state of 4 or higher), then the Navy applies a visibility reduction factor of 0.25. However, the probability of sighting a North Atlantic right whale, for example, changed by a factor of 0.628 (95 percent CI: 0.428–0.921) for every unit increase in sea state. From the findings of Baumgartner et al. (2003), we would expect a reduction in detection probability of North Atlantic right whales by up to 84.5 percent based on an average Beaufort Sea State of 4, relative to ideal sighting conditions (i.e., Beaufort Sea State = 0). The reduction of the effectiveness of a Navy lookout watching for North Atlantic right whales in Beaufort Sea State 4, would therefore be significantly greater than the 0.25 factored into the Navy’s analysis.’’ The Commenters reiterated their caution to NMFS against creating an undersupported, nonconservative adjustment for avoidance in the current AFTT final rule. Response: As described in the technical report titled ‘‘Quantifying Acoustic Impacts on Marine Mammals and Sea Turtles: Methods and Analytical Approach for Phase III Training and Testing’’ (U.S. Department of the Navy, 2018), the Navy conservatively factored mitigation effectiveness (i.e., underestimated mitigation effectiveness) into its quantitative analysis process. To calculate a mitigation effectiveness score for each scenario, the Navy multiplied the Species Sightability Factor, g(0), by a Visibility Factor [0.25, 0.5, 0.75, 1], then by an Observation Area Factor [0, 0.5, 1], and lastly by a Positive Control Factor [0, 0.5, 1]. Using a logistic regression model, Baumgartner et al. (2003) presented evidence to suggest there is an effect of sea state on the probability of sighting that changes by a factor of 0.628 for every unit increase in sea state. However, the authors did not suggest that the 0.628 factor should be applied to further reduce g(0) values that already consider sea state. The North Atlantic right whale g(0) value used by the Navy already takes into account perception bias (including sea state). Therefore, the Navy’s approach to calculating mitigation effectiveness is more conservative than what is being suggested by Baumgartner et al. (2003) because the Navy reduced mitigation effectiveness twice based on sea state: once by using g(0) values that already incorporate perception bias, and again by multiplying g(0) by additional visibility factors. Another example of how the Navy’s method for calculating mitigation effectiveness is conservative is that the Navy assigns worst-case VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:56 Dec 20, 2019 Jkt 250001 scores (instead of typical-case scores) to each effectiveness factor. For example, the Navy assigns a visibility reduction factor of 0.25 if a scenario has the ‘‘potential’’ to occur in Beaufort sea state 4 or higher, even if it typically occurs in Beaufort sea state 3 or lower. Similarly, the Navy assigns another visibility reduction factor of 0.25 or 0.50 if the scenario ‘‘could’’ occur at night, rounding up to the most conservative reduction factor based on percent chance of nighttime occurrence. Below is a simplified hypothetical calculation for a scenario involving hull-mounted mid-frequency active sonar. The furthest average range to a potential permanent threshold shift (PTS) exposure for the largest source bin used in this scenario, MF1, is 192 m. The hypothetical scenario uses a positive control sound source, would rarely occur in a Beaufort 4 sea state, and has a 10 percent chance of occurring at night. Lookouts are able to observe the entire range to PTS (192 m around the ship) for the duration of the scenario. This hypothetical scenario has 10 model-estimated PTS impacts. Mitigation Effectiveness = Species Sightability [vessel sightability g(0) of 0.645 (Palka 2006)] × Visibility [1 ¥ (0.25 reduction for sea state + 0.25 reduction for night) = 0.50] × Observation Area [1] × Positive Control [1] = 0.323 Number of animals assumed sighted by Lookouts = Mitigation Effectiveness [0.323] × Model-Estimated Impacts [10 model-estimated PTS impacts] = 3.23 (rounded down to 3) This hypothetical calculation results in 3 out of 10 marine mammals being sighted by Lookouts within the average range to PTS (192 m from the ship). Mitigation measures would be implemented for these three individuals, and therefore, these animals would not be exposed to PTSlevel impacts. The Navy corrects the category of predicted impact for these three animals (i.e., shifts the level of three impacts from PTS to temporary threshold shift (TTS)), but does not modify the total number of impacts predicted from the scenario. For reasons detailed in the technical report, the small range to PTS and close proximity to the observation platform would in reality result in a much higher likelihood that Lookouts would detect more than three marine mammals within 192 m from the ship hull. For example, the Species Sightability reduction factors, g(0), are based on values obtained during line-transect surveys, where each primary observer looks for marine species in the forward PO 00000 Frm 00020 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 90-degree quadrant on their side of the survey platform out to the limit of the available optics (i.e., the horizon). In this example, Navy Lookouts would focus their observations directly on the sea space in front of the ship in an area several degrees of magnitude smaller than that used to calculate species sightability. However, as previously described, the Navy’s approach to estimating marine mammal impacts integrates a host of conservative assumptions to ensure that potential impacts are overestimated instead of underestimated. Description of Marine Mammals and Their Habitat in the Area of the Specified Activities Marine mammal species and their associated stocks that have the potential to occur in the AFTT Study Area are presented in Table 9 along with the best/minimum abundance estimate and associated coefficient of variation value. Some marine mammal species, such as manatees, are not managed by NMFS, but by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and therefore not discussed below. Consistent with the 2018 AFTT final rule, the Navy anticipates the take of individuals of 39 marine mammal species by Level A harassment and Level B harassment incidental to training and testing activities from the use of sonar and other transducers, inwater detonations, air guns, and impact pile driving/vibratory extraction activities. The Navy requested authorization for nine serious injuries or mortalities combined from four marine mammal stocks during ship shock trials, and four takes of large whales by serious injury or mortality from vessel strikes over the seven-year period. We presented a detailed discussion of marine mammals and their occurrence in the AFTT Study Area, inclusive of important marine mammal habitat (e.g., critical habitat), biologically important areas (BIAs), national marine sanctuaries (NMSs), and unusual mortality events (UMEs) in the 2018 AFTT proposed rule and 2018 AFTT final rule; please see these rules and the 2017 and 2019 Navy applications for additional information. There have been no changes to important marine mammal habitat, BIAs, NMSs, or Endangered Species Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.; ESA) designated critical habitat since the issuance of the 2018 AFTT final rule; therefore the information that supports our determinations here can be found in the 2018 AFTT proposed and final rules. NMFS has reviewed and incorporated into this rule the most recent Stock Assessment Reports (SARs) (Hayes et al., 2019, which can be found E:\FR\FM\23DER2.SGM 23DER2 70731 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 246 / Monday, December 23, 2019 / Rules and Regulations at: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/ national/marine-mammal-protection/ marine-mammal-stock-assessmentreports-region); updated information on relevant UMEs (see below); and new scientific literature (see the Potential Effects of Specified Activities on Marine Mammals and their Habitat section), and determined that none of these nor any other new information changes our determination of which species or stocks have the potential to be affected by the Navy’s activities or the pertinent information in the Description of Marine Mammals and Their Habitat in the Area of the Specified Activities section in the 2018 AFTT proposed and final rules. Therefore, the information presented in those sections of the 2018 proposed and final rules remains current and valid. As described in the 2018 AFTT final rule, the species carried forward for analysis are those likely to be found in the AFTT Study Area based on the most recent data available, and do not include stocks or species that may have once inhabited or transited the area but have not been sighted in recent years and therefore are extremely unlikely to occur in the AFTT Study Area (e.g., species which were extirpated because of factors such as nineteenth and twentieth century commercial exploitation). The species not carried forward for analysis (addressed in more detail in the Description of Marine Mammals and Their Habitat in the Area of the Specified Activities section of the 2018 AFTT final rule) include the bowhead whale, beluga whale, and narwhal, as these would be considered extralimital and are not part of the AFTT Study Area seasonal species assemblage. Additionally, for multiple bottlenose dolphin stocks, there was no potential for overlap with any stressors from Navy activities; therefore, there would be no adverse effects (or takes), and those stocks were not considered further. Specifically, with the exception of the Mississippi Sound, Lake Borgne, Bay Boudreau stock of bottlenose dolphins (which is addressed in the Analysis and Negligible Impact Determination section below), there is no potential for overlap of any Navy stressor with any other bay, sound, or estuary stocks in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Also, the following bottlenose dolphin stocks for the Atlantic do not have any potential for overlap with Navy activity stressors (or take), and therefore are not considered further: Northern South Carolina Estuarine System, Charleston Estuarine System, Northern Georgia/Southern South Carolina Estuarine System, Central Georgia Estuarine System, Southern Georgia Estuarine System, Biscayne Bay, and Florida Bay stocks. For the same reason, bottlenose dolphins off the coasts of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands were also not considered further. TABLE 9—MARINE MAMMALS POTENTIALLY PRESENT IN THE AFTT STUDY AREA Common name Scientific name 1 ESA/MMPA Status 3 Stock 2 Occurrence in AFTT study area 5 Stock Abundance 4 Best/minimum population Open ocean I Large marine ecosystems Inland waters I Order Cetacea Suborder Mysticeti (baleen whales) Family Balaenidae (right whales): Bowhead whale. North Atlantic right whale. lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with RULES2 Family Balaenopteridae (rorquals): Blue whale ............. Bryde’s whale ........ VerDate Sep<11>2014 Balaena mysticetus Eastern CanadaWest Greenland. Endangered, strategic, depleted. 7,660 (4,500– 11,100) 6. Labrador Current Eubalaena glacialis Western .............. Endangered, strategic, depleted. 451 (0)/445 ......... Gulf Stream, Labrador Current, North Atlantic Gyre. Balaenoptera musculus. Western North Atlantic (Gulf of St. Lawrence). Endangered, strategic, depleted. Unknown/440 11 .. Gulf Stream, North Atlantic Gyre, Labrador Current. Balaenoptera brydei/edeni. Northern Gulf of Mexico and NSD 21. Endangered, strategic. 33 (1.07)/16 ........ Gulf Stream, North Atlantic Gyre. 19:56 Dec 20, 2019 Jkt 250001 PO 00000 Frm 00021 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\23DER2.SGM NewfoundlandLabrador Shelf, West Greenland Shelf, Northeast U.S. Continental Shelf. Southeast U.S. Continental Shelf, Northeast U.S. Continental Shelf, Scotian Shelf, NewfoundlandLabrador Shelf, Gulf of Mexico (extralimital). Northeast U.S. Continental Shelf, Scotian Shelf, Newfoundland-Labrador Shelf, Southeast U.S. Continental Shelf, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico (strandings only). Gulf of Mexico .... 23DER2 NA. NA. NA. NA. 70732 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 246 / Monday, December 23, 2019 / Rules and Regulations TABLE 9—MARINE MAMMALS POTENTIALLY PRESENT IN THE AFTT STUDY AREA—Continued Common name Fin whale ............... Scientific name 1 Balaenoptera physalus. ESA/MMPA Status 3 Stock 2 Occurrence in AFTT study area 5 Stock Abundance 4 Best/minimum population Open ocean Large marine ecosystems Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, Southeast U.S. Continental Shelf, Northeast U.S. Continental Shelf, Scotian Shelf, NewfoundlandLabrador Shelf. West Greenland Shelf. NewfoundlandLabrador Shelf, Scotian Shelf. Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea, Southeast U.S. Continental Shelf, Northeast U.S. Continental Shelf, Scotian Shelf, NewfoundlandLabrador Shelf. Caribbean Sea, Southeast U.S. Continental Shelf, Northeast U.S. Continental Shelf, Scotian Shelf, NewfoundlandLabrador Shelf. West Greenland Shelf. Western North Atlantic. Endangered, strategic, depleted. 1,618 ................... (0. 33)/1,234 ....... Gulf Stream, North Atlantic Gyre, Labrador Current. West Greenland .. 4,468 (1,343– 14,871) 9. 328 (306–350) 10 Labrador Current Gulf of St. Lawrence. Endangered, strategic, depleted. Endangered, strategic, depleted. Gulf of St. Lawrence. Humpback whale ... Megaptera novaeangliae. Gulf of Maine ...... NA ....................... 896 (0)/896 ......... Gulf Stream, North Atlantic Gyre, Labrador Current. Minke whale .......... Balaenoptera acutorostrata. Canadian Eastern Coastal. NA ....................... 2,591 (0.81)/ 1,425. Gulf Stream, North Atlantic Gyre, Labrador Current. West Greenland 7 NA ....................... Labrador Current Nova Scotia ........ Endangered, strategic, depleted. 16,609 (range: 7,172–38,461)/ NA 7. 357 (0.52)/236 .... Labrador Sea ...... Endangered, strategic, depleted. Sei whale ............... Balaenoptera borealis. Unknown 8 ........... Gulf Stream, North Atlantic Gyre. Labrador Current Inland waters NA. NA. NA. NA. NA. NA. Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea, Southeast Northeast U.S. Continental Shelf, Scotian Shelf, Newfoundland-Labrador Shelf. NewfoundlandLabrador Shelf, West Greenland Shelf. NA. Southeast U.S. Continental Shelf, Northeast U.S. Continental Shelf, Scotian Shelf, NewfoundlandLabrador Shelf, Caribbean Sea. Gulf of Mexico .... NA. Caribbean Sea .... NA. NA. Family Physeteridae (sperm whale) Suborder Odontoceti (toothed whales) lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with RULES2 Sperm whale ......... VerDate Sep<11>2014 Physeter macrocephalus. 19:56 Dec 20, 2019 North Atlantic ...... Endangered, strategic, depleted. 2,288 (0.28)/ 1,815. Gulf Stream, North Atlantic Gyre, Labrador Current. Northern Gulf of Mexico. Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands. Endangered, strategic, depleted. Endangered, strategic, depleted. 763 (0.38)/560 .... NA ....................... Unknown ............. North Atlantic Gyre. Jkt 250001 PO 00000 Frm 00022 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\23DER2.SGM 23DER2 NA. 70733 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 246 / Monday, December 23, 2019 / Rules and Regulations TABLE 9—MARINE MAMMALS POTENTIALLY PRESENT IN THE AFTT STUDY AREA—Continued Common name Scientific name 1 ESA/MMPA Status 3 Stock 2 Occurrence in AFTT study area 5 Stock Abundance 4 Best/minimum population Open ocean I Large marine ecosystems Inland waters I Family Kogiidae (sperm whales) Pygmy and dwarf sperm whales. Kogia breviceps and Kogia sima. Western North Atlantic. NA ....................... 3,785 (0.47)/ 2,59812. Gulf Stream, North Atlantic Gyre. Northern Gulf of Mexico. NA ....................... 186 (1.04)/9012 ... NA ....................... Southeast U.S. Continental Shelf, Northeast U.S. Continental Shelf, Scotian Shelf, NewfoundlandLabrador Shelf, Caribbean Sea. Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea. NA. West Greenland Shelf. West Greenland Shelf. NewfoundlandLabrador Shelf, West Greenland Shelf. NA. Southeast U.S. Continental Shelf, Northeast U.S. Continental Shelf, Scotian Shelf, NewfoundlandLabrador Shelf. Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea. Southeast U.S. Continental Shelf, Northeast U.S. Continental Shelf, Scotian Shelf, NewfoundlandLabrador Shelf. Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea. Caribbean Sea .... NA. NA. Family Monodontidae (beluga whale and narwhal) Beluga whale ......... Narwhal ................. Delphinapterus leucas. Eastern High Arctic/Baffin Bay 13. West Greenland 14. NA 15 ................... Monodon monoceros. NA ....................... NA ....................... NA ....................... 21,213 (10,985– 32,619) 13. 10,595 (4.904– 24,650) 14. NA 15 ................... Labrador Current NA ....................... NA ....................... NA. NA. Family Ziphiidae (beaked whales) Blainville’s beaked whale. Cuvier’s beaked whale. Ziphius cavirostris .. Gervais’ beaked whale. lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with RULES2 Mesoplodon densirostris. Mesoplodon europaeus. Western North Atlantic 16. NA ....................... 7,092 (0.54)/ 4,63217. Gulf Stream, North Atlantic Gyre, Labrador Current. Northern Gulf of Mexico. Western North Atlantic 16. NA ....................... 149 (0.91)/77 18 ... NA ....................... NA ....................... 6,532 (0.32)/ 5,021. Gulf Stream, North Atlantic Gyre. Northern Gulf of Mexico 16. Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands. Western North Atlantic 16. NA ....................... 74 (1.04)/36 ........ NA ....................... Strategic .............. Unknown ............. NA ....................... NA ....................... 7,092 (0.54)/ 4,632 17. Gulf Stream, North Atlantic Gyre. Northern Gulf of Mexico 16. NA ....................... 149 (0.91)/77 18 ... Gulf Stream, North Atlantic Gyre. Gulf Stream, North Atlantic Gyre, Labrador Current. Northern bottlenose whale. Hyperoodon ampullatus. Western North Atlantic. NA ....................... Unknown ............. Sowerby’s beaked whale. Mesoplodon bidens Western North Atlantic 16. NA ....................... 7,092 (0.54)/ 4,632 17. VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:56 Dec 20, 2019 Jkt 250001 PO 00000 Frm 00023 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 Gulf Stream, North Atlantic Gyre. E:\FR\FM\23DER2.SGM Southeast U.S. Continental Shelf, Northeast United States Continental Shelf. Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea. Northeast U.S. Continental Shelf, Scotian Shelf, Newfoundland-Labrador Shelf. Northeast U.S. Continental Shelf, Scotian Shelf, Newfoundland-Labrador Shelf. 23DER2 NA. NA. NA. NA. NA. NA. NA. NA. 70734 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 246 / Monday, December 23, 2019 / Rules and Regulations TABLE 9—MARINE MAMMALS POTENTIALLY PRESENT IN THE AFTT STUDY AREA—Continued Common name True’s beaked whale. Scientific name 1 Mesoplodon mirus ESA/MMPA Status 3 Stock 2 Western North Atlantic 16. NA ....................... Occurrence in AFTT study area 5 Stock Abundance 4 Best/minimum population 7,092 (0.54)/ 4,632 17. Open ocean Large marine ecosystems Gulf Stream, North Atlantic Gyre. Southeast U.S. Continental Shelf, Northeast U.S. Continental Shelf, Scotian Shelf, NewfoundlandLabrador Shelf. NA. Southeast U.S. Continental Shelf, Northeast U.S. Continental Shelf. Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea. Caribbean Sea .... NA. Inland waters Family Delphinidae (dolphins) Atlantic spotted dolphin. Atlantic white-sided dolphin. Lagenorhynchus acutus. Clymene dolphin ... Stenella clymene ... Common bottlenose dolphin. lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with RULES2 Stenella frontalis .... Tursiops truncatus Western North Atlantic 16. NA ....................... 44,715 (0.43)/ 31,610. Gulf Stream ........ Northern Gulf of Mexico. Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands. Western North Atlantic. NA ....................... Unknown ............. NA ....................... Strategic .............. Unknown ............. NA ....................... NA ....................... 48,819 (0.61)/ 30,403. Gulf Stream, Labrador Current. Western North Atlantic 16. NA ....................... Unknown ............. Gulf Stream ........ Northern Gulf of Mexico 16. Western North Atlantic Offshore 19. NA ....................... 129 (1.0)/64 ........ NA ....................... NA ....................... 77,532 (0.40)/ 56,053. Gulf Stream, North Atlantic Gyre. Western North Atlantic Northern Migratory Coastal 20. Strategic, depleted. 6,639 (0.41)/ 4,759. NA ....................... Western North Atlantic Southern Migratory Coastal 20. Strategic, depleted. 3,751 (0.06)/ 2,353. NA ....................... Southeast U.S. Continental Shelf. Western North Atlantic South Carolina/Georgia Coastal 20. Northern North Carolina Estuarine System 20. Strategic, depleted. 6,027 (0.34)/ 4,569. NA ....................... Southeast U.S. Continental Shelf. Strategic .............. 823 (0.06)/782 .... NA ....................... Strategic .............. Unknown ............. NA ....................... Strategic .............. Unknown ............. NA ....................... Strategic .............. Unknown ............. NA ....................... Southeast U.S. Continental Shelf, Northeast U.S. Continental Shelf. Southeast U.S. Continental Shelf. Southeast U.S. Continental Shelf. Southeast U.S. Continental Shelf. Southern North Carolina Estuarine System 20. Northern South Carolina Estuarine System 20. Charleston Estuarine System 20. VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:56 Dec 20, 2019 Jkt 250001 PO 00000 Frm 00024 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\23DER2.SGM Northeast U.S. Continental Shelf, Scotian Shelf, Newfoundland-Labrador Shelf. Southeast U.S. Continental Shelf, Northeast U.S. Continental Shelf. Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea. Southeast U.S. Continental Shelf, Northeast U.S. Continental Shelf, Scotian Shelf. Southeast U.S. Continental Shelf, Northeast U.S. Continental Shelf. 23DER2 NA. NA. NA. NA. NA. NA. Long Island Sound, Sandy Hook Bay, Lower Chesapeake Bay, James River, Elizabeth River. Lower Chesapeake Bay, James River, Elizabeth River, Beaufort Inlet, Cape Fear River, Kings Bay, St. Johns River. Kings Bay, St. Johns River. Beaufort Inlet, Cape Fear River. Beaufort Inlet, Cape Fear River. NA. NA. 70735 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 246 / Monday, December 23, 2019 / Rules and Regulations TABLE 9—MARINE MAMMALS POTENTIALLY PRESENT IN THE AFTT STUDY AREA—Continued Common name Scientific name 1 ESA/MMPA Status 3 Stock 2 Northern Georgia/ Southern South Carolina Estuarine System 20. Central Georgia Estuarine System 20. Southern Georgia Estuarine System 20. Western North Atlantic Northern Florida Coastal 20. Jacksonville Estuarine System 20. Western North Atlantic Central Florida Coastal 20. Indian River Lagoon Estuarine System 20. Biscayne Bay 16 .. Florida Bay 16 ...... Northern Gulf of Mexico Continental Shelf 20. Gulf of Mexico Eastern Coastal 20. Gulf of Mexico Northern Coastal 20. Gulf of Mexico Western Coastal 20. Northern Gulf of Mexico Oceanic 20. Laguna Madre 20 lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with RULES2 Nueces Bay/Corpus Christi Bay 20. Copano Bay/ Aransas Bay/ San Antonio Bay/Redfish Bay/Espiritu Santo Bay 20. Matagorda Bay/ Tres Palacios Bay/Lavaca Bay 20. West Bay 20 ......... Galveston Bay/ East Bay/Trinity Bay 20. Sabine Lake 20 .... Calcasieu Lake 20 Vermilion Bay/ West Cote Blanche Bay/ Atchafalaya Bay 20. Terrebonne Bay/ Timbalier Bay 20. Barataria Bay Estuarine System 20. Mississippi River Delta 20. VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:56 Dec 20, 2019 Jkt 250001 PO 00000 Occurrence in AFTT study area 5 Stock Abundance 4 Large marine ecosystems Best/minimum population Open ocean Strategic .............. Unknown ............. NA ....................... Southeast U.S. Continental Shelf. NA. Strategic .............. 192 (0.04)/185 .... NA ....................... NA. Strategic .............. 194 (0.05)/185 .... NA ....................... Strategic, depleted. 877 (0.49)/595 .... NA ....................... Southeast U.S. Continental Shelf. Southeast U.S. Continental Shelf. Southeast U.S. Continental Shelf. Strategic .............. Unknown ............. NA ....................... Strategic, depleted. 1,218 (0.35)/913 NA ....................... Strategic .............. Unknown ............. NA ....................... Strategic .............. Unknown ............. NA ....................... NA ....................... NA ....................... Unknown ............. 51,192 (0.10)/ 46,926. NA ....................... Southeast U.S. Continental Shelf. Southeast U.S. Continental Shelf. Inland waters Kings Bay, St. Johns River. Kings Bay, St. Johns River. Kings Bay, St. Johns River. Port Canaveral. NA ....................... NA ....................... Southeast U.S. Continental Shelf. Southeast U.S. Continental Shelf. Gulf of Mexico .... Gulf of Mexico .... NA. NA. 12,388 (0.13)/ 11,110. NA ....................... Gulf of Mexico .... NA. NA ....................... 7,185 (0.21)/ 6,044. NA ....................... Gulf of Mexico .... NA ....................... 20,161 (0.17)/ 17,491. NA ....................... Gulf of Mexico .... NA ....................... 5,806 (0.39)/ 4,230. NA ....................... Gulf of Mexico .... St. Andrew Bay, Pascagoula River. Corpus Christi Bay, Galveston Bay. NA. Strategic .............. 80 (1.57)/Unknown. 58 (0.61)/Unknown. NA ....................... Gulf of Mexico .... NA. NA ....................... Gulf of Mexico .... NA. Strategic .............. Port Canaveral. NA. Strategic .............. 55 (0.82)/Unknown. NA ....................... Gulf of Mexico .... NA. Strategic .............. 61 (0.45)/Unknown. NA ....................... Gulf of Mexico .... NA. NA ....................... 32 (0.015)/Unknown. 152 (0.43)/Unknown. NA ....................... Gulf of Mexico .... NA. NA ....................... Gulf of Mexico .... NA. Strategic .............. Strategic .............. Strategic .............. 0 .......................... 0 .......................... 0 .......................... NA ....................... NA ....................... NA ....................... Gulf of Mexico .... Gulf of Mexico .... Gulf of Mexico .... NA. NA. NA. NA ....................... 3,870 (0.15)/ 3,426. 2,306 (0.09)/ 2,138. NA ....................... Gulf of Mexico .... NA. NA ....................... Gulf of Mexico .... NA. NA ....................... Gulf of Mexico .... NA. Strategic .............. Strategic .............. Strategic .............. Frm 00025 Fmt 4701 332 (0.93)/170 .... Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\23DER2.SGM 23DER2 70736 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 246 / Monday, December 23, 2019 / Rules and Regulations TABLE 9—MARINE MAMMALS POTENTIALLY PRESENT IN THE AFTT STUDY AREA—Continued Common name Scientific name 1 ESA/MMPA Status 3 Stock 2 Mississippi Sound, Lake Borgne, Bay Boudreau 20. Mobile Bay/ Bonsecour Bay 20. Perdido Bay 20 .... Pensacola Bay/ East Bay 20. Choctawhatchee Bay 20. St. Andrew Bay 20 Fraser’s dolphin ..... lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with RULES2 Open ocean Large marine ecosystems Inland waters Strategic .............. 3,046 (0.06)/ 2,896. NA ....................... Gulf of Mexico .... NA. Strategic .............. 122 (0.34)/Unknown. NA ....................... Gulf of Mexico .... NA. Strategic .............. Strategic .............. 0 .......................... 33 (0.80)/Unknown. 179 (0.04)/Unknown. 124 (0.57)/Unknown. 152 (0.08)/Unknown. 439 (0.14)/Unknown. NA ....................... NA ....................... Gulf of Mexico .... Gulf of Mexico .... NA. NA. NA ....................... Gulf of Mexico .... NA. NA ....................... Gulf of Mexico .... NA. NA ....................... Gulf of Mexico .... NA. NA ....................... Gulf of Mexico .... NA. NA ....................... Gulf of Mexico .... NA. NA ....................... Gulf of Mexico .... NA. Strategic .............. Strategic .............. Strategic .............. St. Vincent Sound/Apalachicola Bay/ St. George Sound 20. Apalachee Bay 20 Strategic .............. Strategic .............. Strategic .............. Unknown ............. NA ....................... Gulf of Mexico .... NA. Strategic .............. NA ....................... Unknown ............. 158 (0.27)/126 .... NA ....................... NA ....................... Gulf of Mexico .... Gulf of Mexico .... NA. NA. Strategic .............. 826 (0.09)/Unknown. NA ....................... Gulf of Mexico .... NA. Strategic .............. 0 .......................... NA ....................... Gulf of Mexico .... NA. Strategic .............. Strategic .............. Unknown ............. Unknown ............. NA ....................... NA ....................... Gulf of Mexico .... Gulf of Mexico .... NA. NA. Strategic .............. Strategic .............. Unknown ............. Unknown ............. NA ....................... NA ....................... Gulf of Mexico .... Gulf of Mexico .... NA. NA. Strategic .............. Unknown ............. NA ....................... Caribbean Sea .... NA. Pseudorca crassidens. Waccasassa Bay/ Withlacoochee Bay/Crystal Bay 20. St. Joseph Sound/Clearwater Harbor 20. Tampa Bay 20 ...... Sarasota Bay/Little Sarasota Bay 20. Pine Island Sound/Charlotte Harbor/ Gasparilla Sound/Lemon Bay 20. Caloosahatchee River 20. Estero Bay 20 ...... Chokoloskee Bay/ Ten Thousand Islands/Gullivan Bay 20. Whitewater Bay 20 Florida Keys (Bahia Honda to Key West) 20. Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands. Western North Atlantic 22. 491 (0.39)/Unknown. Unknown ............. Strategic .............. 442 (1.06)/212 .... NA ....................... NA. NA ....................... Unknown ............. NA ....................... Lagenodelphis hosei. Northern Gulf of Mexico 16. Western North Atlantic 23. NA ....................... Unknown ............. Gulf Stream ........ NA ....................... Unknown ............. NA ....................... Southeast U.S. Continental Shelf, Northeast U.S. Continental Shelf. Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea. Northeast U.S. Continental Shelf, Southeast U.S. Continental Shelf. Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea. Northern Gulf of Mexico 16. VerDate Sep<11>2014 Best/minimum population Bay 20 St. Joseph False killer whale .. Occurrence in AFTT study area 5 Stock Abundance 4 19:56 Dec 20, 2019 Jkt 250001 PO 00000 Strategic .............. Frm 00026 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\23DER2.SGM 23DER2 NA. NA. NA. 70737 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 246 / Monday, December 23, 2019 / Rules and Regulations TABLE 9—MARINE MAMMALS POTENTIALLY PRESENT IN THE AFTT STUDY AREA—Continued Common name Killer Whale ........... Orcinus orca .......... Long-finned pilot whale. Globicephala melas Melon-headed Whale. Peponocephala electra. Pantropical spotted-dolphin. Stenella attenuate .. Pygmy Killer Whales. Feresa attenuata ... Risso’s dolphin ...... Rough-toothed dolphin. Short-finned pilot whale. Striped dolphin ...... VerDate Sep<11>2014 Grampus griseus ... Steno bredanensis Globicephala macrorhynchus. Spinner dolphin ..... lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with RULES2 Scientific name 1 Stenella longirostris Stenella coeruleoalba. 19:56 Dec 20, 2019 ESA/MMPA Status 3 Stock 2 Occurrence in AFTT study area 5 Stock Abundance 4 Best/minimum population Open ocean Large marine ecosystems Southeast U.S. Continental Shelf, Northeast United States Continental Shelf, Scotian Shelf, NewfoundlandLabrador Shelf. Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea. Northeast U.S. Continental Shelf, Scotian Shelf, Newfoundland-Labrador Shelf. Southeast U.S. Continental Shelf. Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea. Southeast U.S. Continental Shelf, Northeast U.S. Continental Shelf. Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea. Southeast U.S. Continental Shelf. Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea. Southeast U.S. Continental Shelf, Northeast United States Continental Shelf, Scotian Shelf, NewfoundlandLabrador Shelf. Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea. Caribbean Sea Southeast U.S. Continental Shelf, Northeast U.S. Continental Shelf. Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea. Northeast Continental Shelf, Southeast U.S. Continental Shelf. Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea. Caribbean Sea .... Western North Atlantic 22. NA ....................... Unknown ............. Gulf Stream, North Atlantic Gyre, Labrador Current. Northern Gulf of Mexico 16. Western North Atlantic. NA ....................... 28 (1.02)/14 ........ NA ....................... NA ....................... 5,636 (0.63)/ 3,464. Gulf Stream ........ Western North Atlantic 23. NA ....................... Unknown ............. Northern Gulf of Mexico 16. Western North Atlantic 16. NA ....................... 2,235 (0.75)/ 1,274. 3,333 (0.91)/ 1,733. Gulf Stream, North Atlantic Gyre. NA ....................... NA ....................... NA ....................... 50,880 (0.27)/ 40,699. Unknown ............. NA ....................... 152 (1.02)/75 ...... NA ....................... 18,250 (0.46)/ 12,619. Gulf Stream, North Atlantic Gyre. Northern Gulf of Mexico. Western North Atlantic 16. NA ....................... NA ....................... NA ....................... 2,442 (0.57)/ 1,563. 136 (1.00)/67 ...... Northern Gulf of Mexico. Western North Atlantic. NA ....................... 624 (0.99)/311 .... NA ....................... NA ....................... 28,924 (0.24)/ 23,637. NA ....................... NA ....................... NA ....................... Strategic .............. 2,415 (0.66)/ 1,456. Unknown ............. NA ....................... Unknown ............. Gulf Stream, North Atlantic Gyre. NA ....................... 11,441 (0.83)/ 6,221. Unknown ............. NA ....................... Northern Gulf of Mexico 22. Western North Atlantic 16. Northern Gulf of Mexico 16. Western North Atlantic. Northern Gulf of Mexico 22. Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands. Western North Atlantic 16. Northern Gulf of Mexico 16. Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands. Western North Atlantic 16. Jkt 250001 PO 00000 NA ....................... Gulf Stream ........ Strategic .............. NA ....................... Frm 00027 Fmt 4701 54,807 (0.30)/ 42,804. Sfmt 4700 NA ....................... Gulf Stream, North Atlantic Gyre. NA ....................... Gulf Stream, North Atlantic Gyre. NA ....................... NA ....................... Gulf Stream ........ E:\FR\FM\23DER2.SGM Southeast U.S. Continental Shelf, Northeast U.S. Continental Shelf. Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea. Caribbean Sea .... Northeast U.S. Continental Shelf, Scotian Shelf. 23DER2 Inland waters NA. NA. NA. NA. NA. NA. NA. NA. NA. NA. NA. NA. NA. NA. NA. NA. NA. NA. NA. NA. 70738 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 246 / Monday, December 23, 2019 / Rules and Regulations TABLE 9—MARINE MAMMALS POTENTIALLY PRESENT IN THE AFTT STUDY AREA—Continued Common name Scientific name 1 Short-beaked common dolphin. Delphinus delphis .. White-beaked dolphin. Lagenorhynchus, albirostris. ESA/MMPA Status 3 Stock 2 Northern Gulf of Mexico 16. Western North Atlantic. Western North Atlantic 23. NA ....................... NA ....................... NA ....................... Occurrence in AFTT study area 5 Stock Abundance 4 Best/minimum population 1,849 (0.77)/ 1,041. 70,184 (0.28)/ 55,690. 2,003 (0.94)/ 1,023. Open ocean Large marine ecosystems NA ....................... Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea. Southeast U.S. Continental Shelf, Northeast U.S. Continental Shelf, Scotian Shelf, NewfoundlandLabrador Shelf. Northeast U.S. Continental Shelf, Scotian Shelf, Newfoundland-Labrador Shelf. Gulf Stream ........ Labrador Current Inland waters NA. NA. NA. Family Phocoenidae (porpoises) Harbor porpoise .... Phocoena phocoena. Gulf of Maine/Bay of Fundy. NA ....................... 79,883 (0.32)/ 61,415. NA ....................... Northeast U.S. Continental Shelf, Scotian Shelf, Newfoundland-Labrador Shelf. Gulf of St. Lawrence 24. NA ....................... Unknown 24 ......... Labrador Current Newfoundland 25 NA ....................... Unknown 25 ......... Labrador Current Greenland 26 ....... NA ....................... Unknown 26 ......... Labrador Current Northeast U.S. Continental Shelf, Scotian Shelf, Newfoundland-Labrador Shelf. Northeast U.S. Continental Shelf, Scotian Shelf, Newfoundland-Labrador Shelf. Northeast U.S. Continental Shelf, Scotian Shelf, Newfoundland-Labrador Shelf, West Greenland Shelf. Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island Sound, Block Island Sound, Buzzards Bay, Vineyard Sound, Long Island Sound, Piscataqua River, Thames River, Kennebec River. NA. NA. NA. Order Carnivora Suborder Pinnipedia lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with RULES2 Family Phocidae (true seals): Gray seal ............... VerDate Sep<11>2014 Halichoerus grypus 19:56 Dec 20, 2019 Western North Atlantic. Jkt 250001 PO 00000 NA ....................... Frm 00028 Fmt 4701 27,131 (0.19)/ 23,158. Sfmt 4700 NA ....................... E:\FR\FM\23DER2.SGM Northeast U.S. Continental Shelf, Scotian Shelf, Newfoundland-Labrador Shelf. 23DER2 Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island Sound, Block Island Sound, Buzzards Bay, Vineyard Sound, Long Island Sound, Piscataqua River, Thames River, Kennebeck River. 70739 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 246 / Monday, December 23, 2019 / Rules and Regulations TABLE 9—MARINE MAMMALS POTENTIALLY PRESENT IN THE AFTT STUDY AREA—Continued lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with RULES2 Common name Scientific name 1 ESA/MMPA Status 3 Stock 2 Occurrence in AFTT study area 5 Stock Abundance 4 Best/minimum population Open ocean Large marine ecosystems Inland waters Chesapeake Bay, Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island Sound, Block Island Sound, Buzzards Bay, Vineyard Sound, Long Island Sound, Piscataqua River, Thames River, Kennebeck River. NA. Harbor seal ............ Phoca vitulina ........ Western North Atlantic. NA ....................... 75,834 (0.15)/ 66,884. NA ....................... Southeast U.S. Continental Shelf, Northeast U.S. Continental Shelf, Scotian Shelf, NewfoundlandLabrador Shelf. Harp seal ............... Pagophilus groenlandicus. Western North Atlantic. NA ....................... Unknown ............. NA ....................... Hooded seal .......... Cystophora cristata Western North Atlantic. NA ....................... Unknown ............. NA ....................... Northeast U.S. Continental Shelf, Scotian Shelf, Newfoundland-Labrador Shelf. Southeast U.S. Continental Shelf, Northeast U.S. Continental Shelf, Scotian Shelf, NewfoundlandLabrador Shelf, West Greenland Shelf. Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island Sound, Block Island Sound, Buzzards Bay, Vineyard Sound, Long Island Sound, Piscataqua River, Thames River, Kennebec River. Notes: CV coefficient of variation; ESA: Endangered Species Act; MMPA: Marine Mammal Protection Act; NA: not applicable. 1 Taxonomy follows (Committee on Taxonomy, 2016). 2 Stock designations for the U.S. EEZ and abundance estimates are from Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico SARs prepared by NMFS (Hayes et al., 2019) and the final 2018 SARs, unless specifically noted. 3 Populations or stocks defined by the MMPA as ‘‘strategic’’ for one of the following reasons: (1) the level of direct human-caused mortality exceeds the potential biological removal level; (2) based on the best available scientific information, numbers are declining and species are likely to be listed as threatened species under the ESA within the foreseeable future; (3) species are listed as threatened or endangered under the ESA; (4) species are designated as depleted under the MMPA. 4 Stock abundance, CV, and minimum population are numbers provided by the Stock Assessment Reports (SARs; Hayes et al., 2019). The stock abundance is an estimate of the number of animals within the stock. The CV is a statistical metric used as an indicator of the uncertainty in the abundance estimate. The minimum population estimate is either a direct count (e.g., pinnipeds on land) or the lower 20th percentile of a statistical abundance estimate. 5 Occurrence in the AFTT Study Area includes open ocean areas—Labrador Current, North Atlantic Gyre, Gulf Stream, and coastal/shelf waters of seven large marine ecosystems—West Greenland Shelf, Newfoundland-Labrador Shelf, Scotian Shelf, and Northeast U.S. Continental Shelf, Southeast U.S. Continental Shelf, Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, and inland waters of Kennebec River, Piscataqua River, Thames River, Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island Sound, Block Island Sound, Buzzards Bay, Vineyard Sound, Long Island Sound, Sandy Hook Bay, Lower Chesapeake Bay, James River, Elizabeth River, Beaufort Inlet, Cape Fear River, Kings Bay, St. Johns River, Port Canaveral, St. Andrew Bay, Pascagoula River, Sabine Lake, Corpus Christi Bay, and Galveston Bay. 6 The bowhead whale population off the West Coast of Greenland is not managed by NMFS and, therefore, does not have an associated Stock Assessment Report. Abundance and 95 percent highest density interval were presented in (Frasier et al., 2015). 7 The West Greenland stock of minke whales is not managed by NMFS and, therefore, does not have an associated Stock Assessment Report. Abundance and 95 percent confidence interval were presented in (Heide-J<rgensen et al., 2010). 8 The Labrador Sea stock of sei whales is not managed by NMFS and, therefore, does not have an associated Stock Assessment Report. Information was obtained in (Prieto et al., 2014). 9 The West Greenland stock of fin whales is not managed by NMFS and, therefore, does not have an associated Stock Assessment Report. Abundance and 95 percent confidence interval were presented in (Heide-J<rgensen et al., 2010). 10 The Gulf of St. Lawrence stock of fin whales is not managed by NMFS and, therefore, does not have an associated Stock Assessment Report. Abundance and 95 percent confidence interval were presented in (Ramp et al., 2014). 11 Photo identification catalogue count of 440 recognizable blue whale individuals from the Gulf of St. Lawrence is considered a minimum population estimate for the western North Atlantic stock (Waring et al., 2010). 12 Estimates include both the pygmy and dwarf sperm whales in the western North Atlantic (Waring et al., 2014) and the northern Gulf of Mexico (Waring et al., 2013). 13 Beluga whales in the Atlantic are not managed by NMFS and have no associated Stock Assessment Report. Abundance and 95 percent confidence interval for the Eastern High Arctic/Baffin Bay stock were presented in (Innes et al., 2002). 14 Beluga whales in the Atlantic are not managed by NMFS and have no associated Stock Assessment Report. Abundance and 95 percent confidence interval for the West Greenland stock were presented in (Heide-J<rgensen et al., 2009). 15 NA = Not applicable. Narwhals in the Atlantic are not managed by NMFS and have no associated Stock Assessment Report. 16 Estimates for these western North Atlantic stocks are from Waring et al. (2014) and the northern Gulf of Mexico stock are from (Waring et al., 2013) as applicable. 17 Estimate includes undifferentiated Mesoplodon species. 18 Estimate includes Gervais’ and Blainville’s beaked whales. 19 Estimate may include sightings of the coastal form. 20 Estimates for these Gulf of Mexico stocks are from SARs. 21 These Bryde’s whales span the mid- and southern Atlantic and have not been designated as a stock (NSD) under the MMPA and therefore have no associated Stock Assessment Report. 22 Estimates for these stocks are from Waring et al., (2015). 23 Estimates for these western North Atlantic stocks are from (Waring et al., 2007). 24 Harbor porpoise in the Gulf of St. Lawrence are not managed by NMFS and have no associated Stock Assessment Report. 25 Harbor porpoise in Newfoundland are not managed by NMFS and have no associated Stock Assessment Report. 26 Harbor porpoise in Greenland are not managed by NMFS and have no associated Stock Assessment Report. VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:56 Dec 20, 2019 Jkt 250001 PO 00000 Frm 00029 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\23DER2.SGM 23DER2 70740 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 246 / Monday, December 23, 2019 / Rules and Regulations lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with RULES2 Unusual Mortality Events (UMEs) An UME is defined under section 410(6) of the MMPA as a stranding that is unexpected; involves a significant die-off of any marine mammal population; and demands immediate response. The six active UMEs with ongoing investigations in the AFTT Study Area that inform our analysis are discussed below. The impacts to Barataria Bay bottlenose dolphins from the closed Northern Gulf of Mexico UME (discussed in the 2018 AFTT proposed rule) associated with the Deep Water Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico are thought to be persistent and continue to inform population analyses. The other more recent UMEs closed several years ago, and little is known about how the effects of those events might be appropriately applied to an impact assessment several years later. North Atlantic Right Whale (NARW) UME NOAA declared an UME for NARWs from January 1, 2017, to the present. The current total number of mortalities included in the event is approximately 30 whales, including potentially 21 NARW carcasses (1 carcass from 2019 is currently unconfirmed) from Canada in 2017 and 2019 and nine carcasses in the United States (5 in 2017; 3 in 2018; 1 in 2019). In 2017, 17 right whale mortalities were documented, in 2018, three right whale mortalities were documented, and in the summer and fall of 2019 (as of October 24, 2019) an additional 10 right whale mortalities have been documented (9 confirmed, 1 unconfirmed). Of the 12 NARW carcasses found in Canadian waters in 2017, six were necropsied and died as a direct result of human activities (either confirmed, probable, or suspect), from either rope entanglements (2) or vessel strikes (4) (Daoust et al., 2017). Of the eight carcasses found in U.S. waters in 2017–2018, the cause of death was determined in six whales, with deaths attributable to either rope entanglement (5) or vessel strikes (1) (Sharp et al., 2019). Eight carcasses were not able to be examined. Of the 10 whales documented in 2019, 8 carcasses were able to be examined at some level. Of the examined whales, three had evidence of vessel strikes and one had evidence of entanglement, the results from the remaining four whales are pending. Daoust et al. (2018) also concluded there were no oil and gas seismic surveys authorized in the months prior to or during the period over which these mortalities occurred, as well as no blasting or major marine development projects. Navy was VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:56 Dec 20, 2019 Jkt 250001 consulted as to sonar use and they confirmed none was used in the vicinity of any of the strandings. As part of the UME investigation process for NARW, NOAA assembled an independent team of scientists (Investigative Team) that coordinates with the Working Group on Marine Mammal Unusual Mortality Events to review the data collected, sample future whales that strand, and determine the next steps for the investigation. For more information on this UME, please refer to https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/ national/marine-life-distress/2017-2019north-atlantic-right-whale-unusualmortality-event#causes-of-the-northatlantic-right-whale-ume. While data are not yet available to statistically estimate the population’s trend beyond 2015, three lines of evidence indicate the population is still in decline. First, calving rates in 2016, 2017, and 2018 were low. Only five new calves were documented in 2017 (Pettis et al., 2017a), well below the number needed to compensate for expected mortalities (Pace et al., 2017), and no new calves were reported for 2018. Long-term photographic identification data indicate new calves rarely go undetected, so these years likely represent a continuation of the low calving rates that began in 2012 (Kraus et al., 2007; Pace et al., 2017). So far in 2019, seven calves have been documented. Second, the abundance estimate for 2016 is 451 individuals, down approximately 1.5 percent from 458 in 2015. Third, since January, 2017, approximately 30 NARWs have died in what has been declared an UME as discussed above (Meyer-Gutbrod et al., 2018; NMFS, 2017). Humpback Whale UME Along the Atlantic Coast NOAA declared an UME for humpback whales from January 1, 2016, to the present, along the Atlantic coast from Maine through Florida. As of October 24, 2019, 107 humpback strandings have occurred (26, 34, 25, and 22 whales in 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 respectively). As of April 2019, partial or full necropsy examinations have been conducted on 43 cases, or approximately half of the 92 strandings (at that time). Of the 43 whales examined, approximately 20 had evidence of blunt force trauma or premortem propeller wounds indicative of vessel strike and approximately 6 had evidence of entanglements. NOAA, in coordination with our stranding network partners, continues to investigate the recent mortalities and environmental conditions, and conduct population monitoring to better PO 00000 Frm 00030 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 understand the recent humpback whale mortalities. At this time, vessel parameters (including size) are not known for each vessel-whale collision that led to the death of a whale. Therefore, NOAA considers all sizes of vessels to be a potential risk for whale species in highly trafficked areas. The Navy has investigated potential strikes and confirmed that it had none. Please refer to https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/ national/marine-life-distress/2016-2019humpback-whale-unusual-mortalityevent-along-atlantic-coast for more information on this UME. Minke Whale UME Along the Atlantic Coast NOAA declared an UME for minke whales from January 1, 2017, to the present, along the Atlantic coast from Maine through Florida. As of October 24, 2019, 75 strandings have occurred (27, 30, and 18 whales in 2017, 2018 and 2019, respectively). As of April 1, 2019, full or partial necropsy examinations have been conducted on 33 whales. Preliminary findings on several of the whales have shown evidence of human interactions, primarily fisheries interactions, or infectious disease. These findings are not consistent across all of the whales examined, and final diagnostic results are still pending for many of the cases. Please refer to https:// www.fisheries.noaa.gov/national/ marine-life-distress/2017-2019-minkewhale-unusual-mortality-event-alongatlantic-coast for more information on this UME. Northeast Pinniped UME Along the Atlantic Coast NOAA declared an UME on August 30, 2018, due to increased numbers of harbor seal and gray seal strandings along the U.S. coasts of Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts during July and August of 2018. Strandings remained elevated in these three states and expanded south to Virginia primarily in late 2018 to early 2019 with additional cases on-going throughout 2019. In December 2018 and early 2019, harp and hooded seals began stranding as these seals migrated from Canada into U.S. waters and have been included in the investigation. From July 1, 2018, to October 24, 2019, 2,964 seals have stranded with approximately 95 percent of the seals stranding in Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts. Full or partial necropsy examinations have been conducted on many of the seals and samples have been collected for testing. Based on testing conducted so far, the main pathogen found in the seals is phocine distemper virus, with E:\FR\FM\23DER2.SGM 23DER2 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 246 / Monday, December 23, 2019 / Rules and Regulations most positive cases stranded in 2018 and early 2019. Active phocine distemper virus infections have only been detected in harbor and gray seals to date. Please refer to https:// www.fisheries.noaa.gov/new-englandmid-atlantic/marine-life-distress/20182019-pinniped-unusual-mortality-eventalong for more information on this UME. Southwest Florida Bottlenose Dolphin UME Along the Gulf of Mexico NOAA declared an UME in the summer of 2018 due to elevated bottlenose dolphin mortalities occurring along the Southwest coast of Florida including Collier, Lee, Charlotte, Sarasota, Manatee, Hillsborough, and Pinellas counties. From July 1, 2018, to October 24, 2019, 193 dolphins have been confirmed stranded in this event. Stranding network partners have conducted full or partial necropsy examinations on several dolphins, with positive results for the red tide toxin (brevetoxin) indicating this UME is primarily related to the severe bloom of a red tide that occurred in the area from November, 2017 through February, 2019. Please refer to https:// www.fisheries.noaa.gov/southeast/ marine-life-distress/2018-2019bottlenose-dolphin-unusual-mortalityevent-southwest for more information on this UME. lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with RULES2 Bottlenose Dolphin UME Along the Northern Gulf of Mexico NMFS declared an UME in the spring of 2019 due to elevated bottlenose dolphin strandings occurring in the Northern Gulf of Mexico including Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and the panhandle of Florida (Alabama border through Franklin County). From February 1, 2019 to October 24, 2019, 320 dolphins have stranded, which is approximately three times higher than the average. Testing is underway of tissue samples for morbillivirus, harmful algal bloom toxins and other common causes of stranding. Please refer to https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/ national/marine-life-distress/2019bottlenose-dolphin-unusual-mortalityevent-along-northern-gulf for more information on this UME. Potential Effects of Specified Activities on Marine Mammals and Their Habitat We provided a full discussion of the potential effects of the specified activities on marine mammals and their habitat in our 2018 AFTT proposed rule and 2018 AFTT final rule. In the Potential Effects of Specified Activities on Marine Mammals and Their Habitat sections of the 2018 AFTT proposed and VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:56 Dec 20, 2019 Jkt 250001 final rules, NMFS provided a description of the ways marine mammals may be affected by the same activities that the Navy will be conducting during the seven-year period analyzed in this rule in the form of serious injury or mortality, physical trauma, sensory impairment (permanent and temporary threshold shifts and acoustic masking), physiological responses (particularly stress responses), behavioral disturbance, or habitat effects. Therefore, we do not repeat the information here, all of which remains current and applicable, but refer the reader to those rules and the 2018 AFTT FEIS/OEIS (Chapter 3, Section 3.7 Marine Mammals) which NMFS participated in the development of via our cooperating agency status and adopted to meet our NEPA requirements. NMFS has reviewed new relevant information from the scientific literature since publication of the 2018 AFTT final rule. Summaries of new scientific literature since publication of the 2018 AFTT final rule are presented below. Southall et al. (2019a) evaluated Southall et al. (2007) and used updated scientific information to propose revised noise exposure criteria to predict onset of auditory effects in marine mammals (i.e., PTS and TTS onset). Southall et al. (2019a) note that the quantitative processes described and the resulting exposure criteria (i.e., thresholds and auditory weighting functions) are largely identical to those in Finneran (2016) and NOAA (2016 and 2018). However they differ in that the Southall et al. (2019a) exposure criteria are more broadly applicable as they include all marine mammal species (rather than those only under NMFS jurisdiction) for all noise exposures (both in air and underwater for amphibious species), and that while the hearing group compositions are identical they renamed the hearing groups. In continued investigations of pinniped hearing, Kastelein et al. (2019a) exposed two female captive harbor seals to 6.5 kHz continuous, sinusoidal tones for 60 minutes (cumulative sound exposure levels (SELs) of 159–195 dB re: 1 mPa2s), then measured TTS using behavioral (psychoacoustic) methods at the center frequency of the fatiguing sound (6.5 kHz) and 0.5 and 1 octave above that frequency (9.2 and 13 kHz). Susceptibility to TTS was similar in both individuals tested. At cumulative SELs below 179 dB re: 1 mPa2s, maximum TTS was induced at the center frequency (6.5 kHz), and at cumulative SELs above 179 dB re: 1 mPa2s, maximum TTS was induced at PO 00000 Frm 00031 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 70741 0.5 octave above the center frequency (9.2 kHz). The highest TTSs were produced in the one-half octave band above the exposure frequency. Both seals recovered within 1–2 hours for up to 6 dB of TTS. One seal showed 19 dB of TTS after a dB re: 1 mPa2s exposure and recovered within 24 hours. Overall, this study combined with previous work showed that for harbor seals, recovery times are consistent for similarmagnitude TTS, regardless of the type of fatiguing sound exposure (impulsive, continuous noise band, or sinusoidal wave), and that susceptibility to TTS in the fatiguing frequency range tested (2.5–6.5 kHz) varies little with hearing frequency. The two harbor seals in this study (and Kastelein et al., 2012) had similar susceptibility to TTS as the seal in Kastak et al. (2005). The authors note that more fatiguing sound frequencies need to be tested in harbor seals to produce equal TTS curves, for generating weighting functions that can be used to develop exposure criteria for broadband sounds in the marine environment (Houser et al., 2017). To determine the distances at which Helicopter Long Range Active Sonar (HELRAS) signals (∼1.3–1.4 kHz) can be detected, Kastelein et al. (2019b) measured hearing thresholds using behavioral (psychoacoustic) techniques to simulated HELRAS signals in two captive harbor seals. Both seals showed similar thresholds (51 dB re: 1 mPa rms, approximately 4 dB lower than the detection thresholds for the same individuals in Kastelein et al., 2009) to previously obtained data for stimuli having the same center frequencies, which suggests that the harmonics present within HELRAS sources do not impact hearing threshold and that a tonal audiogram can be used to estimate the audibility of more complex narrowband tonal signals in harbor seals. Recent studies on the behavioral responses of cetaceans to sonar examine and continue to demonstrate the importance of not only sound source parameters, but exposure context (e.g., behavioral state, presence of other animals and social relationships, prey abundance, distance to source, presence of vessels, environmental parameters, etc.) in determining or predicting a behavioral response. • Kastelein et al. (2018) examined the role of sound pressure level (SPL) and duty cycle on the behavior of two captive harbor porpoises when exposed to simulated Navy mid-frequency sonar (53C, 3.5 to 4.1 kHz). Neither harbor porpoise responded to the low duty cycle (2.7 percent) at any of the five SPLs presented, even at the maximum received SPL (143 dB re: 1 mPa). At the E:\FR\FM\23DER2.SGM 23DER2 lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with RULES2 70742 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 246 / Monday, December 23, 2019 / Rules and Regulations higher duty cycle (96 percent), one porpoise responded by increasing his respiration rate at a received SPL of greater than or equal to 119 dB re: 1 mPa, and moved away from the transducer at a received SPL of 143 dB re: 1 mPa. Kastelein et al. (2018) observed that at the same received SPL and duty cycle, harbor porpoises respond less to 53C sonar sounds than 1–2 kHz, 6–7 kHz, and 25 kHz sonar signals observed in previous studies, but noted that when examining behavioral responses it is important to take into account the spectrum and temporal structure of the signal, the duty cycle, and the psychological interpretation by the animal. • To investigate the effect of signal to noise ratio (SNR) on behavioral responses, Kastelein et al. (2019c) observed respiration rates (an indicator of behavioral response) of two captive harbor porpoises when exposed to simulated 30-minute playbacks of Navy mid-frequency sonar (53C, 3.5 to 4.1 kHz, 96 percent duty cycle), in noise simulating sea state 6 conditions. No behavioral responses were observed when the porpoises were exposed to sonar signals at an SPL of 117 dB re: 1 mPa (SNR equal to 49 dB re: 1 Hz). Both porpoises responded when exposed to sonar signals at an SPL of 122 dB re: 1 mPa (SNR equal to 54 dB re: 1 Hz), however in quiet conditions one porpoise responded at similar levels (Kastelein et al. 2018), suggesting the behavioral responses of harbor porpoises to sonar signals are not affected in sea state 6 ambient noise conditions. • Wensveen et al. (2019) examined the role of sound source (simulated sonar pulses) distance and received level in northern bottlenose whales in an environment without frequent sonar activity using multi-scaled controlled exposure experiments. They observed behavioral avoidance of the sound source over a wide range of distances (0.8–28 km) and estimated avoidance thresholds ranging from received SPLs of 117–126 dB re: 1 mPa. The behavioral response characteristics and avoidance thresholds were comparable to those previously observed in beaked whale studies; however, they did not observe an effect of distance on behavioral response and found that onset and intensity of behavioral response were better predicted by received SPL. • Joyce et al. (2019) presented movement and dive behavior data from seven Blainville’s beaked whales (Mesoplodon densirostris) that were satellite tagged prior to naval sonar exercises using mid-frequency active sonar (MFAS, 3–8kHz) at the Atlantic VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:56 Dec 20, 2019 Jkt 250001 Undersea Test and Evaluation Center (AUTEC) in the Bahamas. Five of the seven tagged were displaced 28–68 km after the onset of sonar exposure and returned to the AUTEC range 2–4 days after exercises ended. Three of the individuals for which modeled received SPLs were available during this movement showed declining received SPLs from initial maxima of 145–172 dB re: 1 mPa to maxima of 70–150 dB re: 1 mPa after displacements. Tagged individuals exhibited a continuation of deep diving activity consistent with foraging during MFAS exposure periods, but data also suggested that time spent on deep dives during initial exposure periods was reduced. These findings provide additional data for ongoing Population Consequences of Acoustic Disturbance assessments of disturbance as authors note that previous studies have suggested foraging dives may be lost in response to MFAS exposure, which could cause a decrease in energy intake and have potential effects on vital parameters. The data presented by Joyce et al. (2019) support the initial potential loss of foraging time, however they also suggest that Blainville’s beaked whales may have the ability to partially compensate for this loss (assuming they have ample recovery times between dives) by increasing time spent at foraging depths following displacement. • When conducting controlled exposure experiments on blue whales Southall et al. (2019b) observed that after exposure to simulated and operational mid-frequency active sonar, more than 50 percent of blue whales in deep-diving states responded to the sonar, while no behavioral response was observed in shallow-feeding blue whales. The behavioral responses they observed were generally brief, of low to moderate severity, and highly dependent on exposure context (behavioral state, source-to-whale horizontal range, and prey availability). Blue whale response did not follow a simple exposure-response model based on received sound exposure level. • In a review of the previously published data (included in the 2018 AFTT EIS/OEIS analysis) on the potential impacts of sonar on beaked whales, Bernaldo de Quiro´s et al. (2019) suggested that the effect of midfrequency active sonar on beaked whales varies among individuals or populations, and that predisposing conditions such as previous exposure to sonar and individual health risk factors may contribute to individual outcomes (such as decompression sickness). Having considered this information, we have determined that there is no PO 00000 Frm 00032 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 new information that substantively affects our analysis of potential impacts on marine mammals and their habitat that appeared in the 2018 AFTT final rule, all of which remains applicable and valid for our assessment of the effects of the Navy’s activities during the seven-year period of this rule. Estimated Take of Marine Mammals This section indicates the number of takes that NMFS is authorizing, which are based on the amount of take that NMFS anticipates could occur or is likely to occur, depending on the type of take and the methods used to estimate it, as described below. NMFS coordinated closely with the Navy in the development of their incidental take application, and agrees that the methods the Navy has put forth described herein and in the 2018 AFTT proposed and final rules to estimate take (including the model, thresholds, and density estimates), and the resulting numbers are based on the best available science and appropriate for authorization. The number and type of incidental takes that could occur or are likely to occur annually remain identical to those authorized in the 2018 AFTT regulations. Takes are predominantly in the form of harassment, but a small number of serious injuries or mortalities are also authorized. For military readiness activities, the MMPA defines ‘‘harassment’’ as (i) Any act that injures or has the significant potential to injure a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild (Level A harassment); or (ii) Any act that disturbs or is likely to disturb a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild by causing disruption of natural behavioral patterns, including, but not limited to, migration, surfacing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or sheltering, to a point where such behavioral patterns are abandoned or significantly altered (Level B harassment). Authorized takes will primarily be in the form of Level B harassment, as use of the acoustic and explosive sources (i.e., sonar, air guns, pile driving, explosives) is more likely to result in behavioral disruption (rising to the level of a take as described above) or temporary threshold shift (TTS) for marine mammals than other forms of take. There is also the potential for Level A harassment, however, in the form of auditory injury and/or tissue damage (the latter from explosives only) to result from exposure to the sound sources utilized in training and testing activities. Lastly, a limited number of serious injuries or mortalities could occur for four species of mid-frequency E:\FR\FM\23DER2.SGM 23DER2 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 246 / Monday, December 23, 2019 / Rules and Regulations lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with RULES2 cetaceans during ship shock trials and no more than four serious injuries or mortalities total (over the seven-year period) of mysticetes (except for blue whales, Bryde’s whales, and North Atlantic right whales) and North Atlantic sperm whales could occur through vessel collisions. Although we analyze the impacts of these potential serious injuries or mortalities that are authorized, the required mitigation and monitoring measures are expected to minimize the likelihood that ship strike or these high-level explosive exposures (and the associated serious injury or mortality) actually occur. Generally speaking, for acoustic impacts we estimate the amount and type of harassment by considering: (1) Acoustic thresholds above which NMFS believes the best available science indicates marine mammals will be taken by Level B harassment (in this case, as defined in the military readiness definition of Level B harassment included above) or incur some degree of temporary or permanent hearing impairment; (2) the area or volume of water that will be ensonified above these levels in a day or event; (3) the density or occurrence of marine mammals within these ensonified areas; and (4) and the number of days of activities or events. Acoustic Thresholds Using the best available science, NMFS, in coordination with the Navy, has established acoustic thresholds that identify the most appropriate received level of underwater sound above which marine mammals exposed to these sound sources could be reasonably expected to experience a disruption in behavior patterns to a point where they are abandoned or significantly altered, or to incur TTS (equated to Level B harassment) or permanent threshold shift (PTS) of some degree (equated to Level A harassment). Thresholds have also been developed to identify the pressure levels above which animals may incur non-auditory injury from exposure to pressure waves from explosive detonation. Despite the quickly evolving science, there are still challenges in quantifying expected behavioral responses that qualify as Level B harassment, especially where the goal is to use one or two predictable indicators (e.g., received level and distance) to predict responses that are also driven by additional factors that cannot be easily incorporated into the thresholds (e.g., context). So, while the new behavioral Level B harassment thresholds have been refined here to better consider the best available science (e.g., VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:56 Dec 20, 2019 Jkt 250001 incorporating both received level and distance), they also still, accordingly, have some built-in conservative factors to address the challenge noted. For example, while duration of observed responses in the data are now considered in the thresholds, some of the responses that are informing take thresholds are of a very short duration, such that it is possible some of these responses might not always rise to the level of disrupting behavior patterns to a point where they are abandoned or significantly altered. We describe the application of this Level B harassment threshold as identifying the maximum number of instances in which marine mammals could be reasonably expected to experience a disruption in behavior patterns to a point where they are abandoned or significantly altered. In summary, we believe these behavioral Level B harassment thresholds are the most appropriate method for predicting behavioral Level B harassment given the best available science and the associated uncertainty. We described these acoustic thresholds, none of which have changed, in detail in the Acoustic Thresholds section and Tables 13 through 22 of the 2018 AFTT final rule; please see the 2018 AFTT final rule for detailed information. Navy’s Acoustic Effects Model The Navy proposed no changes to the Acoustic Effects Model as described in the 2018 AFTT final rule and there is no new information that would affect the applicability or validity of the Model. Please see the 2018 AFTT final rule and Appendix E of the 2018 AFTT FEIS/ OEIS for detailed information. Range to Effects The Navy proposed no changes from the 2018 AFTT final rule to the type and nature of the specified activities to be conducted during the seven-year period analyzed in this final rule, including equipment and sources used and exercises conducted. There is also no new information that would affect the applicability or validity of the ranges to effects previously analyzed for these activities. Therefore, the ranges to effects in this final rule are identical to those described and analyzed in the 2018 AFTT final rule, including received sound levels that may cause onset of significant behavioral response and TTS and PTS in hearing for each source type or explosives that may cause non-auditory injury. Please see the Range to Effects section and Tables 23 through 38 of the 2018 AFTT final rule for detailed information. PO 00000 Frm 00033 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 70743 Marine Mammal Density The Navy proposed no changes to the methods used to estimate marine mammal density described in the 2018 AFTT final rule and there is no new information that would affect the applicability or validity of these methods. Please see the 2018 AFTT final rule for detailed information. Take Requests As in the 2018 AFTT final rule, in its 2019 application, the Navy determined that the three stressors below could result in the incidental taking of marine mammals. NMFS has reviewed the Navy’s data and analysis and determined that it is complete and accurate, and NMFS agrees that the following stressors have the potential to result in takes of marine mammals from the Navy’s planned activities: • Acoustics (sonar and other transducers; air guns; pile driving/ extraction); • Explosives (explosive shock wave and sound, assumed to encompass the risk due to fragmentation); and • Vessel strike. NMFS reviewed and agrees with the Navy’s conclusion that acoustic and explosive sources have the potential to result in incidental takes of marine mammals by harassment, serious injury, or mortality. NMFS carefully reviewed the Navy’s analysis and conducted its own analysis of vessel strikes, determining that the likelihood of any particular species of large whale being struck is quite low. Nonetheless, NMFS agrees that vessel strikes have the potential to result in incidental take from serious injury or mortality for certain species of large whales and the Navy specifically requested coverage for these species. Therefore, the likelihood of vessel strikes, and later the effects of the incidental take that is being authorized, has been fully analyzed and is described below. Regarding the quantification of expected takes from acoustic and explosive sources (by Level A and Level B harassment, as well as mortality resulting from exposure to explosives), the number of takes are based directly on the level of activities (days, hours, counts, etc., of different activities and events) in a given year. In the 2018 AFTT final rule, take estimates across the five-years were based on the Navy conducting three years of a representative level of activity and two years of maximum level of activity. Consistent with the pattern set forth in the 2017 application, the 2018 AFTT FEIS/OEIS, and the 2018 AFTT final rule, the Navy included one additional E:\FR\FM\23DER2.SGM 23DER2 70744 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 246 / Monday, December 23, 2019 / Rules and Regulations lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with RULES2 representative year and one additional maximum year to determine the predicted take numbers in this rule. Specifically, as in the 2018 AFTT final rule, here the Navy uses the maximum annual level to calculate annual takes (which would remain identical to what was determined in the 2018 AFTT final rule), and the sum of all years (four representative and three maximum) to calculate the seven-year totals for this rule. The Navy will not conduct any additional ship shock activities, and therefore both the total number and annual number of ship shock takes estimated and authorized for the sevenyear period is the same as the number requested in the five-year period under the 2018 AFTT final rule. The quantitative analysis process used for the 2018 AFTT FEIS/OEIS and the 2017 and 2019 Navy applications to estimate potential exposures to marine mammals resulting from acoustic and explosive stressors is detailed in the technical report titled ‘‘Quantifying Acoustic Impacts on Marine Mammals and Sea Turtles: Methods and Analytical Approach for Phase III Training and Testing’’ (U.S. Department of the Navy, 2018). The Navy Acoustic Effects Model estimates acoustic and explosive effects without taking mitigation into account; therefore, the model overestimates predicted impacts on marine mammals within mitigation zones. To account for mitigation for marine species in the take estimates, the Navy conducts a quantitative assessment of mitigation. The Navy conservatively quantifies the manner in which procedural mitigation is expected to reduce model-estimated PTS to TTS for exposures to sonar and other transducers, and reduces modelestimated mortality to injury for exposures to explosives. For a complete explanation of the process for assessing the effects of mitigation, see the 2017 Navy application and the 2018 AFTT final rule. The extent to which the mitigation areas reduce impacts on the affected species and stocks is addressed separately in the Analysis and Negligible Impact Determination sections of this rule and the 2018 AFTT final rule. No changes have been made to the quantitative analysis process to estimate potential exposures to marine mammals VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:56 Dec 20, 2019 Jkt 250001 resulting from acoustic and explosive stressors and calculate take estimates. In addition, there is no new information that would call into question the validity of the Navy’s quantitative analysis process. Please see the documents described in the paragraph above, the 2018 AFTT proposed rule, and the 2018 AFTT final rule for detailed descriptions of these analyses. In summary, we believe the Navy’s methods, including the method for incorporating mitigation and avoidance, are the most appropriate methods for predicting PTS, TTS, and behavioral disruption. But even with the consideration of mitigation and avoidance, given some of the more conservative components of the methodology (e.g., the thresholds do not consider ear recovery between pulses), we would describe the application of these methods as identifying the maximum number of instances in which marine mammals would be reasonably expected to be taken through PTS, TTS, or behavioral disruption. Summary of Authorized Take From Training and Testing Activities Based on the methods discussed in the previous sections and the Navy’s model and quantitative assessment of mitigation, the Navy provided its take estimate and request for authorization of takes incidental to the use of acoustic and explosive sources for training and testing activities both annually (based on the maximum number of activities that could occur per 12-month period) and over the seven-year period covered by the 2019 Navy application. Annual takes (based on the maximum number of activities that could occur per 12-month period) are identical to those presented in Tables 39 through 41 in the Take Requests section of the 2018 AFTT final rule. The 2019 Navy application also includes the Navy’s take estimate and request for vessel strikes due to vessel movement in the AFTT Study Area and individual small and large ship shock trials over a seven-year period. The Navy will not conduct additional ship shock trials, so the estimated and requested takes from ship shock trials are the same as those authorized in the 2018 AFTT final rule. NMFS has reviewed the Navy’s data, methodology, and analysis and determined that it is complete and accurate. NMFS agrees PO 00000 Frm 00034 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 that the estimates for incidental takes by harassment from all sources as well as the incidental takes by serious injury or mortality from explosives requested for authorization are reasonably expected to occur. NMFS also agrees that the takes by serious injury or mortality as a result of vessel strikes could occur. The total amount of estimated incidental take from acoustic and explosive sources over the total seven-year period covered by the 2019 Navy application is less than the annual total multiplied by seven, because although the annual estimates are based on the maximum number of activities per year and therefore the maximum possible estimated takes, the seven-year total take estimates are based on the sum of three maximum years and four representative years. Not all activities occur every year. Some activities would occur multiple times within a year, and some activities would occur only a few times over the course of the seven-year period. Using seven years of the maximum number of activities each year would vastly overestimate the amount of incidental take that would occur over the seven-year period where the Navy knows that it will not conduct the maximum number of activities each and every year for the seven years. Authorized Harassment Take From Training Activities For training activities, Table 10 summarizes the Navy’s take estimate and request and the maximum amount and type of Level A harassment and Level B harassment for the seven-year period covered by the 2019 Navy application that NMFS concurs is reasonably expected to occur by species or stock, and is therefore authorized. For the authorized amount and type of Level A harassment and Level B harassment annually, see Table 39 in the 2018 AFTT final rule. Note that take by Level B harassment includes both behavioral disruption and TTS. Navy Figures 6.4– 10 through 6.5–39 in Section 6 of the 2017 Navy application illustrate the comparative amounts of TTS and behavioral disruption for each species annually, noting that if a modeled marine mammal was ‘‘taken’’ through exposure to both TTS and behavioral disruption in the model, it was recorded as a TTS. E:\FR\FM\23DER2.SGM 23DER2 70745 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 246 / Monday, December 23, 2019 / Rules and Regulations TABLE 10—SEVEN-YEAR TOTAL SPECIES- AND STOCK-SPECIFIC TAKE AUTHORIZED FROM ACOUSTIC AND EXPLOSIVE SOUND SOURCE EFFECTS FOR ALL TRAINING ACTIVITIES 7-Year total 1 Species Stock Level A I Level B Suborder Mysticeti (baleen whales) Family Balaenidae (right whales): North Atlantic right whale * .................................... Family Balaenopteridae (roquals): Blue whale * ........................................................... Bryde’s whale ........................................................ Minke whale .......................................................... Fin whale * ............................................................. Humpback whale ................................................... Sei whale * ............................................................. Western North Atlantic ................................................. 1,644 0 Western North Atlantic ................................................. (Gulf of St. Lawrence) .................................................. Northern Gulf of Mexico * ............................................. No Stock Designation ................................................... Canadian East Coast ................................................... Western North Atlantic ................................................. Gulf of Maine ................................................................ Nova Scotia .................................................................. 171 0 5 1,351 15,824 10,225 1,564 1,964 0 0 0 19 4 0 Gulf of Mexico Oceanic ................................................ North Atlantic ................................................................ 167 96,479 0 0 Gulf of Mexico Oceanic ................................................ Western North Atlantic ................................................. Northern Gulf of Mexico ............................................... Western North Atlantic ................................................. 103 56,060 103 56,060 0 68 0 68 Northern Gulf of Mexico ............................................... Western North Atlantic ................................................. Northern Gulf of Mexico ............................................... Western North Atlantic ................................................. Northern Gulf of Mexico ............................................... Western North Atlantic ................................................. Western North Atlantic ................................................. Western North Atlantic ................................................. Western North Atlantic ................................................. 244 85,661 242 317,180 244 85,661 7,504 85,661 85,661 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 Northern Gulf of Mexico ............................................... Western North Atlantic ................................................. Western North Atlantic ................................................. Choctawhatchee Bay .................................................... Gulf of Mexico Eastern Coastal ................................... Gulf of Mexico Northern Coastal .................................. Gulf of Mexico Western Coastal .................................. Indian River Lagoon Estuarine System ........................ Jacksonville Estuarine System ..................................... Mississippi Sound, Lake Borgne, Bay Boudreau ......... Northern Gulf of Mexico Continental Shelf .................. Northern Gulf of Mexico Oceanic ................................. Northern North Carolina Estuarine System .................. Southern North Carolina Estuarine System ................. Western North Atlantic Northern Florida Coastal ......... Western North Atlantic Central Florida Coastal ........... Western North Atlantic Northern Migratory Coastal ..... Western North Atlantic Offshore .................................. Western North Atlantic South Carolina/Georgia Coastal. Western North Atlantic Southern Migratory Coastal .... Northern Gulf of Mexico ............................................... Western North Atlantic ................................................. Northern Gulf of Mexico ............................................... Western North Atlantic ................................................. Northern Gulf of Mexico ............................................... . 26,155 ........................................................................... Northern Gulf of Mexico ............................................... Western North Atlantic ................................................. Western North Atlantic ................................................. Northern Gulf of Mexico ............................................... 246,178 ......................................................................... Northern Gulf of Mexico ............................................... 6,584 804,058 99,615 46 166 1,524 16,778 1,980 589 0 10,918 1,356 16,089 0 6,060 35,861 175,237 2,062,942 28,814 0 64 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 13 0 0 0 0 0 30 269 0 81,155 694 463,220 291 54,818 418 14 0 19 0 0 0 Suborder Odontoceti (toothed whales) Family Physeteridae (sperm whale): Sperm whale * ....................................................... Family Kogiidae (sperm whales): Dwarf sperm whale ............................................... Pygmy sperm whale .............................................. Family Ziphiidae (beaked whales): Blainville’s beaked whale ...................................... Cuvier’s beaked whale .......................................... Gervais’ beaked whale .......................................... Northern bottlenose whale .................................... Sowersby’s beaked whale ..................................... True’s beaked whale ............................................. Family Delphinidae (dolphins): Atlantic spotted dolphin ......................................... Atlantic white-sided dolphin ................................... Bottlenose dolphin ................................................. Clymene dolphin .................................................... False killer whale ................................................... lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with RULES2 Fraser’s dolphin ..................................................... Western North Atlantic ................................................. Killer whale ............................................................ Long-finned pilot whale ......................................... Melon-headed whale ............................................. Western North Atlantic .......................................... Pantropical spotted dolphin ................................... VerDate Sep<11>2014 22:34 Dec 20, 2019 Jkt 250001 PO 00000 Frm 00035 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\23DER2.SGM 23DER2 0 5 522 116,412 493 4 3,959 0 0 0 0 0 70746 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 246 / Monday, December 23, 2019 / Rules and Regulations TABLE 10—SEVEN-YEAR TOTAL SPECIES- AND STOCK-SPECIFIC TAKE AUTHORIZED FROM ACOUSTIC AND EXPLOSIVE SOUND SOURCE EFFECTS FOR ALL TRAINING ACTIVITIES—Continued 7-Year total 1 Species Stock Level A Level B White-beaked dolphin ............................................ Western North Atlantic ................................................. Northern Gulf of Mexico ............................................... Western North Atlantic ................................................. Northern Gulf of Mexico ............................................... Western North Atlantic ................................................. Northern Gulf of Mexico ............................................... Western North Atlantic ................................................. Western North Atlantic ................................................. Northern Gulf of Mexico ............................................... Western North Atlantic ................................................. Northern Gulf of Mexico ............................................... Western North Atlantic ................................................. Northern Gulf of Mexico ............................................... Western North Atlantic ................................................. Western North Atlantic ................................................. 964,072 118 43,009 276 140,368 606 129,594 1,467,625 251 210,736 1,593 487,644 471 631,680 269 16 0 0 0 0 0 0 87 0 0 0 9 0 22 0 Family Phocoenidae (porpoises): Harbor porpoise ..................................................... Gulf of Maine/Bay of Fundy ......................................... 206,071 1,121 10,038 16,277 59,063 882 0 0 6 0 Pygmy killer whale ................................................ Risso’s dolphin ...................................................... Rough-toothed dolphin .......................................... Short-beaked common dolphin ............................. Short-finned pilot whale ......................................... Spinner dolphin ..................................................... Striped dolphin ...................................................... Suborder Pinnipedia Family Phocidae (true seals): Gray seal ............................................................... Harbor seal ............................................................ Harp seal ............................................................... Hooded seal .......................................................... Western Western Western Western North North North North Atlantic Atlantic Atlantic Atlantic ................................................. ................................................. ................................................. ................................................. 1 The estimated amount and type of Level A harassment and Level B harassment annually are identical to those presented in Table 39 in the 2018 AFTT final rule. * ESA-listed species or stocks within the AFTT Study Area. † NSD: No stock designated. Authorized Harassment Take From Testing Activities For testing activities (excluding ship shock trials), Table 11 summarizes the Navy’s take estimate and request and the maximum amount and type of Level A harassment and Level B harassment for the seven-year period covered by the 2019 Navy application that NMFS concurs is reasonably expected to occur by species or stock, and is therefore authorized. For the authorized amount and type of Level A harassment and Level B harassment annually, see Table 40 in the 2018 AFTT final rule. Note that take by Level B harassment includes both behavioral disruption and TTS. Navy Figures 6.4–10 through 6.5– 39 in Section 6 of the 2017 Navy application illustrate the comparative amounts of TTS and behavioral disruption for each species annually, noting that if a modeled marine mammal was ‘‘taken’’ through exposure to both TTS and behavioral disruption in the model, it was recorded as a TTS. TABLE 11—SEVEN-YEAR TOTAL SPECIES AND STOCK-SPECIFIC TAKE AUTHORIZED FROM ACOUSTIC AND EXPLOSIVE SOUND SOURCE EFFECTS FOR ALL TESTING ACTIVITIES [Excluding Ship Shock Trials] 7-Year total 1 Species Stock Level B I Level A Suborder Mysticeti (baleen whales) lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with RULES2 Family Balaenidae (right whales): North Atlantic right whale * .................................... Family Balaenopteridae (roquals): Blue whale * ........................................................... Bryde’s whale ........................................................ Minke whale .......................................................... Fin whale * ............................................................. Humpback whale ................................................... Sei whale * ............................................................. Western North Atlantic ................................................. 1,528 0 Western North Atlantic (Gulf of St. Lawrence) ............. Northern Gulf of Mexico * ............................................. No Stock Designation ................................................... Canadian East Coast ................................................... Western North Atlantic ................................................. Gulf of Maine ................................................................ Nova Scotia .................................................................. 127 358 856 11,155 24,808 3,380 3,262 0 0 0 9 22 0 0 7,315 0 Suborder Odontoceti (toothed whales) Family Physeteridae (sperm whale): Sperm whale * ....................................................... VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:56 Dec 20, 2019 Jkt 250001 PO 00000 Gulf of Mexico Oceanic ................................................ Frm 00036 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\23DER2.SGM 23DER2 70747 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 246 / Monday, December 23, 2019 / Rules and Regulations TABLE 11—SEVEN-YEAR TOTAL SPECIES AND STOCK-SPECIFIC TAKE AUTHORIZED FROM ACOUSTIC AND EXPLOSIVE SOUND SOURCE EFFECTS FOR ALL TESTING ACTIVITIES—Continued [Excluding Ship Shock Trials] 7-Year total 1 Species Stock Level B Family Kogiidae (sperm whales): Dwarf sperm whale ............................................... Pygmy sperm whale .............................................. Family Ziphiidae (beaked whales): Blainville’s beaked whale ...................................... Cuvier’s beaked whale .......................................... Gervais’ beaked whale .......................................... Northern bottlenose whale .................................... Sowersby’s beaked whale ..................................... True’s beaked whale ............................................. Family Delphinidae (dolphins): Atlantic spotted dolphin ......................................... Atlantic white-sided dolphin ................................... Bottlenose dolphin ................................................. Clymene dolphin .................................................... False killer whale ................................................... Fraser’s dolphin ..................................................... Killer whale ............................................................ Long-finned pilot whale ......................................... Melon-headed whale ............................................. Pantropical spotted dolphin ................................... Pygmy killer whale ................................................ Risso’s dolphin ...................................................... Rough-toothed dolphin .......................................... lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with RULES2 Short-beaked common dolphin ............................. Short-finned pilot whale ......................................... Spinner dolphin ..................................................... Striped dolphin ...................................................... White-beaked dolphin ............................................ Family Phocoenidae (porpoises): Harbor porpoise ..................................................... VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:56 Dec 20, 2019 Jkt 250001 PO 00000 Level A North Atlantic ................................................................ 71,820 0 Gulf of Mexico Oceanic ................................................ Western North Atlantic ................................................. Northern Gulf of Mexico ............................................... Western North Atlantic ................................................. 4,787 29,368 4,787 29,368 38 91 38 91 Northern Gulf of Mexico ............................................... Western North Atlantic ................................................. Northern Gulf of Mexico ............................................... Western North Atlantic ................................................. Northern Gulf of Mexico ............................................... Western North Atlantic ................................................. Western North Atlantic ................................................. Western North Atlantic ................................................. Western North Atlantic ................................................. 9,368 68,738 9,757 252,367 9,368 68,738 6,231 68,903 68,903 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 Northern Gulf of Mexico ............................................... Western North Atlantic ................................................. Western North Atlantic ................................................. Choctawhatchee Bay .................................................... Gulf of Mexico Eastern Coastal ................................... Gulf of Mexico Northern Coastal .................................. Gulf of Mexico Western Coastal .................................. Indian River Lagoon Estuarine System ........................ Jacksonville Estuarine System ..................................... Mississippi Sound, Lake Borgne, Bay Boudreau ......... Northern Gulf of Mexico Continental Shelf .................. Northern Gulf of Mexico Oceanic ................................. Northern North Carolina Estuarine System .................. Southern North Carolina Estuarine System ................. Western North Atlantic Northern Florida Coastal ......... Western North Atlantic Central Florida Coastal ........... Western North Atlantic Northern Migratory Coastal ..... Western North Atlantic Offshore .................................. Western North Atlantic South Carolina/Georgia Coastal. Western North Atlantic Southern Migratory Coastal .... Northern Gulf of Mexico ............................................... Western North Atlantic ................................................. Northern Gulf of Mexico ............................................... Western North Atlantic ................................................. Northern Gulf of Mexico ............................................... Western North Atlantic ................................................. Northern Gulf of Mexico ............................................... Western North Atlantic ................................................. Western North Atlantic ................................................. Northern Gulf of Mexico ............................................... Western North Atlantic ................................................. Northern Gulf of Mexico ............................................... Western North Atlantic ................................................. Northern Gulf of Mexico ............................................... Western North Atlantic ................................................. Northern Gulf of Mexico ............................................... Western North Atlantic ................................................. Northern Gulf of Mexico ............................................... Western North Atlantic ................................................. Western North Atlantic ................................................. Northern Gulf of Mexico ............................................... Western North Atlantic ................................................. Northern Gulf of Mexico ............................................... Western North Atlantic ................................................. Northern Gulf of Mexico ............................................... Western North Atlantic ................................................. Western North Atlantic ................................................. 473,262 708,931 210,578 6,297 0 108,154 25,200 21 20 5 841,076 95,044 746 0 2,263 15,409 79,042 794,581 11,232 18 72 8 0 0 7 0 0 0 0 56 8 0 0 0 0 20 161 0 29,176 27,841 234,001 12,788 24,580 7,452 8,270 212 264 131,095 20,324 109,192 169,678 495,207 4,771 18,609 10,929 132,141 26,033 58,008 2,351,361 12,041 111,326 51,039 218,786 16,344 652,197 300 0 0 12 0 0 0 0 0 0 11 0 6 6 26 0 0 0 9 0 0 101 0 10 0 10 0 32 0 Gulf of Maine/Bay of Fundy ......................................... 811,201 1,405 Frm 00037 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\23DER2.SGM 23DER2 70748 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 246 / Monday, December 23, 2019 / Rules and Regulations TABLE 11—SEVEN-YEAR TOTAL SPECIES AND STOCK-SPECIFIC TAKE AUTHORIZED FROM ACOUSTIC AND EXPLOSIVE SOUND SOURCE EFFECTS FOR ALL TESTING ACTIVITIES—Continued [Excluding Ship Shock Trials] 7-Year total 1 Species Stock Level B Level A I Suborder Pinnipedia Family Phocidae (true seals): Gray seal ............................................................... Harbor seal ............................................................ Harp seal ............................................................... Hooded seal .......................................................... Western Western Western Western North North North North Atlantic Atlantic Atlantic Atlantic ................................................. ................................................. ................................................. ................................................. 6,130 9,941 53,646 5,335 14 23 17 0 1 The estimated amount and type of Level A harassment and Level B harassment annually are identical to those presented in Table 40 in the 2018 AFTT final rule. * ESA-listed species or stocks within the AFTT Study Area. † NSD: No stock designated. Authorized Take From Ship Shock For ship shock trials, Table 12 summarizes the Navy’s take estimate and request and the maximum amount and type of Level A and Level B harassment and serious injury/mortality for the seven-year period covered by the Navy application that NMFS concurs is reasonably expected to occur by species or stock per small and large ship shock events, and is therefore authorized. For the authorized amount and type of Level A harassment, Level B harassment, and serious injury/mortality annually, see Table 41 in the 2018 AFTT final rule. The Navy will not conduct additional ship shock trials over the additional two years covered by the 2019 Navy application, so the amount and type of authorized takes are the same as those authorized in the 2018 AFTT final rule. TABLE 12—SEVEN-YEAR TOTAL SPECIES AND STOCK-SPECIFIC TAKE ESTIMATES AUTHORIZED FROM SHIP SHOCK TRIALS Small ship shock Species/stock Level B harassment I Level A harassment I Large ship shock Level B harassment Mortality I Level A harassment I 7-Year total Level B harassment Mortality I Level A harassment I Mortality Suborder Mysticeti (baleen whales) Family Balaenidae (right whales): North Atlantic right whale * Western North Atlantic Family Balaenopteridae (roquals): Blue whale * ....................... Western North Atlantic (Gulf of St. Lawrence) ...................... Bryde’s whale ..................... Northern Gulf of Mexico * .......................... NSD † .......................... Minke whale ....................... Canadian East Coast .. Fin whale * .......................... Western North Atlantic Humpback whale ............... Gulf of Maine .............. Sei whale * ......................... Nova Scotia ................ 1 1 0 0 0 0 2 2 0 0 0 0 5 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 3 0 0 0 0 1 6 0 1 0 0 1 15 0 1 0 0 0 3 19 19 131 131 8 8 12 12 0 0 1 1 3 3 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 6 39 39 234 234 20 20 27 27 1 0 3 3 27 27 2 2 4 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 15 96 96 627 627 44 44 63 63 1 0 6 6 36 36 2 2 7 7 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with RULES2 Suborder Odontoceti (toothed whales) Family Physeteridae (sperm whale): Sperm whale * .................... Gulf of Mexico Oceanic .......................... North Atlantic .............. Family Kogiidae (sperm whales): Dwarf sperm whale ............ Gulf of Mexico Oceanic .......................... Western North Atlantic Pygmy sperm whale .......... Northern Gulf of Mexico ............................ Western North Atlantic VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:56 Dec 20, 2019 1 1 0 3 4 0 6 7 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 2 3 0 4 0 0 2 6 0 7 0 0 46 28 0 91 70 0 229 154 0 0 46 46 0 28 28 0 0 0 51 91 91 64 70 70 0 0 0 51 229 229 64 154 154 0 0 0 0 46 0 28 0 0 51 91 64 70 0 0 51 229 64 154 0 0 Jkt 250001 PO 00000 Frm 00038 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\23DER2.SGM 23DER2 70749 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 246 / Monday, December 23, 2019 / Rules and Regulations TABLE 12—SEVEN-YEAR TOTAL SPECIES AND STOCK-SPECIFIC TAKE ESTIMATES AUTHORIZED FROM SHIP SHOCK TRIALS—Continued Small ship shock lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with RULES2 Species/stock Level B harassment Level A harassment 1 0 0 1 2 Family Ziphiidae (beaked whales): Blainville’s beaked whale ... Northern Gulf of Mexico ............................ Western North Atlantic Cuvier’s beaked whale ....... Northern Gulf of Mexico ............................ Western North Atlantic Gervais’ beaked whale ...... Northern Gulf of Mexico ............................ Western North Atlantic Northern bottlenose whale Western North Atlantic Sowerby’s beaked whale ... Western North Atlantic True’s beaked whale .......... Western North Atlantic Family Delphinidae (dolphins): Atlantic spotted dolphin ...... Northern Gulf of Mexico ............................ Western North Atlantic Atlantic white-sided dolphin Western North Atlantic Bottlenose dolphin ............. Choctawhatchee Bay .. Gulf of Mexico Eastern Coastal .................... Gulf of Mexico Northern Coastal .............. Gulf of Mexico Western Coastal .............. Indian River Lagoon Estuarine System .... Jacksonville Estuarine System .................... Mississippi Sound, Lake Borgne, Bay Boudreau ................. Northern Gulf of Mexico Continental Shelf Northern Gulf of Mexico Oceanic ............. Northern North Carolina Estuarine System .......................... Southern North Carolina Estuarine System .......................... Western North Atlantic Northern Florida Coastal .................... Western North Atlantic Central Florida Coastal .................... Western North Atlantic Northern Migratory Coastal .................... Western North Atlantic Offshore ................... Western North Atlantic South Carolina/ Georgia Coastal ...... Western North Atlantic Southern Migratory Coastal .................... Clymene dolphin ................ Northern Gulf of Mexico ............................ Western North Atlantic False killer whale ............... Northern Gulf of Mexico ............................ Western North Atlantic VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:56 Dec 20, 2019 Large ship shock Level B harassment Level A harassment 0 1 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 1 2 0 2 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6 7-Year total Level B harassment Level A harassment 0 4 1 0 0 1 3 0 0 0 1 4 8 0 1 6 0 0 0 1 2 1 0 3 1 0 0 0 1 8 4 0 6 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 1 1 1 1 0 1 0 0 1 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 4 0 0 4 4 4 4 0 1 0 0 1 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 0 8 12 0 26 24 0 0 6 1 1 13 0 0 4 1 1 10 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 8 3 3 16 0 1 12 9 9 24 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 2 26 6 6 55 0 1 24 12 12 54 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 10 6 0 10 6 0 0 0 0 10 9 0 10 9 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 13 10 0 16 24 0 55 54 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 5 0 0 0 9 0 8 0 0 0 15 0 23 0 0 0 2 0 0 5 0 0 0 0 8 9 2 6 8 1 0 0 0 8 15 2 6 23 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 2 1 0 0 0 2 2 1 0 0 0 Jkt 250001 PO 00000 Mortality Frm 00039 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 Mortality E:\FR\FM\23DER2.SGM 23DER2 Mortality 70750 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 246 / Monday, December 23, 2019 / Rules and Regulations TABLE 12—SEVEN-YEAR TOTAL SPECIES AND STOCK-SPECIFIC TAKE ESTIMATES AUTHORIZED FROM SHIP SHOCK TRIALS—Continued Small ship shock Species/stock Level B harassment Level A harassment 0 0 0 0 0 Fraser’s dolphin ................. Northern Gulf of Mexico ............................ Western North Atlantic Killer whale ......................... Northern Gulf of Mexico ............................ Western North Atlantic Long-finned pilot whale ...... Western North Atlantic Melon-headed whale .......... Northern Gulf of Mexico ............................ Western North Atlantic Pantropical spotted dolphin Northern Gulf of Mexico ............................ Western North Atlantic Pygmy killer whale ............. Northern Gulf of Mexico ............................ Western North Atlantic Risso’s dolphin ................... Northern Gulf of Mexico ............................ Western North Atlantic Rough-toothed dolphin ....... Northern Gulf of Mexico ............................ Western North Atlantic Short-beaked common dolphin ................................. Western North Atlantic Short-finned pilot whale ..... Northern Gulf of Mexico ............................ Western North Atlantic Spinner dolphin .................. Northern Gulf of Mexico ............................ Western North Atlantic Striped dolphin ................... Northern Gulf of Mexico ............................ Western North Atlantic White-beaked dolphin ........ Western North Atlantic Family Phocoenidae (porpoises): Harbor porpoisE ................. Gulf of Maine/Bay of Fundy ...................... Large ship shock Level B harassment Level A harassment 0 2 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 2 2 1 0 0 2 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 2 0 1 3 0 2 0 7-Year total Level B harassment Level A harassment 0 2 3 0 3 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 5 5 5 0 0 6 6 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 11 11 8 0 0 12 12 7 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 5 25 4 1 20 0 0 1 4 8 31 4 4 29 0 0 1 0 3 0 0 0 0 25 7 1 20 3 1 1 0 0 25 13 1 20 12 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 1 3 1 0 1 0 0 0 1 1 6 1 0 4 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 2 3 3 1 1 2 0 0 0 2 6 6 1 4 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 2 0 0 0 2 0 2 0 0 0 40 40 2 51 51 2 1 1 0 67 67 4 107 107 5 3 3 0 187 187 10 260 260 11 6 6 0 0 2 3 0 2 1 0 0 0 2 4 37 3 5 45 0 0 1 2 10 46 3 11 48 0 0 1 0 3 4 0 1 8 0 0 0 37 7 10 45 3 12 1 0 0 37 16 22 45 6 36 1 0 0 0 4 0 0 0 8 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 10 0 0 3 12 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 22 0 0 3 36 0 0 0 0 0 0 43 41 0 120 81 0 249 204 0 43 41 0 120 81 0 249 204 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 Mortality Mortality Mortality Suborder Pinnipedia Family Phocidae (true seals): Gray seal ............................ Western North Atlantic Harbor seal ........................ Western North Atlantic Harp seal ............................ Western North Atlantic Hooded seal ....................... Western North Atlantic 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with RULES2 Note: The table displays maximum ship shock impacts to marine mammals by species (in bold text), as well as maximum impacts on individual stocks. * ESA-listed species or stocks within the AFTT Study Area. † NSD: No stock designated. Authorized Take From Vessel Strikes Vessel strikes from commercial, recreational, and military vessels are known to affect large whales and have resulted in serious injury and occasional VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:56 Dec 20, 2019 Jkt 250001 fatalities to cetaceans (BermanKowalewski et al., 2010; Calambokidis, 2012; Douglas et al., 2008; Laggner 2009; Lammers et al., 2003). Records of collisions date back to the early 17th PO 00000 Frm 00040 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 century, and the worldwide number of collisions appears to have increased steadily during recent decades (Laist et al., 2001; Ritter, 2012). Numerous studies of interactions between surface vessels and marine E:\FR\FM\23DER2.SGM 23DER2 lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with RULES2 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 246 / Monday, December 23, 2019 / Rules and Regulations mammals have demonstrated that freeranging marine mammals often, but not always (e.g., McKenna et al., 2015), engage in avoidance behavior when surface vessels move toward them. It is not clear whether these responses are caused by the physical presence of a surface vessel, the underwater noise generated by the vessel, or an interaction between the two (Amaral and Carlson, 2005; Au and Green, 2000; Bain et al., 2006; Bauer 1986; Bejder et al., 1999; Bejder and Lusseau, 2008; Bejder et al., 2009; Bryant et al., 1984; Corkeron, 1995; Erbe, 2002; Fe´lix, 2001; Goodwin and Cotton, 2004; Lemon et al., 2006; Lusseau, 2003; Lusseau, 2006; Magalhaes et al., 2002; Nowacek et al., 2001; Richter et al., 2003; Scheidat et al., 2004; Simmonds, 2005; Watkins, 1986; Williams et al., 2002; Wursig et al., 1998). Several authors suggest that the noise generated during motion is probably an important factor (Blane and Jaakson, 1994; Evans et al., 1992; Evans et al., 1994). Water disturbance may also be a factor. These studies suggest that the behavioral responses of marine mammals to surface vessels are similar to their behavioral responses to predators. Avoidance behavior is expected to be even stronger in the subset of instances that the Navy is conducting training or testing activities using active sonar or explosives. The marine mammals most vulnerable to vessel strikes are those that spend extended periods of time at the surface in order to restore oxygen levels within their tissues after deep dives (e.g., the sperm whale). In addition, some baleen whales, such as the NARW seem generally unresponsive to vessel sound, making them more susceptible to vessel collisions (Nowacek et al., 2004). These species are primarily large, slower moving whales. Some researchers have suggested the relative risk of a vessel strike can be assessed as a function of animal density and the magnitude of vessel traffic (e.g., Fonnesbeck et al., 2008; Vanderlaan et al., 2008). Differences among vessel types also influence the probability of a vessel strike. The ability of any ship to detect a marine mammal and avoid a collision depends on a variety of factors, including environmental conditions, ship design, size, speed, and personnel, as well as the behavior of the animal. Vessel speed, size, and mass are all important factors in determining if injury or death of a marine mammal is likely due to a vessel strike. For large vessels, speed and angle of approach can influence the severity of a strike. For example, Vanderlaan and Taggart (2007) found that between vessel speeds of 8.6 and 15 knots, the probability that VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:56 Dec 20, 2019 Jkt 250001 a vessel strike is lethal increases from 0.21 to 0.79. Large whales also do not have to be at the water’s surface to be struck. Silber et al. (2010) found when a whale is below the surface (about one to two times the vessel draft), there is likely to be a pronounced propeller suction effect. This suction effect may draw the whale into the hull of the ship, increasing the probability of propeller strikes. There are some key differences between the operation of military and non-military vessels, which make the likelihood of a military vessel striking a whale lower than some other vessels (e.g., commercial merchant vessels). Key differences include: • Many military ships have their bridges positioned closer to the bow, offering better visibility ahead of the ship (compared to a commercial merchant vessel). • There are often aircraft associated with the training or testing activity (which can serve as Lookouts), which can more readily detect cetaceans in the vicinity of a vessel or ahead of a vessel’s present course before crew on the vessel would be able to detect them. • Military ships are generally more maneuverable than commercial merchant vessels, and if cetaceans are spotted in the path of the ship, could be capable of changing course more quickly. • The crew size on military vessels is generally larger than merchant ships, allowing for stationing more trained Lookouts on the bridge. At all times when vessels are underway, trained Lookouts and bridge navigation teams are used to detect objects on the surface of the water ahead of the ship, including cetaceans. Additional Lookouts, beyond those already stationed on the bridge and on navigation teams, are positioned as Lookouts during some activities. • When submerged, submarines are generally slow moving (to avoid detection) and therefore marine mammals at depth with a submarine are likely able to avoid collision with the submarine. When a submarine is transiting on the surface, there are Lookouts serving the same function as they do on surface ships. Vessel strike to marine mammals is not associated with any specific training or testing activity but is rather an extremely limited and sporadic, but possible, accidental result of Navy vessel movement within the AFTT Study Area or while in transit. There have been three recorded Navy vessel strikes (one in 2011 and two in 2012) of large whales in the AFTT Study Area from 2009 through 2018 (ten years), the period in which the Navy PO 00000 Frm 00041 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 70751 began implementing effective mitigation measures to reduce the likelihood of vessel strikes. Two of the vessel strikes occurred in the Virginia Capes Range Complex and one occurred in the lower Chesapeake Bay. One of the whales in 2012 had features suggesting it was most likely a humpback whale. Note that while the Navy was unable to identify the species of whale, it is unlikely the unidentified whales were NARW as the strikes occurred in areas where, or times of year when, NARW are not known to be present. In order to account for the accidental nature of vessel strikes to large whales in general, and the potential risk from any vessel movement within the AFTT Study Area within the seven-year period, the Navy requested incidental takes based on probabilities derived from a Poisson distribution using ship strike data between 2009 and 2018 in the AFTT Study Area (the time period from when current mitigation measures were instituted until the Navy conducted the analysis for the 2019 Navy application, with no new ship strikes occurring since this analysis), as well as historical at-sea days in the AFTT Study Area from 2009–2018 and estimated potential at-sea days for the period from 2018 to 2025 covered by the requested regulations. This distribution predicted the probabilities of a specific number of strikes (n = 0, 1, 2, etc.) over the period from 2018 to 2025. The analysis is described in detail in Chapter 6 of the Navy’s 2017 and 2019 applications. For the same reasons listed above describing why a Navy vessel strike is comparatively unlikely, it is highly unlikely that a Navy vessel would strike a whale, dolphin, porpoise, or pinniped without detecting it and, accordingly, NMFS is confident that the Navy’s reported strikes are accurate and appropriate for use in the analysis. Specifically, Navy ships have multiple Lookouts, including on the forward part of the ship that can visually detect a hit animal, in the unlikely event ship personnel do not feel the strike. Unlike the situation for non-Navy ships engaged in commercial activities, NMFS and the Navy have no evidence that the Navy has struck a whale and not detected it. Navy’s strict internal procedures and mitigation requirements include reporting of any vessel strikes of marine mammals, and the Navy’s discipline, extensive training (not only for detecting marine mammals, but for detecting and reporting any potential navigational obstruction), and strict chain of command give NMFS a high level of confidence that all strikes actually get reported. E:\FR\FM\23DER2.SGM 23DER2 70752 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 246 / Monday, December 23, 2019 / Rules and Regulations The Navy used the three whale strikes since 2009 in their calculations to determine the number of strikes likely to result from their activities (although worldwide strike information, from all Navy activities and other strikes, was used to inform the species that may be struck). The Navy evaluated data beginning in 2009, as that was the start of the Navy’s Marine Species Awareness Training and adoption of additional mitigation measures to address ship strike, which will remain in place along with additional mitigation measures during the seven years of this rule. The updated probability analysis in the 2019 Navy application concluded that there was a 12 percent chance that zero whales would be struck by Navy vessels over the next seven years in the AFTT Study Area, indicating an 88 percent chance that at least one whale would be struck over the next seven years. The analysis also concludes that there is a 10 percent chance of striking four whales over the seven-year period. Based on the revised analysis, the Navy requested coverage for one additional large whale mortality not previously included in the 2018 AFTT final rule bringing the total from three vessel strikes over five years to four vessel strikes over seven years. NMFS agrees that there is some probability that the Navy could strike, and take by serious injury or mortality, up to four large whales incidental to training and testing activities within the AFTT Study Area over the course of the seven years covered by this final rule. Small whales, delphinids, porpoises, and pinnipeds are not expected to be struck by Navy vessels. In addition to the reasons listed above that make it unlikely that the Navy will hit a large whale (more maneuverable ships, larger crew, etc.), the following are additional reasons that vessel strike of dolphins, small whales, porpoises, and pinnipeds is very unlikely. Dating back more than 20 years and for as long as it has kept records, the Navy has no records of individuals of these groups being struck by a vessel as a result of Navy activities and, further, their smaller size and maneuverability make a strike unlikely. Also, NMFS has never received any reports from other authorized activities indicating that these species have been struck by vessels. Worldwide ship strike records show little evidence of strikes of these groups from the shipping sector and larger vessels, and the majority of the Navy’s activities involving fastermoving vessels (that could be considered more likely to hit a marine mammal) are located in offshore areas where smaller delphinid, porpoise, and pinniped densities are lower. Based on this information, NMFS concurs with the Navy’s assessment and recognizes the potential for incidental take by vessel strike of large whales only (i.e., no dolphins, small whales, porpoises, or pinnipeds) over the course of the sevenyear period analyzed here from training and testing activities. Taking into account the available information regarding how many of any given stock could be struck and therefore should be authorized for take NMFS considered two factors in addition to those considered in the Navy’s request: (1) The relative likelihood of hitting one stock versus another based on available strike data from all vessel types as denoted in the SARs and (2) whether the Navy has ever definitively struck an individual from a particular stock and, if so, how many times. To address number (1) above, NMFS compiled information from NMFS’ SARs on detected annual rates of large whale serious injury and mortality from vessel collisions (Table 13). The annual rates of large whale serious injury and mortality from vessel collisions from the SARs help inform the relative susceptibility of large whale species to vessel strike in the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. We summed the annual rates of mortality and serious injury from vessel collisions as reported in the SARs, then divided each species’ annual rate by this sum to get the relative likelihood. To estimate the percent likelihood of striking a particular species of large whale, we multiplied the relative likelihood of striking each species by the total probability of striking a whale (i.e., 88 percent, as described by the Navy’s probability analysis). We also calculated the percent likelihood of striking a particular species of large whale twice by squaring the value estimated for the probability of striking a particular species of whale once (i.e., to calculate the probability of an event occurring twice, multiply the probability of the first event by the second). We note that these probabilities vary from year to year as the average annual mortality for a given five-year window, as analyzed in the SARS, changes (and we include the annual averages from 2017 and 2018 draft SARs in Table 13 to illustrate); however, over the years and through changing SARs, stocks tend to consistently maintain a relatively higher or relatively lower likelihood of being struck. The analysis indicates that there is a very low percent chance of striking any particular species or stock more than once except for humpback whales, as shown in Table 13. The probabilities calculated as described above are then considered in combination with the information indicating the species that the Navy has definitively hit in the AFTT Study Area since 1995 (since they started tracking consistently). Accordingly, stocks that have no record of ever having been struck by any vessel are considered unlikely to be struck by the Navy in the seven-year period of the rule. Stocks that have never been struck by the Navy, have rarely been struck by other vessels, and have a low percentage likelihood based on the SAR calculation and a low relative abundance are also considered unlikely to be struck by the Navy during the seven-year rule. TABLE 13—ANNUAL RATES OF MORTALITY AND SERIOUS INJURY (M/SI) FROM VESSEL COLLISIONS COMPILED FROM NMFS 2018 FINAL STOCK ASSESSMENT REPORTS (SARS) AND ESTIMATED PERCENT CHANCE OF STRIKING EACH LARGE WHALE SPECIES IN THE AFTT STUDY AREA OVER A SEVEN-YEAR PERIOD Annual rate of M/SI from vessel collision (2017 SARs) lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with RULES2 Species (stock) 1 Fin whale (Western North Atlantic) .......... Sei whale (Nova Scotia) .......................... Minke whale (Canadian East Coast) ....... Humpback whale (Gulf of Maine) ............ Sperm whale (North Atlantic) ................... Bryde’s whale (Northern Gulf of Mexico) Sperm whale (Gulf of Mexico) ................. VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:56 Dec 20, 2019 Jkt 250001 Annual rate of M/SI from vessel collision (2018 SARs) 1.6 0.8 1.4 1.8 0.2 0.2 0 PO 00000 Frm 00042 Percent chance of ONE strike 1.4 0.8 1 2.6 0.2 0.2 0 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 Percent chance of TWO strikes 19.83 11.33 14.16 36.82 2.83 2.83 0 E:\FR\FM\23DER2.SGM 3.93 1.28 2.01 13.55 0.08 0.08 0 23DER2 Annual authorized take 0.14 0.14 0.14 0.29 0.14 0 0 Take authorized over 7 years 1 1 1 2 21 30 0 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 246 / Monday, December 23, 2019 / Rules and Regulations 70753 TABLE 13—ANNUAL RATES OF MORTALITY AND SERIOUS INJURY (M/SI) FROM VESSEL COLLISIONS COMPILED FROM NMFS 2018 FINAL STOCK ASSESSMENT REPORTS (SARS) AND ESTIMATED PERCENT CHANCE OF STRIKING EACH LARGE WHALE SPECIES IN THE AFTT STUDY AREA OVER A SEVEN-YEAR PERIOD—Continued Annual rate of M/SI from vessel collision (2017 SARs) Species (stock) 1 Blue whale (Western North Atlantic) ....... Annual rate of M/SI from vessel collision (2018 SARs) 0 Percent chance of ONE strike 0 Percent chance of TWO strikes 0 Annual authorized take 0 Take authorized over 7 years 0 0 1 North lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with RULES2 Atlantic right whales are not included in this analysis as NARWs are not anticipated to be struck due to the additional extensive mitigation the Navy implements to minimize the risk of striking this particular species. In addition, the Navy has not struck this species since prior to 2009 when the Navy’s current vessel movement mitigation, reporting, and monitoring requirements have been in place. 2 The analysis indicates only a very small likelihood (less than 3 percent) that a North Atlantic sperm whale would be struck over the seven years, however, the Navy has struck a sperm whale previously in the Atlantic, which may indicate a higher possibility that it could occur and suggests that authorizing one mortality over the seven years would be appropriate. 3 Due to their low population abundance within the Study Area and lack of previous vessel strikes by the Navy, along with the Navy’s enhanced mitigation measures in the Bryde’s Whale Mitigation Area, Bryde’s whales are not anticipated to be struck, and therefore have zero mortality/serious injury takes. The annual rate of mortality (0.2) is estimated from 1 Bryde’s whale in 2009 (no more recent strikes have been documented). For the reasons discussed in detail in the 2018 AFTT final rule and discussed further below, due to enhanced mitigation measures, NARWs are not anticipated to be struck by Navy vessels and are anticipated to have zero mortality/serious injury takes over the seven years of the rule. In addition, based on the quantitative method described above, blue whales and Gulf of Mexico sperm whales have a zero percent chance of being struck. After considering this result, along with additional factors discussed below, the Navy found that any vessel strike of these two stocks is highly unlikely. After fully considering all relevant information, NMFS agreed with this conclusion. Finally, the quantitative analysis outlined above indicates only a very small likelihood the Navy would strike a Bryde’s whale (3 percent). Due to their low population abundance and lack of previous vessel strikes by the Navy, Bryde’s whales are also unlikely to be struck and we have not authorized any mortality/serious injury takes. Alternately, the quantitative analysis discussed above also indicates only a very small likelihood that the Navy would strike a North Atlantic sperm whale over the seven years covered by the 2019 Navy application (less than 3 percent), however, the Navy has struck a sperm whale previously in the Atlantic (2005), which points to a higher possibility that it could occur and suggests that authorizing a single mortality/serious injury would be appropriate. Additional discussion relevant to our determinations for North Atlantic blue whales, Gulf of Mexico sperm whale, NARW, and Bryde’s whale is included below. In addition to the zero probability predicted by the quantitative model, there are no recent confirmed records of vessel collision to blue whales in the VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:56 Dec 20, 2019 Jkt 250001 U.S. Atlantic waters, although there is one older historical record pointing to a ship strike that likely occurred beyond the U.S. Atlantic Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ; outside of where most Navy activities occur, so less relevant) and one 1998 record of a dead 20 m (66 ft) male blue whale brought into Rhode Island waters on the bow of a tanker. The cause of death was determined to be ship strike; however, some of the injuries were difficult to explain from the necropsy. As noted previously, the Navy has been conducting Marine Species Awareness Training and implementing additional mitigation measures to protect against vessel strikes since 2009. Therefore, given the absence of any strikes in the recent past since the Navy has implemented its current mitigation measures, the very low abundance of North Atlantic blue whales throughout the AFTT Study Area (Nmin = 440 for the Western North Atlantic stock, Waring et al., 2010), and the very low number of blue whales ever known to be struck in the area by any type of vessel (and none known to be struck by Navy vessels), we believe the likelihood of the Navy hitting a blue whale is discountable. In addition to the zero probability of hitting a sperm whale in the Gulf of Mexico predicted by the quantitative model, there have been no vessel strikes of sperm whales by any entity since 2009 in the Gulf of Mexico per the SAR (2009–2013) and no Navy strikes of any large whales since 1995 (based on our records, which include Navy’s records) in the Gulf of Mexico. Further, the Navy has comparatively fewer steaming days in the Gulf of Mexico and there is a fairly low abundance of sperm whales occurring there. As noted previously, the Navy has been conducting Marine Species Awareness Training and implementing additional mitigation PO 00000 Frm 00043 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 measures to protect against vessel strikes since 2009. Therefore, NMFS believes that the likelihood of the Navy hitting a Gulf of Mexico sperm whale is discountable. Although the quantitative analysis would indicate that NARWs do have a low probability of being struck one time within the seven-year period when vessel strikes across all activity types (including non-Navy) are considered (annual mortality and serious injury, hereafter abbreviated as M/SI, from vessel strikes is calculated as 0.41 in the 2018 SAR), when the enhanced mitigation measures (discussed below) that the Navy has been implementing and will continue to implement for NARWs are considered in combination with this low probability, a vessel strike is highly unlikely. Therefore, lethal take of NARWs was not requested by the Navy and is not authorized by NMFS. We further note that while there have been two strikes of unidentified whales by the Navy since 2009, it is unlikely they were NARW as the strikes occurred in areas where, or times of year when, NARW are not known to be present. Regarding the Bryde’s whale, due to the fact that the Navy has not struck a Bryde’s whale (as no Navy strikes have occurred in the Gulf of Mexico), the very low abundance numbers (Nbest = 33 individuals, Hayes et al., 2019), and the limited Navy ship traffic that overlaps with Bryde’s whale habitat, neither the Navy nor NMFS anticipate any vessel-strike takes, and none were requested or authorized. The Navy is now also limiting activities (i.e., 200 hr cap on hull-mounted MFAS) and will not use explosives (except during mine warfare activities) in the Bryde’s Whale Mitigation Area. For a complete discussion and analysis of these mitigation areas, see the Mitigation Measures section in the 2018 AFTT E:\FR\FM\23DER2.SGM 23DER2 lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with RULES2 70754 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 246 / Monday, December 23, 2019 / Rules and Regulations final rule along with a summary in the Mitigation Measures section of this final rule; see also Chapter 5 (Mitigation) of the 2018 AFTT FEIS/OEIS. In addition to procedural mitigation, the Navy will continue to implement measures in mitigation areas used by NARW for foraging, calving, and migration. For a complete discussion and analysis of these mitigation areas, see the Mitigation Measures section in the 2018 AFTT final rule along with a summary in the Mitigation Measures section of this final rule; see also Chapter 5 (Mitigation) of the 2018 AFTT FEIS/OEIS. These measures, which go above and beyond those focused on other species (e.g., funding of and communication with sightings systems, implementation of speed reductions during applicable circumstances in certain areas) have succeeded in the Navy avoiding strike of a NARW during training and testing activities in the past and essentially eliminate the potential for vessel strikes to occur during the seven-year period of this rule. In particular, the mitigation pertaining to vessels, including the continued participation in and sponsoring of the Early Warning System, will help Navy vessels avoid NARW during transits and training and testing activities. The Early Warning System is a comprehensive information exchange network dedicated to reducing the risk of vessel strikes to NARW off the southeast United States from all mariners (i.e., Navy and non-Navy vessels). Navy participants include the Fleet Area Control and Surveillance Facility, Jacksonville; Commander, Naval Submarine Forces, Norfolk, Virginia; and Naval Submarine Support Command. The Navy, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and NMFS collaboratively sponsor daily aerial surveys from December 1 through March 31 (weather permitting) to observe for NARW from the shoreline out to approximately 30–35 nmi offshore. Aerial surveyors relay sightings information to all mariners transiting within the NARW calving habitat (e.g., commercial vessels, recreational boaters, and Navy ships). In the Northeast NARW Mitigation Area, before all vessel transits, the Navy conducts a web query or email inquiry of NOAA’s NARW Sighting Advisory System to obtain the latest NARW sightings information. Navy vessels currently use and will continue to use the obtained sightings information to reduce potential interactions with NARW during transits and prevent ship strikes. In this mitigation area, vessels will continue to implement speed reductions after they observe a NARW; VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:56 Dec 20, 2019 Jkt 250001 if they are within 5 nmi of the location of a sighting reported to the NARW Sighting Advisory System within the past week; and when operating at night or during periods of reduced visibility. During transits and normal firing involving non-explosive torpedos activities, the Navy ships will continue to maintain a speed of no more than 10 kn. During submarine target firing, ships would maintain speeds of no more than 18 kn. During vessel target firing, vessel speeds would exceed 18 kn for only brief periods of time (e.g., 10–15 min). In the Southeast NARW Mitigation Area, before transiting or conducting training or testing activities within the mitigation area, the Navy will continue to initiate communication with the Fleet Area Control and Surveillance Facility, Jacksonville to obtain Early Warning System NARW whale sightings data. The Fleet Area Control and Surveillance Facility, Jacksonville will continue to advise vessels of all reported whale sightings in the vicinity to help vessels and aircraft reduce potential interactions with NARWs and prevent ship strikes. Commander Submarine Force U.S. Atlantic Fleet will coordinate any submarine activities that may require approval from the Fleet Area Control and Surveillance Facility, Jacksonville. Vessels will continue to use the sightings information to reduce potential interactions with NARW during transits and prevent ship strikes. Vessels will also implement speed reductions after they observe a NARW, if they are within 5 nmi of a sighting reported within the past 12 hours (hrs), or when operating in the mitigation area at night or during periods of poor visibility. To the maximum extent practicable, vessels will continue to minimize north-south transits in the mitigation area. Finally, the Navy will continue to broadcast awareness notification messages with NARW Dynamic Management Area information (e.g., location and dates) to applicable Navy vessels operating in the vicinity of the Dynamic Management Area. The information will continue to alert assets to the possible presence of a NARW to maintain safety of navigation and further reduce the potential for a vessel strike. Navy platforms would use the information to assist their visual observation of applicable mitigation zones during training and testing activities and to aid in the implementation of procedural mitigation, including but not limited to, mitigation for vessel movement. Implementation of these measures significantly reduces the possibility of striking NARWs during the seven-year period of the rule. The probability for PO 00000 Frm 00044 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 any particular ship to strike a marine mammal is primarily a product of the ability of the ship to detect a marine mammal and the ability to effectively act to avoid it. Navy combat ships are inherently among the best at both of these because compared to large commercial vessels, they have trained Lookouts which have received specialized Marine Mammal Observer (MMO) training, and they are the most maneuverable ships, which means that they are more likely to sight a marine mammal and more likely to be able to maneuver to avoid it in the available time—both of which decrease the probability of striking a marine mammal below what it would have been in the absence of those abilities. In the case of the NARW, the extensive communication/detection network described above, which is in use in the areas of highest NARW occurrence and where they may be more susceptible to strike, further increases the likelihood of detecting a NARW and thereby avoiding it, which further reduces the probability of NARW strike. Further, detection of NARW in some areas/times is associated with reduced speed requirements, which may reduce the strike probability further by slightly increasing the time within which an operator has to maneuver away from a whale. Because of these additional mitigation measures combined with the already low probability that a NARW will be struck, it is extremely unlikely the Navy would strike a NARW, and mortality/serious injury of a NARW from vessel strike is neither anticipated nor authorized. In conclusion, although it is generally unlikely that any whales will be struck in a year, based on the information and analysis above, NMFS anticipates that no more than four whales have the potential to be taken by serious injury or mortality over the seven-year period of the rule. Of those four whales over the seven years, no more than two would be humpback whales (Gulf of Maine stock) and no more than one would come from any of the four following stocks: Fin whale (Western North Atlantic stock), minke (Canadian East Coast stock), sperm whale (North Atlantic stock), and sei whale (Nova Scotia stock). Accordingly in the Analysis and Negligible Impact Determination section, NMFS has evaluated under the negligible impact standard the serious injury or mortality of 0.14 whales annually from each of these species or stocks (i.e., 1 take over the 7 years divided by 7 to get the annual number), except for the humpback whale (North Atlantic stock) for which we used 0.29 (i.e., 2 takes over E:\FR\FM\23DER2.SGM 23DER2 lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with RULES2 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 246 / Monday, December 23, 2019 / Rules and Regulations the 7 years divided by 7 to get the annual number) along with other expected harassment incidental take. impacts, and the practicability of implementing those measures, as we describe below. Mitigation Measures Implementation of Least Practicable Adverse Impact Standard Our evaluation of potential mitigation measures includes consideration of two primary factors: (1) The manner in which, and the degree to which, implementation of the potential measure(s) is expected to reduce adverse impacts to marine mammal species or stocks, their habitat, and their availability for subsistence uses (where relevant). This analysis considers such things as the nature of the potential adverse impact (such as likelihood, scope, and range), the likelihood that the measure will be effective if implemented, and the likelihood of successful implementation; and (2) The practicability of the measures for applicant implementation. Practicability of implementation may consider such things as cost, impact on activities, and, in the case of a military readiness activity, under section 101(a)(5)(A)(ii) specifically considers personnel safety, practicality of implementation, and impact on the effectiveness of the military readiness activity. While the language of the least practicable adverse impact standard calls for minimizing impacts to affected species or stocks and their habitats, we recognize that the reduction of impacts to those species or stocks accrues through the application of mitigation measures that limit impacts to individual animals. Accordingly, NMFS’ analysis focuses on measures that are designed to avoid or minimize impacts on individual marine mammals when those impacts are likely to increase the probability or severity of population-level effects. While direct evidence of impacts to species or stocks from a specified activity is rarely available, and additional study is still needed to understand how specific disturbance events affect the fitness of individuals of certain species, there have been improvements in understanding the process by which disturbance effects are translated to the population. With recent scientific advancements (both marine mammal energetic research and the development of energetic frameworks), the relative likelihood or degree of impacts on species or stocks may often be inferred given a detailed understanding of the activity, the environment, and the affected species or stocks—and the best available science has been used here. This same Under section 101(a)(5)(A) of the MMPA, NMFS must set forth the permissible methods of taking pursuant to the activity, and other means of effecting the least practicable adverse impact on the species or stock(s) and their habitat, paying particular attention to rookeries, mating grounds, and areas of similar significance, and on the availability of the species or stock(s) for subsistence uses (‘‘least practicable adverse impact’’). NMFS does not have a regulatory definition for least practicable adverse impact. The 2004 NDAA amended the MMPA as it relates to military readiness activities and the incidental take authorization process such that a determination of ‘‘least practicable adverse impact’’ shall include consideration of personnel safety, practicality of implementation, and impact on the effectiveness of the military readiness activity. For the full discussion of how NMFS interprets least practicable adverse impact, including how it relates to the negligible-impact standard, see the Mitigation Measures section in the 2018 AFTT final rule. Section 101(a)(5)(A)(i)(II) requires NMFS to issue, in conjunction with its authorization, binding—and enforceable—restrictions (in the form of regulations) setting forth how the activity must be conducted, thus ensuring the activity has the ‘‘least practicable adverse impact’’ on the affected species or stocks. In situations where mitigation is specifically needed to reach a negligible impact determination, section 101(a)(5)(A)(i)(II) also provides a mechanism for ensuring compliance with the ‘‘negligible impact’’ requirement. Finally, we reiterate that the least practicable adverse impact standard also requires consideration of measures for marine mammal habitat, with particular attention to rookeries, mating grounds, and other areas of similar significance, and for subsistence impacts, whereas the negligible impact standard is concerned solely with conclusions about the impact of an activity on annual rates of recruitment and survival.1 In evaluating what mitigation measures are appropriate, NMFS considers the potential impacts of the Specified Activities, the availability of measures to minimize those potential 1 Outside of the military readiness context, mitigation may also be appropriate to ensure compliance with the ‘‘small numbers’’ language in MMPA sections 101(a)(5)(A) and (D). VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:56 Dec 20, 2019 Jkt 250001 PO 00000 Frm 00045 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 70755 information is used in the development of mitigation measures and helps us understand how mitigation measures contribute to lessening effects (or the risk thereof) to species or stocks and their habitat. We also acknowledge that there is always the potential that new information, or a new recommendation that we had not previously considered becomes available in the future and necessitates reevaluation of mitigation measures (which may be addressed through adaptive management) to see if further reductions of population impacts are possible and practicable. In the evaluation of specific measures, the details of the specified activity will necessarily inform each of the two primary factors discussed above (expected reduction of impacts and practicability), and are carefully considered to determine the types of mitigation that are appropriate under the least practicable adverse impact standard. Analysis of how a potential mitigation measure may reduce adverse impacts on a marine mammal stock or species, consideration of personnel safety, practicality of implementation, and consideration of the impact on effectiveness of military readiness activities are not issues that can be meaningfully evaluated through a yes/ no lens. The manner in which, and the degree to which, implementation of a measure is expected to reduce impacts, as well as its practicability in terms of these considerations, can vary widely. For example, a time/area restriction could be of very high value for decreasing population-level impacts (e.g., avoiding disturbance of feeding females in an area of established biological importance) or it could be of lower value (e.g., decreased disturbance in an area of high productivity but of less firmly established biological importance). Regarding practicability, a measure might involve restrictions in an area or time that impede the Navy’s ability to certify a strike group (higher impact on mission effectiveness), or it could mean delaying a small in-port training event by 30 minutes to avoid exposure of a marine mammal to injurious levels of sound (lower impact). A responsible evaluation of ‘‘least practicable adverse impact’’ considers the factors along these realistic scales. Accordingly, the greater the likelihood that a measure will contribute to reducing the probability or severity of adverse impacts to the species or stocks or their habitat, the greater the weight that measure is given when considered in combination with practicability to determine the appropriateness of the mitigation measure, and vice versa. In E:\FR\FM\23DER2.SGM 23DER2 70756 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 246 / Monday, December 23, 2019 / Rules and Regulations the evaluation of specific measures, the details of the specified activity necessarily inform each of the two primary factors discussed above (expected reduction of impacts and practicability), and are carefully considered to determine the types of mitigation that are appropriate under the least practicable adverse impact standard. For more detail on how we apply these factors, see the discussion in the Mitigation Measures section of the 2018 AFTT final rule. NMFS fully reviewed the Navy’s specified activities and the mitigation measures for the 2018 AFTT rulemaking and determined that the mitigation measures would result in the least practicable adverse impact on marine mammals and their habitat. There is no change in either the activities or the mitigation measures for this seven-year rule. See the 2019 Navy application and the 2018 AFTT final rule for detailed information on the Navy’s mitigation measures. NMFS worked with the Navy in the development of the Navy’s initially proposed measures, which were informed by years of implementation and monitoring. A complete discussion of the Navy’s evaluation process used to develop, assess, and select mitigation measures, which was informed by input from NMFS, can be found in Chapter 5 (Mitigation) of the 2018 AFTT FEIS/ OEIS. The process described in Chapter 5 (Mitigation) of the 2018 AFTT FEIS/ OEIS robustly supported NMFS’ independent evaluation of whether the mitigation measures would meet the least practicable adverse impact standard. The Navy has implemented the mitigation measures under the 2018 AFTT regulations and will continue implementation of the mitigation measures identified in this rule for the full seven years to avoid or reduce potential impacts from acoustic, explosive, and physical disturbance and ship strike stressors. In its 2019 application, the Navy proposed no changes to the mitigation measures in the 2018 AFTT final rule and there is no new information that affects NMFS’ assessment of the applicability or effectiveness of those measures over the new seven-year period. See the 2018 AFTT proposed rule and the 2018 AFTT final rule for our full assessment and description of these measures. In summary, the Navy has agreed to procedural mitigation measures that will reduce the probability and/or severity of impacts expected to result from acute exposure to acoustic sources or explosives, ship strike, and impacts to marine mammal habitat. Specifically, the Navy will use a combination of delayed starts, powerdowns, and shutdowns to minimize or avoid serious injury or mortality, minimize the likelihood or severity of PTS or other injury, and reduce instances of TTS or more severe behavioral disruption caused by acoustic sources or explosives. The Navy also will implement multiple time/area restrictions (several of which were added in the 2018 AFTT final rule since the previous AFTT MMPA incidental take rule) that would reduce take of marine mammals in areas or at times where they are known to engage in important behaviors, such as feeding or calving, where the disruption of those behaviors would have a higher probability of resulting in impacts on reproduction or survival of individuals that could lead to population-level impacts. Summaries of the Navy’s procedural mitigation measures and mitigation areas for the AFTT Study Area are provided in Tables 14 and 15. TABLE 14—SUMMARY OF PROCEDURAL MITIGATION Stressor or activity Mitigation zones sizes and other requirements Environmental Awareness and Education ............................... Active Sonar ............................................................................. • Afloat Environmental Compliance Training program for applicable personnel. Depending on sonar source: • 1,000 yd power down, 500 yd power down, and 200 yd shut down. • 200 yd shut down. • 150 yd. • 100 yd. • 30 degrees on either side of the firing line out to 70 yd. • 600 yd. • 2,100 yd. • 1,000 yd (large-caliber projectiles). • 600 yd (medium-caliber projectiles during surface-to-surface activities). • 200 yd (medium-caliber projectiles during air-to-surface activities). • 2,000 yd (21–500 lb net explosive weight). • 900 yd (0.6–20 lb net explosive weight). • 2,500 yd. • 2.5 nmi. • 2,100 yd (6–650 lb net explosive weight). • 600 yd (0.1–5 lb net explosive weight). • 1,000 yd (21–60 lb net explosive weight for positive control charges and charges using time-delay fuses). • 500 yd (0.1–20 lb net explosive weight for positive control charges). • 200 yd. • 900 yd. • 3.5 nmi. • 500 yd (whales). • 200 yd (other marine mammals). • North Atlantic right whale Dynamic Management Area notification messages. • 250 yd. • 200 yd. Air Guns ................................................................................... Pile Driving ............................................................................... Weapons Firing Noise .............................................................. Explosive Sonobuoys ............................................................... Explosive Torpedoes ................................................................ Explosive Medium-Caliber and Large-Caliber Projectiles ........ Explosive Missiles and Rockets ............................................... Explosive Bombs ...................................................................... Sinking Exercises ..................................................................... Explosive Mine Countermeasure and Neutralization Activities Explosive Mine Neutralization Activities Involving Navy Divers lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with RULES2 Maritime Security Operations—Anti-Swimmer Grenades ........ Line Charge Testing ................................................................. Ship Shock Trials ..................................................................... Vessel Movement ..................................................................... Towed In-Water Devices .......................................................... Small-, Medium-, and Large-Caliber Non-Explosive Practice Munitions. Non-Explosive Missiles and Rockets ....................................... Non-Explosive Bombs and Mine Shapes ................................ • 900 yd. • 1,000 yd. Notes: lb: pounds; nmi: nautical miles; yd: yards. VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:56 Dec 20, 2019 Jkt 250001 PO 00000 Frm 00046 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\23DER2.SGM 23DER2 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 246 / Monday, December 23, 2019 / Rules and Regulations 70757 TABLE 15—SUMMARY OF MITIGATION AREAS FOR MARINE MAMMALS Summary of mitigation area requirements Northeast North Atlantic Right Whale Mitigation Area • The Navy must report the total hrs and counts of active sonar and in-water explosives used in the mitigation area in its annual training and testing activity reports. • The Navy must minimize use of active sonar to the maximum extent practicable and must not use explosives that detonate in the water. • The Navy must conduct non-explosive torpedo testing during daylight hrs in Beaufort sea state 3 or less using three Lookouts (one on a vessel, two in an aircraft during aerial surveys) and an additional Lookout on the submarine when surfaced; during transits, ships must maintain a speed of no more than 10 knots; during firing, ships must maintain a speed of no more than 18 knots except brief periods of time during vessel target firing. • Vessels must obtain the latest North Atlantic right whale sightings data and implement speed reductions after they observe a North Atlantic right whale, if within 5 nmi of a sighting reported within the past week, and when operating at night or during periods of reduced visibility. Gulf of Maine Planning Awareness Mitigation Area • The Navy must report the total hrs and counts of active sonar and in-water explosives used in the mitigation area in its annual training and testing activity reports. • The Navy must not conduct major training exercises and must not conduct >200 hrs of hull-mounted mid-frequency active sonar per year. Northeast Planning Awareness Mitigation Areas and Mid-Atlantic Planning Awareness Mitigation Areas • The Navy must avoid conducting major training exercises to the maximum extent practicable. • The Navy must not conduct more than four major training exercises per year. Southeast North Atlantic Right Whale Mitigation Area (November 15–April 15) • The Navy must report the total hrs and counts of active sonar and in-water explosives used in the mitigation area in its annual training and testing activity reports. • The Navy must not use active sonar except as necessary for navigation training, object detection training, and dipping sonar. • The Navy must not expend explosive or non-explosive ordnance. • Vessels must obtain the latest North Atlantic right whale sightings data; must implement speed reductions after they observe a North Atlantic right whale, if within 5 nmi of a sighting reported within the past 12 hrs, and when operating at night or during periods of reduced visibility; and must minimize north-south transits to the maximum extent practicable. Jacksonville Operating Area (November 15–April 15) • Navy units conducting training or testing activities in the Jacksonville Operating Area must obtain and use Early Warning System North Atlantic right whale sightings data as they plan specific details of events to minimize potential interactions with North Atlantic right whales to the maximum extent practicable. The Navy must use the reported sightings information to assist visual observations of applicable mitigation zones and to aid in the implementation of procedural mitigation. Southeast North Atlantic Right Whale Critical Habitat Special Reporting Area (November 15–April 15) • The Navy must report the total hrs and counts of active sonar and in-water explosives used in the mitigation area in its annual training and testing activity reports. Navy Cherry Point Range Complex Nearshore Mitigation Area (March–September) • The Navy must not conduct explosive mine neutralization activities involving Navy divers in the mitigation area. • To the maximum extent practicable, the Navy must not use explosive sonobuoys, explosive torpedoes, explosive medium-caliber and largecaliber projectiles, explosive missiles and rockets, explosive bombs, explosive mines during mine countermeasure and neutralization activities, and anti-swimmer grenades in the mitigation area. Bryde’s Whale Mitigation Area • The Navy must report the total hrs and counts of active sonar and in-water explosives used in the mitigation area in its annual training and testing activity reports. • The Navy must not conduct >200 hrs of hull-mounted mid-frequency active sonar per year and must not use explosives (except during explosive mine warfare activities). Gulf of Mexico Planning Awareness Mitigation Areas • The Navy must not conduct any major training exercises under the action. lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with RULES2 Notes: min.: minutes; nmi: nautical miles. Mitigation Conclusions NMFS has carefully evaluated the Navy’s proposed mitigation measures— many of which were developed with NMFS’ input during the previous phases of Navy training and testing VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:56 Dec 20, 2019 Jkt 250001 authorizations and none of which have changed since our evaluation during the 2018 AFTT rulemaking—and considered a broad range of other measures (i.e., the measures considered but eliminated in the 2018 AFTT FEIS/ PO 00000 Frm 00047 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 OEIS, which reflect many of the comments that have arisen via NMFS or public input in past years) in the context of ensuring that NMFS prescribes the means of effecting the least practicable adverse impact on the E:\FR\FM\23DER2.SGM 23DER2 70758 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 246 / Monday, December 23, 2019 / Rules and Regulations affected marine mammal species and stocks and their habitat. Our evaluation of potential measures included consideration of the following factors in relation to one another: The manner in which, and the degree to which, the successful implementation of the mitigation measures is expected to reduce the likelihood and/or magnitude of adverse impacts to marine mammal species and stocks and their habitat; the proven or likely efficacy of the measures; and the practicability of the measures for applicant implementation, including consideration of personnel safety, practicality of implementation, and impact on the effectiveness of the military readiness activity. There is no new information that affects our analysis from the 2018 AFTT rulemaking, all of which remains applicable and valid for our assessment of the appropriateness of the mitigation measures during the seven-year period of this rule. Based on our evaluation of the Navy’s measures (which are currently being implemented under the 2018 AFTT regulations), as well as other measures considered by the Navy and NMFS, NMFS has determined that the Navy’s mitigation measures are appropriate means of effecting the least practicable adverse impacts on marine mammal species or stocks and their habitat, paying particular attention to rookeries, mating grounds, and areas of similar significance, and considering specifically personnel safety, practicality of implementation, and impact on the effectiveness of the military readiness activity. Additionally, as described in more detail below, the 2018 AFTT final rule included an adaptive management provision, which NMFS has extended for the additional two years of this rule, which ensures that mitigation is regularly assessed and provides a mechanism to improve the mitigation, based on the factors above, through modification as appropriate. lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with RULES2 Monitoring Section 101(a)(5)(A) of the MMPA states that in order to authorize incidental take for an activity, 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 incidental take 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 VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:56 Dec 20, 2019 Jkt 250001 mammals that are expected to be present. In its 2019 application, the Navy proposed no changes to the monitoring described in the 2018 AFTT final rule. They would continue implementation of the robust Integrated Comprehensive Monitoring Program and Strategic Planning Process described in the 2018 AFTT final rule. The Navy’s monitoring strategy, currently required by the 2018 AFTT regulations and extended for two years under this final rule, is welldesigned to work across Navy ranges to help better understand the impacts of the Navy’s activities on marine mammals and their habitat by focusing on learning more about marine mammal occurrence in different areas and exposure to Navy stressors, marine mammal responses to different sound sources, and the consequences of those exposures and responses on marine mammal populations. Similarly, the seven-year regulations include identical adaptive management provisions and reporting requirements as the 2018 AFTT regulations. There is no new information to indicate that the monitoring measures put in place under the 2018 AFTT final rule do not remain applicable and appropriate for the seven-year period of this final rule. See the Monitoring section of the 2018 AFTT final rule for more details on the monitoring that is required under this rule. Adaptive Management The 2018 AFTT regulations governing the take of marine mammals incidental to Navy training and testing activities in the AFTT Study Area contain an adaptive management component. Our understanding of the effects of Navy training and testing activities (e.g., acoustic and explosive stressors) on marine mammals continues to evolve, which makes the inclusion of an adaptive management component both valuable and necessary within the context of seven-year regulations. The 2019 Navy application proposed no changes to the adaptive management component included in the 2018 AFTT final rule. The reporting requirements associated with this rule are designed to provide NMFS with monitoring data from the previous year to allow NMFS to consider whether any changes to existing mitigation and monitoring requirements are appropriate. The use of adaptive management allows NMFS to consider new information from different sources to determine (with input from the Navy regarding practicability) on an annual or biennial basis if mitigation or monitoring measures should be PO 00000 Frm 00048 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 modified (including additions or deletions). Mitigation measures could be modified if new data suggests that such modifications would have a reasonable likelihood of more effectively accomplishing the goals of the mitigation and monitoring and if the measures are practicable. If the modifications to the mitigation, monitoring, or reporting measures are substantial, NMFS will publish a notice of the planned LOA in the Federal Register and solicit public comment. The following are some of the possible sources of applicable data to be considered through the adaptive management process: (1) Results from monitoring and exercises reports, as required by MMPA authorizations; (2) compiled results of Navy funded research and development studies; (3) results from specific stranding investigations; (4) results from general marine mammal and sound research; and (5) any information which reveals that marine mammals may have been taken in a manner, extent, or number not authorized by these regulations or subsequent LOAs. The results from monitoring reports and other studies may be viewed at https:// www.navymarinespeciesmonitoring.us/. Reporting In order to issue incidental take authorization for an activity, section 101(a)(5)(A) of the MMPA states that NMFS must set forth requirements pertaining to the monitoring and reporting of such taking. Effective reporting is critical both to compliance as well as ensuring that the most value is obtained from the required monitoring. Reports from individual monitoring events, results of analyses, publications, and periodic progress reports for specific monitoring projects will be posted to the Navy’s Marine Species Monitoring web portal: http:// www.navymarinespeciesmonitoring.us. The 2019 Navy application proposed no changes to the reporting requirements identified in the 2018 AFTT final rule. Reporting requirements under this final rule remain identical to those described in the 2018 AFTT final rule, where there is no new information to indicate that the reporting requirements put in place under the 2018 AFTT final rule do not remain applicable and appropriate for the seven-year period of this final rule. See the Reporting section of the 2018 AFTT final rule for more details on the reporting that is required under this rule. E:\FR\FM\23DER2.SGM 23DER2 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 246 / Monday, December 23, 2019 / Rules and Regulations lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with RULES2 Analysis and Negligible Impact Determination NMFS has defined negligible impact as an impact resulting from the specified activity that cannot be reasonably expected to, and is not reasonably likely to, adversely affect the species or stock through effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival (50 CFR 216.103). A negligible impact finding is based on the lack of likely adverse effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival (i.e., populationlevel effects). An estimate of the number of takes alone is not enough information on which to base an impact determination. In addition to considering estimates of the number of marine mammals that might be ‘‘taken’’ through mortality, serious injury, and Level A or Level B harassment (as presented in Tables 10–13), 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’ 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, other ongoing sources of human-caused mortality, and ambient noise levels). In the Estimated Take of Marine Mammals sections of this final rule and the 2018 AFTT final rule (where the activities, species and stocks, potential effects, and mitigation measures are the same as for this rule), we identified the subset of potential effects that would be expected to rise to the level of takes both annually and over the seven-year period covered by this rule, and then identified the number of each of those mortality takes that we believe could occur or the maximum number of harassment takes that are reasonably expected to occur based on the methods described. The impact that any given take will have is dependent on many case-specific factors that need to be considered in the negligible impact analysis (e.g., the context of behavioral VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:56 Dec 20, 2019 Jkt 250001 exposures such as duration or intensity of a disturbance, the health of impacted animals, the status of a species that incurs fitness-level impacts to individuals, etc.). For this final rule we evaluated the likely impacts of the enumerated maximum number of harassment takes proposed to be authorized and reasonably expected to occur, in the context of the specific circumstances surrounding these predicted takes. We also assessed M/SI takes that have the potential to occur, as well as considering the traits and statuses of the affected species and stocks. Last, we collectively evaluated this information, as well as other more taxa-specific information and mitigation measure effectiveness, in group-specific assessments that support our negligible impact conclusions for each stock. The nature and level of the specified activities and the boundaries of the AFTT Study Area, and therefore the training and testing activities (e.g., equipment and sources used, exercises conducted) are the same as those analyzed in the 2018 AFTT final rule. In addition, the mitigation, monitoring, and reporting measures are identical to those described and analyzed in the 2018 AFTT final rule. As described above, there is no new information available since the publication of the 2018 AFTT final rule regarding the impacts of the specified activities on marine mammals, the status and distribution of any of the affected marine mammal species or stocks, or the effectiveness of the mitigation and monitoring measures that would change our analyses. Harassment As described in the Estimated Takes of Marine Mammals section, the annual number of takes authorized and reasonably expected to occur by Level A harassment and Level B harassment (based on the maximum number of activities per 12-month period) are identical to those presented in Tables 39 through 41 in the Take Requests section of the 2018 AFTT final rule. As such the negligible impact analyses and determinations of the effects of the estimated Level A harassment and Level B harassment takes on annual rates of recruitment or survival for each species and stock are identical to that presented in the 2018 AFTT final rule. The only difference is that the annual levels of take and the associated effects on reproduction or survival will occur for PO 00000 Frm 00049 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 70759 the seven-year period of the rule instead of the five-year period of the 2018 AFTT final rule, which will make no difference in effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival. For detailed discussion of the impacts that affected individuals may experience given the specific characteristics of the specified activities and required mitigation (e.g., from behavioral harassment, masking, and temporary or permanent threshold shift), along with the effects of the expected Level A harassment and Level B harassment take on reproduction and survival, see the applicable subsections in the Analysis and Negligible Impact Determination section of the 2018 AFTT final rule (83 FR 57211–57217; November 14, 2018). Serious Injury or Mortality No additional ship shock trials will occur during the seven-year period of the rule, so the requested and authorized total takes by M/SI due to explosives used during ship shock trials over seven years are the same as those authorized in the existing 2018 AFTT regulations. There is no new information that affects the methodology or results of the shipshock analysis presented in the 2018 AFTT final rule. But as these same activities would occur over seven years rather than five years, the estimated annual take is calculated as the number of total takes divided by seven. For each of the dolphin species and stocks listed in Table 16 there would be an annual take of 0.14 dolphins (i.e., for those species and stocks where one take could occur divided by seven years to get the annual number of M/SIs) or 0.86 dolphins in the case of short-beaked common dolphin (i.e., where six takes could occur divided by seven years to get the annual number of M/SIs). This is a decrease from the annual take of 0.2 dolphins (for the three species where one lethal take could occur) and annual take of 1.2 short-beaked common dolphins (where six lethal takes could occur) over the five-year period of the 2018 AFTT regulations, as shown in Table 70 in the 2018 AFTT final rule. As this annual number is less than that analyzed and authorized in the 2018 AFTT final rule and no other relevant information about the status, abundance, or effects of mortality on each species and stock has changed, the analysis of the effects of take from ship shock trials mirrors that presented in the 2018 AFTT final rule. E:\FR\FM\23DER2.SGM 23DER2 70760 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 246 / Monday, December 23, 2019 / Rules and Regulations TABLE 16—SUMMARY INFORMATION RELATED TO AFTT SERIOUS INJURY OR MORTALITY FROM EXPLOSIVES (SHIP SHOCK TRIALS), 2018–2025 Stock abundance (Nbest)* Species (stock) Atlantic white-sided dolphin (Western N. Atlantic). Pantropical spotted dolphin (Northern GOMEX). Short-beaked common dolphin (Western N. Atlantic). Spinner dolphin (Northern GOMEX) Annual estimated take by serious injury or mortality (M/SI) 1 48,819 Fisheries interactions (Y/N); annual rate of M/SI from fisheries interactions * Total annual M/SI * 2 0.14 30 Potential biological removal (PBR) * 3 30 Residual PBR-PBR minus annual M/SI and NEFSC authorized take 4 NEFSC authorized take (annual) 304 Stock trend * 5 0.6 273.4 ? UME (Y/N); number and year N 50,880 0.14 4.4 4.4 407 0 402.6 ? Y; 3 in 2010–2014 70,184 0.86 406 406 557 2 149 ? N 11,441 0.14 0 0 62 0 62 ? Y; 7 in 2010–2014 * Presented in the 2018 SARS. 1 This column represents the annual take by M/SI during ship shock trials and was calculated by the number of mortalities planned for authorization divided by seven years (the length of the rule and LOAs). 2 This column represents the total number of incidents of M/SI that could potentially accrue to the specified species or stock. This number comes from the SAR, but deducts the takes accrued from either Navy or NEFSC takes as noted in the SARs to ensure they are not double-counted against PBR. However, for these species, there were no takes from either Navy or NEFSC as noted in the SARs to deduct that would be considered double-counting. 3 Potential biological removal (PBR) is defined in section 3 of the MMPA. See the Analysis and Negligible Impact Determination section of the 2018 AFTT final rule for a description of PBR. 4 This value represents the calculated PBR less the average annual estimate of ongoing anthropogenic mortalities (i.e., total annual human-caused M/SI, which is presented in the 2018 SARs) and authorized take for NEFSC. 5 See relevant SARs for more information regarding stock status and trends. The other facet of the analysis for which there is a quantitative change from the 2018 AFTT final rule is the number of potential mortalities due to ship strike authorized over the sevenyear period. First, based on the information and methods discussed in the Estimated Take of Marine Mammals section (which are identical to those used in the 2018 AFTT final rule), NMFS has predicted that mortal takes of four large whales over the course of the seven-year rule could occur (as compared to three large whales over five years in the 2018 AFTT final rule). Second, while no more than one whale over the seven years of any species of fin whale, sei whale, minke whale, or sperm whale (North Atlantic stock) would occur (which is the same as in the five-year 2018 AFTT final rule), as described above in the Estimated Take of Marine Mammals section, the number of potential mortality takes of humpback whales has increased from one to two. This means an annual average of 0.29 humpback whales and an annual average of 0.14 whales for each of the other four species or stocks as described in Table 17 (i.e., one, or two, take(s) over seven years divided by seven to get the annual number) are expected to potentially occur and are authorized. As this annual number is less than that analyzed and authorized in the 2018 AFTT final rule for fin whale, sei whale, minke whale, and sperm whale (North Atlantic stock), which was an annual average of 0.2 whales for the same four species and stocks, and no other relevant information about the status, abundance, or effects of mortality on each species or stock has changed, the analysis of the effects of vessel strike mirrors that presented in the 2018 AFTT final rule. For humpback whales, the annual number for potential mortality takes is slightly higher than in the 2018 AFTT final rule, but the number still falls below the insignificance threshold of 10 percent of residual Potential Biological Removal (PBR), which indicates an insignificant incremental increase in ongoing anthropogenic mortality that alone will not adversely affect annual rates of recruitment or survival. The analysis of the effects of this potential mortality on humpback whales’ annual rates of recruitment and survival, considered in combination with other estimated harassment takes, appears in the Group and Species- Specific Analyses section for Mysticetes below. See the Serious Injury and Mortality subsection in the Analysis and Negligible Impact Determination section of the 2018 AFTT final rule (83 FR 57217–57223; November 14, 2018) for detailed discussions of the impacts of M/SI, including a description of how the agency uses the PBR metric and other factors to inform our analysis, and an analysis of the impacts on each species and stock for which mortality is authorized, including the relationship of potential mortality for each species to the insignificance threshold and residual PBR. Because the annual number of potential mortality takes for humpback whales remains below the insignificance threshold, the discussion for humpback whales (83 FR 57221– 57222; November 14, 2018) remains fully applicable. For discussion specifically on the role of the calculated PBR in evaluating the effects of M/SI, see both the 2018 AFTT final rule and the 2018 Hawaii-Southern California Training and Testing (HSTT) Study Area final rule (83 FR 66846; December 27, 2018). TABLE 17—SUMMARY INFORMATION RELATED TO AFTT SHIP STRIKE, 2018–2025. Stock abundance (Nbest) * lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with RULES2 Species (stock) Fin whale (Western North Atlantic). Sei whale (Nova Scotia). Minke Whale (Canadian East Coast). VerDate Sep<11>2014 Annual estimated take by serious injury or mortality (M/SI) 1 Total annual M/SI * 2 Fisheries interactions (Y/N); Annual rate of M/SI from fisheries interactions * Vessel collisions (Y/N); Annual rate of M/SI from vessel collision * PBR * NEFSC authorized take (annual) Residual PBR–PBR minus annual M/SI and NEFSC authorized take 3 Stock trend *4 UME (Y/N); number and year 5 1,618 0.14 2.5 Y; 1.1 .......... Y; 1.4 .......... 2.5 0 0 ? N. 357 0.14 0.8 N; 0 ............ Y; 0.8 * ....... 0.5 0 -0.3 ? N. 2,591 0.14 7.5 Y; 6.5 .......... Y; 1† ........... 14 1 5.5 ? Y; 18 in 2019 as of 10/24/2019 (27 in 2017 and 30 in 2018). 19:56 Dec 20, 2019 Jkt 250001 PO 00000 Frm 00050 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\23DER2.SGM 23DER2 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 246 / Monday, December 23, 2019 / Rules and Regulations 70761 TABLE 17—SUMMARY INFORMATION RELATED TO AFTT SHIP STRIKE, 2018–2025.—Continued Stock abundance (Nbest) * Species (stock) Annual estimated take by serious injury or mortality (M/SI) 1 Total annual M/SI * 2 Fisheries interactions (Y/N); Annual rate of M/SI from fisheries interactions * Vessel collisions (Y/N); Annual rate of M/SI from vessel collision * PBR * NEFSC authorized take (annual) Residual PBR–PBR minus annual M/SI and NEFSC authorized take 3 Stock trend *4 UME (Y/N); number and year 5 Y; 22 in 2019 as of 10/24/2019 (26 in 2016, 34 in 2017 and 25 in 2018). N. Humpback whale (Gulf of Maine). 896 0.29 9.7 Y; 7.1 .......... Y; 2.6 .......... 14.6 0 4.9 ↑ Sperm whale (North Atlantic). 2,288 0.14 0.8 Y; 0.6 .......... Y; 0.2 .......... 3.6 0 2.8 ? * Presented in the 2018 SARS. † Value presented incorrectly in the 2018 AFTT final rule and corrected here. 1 This column represents the annual take by M/SI by vessel collision and was calculated by the number of mortalities planned for authorization divided by seven years (the length of the rule and LOAs). 2 This column represents the total number of incidents of M/SI that could potentially accrue to the specified species or stock. This number comes from the SAR, but deducts the takes accrued from either Navy strikes or NEFSC takes as noted in the SARs to ensure they are not double-counted against PBR. However, for these species, there were no takes from either Navy or NEFSC as noted in the SARs to deduct that would be considered double-counting. 3 This value represents the calculated PBR less the average annual estimate of ongoing anthropogenic mortalities (i.e., total annual human-caused M/SI, which is presented in the 2018 SARs) and authorized take for NEFSC. 4 See relevant SARs for more information regarding stock status and trends. 5 This column presents UME information updated since the 2018 AFTT final rule, as discussed in the earlier section Potential Effects of Specified Activities on Marine Mammals and their Habitat. lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with RULES2 Group and Species-Specific Analyses In addition to broader analyses of the impacts of the Navy’s activities on mysticetes, odontocetes, and pinnipeds, the 2018 AFTT final rule contained detailed analyses of the effects of the Navy’s activities in the AFTT Study Area on each affected species and stock. All of that information and analyses remain applicable and valid for our analyses of the effects of the same Navy activities on the same species and stocks for the seven-year period of this final rule. See the Group and SpeciesSpecific Analyses subsection in the Analysis and Negligible Impact Determination section of the 2018 AFTT final rule (83 FR 57223–57247; November 14, 2018). In addition, no new information has been received since the publication of the 2018 AFTT final rule that significantly changes the analyses on the effects of the Navy’s activities on each species and stock presented in the 2018 AFTT final rule. In the discussions below, the estimated Level B harassment takes represent instances of take, not the number of individuals taken (the much lower and less frequent Level A harassment takes are far more likely to be associated with separate individuals), and in many cases some individuals are expected to be taken more than one time, while in other cases a portion of individuals will not be taken at all. Below, we compare the total take numbers (including PTS, TTS, and behavioral disruption) for species or stocks to their associated abundance estimates to evaluate the magnitude of impacts across the stock and to individuals. Specifically, when an VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:56 Dec 20, 2019 Jkt 250001 abundance percentage comparison is below 100, it means that that percentage or less of the individuals in the stock will be affected (i.e., some individuals will not be taken at all), that the average for those taken is one day per year, and that we would not expect any individuals to be taken more than a few times in a year. When it is more than 100 percent, it means there will definitely be some number of repeated takes of individuals. For example, if the percentage is 300, the average would be each individual is taken on three days in a year if all were taken, but it is more likely that some number of individuals will be taken more than three times and some number of individuals fewer or not at all. While it is not possible to know the maximum number of days across which individuals of a stock might be taken, in acknowledgement of the fact that it is more than the average, for the purposes of this analysis, we assume a number approaching twice the average. For example, if the percentage of take compared to the abundance is 800, we estimate that some individuals might be taken as many as 16 times. Those comparisons are included in the sections below. For some stocks these numbers have been adjusted slightly (with these adjustments being in the single digits) so as to more consistently apply this approach, but these minor changes did not change the analysis or findings. To assist in understanding what this analysis means, we clarify a few issues related to estimated takes and the analysis here. In the annual estimated take tables below, takes within the U.S. EEZ include only those takes within the PO 00000 Frm 00051 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 U.S. EEZ where most Navy activities occur and where we often have the best information on species and stock presence and abundance. Takes inside and outside the EEZ include all takes in the AFTT Study Area. An individual that incurs a PTS or TTS take may sometimes, for example, also be behaviorally disturbed at the same time. As described in the Harassment subsection of the Analysis and Negligible Impact Determination section of the 2018 AFTT final rule, the degree of PTS, and the degree and duration of TTS, expected to be incurred from the Navy’s activities are not expected to impact marine mammals such that their reproduction or survival could be affected. Similarly, data do not suggest that a single instance in which an animal accrues PTS or TTS and is also behaviorally harassed would result in impacts to reproduction or survival. Alternately, we recognize that if an individual is behaviorally harassed repeatedly for a longer duration and on consecutive days, effects could accrue to the point that reproductive success is jeopardized (as discussed below in the stock-specific summaries). Accordingly, in analyzing the number of takes and the likelihood of repeated and sequential takes (which could result in reproductive impacts), we consider the total takes, not just the behavioral Level B harassment takes, so that individuals potentially exposed to both threshold shift and behavioral disruption are appropriately considered. We note that the same reasoning applies with the potential addition of behavioral disruption (harassment) to tissue damage from explosives, the difference E:\FR\FM\23DER2.SGM 23DER2 70762 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 246 / Monday, December 23, 2019 / Rules and Regulations lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with RULES2 being that we do already consider the likelihood of reproductive impacts whenever tissue damage occurs. Further, the number of Level A harassment takes by either PTS or tissue damage are so low compared to abundance numbers that it is considered highly unlikely that any individual would be taken at those levels more than once. Having considered all of the information and analyses previously presented in the 2018 AFTT final rule, including the information presented in the Overview, the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) Oil Spill discussion, and the Group and Species-Specific Analyses discussions organized by the different groups and species, below we present tables showing instances of total take as a percentage of stock abundance for each group, updated with the new VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:56 Dec 20, 2019 Jkt 250001 vessel strike and ship shock calculations for some species. We then summarize the information for each species or stock, considering the analysis from the 2018 AFTT final rule and any new analysis. The analyses below in some cases address species collectively if they occupy the same functional hearing group (i.e., low, mid, and highfrequency cetaceans and pinnipeds in water), share similar life history strategies, and/or are known to behaviorally respond similarly to acoustic stressors. Because some of these groups or species share characteristics that inform the impact analysis similarly, it would be duplicative to repeat the same analysis for each species or stock. In addition, animals belonging to each stock within a species typically have the same hearing capabilities and behaviorally PO 00000 Frm 00052 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 respond in the same manner as animals in other stocks within the species. Mysticetes In Table 18 below for mysticetes, we indicate the total annual mortality, Level A and Level B harassment, and a number indicating the instances of total take as a percentage of abundance. Table 18 is unchanged from Table 72 in the 2018 AFTT final rule, except for updated information on mortality, as discussed above. For additional information and analysis supporting the negligible-impact analysis, see the Mysticetes discussion in the Group and Species-Specific Analyses section of the 2018 AFTT final rule, all of which remains applicable to this final rule unless specifically noted. BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\23DER2.SGM 23DER2 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 246 / Monday, December 23, 2019 / Rules and Regulations 70763 Table 18 -- Annual Estimated Takes by Level B Harassment, Level A Harassment, and Mortality for Mysticetes in the AFTT Study Area and Number Indicating the Instances of Total Take as a Percentage of Stock Abundance. Instances of Indicated types of Incidental take (not all takes represent separate indiVlduals, especially for disturbance) Level BHarassment Bluewhate• BehlJVioral TTS (may Disturbance also Include dlsturban~) Stock Species Westem North Atlantic (Gulf of St. Lawrence) Total takes Abundance Level A Harassment PTS nssue MortaHty Damage Inside and In EEZ Outside Instances of total take as percentage of abundante In EEZ lnsideand Outside EEZ In EEZ Inside and Outside EEZ EEZ 12 35 0 0 0 44 47 9 104 489 45 24 31 1 0 0 56 S6 so 112 112 77 563 0 s 0 0 0 0.14 313 3,913 337 796 260 3,284 so so Minke whale Northem Gulf of Mexico NSO Canadian East Coast 4,085 730 7,686 626 536 60 53 Flnwhate• Westem North Atlantic 1,716 3,671 33 0 0.14 5,368 5,420 1,660 14,769 323 37 Humpback whale Gulf of Maine 498 556 0.29 0.14 749 496 4 0 0 698 Nova Scotia 248 245 3 Selwhate• 779 805 246 4,580 11,737 141 317 16 7 Bryde's whale Note: In the table we compare estimated takes to abundance estimates generated from the same underlying density estimate (as described in the Estimated Take of Marine Mammals section of the 2018 AFTT f"rnal rule), versus abundance estimates directly from NMFS' SARs, which are not based on the same data and would not be appropriate for this purpose. Note that comparisons are made both within the U.S. EEZ only (where density estimates have lesser uncertainty) and across the whole Study Area (which offers a more comprehensive comparison for many stocks). Total takes inside and outside U.S. EEZ represent the sum of annual Level A and Level B harassment from training and testing plus harassment take from one large ship shock trial. BILLING CODE 3510–22–C Below we compile and summarize the information that supports our determination that the Navy’s activities will not adversely affect any species or stocks through effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival for any of the affected mysticete species and stocks. lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with RULES2 North Atlantic Right Whale (Western Stock) As described in the 2018 AFTT final rule, the status of NARW is precarious and they are listed as endangered under the ESA. There is an active UME associated with the recent unusually high number of deaths, some of which have been attributed to entanglement or vessel strike, although no vessel strikes have been attributed to the Navy. The number of births in recent years has been unusually low and recent studies VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:56 Dec 20, 2019 Jkt 250001 have reported individuals showing poor health or high stress levels. Accordingly, as described above and in the 2018 AFTT final rule, the Navy is implementing and will continue to implement a suite of mitigation measures that not only avoid the likelihood of ship strikes, but also minimize the severity of behavioral disruption by minimizing impacts in areas that are important for feeding and calving, thus ensuring that the relatively small number of Level B harassment takes that do occur are not expected to affect reproductive success or survivorship via detrimental impacts to energy intake or cow/calf interactions. Specifically, no mortality or Level A harassment is anticipated or authorized. Regarding the magnitude of Level B harassment takes (TTS and behavioral PO 00000 Frm 00053 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 disruption), the number of estimated instances compared to the abundance (137 percent) combined with the fact that the AFTT Study Area overlaps most if not all of the range, suggests that many to most of the individuals in the stock will likely be taken, but only on one or two days per year, with no reason to think the days will likely be sequential. Regarding the severity of those individual takes by behavioral Level B harassment, as explained in the 2018 AFTT final rule, the duration of any exposure is expected to be between minutes and hours (i.e., relatively short), the received sound levels are largely below 172 dB with some lesser portion up to 178 dB (i.e., of a moderate or lower level, less likely to evoke a severe response), and because of the mitigation measures the exposures will E:\FR\FM\23DER2.SGM 23DER2 ER23DE19.000</GPH> The annual mortality of0.14 is the result ofno more than one mortality over the course of seven years from vessel strikes as described above in the Estimated Take of Marine Mammals section. The annual mortality of0.29 is the result ofno more than two mortalities over the course of seven years from vessel strikes as described above in the same section. 70764 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 246 / Monday, December 23, 2019 / Rules and Regulations lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with RULES2 not occur in areas or at times where impacts would be likely to affect feeding and energetics or important cow/calf interactions that could lead to reduced reproductive success or survival. Regarding the severity of TTS takes, as explained in the 2018 AFTT final rule, they are expected to be low-level and of short duration and the associated lost opportunities and capabilities are not at a level that would impact reproduction or survival. Altogether, any individual NARW is likely to be disturbed at a low-moderate level on no more than a couple of likely non-sequential days per year (and not in biologically important areas). Even given the fact that some of the affected individuals may have compromised health, there is nothing to suggest that such a low magnitude and severity of effects would result in impacts on reproduction or survival of any individual, much less annual rates of recruitment or survival for the stock. For these reasons, we have determined, in consideration of all of the effects of the Navy’s activities combined, that the authorized take will have a negligible impact on NARW. Blue Whale (Western North Atlantic Stock) This is a wide-ranging stock that is best considered as ‘‘an occasional visitor’’ to the U.S. EEZ, which may represent the southern limit of its feeding range (Hayes et al., 2018), though no specific feeding areas have been identified. For this reason, the abundances calculated by the Navy based on survey data in the U.S. EEZ are very low (9 and 104, in the U.S. EEZ and throughout the range respectively) and while NMFS’ SAR does not predict an abundance, it does report an Nmin (minimum abundance) of 440. There is no currently reported trend for the population and there are no specific issues with the status of the stock that cause particular concern (e.g., no UMEs), although the species is listed as endangered under the ESA. We note, however, that this species was originally listed under the ESA as a result of the impacts from commercial whaling, which is no longer affecting the species. No mortality or Level A harassment is anticipated or authorized for blue whales. Regarding the magnitude of Level B harassment takes (TTS and behavioral disruption), given the number of total takes (47), the large range and wide-ranging nature of blue whales, and the minimum abundance identified in the SAR, there is no reason to think that any single animal will be taken by Level B harassment more than one time (though perhaps a few could VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:56 Dec 20, 2019 Jkt 250001 be) and less than 10 percent of the population is likely to be impacted. Regarding the severity of those individual Level B harassment behavioral takes, as explained in the 2018 AFTT final rule, the duration of any exposure is expected to be between minutes and hours (i.e., relatively short) and the received sound levels are largely below 172 dB with a portion up to 178 dB (i.e., of a moderate or lower level, less likely to evoke a severe response). Regarding the severity of TTS takes, as explained in the 2018 AFTT final rule, they are expected to be lowlevel and of short duration and the associated lost opportunities and capabilities not at a level that would impact reproduction or survival. Altogether, less than 10 percent of the stock is likely to be impacted and any individual blue whale is likely to be disturbed at a low-moderate level on no more than a day or two days per year and not in any known biologically important areas. This low magnitude and severity of effects is unlikely to result in impacts on the reproduction or survival of any individual, much less annual rates of recruitment or survival for the stock. For these reasons, we have determined, in consideration of all of the effects of the Navy’s activities combined, that the authorized take will have a negligible impact on blue whales. Bryde’s Whale (Northern Gulf of Mexico Stock) The Northern Gulf of Mexico Bryde’s whale is a small resident population and is listed as endangered under the ESA. Although there is no current UME, the small size of the population and its constricted range, combined with the lingering effects of exposure to oil from the DWH oil spill (which include adverse health effects on individuals, as well as population effects) are cause for considerable caution. Accordingly, as described above, the Navy is implementing and will continue to implement considerable time/area mitigation to minimize impacts within their limited range, including not planning major training exercises (which include the most powerful sound sources operating in a more concentrated area), limiting the hours of other sonar use, and not using explosives, with the exception of mine warfare activities, which has both reduced the amount of take and reduced the likely severity of impacts. No mortality or Level A harassment by tissue damage injury is anticipated or authorized, and only one Level A harassment take by PTS is estimated and authorized. PO 00000 Frm 00054 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 Regarding the magnitude of Level B harassment takes (TTS and behavioral disruption), the number of estimated instances compared to the abundance (112 percent) combined with the fact that the AFTT Study Area overlaps all of the small range, suggests that most to all of the individuals in the stock will likely be taken, but only on one or two days per year, with no reason to think the days would likely be sequential. Regarding the severity of those individual Level B harassment behavioral takes, as explained in the 2018 AFTT final rule, the duration of any exposure is expected to be between minutes and hours (i.e., relatively short); the received sound levels are largely below 172 dB with a portion up to 178 dB (i.e., of a moderate or lower level, less likely to evoke a severe response); and because of the mitigation the exposures will be of a less impactful nature. Regarding the severity of TTS takes, as explained in the 2018 AFTT final rule, they are expected to be lowlevel and of short duration and the associated lost opportunities and capabilities not at a level that would impact reproduction or survival. For similar reasons the one estimated Level A harassment take by PTS for this stock is unlikely to have any effect on the reproduction or survival of that individual, even if it were to be experienced by an individual that also experiences one or more Level B harassment takes. Altogether, any individual Bryde’s whale is likely to be disturbed at a lowmoderate level on no more than one or two days per year. Even given the fact that some of the affected individuals may have compromised health, there is nothing to suggest that such a low magnitude and severity of effects would result in impacts on the reproduction or survival of any individual, much less annual rates of recruitment or survival for the stock. For these reasons, we have determined, in consideration of all of the effects of the Navy’s activities combined, that the authorized take will have a negligible impact on the Gulf of Mexico stock of Bryde’s whales. Bryde’s Whale (No Stock Designated— NSD) These Bryde’s whales span the midand southern Atlantic and have not been designated as a stock under the MMPA. There is no currently reported trend for the population and there are no specific issues with the status of these whales that cause particular concern (e.g., UMEs). No mortality or Level A harassment is anticipated or authorized. Regarding the magnitude of Level B harassment takes (TTS and E:\FR\FM\23DER2.SGM 23DER2 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 246 / Monday, December 23, 2019 / Rules and Regulations lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with RULES2 behavioral disruption), the number of estimated instances compared to the abundance within the U.S. EEZ and both in and outside of the U.S. EEZ, respectively, is 626 percent and 60 percent, though the percentages would be far lower if compared against the abundance of the entire range of this species in the Atlantic. This information suggests that only a portion of the stock is likely impacted (significantly less than 60 percent given the large range), but that there is likely some repeat exposure (5 to 12 days within a year) of some subset of individuals within the U.S. EEZ if some animals spend extended time within the U.S. EEZ. Regarding the severity of those individual Level B harassment behavioral takes, as explained in the 2018 AFTT final rule, the duration of any exposure is expected to be between minutes and hours (i.e., relatively short) and the received sound levels are largely below 172 dB with a portion up to 178 dB (i.e., of a moderate or lower level, less likely to evoke a severe response). Regarding the severity of TTS takes, as explained in the 2018 AFTT final rule, they are expected to be lowlevel and of short duration and the associated lost opportunities and capabilities not at a level that would impact reproduction or survival. Altogether, only a portion of the population is impacted and any individual Bryde’s whale is likely to be disturbed at a low to moderate level, with many animals likely exposed only once or twice and a subset potentially disturbed across 5 to 12 likely nonsequential days not in any known biologically important areas. This low magnitude and severity of effects is not expected to result in impacts on annual rates of recruitment or survival for the stock. For these reasons, we have determined, in consideration of all of the effects of the Navy’s activities combined, that the authorized take will have a negligible impact on Bryde’s whales. Minke Whale (Canadian East Coast Stock) This stock of minke whales spans the East Coast and far into Northern Canada waters. Minke whales in the Atlantic are currently experiencing an UME wherein there have been unexpectedly elevated deaths along the Atlantic Coast, some of which have been preliminarily attributed to human interaction (primarily fisheries interactions) or infectious disease. As of July 26, 2019, six whales have stranded in 2019 (30 whales stranded in 2018 and 27 whales stranded in 2017). Because the most recent population estimate is based only VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:56 Dec 20, 2019 Jkt 250001 on surveys in U.S. waters and slightly into Canada, and did not cover the habitat of the entire Canadian East Coast stock, the abundance is underestimated in the SAR and is likely significantly greater than what is reflected in the current SAR. NMFS authorizes one mortality in seven years, and the resulting 0.14 annual mortality which falls below 10 percent of residual PBR (0.55), remains under the insignificance threshold, and would be considerably even lower if compared against a more appropriate PBR. As discussed in the 2018 AFTT final rule, there are no known factors, information, or unusual circumstances that indicate that this potential M/SI below the insignificance threshold could have adverse effects on the stock through effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival. Consideration of all applicable information indicates that the authorized mortality of one whale over the seven years will not result in more than a negligible impact on this stock. Regarding the magnitude of Level B harassment takes (TTS and behavioral disruption), the number of estimated instances compared to the abundance within the U.S. EEZ and both in and outside of the U.S. EEZ, respectively, is 536 percent and 53 percent. This information suggests that approximately less than half of the individuals are likely impacted, but that there is likely some repeat exposure (5 to 10 days within a year) of some subset of individuals within the U.S. EEZ if some animals spend extended time within the U.S. EEZ. Regarding the severity of those individual takes by behavioral Level B harassment, as explained in the 2018 AFTT final rule, the duration of any exposure is expected to be between minutes and hours (i.e., relatively short) and the received sound levels largely below 172 dB, with a portion up to 178 dB (i.e., of a moderate or lower level, less likely to evoke a severe response). Also, the Navy currently implements and will continue to implement time/ area mitigation in the Northeast that minimizes major training exercises and total sonar hours in an area that significantly overlaps an important feeding area for minke whales. This mitigation will reduce the severity of impacts to minke whales by reducing interference in feeding that could result in lost feeding opportunities or necessitate additional energy expenditure to find other good foraging opportunities. Regarding the severity of TTS takes, as explained in the 2018 AFTT final rule, they are expected to be low-level and of short duration and the associated lost opportunities and PO 00000 Frm 00055 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 70765 capabilities not at a level that would impact reproduction or survival. For similar reasons the five estimated Level A harassment takes by PTS for this stock are unlikely to have an effect on the reproduction or survival of any individual, even if PTS were to be experienced by an individual that also experiences one or more Level B harassment takes. Altogether, only a portion of the stock will be impacted and any individual minke whale is likely to be disturbed at a low to moderate level, with many animals likely exposed only once or twice and a subset potentially disturbed across 5 to 10 likely non-sequential days, minimized in biologically important areas. Even given the potential for compromised health of some individuals, this low magnitude and severity of effects is not expected to result in impacts on the reproduction or survival of individuals, nor are these harassment takes combined with the potential mortality expected to adversely affect this stock through impacts on annual rates of recruitment or survival for the stock. For these reasons, we have determined, in consideration of all of the effects of the Navy’s activities combined, that the authorized take will have a negligible impact on minke whales. Fin Whale (Western North Atlantic Stock) This stock spans the East Coast north into the Newfoundland waters of Canada. There is no currently reported trend for the population and there are no specific issues with the status of the stock that cause particular concern (e.g., no UMEs), although the species is listed as endangered under the ESA. NMFS authorizes one mortality over the seven years of the rule, or 0.14 annually. With the addition of this 0.14 annual mortality, residual PBR is exceeded, which means the total human-caused mortality would exceed residual PBR by 0.14. However, as explained in the 2018 AFTT final rule, this does not mean that the stock is not at or increasing toward its optimum sustainable population level (OSP) or that one lethal take by the Navy over the seven years covered by this rule would adversely affect the stock through effects on annual rates of reproduction or survival. Consideration of all applicable information indicates that the authorized mortality will not result in more than a negligible impact on this stock. The abundance of fin whales is likely significantly greater than what is reflected in the current SAR because, as noted in the SAR, the most recent population estimate is based only on E:\FR\FM\23DER2.SGM 23DER2 lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with RULES2 70766 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 246 / Monday, December 23, 2019 / Rules and Regulations surveys in U.S. waters and slightly into Canada which does not include the habitat of the entire stock as it extends over a very large additional area into Nova Scotian and Newfoundland waters. Accordingly, if the PBR in the SAR reflected the actual abundance across the entire range of the stock, residual PBR would be notably higher. Additionally, the current abundance estimate does not account for availability bias due to submerged animals (i.e., estimates are not corrected to account for the fact that given X number of animals seen at the surface, we can appropriately assume that Y number were submerged and not counted). Without a correction for this bias, the abundance estimate is likely further biased low. Because of these limitations, the current calculated PBR is not a reliable indicator of how removal of animals will affect the stock’s ability to reach or maintain OSP. We note that, generally speaking, while the abundance may be underestimated in this manner for some stocks due to the lack of surveys in areas outside of the U.S. EEZ, it is also possible that the human-caused mortality could be underestimated in the un-surveyed area. However, in the case of fin whales, most mortality is caused by entanglement in gear that is deployed relatively close to shore and, therefore, unrecorded mortality offshore would realistically be proportionally less as compared to the unsurveyed abundance and therefore the premise that PBR is likely underestimated still holds. Given the small amount by which residual PBR is exceeded and more significant degree (proportionally) to which abundance is likely underestimated, it is reasonable to conclude that if a more realistic PBR were used, the anticipated total humancaused mortality would be notably under it. We also note that 0.14 mortalities/ serious injuries means one mortality/ serious injury in one of the seven years and zero mortalities/serious injuries in six of the seven years. Therefore residual PBR would not be exceeded in 86 percent of the years covered by this rule. In situations where mortality/ serious injury is fractional, consideration must be given to the lessened impacts due to the absence of mortality in six of the seven years. Further, as described in the 2018 AFTT final rule, the Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan directs multiple efforts and requirements towards reducing mortality from commercial fishing (via gear modifications, area closures, and other mechanisms) and NOAA Office of Law Enforcement has VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:56 Dec 20, 2019 Jkt 250001 reported high compliance rates. Nonetheless, the exceedance of residual PBR calls for close attention to the remainder of impacts on fin whales from this activity to ensure that the total authorized impacts are negligible. Regarding the magnitude of Level B harassment takes (TTS and behavioral disruption), the number of estimated instances compared to the abundance within the U.S. EEZ and both in and outside of the U.S. EEZ, respectively, is 323 percent and 37 percent. This information suggests that less than a third of the individuals are likely impacted, but that there is likely some repeat exposure (2–6 days within a year) of some subset of individuals within the U.S. EEZ if some animals spend extended time within the U.S. EEZ. Regarding the severity of those individual takes by behavioral Level B harassment, as explained in the 2018 AFTT final rule, the duration of any exposure is expected to be between minutes and hours (i.e., relatively short) and the received sound levels largely below 172 dB (i.e., of a moderate or lower level, less likely to evoke a severe response). Also, the Navy currently implements, and will continue to implement time/area mitigation in the Northeast that minimizes major training exercises and total sonar hours in an area that significantly overlaps an important BIA feeding area for fin whales. This mitigation will reduce the severity of impacts to fin whales by reducing interference in feeding that could result in lost feeding opportunities or necessitate additional energy expenditure to find other good opportunities. Regarding the severity of TTS takes, as explained in the 2018 AFTT final rule, they are expected to be low-level, of short duration, and mostly not in a frequency band that would be expected to interfere with fin whale communication or other important lowfrequency cues, and the associated lost opportunities and capabilities are not at a level that would impact reproduction or survival. For these same reasons (low level and frequency band), while a small permanent loss of hearing sensitivity may include some degree of energetic costs for compensating or may mean some small loss of opportunities or detection capabilities, at the expected scale the 33 estimated Level A harassment takes by PTS for fin whales would be unlikely to impact behaviors, opportunities, or detection capabilities to a degree that would interfere with reproductive success or survival of any individuals, even if PTS were experienced by an individual that also PO 00000 Frm 00056 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 experiences one or more Level B harassment takes. Altogether, only a portion of the stock will be impacted and any individual fin whale is likely to be disturbed at a low to moderate level, with many animals likely exposed only once or twice and a subset potentially disturbed across approximately six likely non-sequential days, minimized in biologically important areas. This low magnitude and severity of effects is not expected to result in impacts on reproduction or survival of individuals, nor are these harassment takes combined with the single potential mortality expected to adversely affect this stock through impacts on annual rates of recruitment or survival for the stock. For these reasons, we have determined, in consideration of all of the effects of the Navy’s activities combined, that the authorized take will have a negligible impact on fin whales. Humpback Whale The feeding group stock of humpback whales found in the Gulf of Maine is one of several associated with the larger, and increasing, West Indies DPS. The Gulf of Maine stock is reported in the SAR as increasing in abundance. Nonetheless, humpback whales in the Atlantic are currently experiencing an UME in which a portion of the whales have shown evidence of entanglement or vessel strike. There have been 22 strandings so far in 2019 (2018 had 25 total strandings and 2017 had 34 total strandings). NMFS authorizes two mortalities over the seven-year period (versus the one mortality over the fiveyear period of the 2018 AFTT final rule), as described in the Estimated Take of Marine Mammals section above. Though an increase from the 2018 AFTT final rule, this amount of mortality (0.29 per year) still falls below the insignificance threshold of 10 percent of residual PBR (0.49) for the Gulf of Maine stock based on a stock abundance of 896 from the 2018 SAR. As discussed in the 2018 AFTT final rule, there are no known factors, information, or unusual circumstances that indicate that this potential M/SI below the insignificance threshold could have adverse effects on the stock through effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival. Also, importantly, deaths of humpback whales along the Atlantic coast (whether by ship strike or other source) must be considered within the context of the larger West Indies DPS, as animals along the coast could come from the Gulf of Maine stock or any of three or more other associated feeding groups. Specifically, the West Indies DPS, the larger population from which E:\FR\FM\23DER2.SGM 23DER2 lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with RULES2 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 246 / Monday, December 23, 2019 / Rules and Regulations a humpback whale could potentially be taken, numbers in excess of 10,000 whales and has an increasing growth trend of 3.1 percent (Bettridge et al., 2015), with an associated PBR, if calculated, much larger than that presented for the Gulf of Maine stock. Further, as described in the 2018 AFTT final rule, the Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan directs multiple efforts and requirements towards reducing mortality from commercial fishing (via gear modifications, area closures, and other mechanisms) and NOAA Office of Law Enforcement has reported high compliance rates. Therefore, even though the potential for M/SI from the Navy’s activities has increased since the 2018 AFTT final rule, there is no information to indicate that the loss of two whales over seven years, even if it were to occur, would adversely affect the stock or the overall species through effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival. See the Humpback Whale section in the 2018 AFTT final rule for additional supporting information. Regarding the magnitude of Level B harassment takes (TTS and behavioral disruption), the number of estimated instances (of any humpbacks) compared to the abundance within the U.S. EEZ and both in and outside of the U.S. EEZ, respectively, is 141 percent and 16 percent. This suggests that only a small portion of the humpback whales in the AFTT Study Area would be likely impacted, with perhaps some individuals taken on a few days of the year. It would be impossible to determine exactly what portion of the takes are from the Gulf of Maine stock. However, based on information in the 2018 AFTT final rule, which indicated about one third of the humpback whales traversing the Atlantic Coast likely come from the Gulf of Maine stock, we estimate that approximately 250 of the 749 total humpback whale takes (both by Level A harassment and Level B harassment) might be from the Gulf of Maine stock. Two hundred and fifty represents about 28 percent of the minimum population estimate for the Gulf of Maine humpback whale abundance in NMFS’ 2018 SAR, equating to an expectation that few animals would be exposed more than one time. The remaining approximately 499 Level A and Level B harassment takes would affect individuals from the much larger West Indies DPS, with a relatively small percentage of individuals affected as the estimated abundance is greater than 10,000. Regarding the severity of those individual takes by behavioral Level B VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:56 Dec 20, 2019 Jkt 250001 harassment, as explained in the 2018 AFTT final rule, the duration of any exposure is expected to be between minutes and hours (i.e., relatively short) and the received sound levels largely below 172 dB with a portion above 178 dB (i.e., of a moderate or lower level, less likely to evoke a severe response). Also, the Navy currently implements and will continue to implement time/ area mitigation in the Northeast that minimizes major training exercises and total sonar hours in an area that significantly overlaps with an important feeding area for humpbacks. This mitigation will reduce the severity of impacts to humpbacks by reducing interference in feeding that could result in lost feeding opportunities or necessitate additional energy expenditure to find other good opportunities. Regarding the severity of TTS takes, as explained in the 2018 AFTT final rule, they are expected to be low-level and of short duration and the associated lost opportunities and capabilities not at a level that would impact reproduction or survival. For similar reasons the three estimated Level A harassment takes by PTS for this stock are unlikely to have any effect on the reproduction or survival of any individual, even if PTS were to be experienced by an individual that also experiences one or more Level B harassment takes. Altogether, only a portion of the stock or species is impacted and any individual humpback whale will likely be disturbed at a low-moderate level, with most animals exposed only once or twice, and minimized in biologically important areas. This low magnitude and severity of effects is not expected to result in impacts on the reproduction or survival of any individuals, nor are these harassment takes combined with the potential mortalities of up to two whales expected to adversely affect the stock or species through impacts on annual rates of recruitment or survival. For these reasons, we have determined, in consideration of all of the effects of the Navy’s activities combined, that the authorized take will have a negligible impact on humpback whales, including the Gulf of Maine stock, as well as the larger species as a whole. Sei Whale (Nova Scotia Stock) This stock spans the northern East Coast and up to southern Newfoundland. There is no currently reported trend for the population and there are no specific issues with the status of the stock that cause particular concern (e.g., no UMEs), although the species is listed as endangered under the ESA. NMFS authorizes one PO 00000 Frm 00057 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 70767 mortality over the seven years of the rule, or 0.14 annually. With the addition of this 0.14 annual mortality, residual PBR is exceeded, which means the total human-caused mortality would exceed residual PBR by 0.44. However, as explained in the 2018 AFTT final rule, this does not mean that the stock is not at or increasing toward its OSP or that one lethal take by the Navy over the seven years covered by this rule would adversely affect the stock through effects on annual rates of reproduction or survival. Consideration of all applicable information indicates that the authorized mortality will not result in more than a negligible impact on this stock. As noted in the SAR, the abundance of sei whales is likely significantly greater than what is reflected in the current SAR because the population estimate is based only on surveys in U.S. waters and slightly into Canada, which does not cover the habitat of the entire stock, as it extends over a large additional area around to the south of Newfoundland. Accordingly, if a PBR were calculated based on an appropriately enlarged abundance, it would be higher. Additionally, the current abundance estimate does not account for availability bias due to submerged animals (i.e., estimates are not corrected to account for the fact that given X number of animals seen at the surface, we can appropriate assume that Y number were submerged and not counted). Without a correction for this bias, the abundance estimate is likely biased low. Because of these limitations, the current calculated PBR is not a reliable indicator of how removal of animals will affect the stock’s ability to reach or maintain OSP. We note that, generally speaking, while the abundance may be underestimated in this manner for some stocks due to the lack of surveys in areas outside of the U.S. EEZ, it is also possible that the human-caused mortality could be underestimated in the un-surveyed area. However, in the case of sei whales, most mortality is caused by ship strike and the density of ship traffic is higher the closer you are to shore (making strikes more likely closer to shore) and, therefore, unrecorded mortality offshore would realistically be proportionally less as compared to the unsurveyed abundance and therefore the premise that PBR is likely underestimated still holds. Given the small amount by which residual PBR is exceeded and more significant degree (proportionally) to which abundance is likely underestimated, it is reasonable to think that if a more realistic PBR were used, E:\FR\FM\23DER2.SGM 23DER2 70768 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 246 / Monday, December 23, 2019 / Rules and Regulations lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with RULES2 the anticipated total human-caused mortality would be notably under residual PBR. We also note that 0.14 mortalities/serious injuries means one mortality/serious injury in one of the seven years and zero mortalities/serious injuries in six of the seven years. Further, as described in the 2018 AFTT final rule the Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan directs multiple efforts and requirements towards reducing mortality from commercial fishing (via gear modifications, area closures, and other mechanisms) and NOAA Office of Law Enforcement has reported high compliance rates. Regarding the magnitude of Level B harassment takes (TTS and behavioral disruption), the number of estimated instances compared to the abundance within the U.S. EEZ and both in and outside of the U.S. EEZ, respectively, is 317 percent and 7 percent. This information suggests that only a very small portion of individuals in the stock will be likely impacted, but that there will likely be some repeat exposure (several days within a year) of some subset of individuals within the U.S. EEZ if some animals spend extended time within the U.S. EEZ. Regarding the severity of those individual takes by behavioral Level B harassment, as explained in the 2018 AFTT final rule, the duration of any exposure is expected to be between minutes and hours (i.e., relatively short) and the received sound levels largely below 172 dB with a VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:56 Dec 20, 2019 Jkt 250001 portion up to 178 dB (i.e., of a moderate or lower level, less likely to evoke a severe response). Also, the Navy implements time/area mitigation in the Northeast that minimizes major training exercises and total sonar hours in an area that significantly overlaps an important BIA feeding area for sei whales, which will reduce the severity of impacts to sei whales by reducing interference in feeding that could result in lost feeding opportunities or necessitate additional energy expenditure to find other good opportunities. Regarding the severity of TTS takes, as explained in the 2018 AFTT final rule, they are expected to be low-level and of short duration and the associated lost opportunities and capabilities not at a level that would impact reproduction or survival. For similar reasons the four estimated Level A harassment takes by PTS for this stock are unlikely to have any effect on the reproduction or survival of any individual, even if PTS were to be experienced by an individual that also experiences one or more Level B harassment takes. Altogether, only a small portion of the stock will be impacted and any individual sei whale will likely be disturbed at a lowmoderate level, with many animals likely exposed only once or twice and a subset potentially disturbed across a few days, minimized in biologically important areas. This low magnitude and severity of harassment effects is not PO 00000 Frm 00058 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 expected to result in impacts on individual reproduction or survival, nor are these harassment takes combined with the single potential mortality expected to adversely affect this stock through impacts on annual rates of recruitment or survival. For these reasons, we have determined, in consideration of all of the effects of the Navy’s activities combined, that the authorized take will have a negligible impact on sei whales. Odontocetes Sperm Whales, Dwarf Sperm Whales, and Pygmy Sperm Whales In Table 19 below for sperm whales, dwarf sperm whales, and pygmy sperm whales, we indicate the total annual mortality, Level A and Level B harassment, and a number indicating the instances of total take as a percentage of abundance. Table 19 is unchanged from Table 73 in the 2018 AFTT final rule, except for updated information on mortality, as discussed above. For additional information and analysis supporting the negligibleimpact analysis, see the Odontocetes discussion as well as the Sperm Whales, Dwarf Sperm Whales, and Pygmy Sperm Whales discussion in the Group and Species-Specific Analyses section of the 2018 AFTT final rule, all of which remains applicable to this final rule unless specifically noted. BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\23DER2.SGM 23DER2 70769 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 246 / Monday, December 23, 2019 / Rules and Regulations Table 19 -- Annual Estimated Takes by Level B Harassment, Level A Harassment, and Mortality for Sperm Whales, Dwarf Sperm Whales, and Pygmy Sperm Whales in the AFTT Study Area and Number Indicating the Instances of Total Take as a Percentage of Stock Abundance. Instances of lncllcated types of lndclental tau (not all takes repre$ent separate Individuals, espedaHVfor disturbance) Level 8 Harassment Dwalf spermwhale Pygmy sperm whale Disturbance Abundance Instances of total take as pen:entage of abundance Level AHarassment TIS (may also Behavioral Stock Total takes include disturbance) Tissue Damage MortaNtv lnEEZ Inside and Outside EEZ lnEtt Inside and Ouulde lnEEZ Inside and Ouulde EEZ EEZ Gulf of Mexico oceanic 339 453 70 0 0 862 862 1,107 1,107 78 78 Westffll North Atlantic 3,900 !1,102 !14 0 0 12852 13096 6U 3,641 2105 360 Northam Gulf of Mexico Westffll North Atlantic 339 453 70 0 0 862 862 .1,107 1,107 78 78 3,900 !1,102 !14 0 0 12852 13096 6U 3,641 2105 360 Note: In this table we compare estimated takes to abnndance estimates generated from the same underlying density estimate (as described in the Estimated Take ofMarine Mammals section in the 2018 AFTT final rule), versos abundance estimates directly from NMFS' SARs, which are not based on the same data and would not be appropriate for this purpose. Note that comparisons are made both within the U.S. EEZ only (where density estimates have lesser uncertainty) and across the whole Study Area (which offers a more comprehensive comparison for many stocks). Total takes inside and outside U.S. EEZ represent the sum of armual Level A and Level B harassment from training and testing plus harassment take from one large ship shock trial. BILLING CODE 3510–22–C Below we compile and summarize the information that supports our determination that the Navy’s activities will not adversely affect any species or stocks through effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival for any of the affected species and stocks addressed in this section. lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with RULES2 Sperm Whale (North Atlantic Stock) This stock spans the East Coast out into oceanic waters well beyond the U.S. EEZ. There is no currently reported trend for the stock and, although the species is listed as endangered under the ESA, there are no specific issues with the status of the stock that cause particular concern (e.g., no UMEs). NMFS authorizes one mortality over the seven years covered by this rule, and the resulting 0.14 annual mortality which falls below 10 percent of residual PBR (0.28), remains below the PBR insignificance threshold. As discussed in the 2018 AFTT final rule, there are no known factors, information, or unusual circumstances that indicate that this potential M/SI below the insignificance threshold could have adverse effects on the stock through effects on annual rates of recruitment or VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:56 Dec 20, 2019 Jkt 250001 survival. One Level A harassment take by tissue damage is also estimated and authorized which, as discussed in the 2018 AFTT final rule, could range in impact from minor to something just less than M/SI that could seriously impact fitness. However, given the Navy’s mitigation and the sperm whale’s large size, which improves detection by Lookouts, exposure at the closer to the source and more severe end of the spectrum is less likely, and we cautiously assume some moderate impact for this single take that could lower one individual’s fitness within the year such that a female (assuming a 50 percent chance of the one take being a female) might forego reproduction for one year. As discussed in the 2018 AFTT final rule, foregone reproduction has less of an impact on population rates than death (especially for one year) and one instance would not be expected to impact annual rates of recruitment or survival, even if it were a female. Regarding the magnitude of Level B harassment takes (TTS and behavioral disruption), the number of estimated instances of harassment compared to the abundance within the U.S. EEZ and both in and outside of the U.S. EEZ, respectively, is 544 percent and 41 PO 00000 Frm 00059 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 percent. This information, combined with the known range of the stock, suggests that something less than one half of the individuals in the stock will likely be impacted, but that there will likely be some repeat exposure (2–11 days within a year) of some subset of individuals that remain within the U.S. EEZ for an extended time. Regarding the severity of those individual takes by behavioral Level B harassment, as explained in the 2018 AFTT final rule, the duration of any exposure response is expected to be between minutes and hours (i.e., relatively short) and the received sound levels largely between 160 and 172 dB (i.e., of a lower, to occasionally moderate, level). Regarding the severity of TTS takes, as explained in the 2018 AFTT final rule, they are expected to be low-level and of short duration and the associated lost opportunities and capabilities not at a level that would impact reproduction or survival. For similar reasons three estimated Level A harassment takes by PTS for this stock is unlikely to have any effect on the reproduction or survival of any individual, even if PTS were to be experienced by an individual that also experiences one or more Level B harassment takes. E:\FR\FM\23DER2.SGM 23DER2 ER23DE19.001</GPH> The annual mortality of 0.14 is the result of no more than one mortality over the course of seven years from vessel strikes as described above in the Estimated Take of Marine Mammals section. 70770 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 246 / Monday, December 23, 2019 / Rules and Regulations lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with RULES2 Altogether, less than one half of the stock will be impacted and any individual sperm whale will likely be disturbed at a low-moderate level, with the majority of animals likely disturbed once or not at all, and a subset potentially disturbed across 2–11 likely non-sequential days. Even for an animal disturbed at the high end of this range (11 days over a year), given the low to moderate impact from each incident, and the fact that few days with take will likely be sequential, no impacts to individual fitness are expected. This low to occasionally moderate magnitude and severity of effects is not expected to result in impacts on reproduction or survival, and nor are these harassment takes combined with the single authorized mortality and one possible instance of foregone reproduction expected to adversely affect the stock through annual rates of recruitment or survival. For these reasons, we have determined, in consideration of all of the effects of the Navy’s activities combined, that the authorized take will have a negligible impact on North Atlantic sperm whales. Sperm Whale, Dwarf Sperm Whale, and Pygmy Sperm Whale (Gulf of Mexico Stocks) These stocks suffer from lingering health issues from the DWH oil spill (6– 7 percent of individuals of these stocks have adverse health effects), which means that some could be more susceptible to exposure to other stressors, and negative population effects (21–42 years until the DWH oilinjured population trajectory is projected to catch up with the baseline population trajectory (i.e., in the absence of DWH, reported as years to recovery)). Neither mortality nor tissue damage from explosives is anticipated or authorized for any of these three stocks, and sperm whales are not expected to incur PTS. Regarding the magnitude of Level B harassment takes (TTS and behavioral disruption), the number of estimated instances of harassment compared to the abundance is 54–78 percent, which suggests that for each of the three species/stocks either this percentage of the individuals in these stocks will all be taken by harassment on a single day each within a year, or a small subset may be taken on a few days and the remainder not taken at all. Regarding the severity of those individual takes by behavioral Level B harassment, as explained in the 2018 AFTT final rule, the duration of any exposure response is expected to be between minutes and hours (i.e., relatively short) and the received sound levels are largely between 160 and 172 VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:56 Dec 20, 2019 Jkt 250001 dB (i.e., of a lower level, less likely to evoke a severe response). Additionally, the Navy is currently implementing and will continue to implement mitigation areas for sperm whales that are expected to reduce impacts in important feeding areas, further lessening the severity of impacts. In the Gulf of Mexico Planning Awareness Mitigation Areas, the Navy will not conduct any major training exercises. Regarding the severity of TTS takes, as explained in the 2018 AFTT final rule, they are expected to be lowlevel, of short duration, and mostly not in a frequency band that would be expected to interfere significantly with conspecific communication, echolocation, or other important lowfrequency cues. Also, there is no reason to believe that any individual would incur these TTS takes more than a few days in a year, and the associated lost opportunities and capabilities would not be expected to impact reproduction or survival. For these same reasons (low level and frequency band), while a small permanent loss of hearing sensitivity may include some degree of energetic costs for compensating or may mean some small loss of opportunities or detection capabilities, 70 estimated Level A harassment takes by PTS for each of the two Kogia stocks in the Gulf of Mexico would be unlikely to impact behaviors, opportunities, or detection capabilities to a degree that would interfere with reproductive success or survival of any individual, even if PTS were to be experienced by an animal that also experiences one or more Level B harassment takes. Altogether, only a portion of these stocks will be impacted and any individual sperm, dwarf sperm, or pygmy sperm whale is likely to be disturbed at a low to occasionally moderate level and no more than a few days per year. Even given the fact that some of the affected individuals may have compromised health, there is nothing to suggest that such a low magnitude and severity of effects would result in impacts on the reproduction or survival of individuals, much less annual rates of recruitment or survival for any of the stocks. For these reasons, we have determined, in consideration of all of the effects of the Navy’s activities combined, that the authorized take will have a negligible impact on Gulf of Mexico sperm whales, dwarf sperm whales, and pygmy sperm whales. Pygmy and Dwarf Sperm Whales (Western North Atlantic Stocks) These stocks span the deeper waters of the East Coast north to Canada and out into oceanic waters beyond the U.S. EEZ. There is no currently reported PO 00000 Frm 00060 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 trend for these populations and there are no specific issues with the status of the stocks that cause particular concern. Neither mortality nor tissue damage from explosives is anticipated or authorized for these stocks. Regarding the magnitude of Level B harassment takes (TTS and behavioral disruption), the number of estimated instances of harassment compared to the abundance within the U.S. EEZ and both in and outside of the U.S. EEZ, respectively, is 2,105 percent and 360 percent. This information, combined with the known range of the stock, suggests that while not all of the individuals in these stocks will most likely be taken (because they span well into oceanic waters) of those that are taken, most would be taken over several repeated days (though likely not sequential) and some subset that spends extended time within the U.S. EEZ will likely be taken over a larger amount of days (likely 15–42 days during a year), some of which could be sequential. Regarding the severity of the individual takes by behavioral Level B harassment, as explained in the 2018 AFTT final rule, the duration of any exposure response is expected to be between minutes and hours (and likely not more than 24 hours) and the received sound levels are largely between 160 and 172 dB (i.e., of a lower level, less likely to evoke a severe response). Additionally, while interrupted feeding bouts are a known response and concern for odontocetes, we also know that there are often viable alternative habitat options in the relative vicinity. Regarding the severity of TTS takes, as explained in the 2018 AFTT final rule, they are expected to be low-level, of short duration and mostly not in a frequency band that would be expected to interfere significantly with conspecific communication, echolocation, or other important lowfrequency cues. Also, there is no reason to believe that any individual would incur these TTS takes more than a few days in a year, and the associated lost opportunities and capabilities would not be expected to impact reproduction or survival. For these same reasons (low level and frequency band), while a small permanent loss of hearing sensitivity may include some degree of energetic costs for compensating or may mean some small loss of opportunities or detection capabilities, at the expected scale the 94 estimated Level A harassment takes by PTS for each of the two Kogia stocks in the North Atlantic would be unlikely to impact behaviors, opportunities, or detection capabilities to a degree that would interfere with reproductive success or survival of any E:\FR\FM\23DER2.SGM 23DER2 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 246 / Monday, December 23, 2019 / Rules and Regulations lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with RULES2 individual, even if PTS were to be experienced by an individual that also experiences one or more Level B harassment takes. Altogether, a large portion of each stock will likely be taken (at a low to occasionally moderate level) over several days a year, and some smaller portion of the stock will likely be taken on a relatively moderate to high number of days across the year, some of which could be sequential days. Though the majority of impacts are expected to be of a lower to sometimes moderate severity, the larger number of takes (in total and for certain individuals) makes it more likely (probabilistically) that a small number of individuals could be interrupted during foraging in a manner and amount such that impacts to the energy budgets of females (from either losing feeding opportunities or expending considerable energy to find alternative feeding options) could cause VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:56 Dec 20, 2019 Jkt 250001 them to forego reproduction for a year (energetic impacts to males generally have little impact on population rates unless they cause death, and it takes extreme energy deficits beyond what would ever be likely to result from these activities to cause the death of an adult pygmy or dwarf sperm whale). As noted previously and discussed more fully in the 2018 AFTT final rule, however, foregone reproduction (especially for one year) has far less of an impact on population rates than mortality, and a small number of instances of foregone reproduction would not be expected to adversely impact annual rates of recruitment or survival, especially given that residual PBR for both of these stocks is 17.5. For these reasons, in consideration of all of the effects of the Navy’s activities combined, we have determined that the authorized take will have a negligible impact on Western PO 00000 Frm 00061 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 70771 North Atlantic pygmy and dwarf sperm whales. Dolphins and Small Whales In Table 20 below for dolphins and small whales, we indicate the total annual mortality, Level A and Level B harassment, and a number indicating the instances of total take as a percentage of abundance. Table 20 is unchanged from Table 74 in the 2018 AFTT final rule, except for updated information on mortality, as discussed above. For additional information and analysis supporting the negligibleimpact analysis, see the Odontocetes discussion as well as the Dolphins and Small Whales discussion in the Group and Species-Specific Analyses section of the 2018 AFTT final rule, all of which remains applicable to this final rule unless specifically noted. BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\23DER2.SGM 23DER2 70772 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 246 / Monday, December 23, 2019 / Rules and Regulations Table 20 -- Annual Estimated Takes by Level B Harassment, Level A Harassment, and Mortality for Dolphins and Small Whales in the AFTT Study Area and Number Indicating the Instances of Total Take as a Percentage of Stock Abundance. -u~ -·-~A-......._, - - - -oflndlClll41dtyp11oflncldlnllltalletnolll ..,._._.~~for -oftoUI I...-IIHlllllwlotal SIIICI< Species ~ ~ Jadcsorwlh-Syl\fffl ~5olol<l,lm Botp•,8"r""""Noltllem!WfofC'ionllnllllll$llell N01111tmlilffofOooonl¢ llotllMosedolllhlll N01111tmNor111Clrolln1 Estuarfne$y$1em Soullwn-Qrollna (stuarflleSystatn -NcrtllAllollllc N01111tmflolldla..ul --Allollllcc.ntnl l'IOllclaColslll WesttmllorlhAllollllc -~IOIVC'oalllal --Allllltlt OMole ---lleSollth C'oalllal d\tnenedolphln ,.,lilwwhllle hasendolphlll Klllerwhale tons-lllmld plot ....... MIIOn beaded ....... l'lllm,picll$p0lled do\>litl l'\iPIY ldhr10hlle IUtso'sdolpl,ln ~ dolphln Shon-bolted .... -dd!lhlll Shon-tinned plot lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with RULES2 Spim«dolpl,ln Slrlpeddolpl,ln ~ ~ VerDate Sep<11>2014 ---lie ---lie SOUll!em Mfl,ato,yC'olmll -...a!Afof- l!OrthenllWfof--Allollllc lfDl'lhemlilffolWesllm NollhAll111lle --Allllllle --Allollllc -Gllfol- ---lie ----lie --lie NortltlmCMlol- Norlhemlilff of Wts1llffl NollllAtlllllle NorlhemGIAfof- m 72,831 47,676 47,f,76 227"16 52,118 250,649 U07 7 3 0.14 44.210 <111,294 0 0 m 0 0 0 0 m 42 32 0 42 42 9,888 " 9.888 1$,144 114 2 0 0 1"480 16,480 11,47' 7,191 m 0 0 0 7,82f 1,826 33,903 255 31 0 0 0 74 :II 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 941 C'oalllal m IIIUZ 72,ua 4',077 Wllof-lndlan_..._ __ ~•nd 10&,8JA --Allanlle C'oalllal Dillllafl mm 0 0 21111,201 Glllof-bslomC'oalllal Gullof-- MoNII\V 0 fi 69,225 --Altlnlle Choclhlllltdlu Bay 'llsale i 26 - G i f fo f - dolphln Atlallllc10h-ed 11,610 Pl'$ u,au Allanllc spatt«I dolphln m;(mly abolndude ._...., - 14,332 ofab<lndiia ._...., 1nm 153 m 153 !11 137,30$ 309 34 " 984 984 0 0 11,47' 1M 1M 33,903 n a 2116 36 36 l'90 l'90 87 81 27 17 320 320 1 1 1911 1911 1 1 117,sa& 72,043 12,043 117 117 111,964 111,964 80 80 w.m t,217 lS 1 0 127,526 lJ,947 706 8 2 0 14.669 14,663 2,844 48S 0 0 0 3,327 UZ7 U22 il.Rl 92 92 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1,14$ 90 0 0 0 1,235 1,235 90li 90li 136 136 7,!00 513 0 0 0 7,fiU 7,613 4,5211 4,528 11111 11111 ».nJ J,051 7 0 0 37,0S,. 37,0S,. 9,962 9.9112 372 m l9il,4lf 34,681 11 t 0 421,295 428,188 14,2!18 18f,2f0 '5S 230 5,544 41& 0 0 0 5.91111 5.91111 M22 M22 HS 165 WU 1,30S 2 0 0 U.718 16,718 7,2,4$ 7,24$ 231 2U 4,174 99 4 10 , 1ll,!l42 171,202 11111 19 62 1.902 1 0 4,2111 105,781 1,975 19 7,816 72 4,ffl 92,364 1,ffl 10,942 97,9$2 11,171 1,123 80 58 0 11,131 u.ou 0 8811 15 2 0 1 1,:184 4,931 33 291 0 0 l.:184 5,222 0 0 n n ' • 0 0 0 4U 171 113 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 112 ut 7 1 0 33,ffl 3 1 0 0 S5.890 Ufi7 1,flG so.ow S,792 a 25,ffl 596 "lltl:m 15,304 720 16 8,702 1,647 Qt S8,ll7 3,849 U20 15 8 l 0 l 2 117 l 2 6 1 1U70 D 3,UG il,136 1,J54 lG,144 1,07 17,588 !152 19 lS 17G 472 72 90 19 747 25 37,554 a.80 447,4U ffl 8 3,137 a.137 6,725 6,725 47 47 0 0.14 49,707 26,541 Sil,853 5,821 '9,526 IS4 77 26,541 82,0$5 112.0SS » n 19G,ll9II U2.st2 30,Gll8 l7S,9G4 652 ZOfll ll,HG 36 80!I 81 3G a.oil& ss ss 4,824 1tl5 IS 81 3.1114 i.m 72 25,857 2,471 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 26,450 28,333 Z79S 34.7li8 717 IS !147 -NollllAllollllc 540M2 30,SGl 101 36 0.1& $7J,100 $71,Ml 7il,481 mJl.7 m uo Norlhemlilffol -NollllAllollllc -GlilfolWts111111NollhA11111lle N01111tmCMfof-NollllAllllllle 1,ISS 0 0 1,864 2.0n 6,578 277 0.14 8,125 48,ffl 8,US 92 528 92 34.760 J,032 450,MG 7,Q 111,653 1111 uaz um 98,GGS 2,449 107,IID 11,280 US,S73 871 2.!121 2.!121 4,871 4,871 52 18l,10t 11,992 16 4 0 0 0 9U17 2 0 1 14 1 1 1,864 4$,724 26 Zffl 167,438 195,115 52.222 il22.S42 m 52 60 Wesllm-Allllllle llO 4 0 0 0 84 84 42 42 200 200 NOl'lhemlilffof- flOl'lhem (Mf o f Wts111111 Nollll-lle 19:56 Dec 20, 2019 Jkt 250001 PO 00000 .u • Frm 00062 , $ " 5 0 0 0 0 1 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4725 737 737 8.$07 t.331 l.fl,ll1 l.691 2,0G2 1,052 il,096 40,144 4,11211 41,109 4,.028 5,G01 4,824 ·- E:\FR\FM\23DER2.SGM 23DER2 71 11 60 79 ER23DE19.002</GPH> ~ Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 246 / Monday, December 23, 2019 / Rules and Regulations 70773 Note: In the table we compare estimated takes to abundance estimates generated from the same underlying density estimate (as described in the Estimated Take of Marine Mammals section of the 2018 AFFT final rule), versus abundance estimates directly from NMFS' SARs, which are not based on the same data and would not be appropriate for this purpose. Note that comparisons are made both within the U.S. EEZ only (where density estimates have lesser uncertainty) and across the whole Study Area (which offers a more comprehensive comparison for many stocks). Total takes inside and outside U.S. EEZ represent the sum of annual Level A and Level B harassment from training and testing plus take from one large ship shock trial. BILLING CODE 3510–22–C Below we compile and summarize the information that supports our determination that the Navy’s activities will not adversely affect any species or stocks through effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival for any of the affected species or stocks addressed in this section. lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with RULES2 Atlantic White-Sided Dolphin and Short-Beaked Common Dolphin (Western North Atlantic Stocks) There is no currently reported trend for these stocks and there are no specific issues with the status of these stocks that cause particular concern (e.g., no UMEs). We anticipate and therefore authorize one and six mortalities over the course of seven years for these two stocks, which is 0.14 and 0.86 annual mortalities for each stock, respectively. Given the large residual PBR values for these stocks (248 and 148), this number of mortalities falls well under the insignificance threshold. There are no known factors, information, or unusual circumstances that indicate that this estimated M/SI below the insignificance threshold could have adverse effects on these stocks through effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival. Some Level A harassment take by tissue damage from explosives has also been estimated and authorized for these stocks (3 and 36, respectively). As discussed previously and in the 2018 AFTT final rule, tissue damage effects could range in impact from minor to something just less than M/SI that could seriously impact fitness. However, given the Navy’s mitigation, which makes exposure at the closer to the source and more severe end of the spectrum less likely, we cautiously assume some moderate impact for this category of take that could lower an individual’s fitness within the year such that females (assuming a 50 percent chance that a take is a female) might forego reproduction for one year. As noted previously, foregone reproduction has less of an impact on population rates VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:56 Dec 20, 2019 Jkt 250001 than death (especially for one year) and the number of takes anticipated for each stock would not be expected to impact annual rates of recruitment or survival, even if all of the takes were females (which would be highly unlikely), especially given the high residual PBRs of these stocks. In other words, if the stocks can absorb the numbers of mortalities indicated through each stock’s residual PBR without impacting ability to approach OSP, they could absorb the significantly lesser effects of a small number of one-year delay in calving. Regarding the magnitude of Level B harassment takes (TTS and behavioral disruption), the number of estimated instances of harassment compared to the abundance within the U.S. EEZ and both in and outside of the U.S. EEZ for these two stocks, respectively, is 308 and 777 percent and 34 and 110 percent. This information suggests that some portion of these stocks will likely not be taken at all, but that there will likely be some repeat exposure (2–15 days within a year) of some subset of individuals. Regarding the severity of those individual takes by behavioral Level B harassment, as explained in the 2018 AFTT final rule, the duration of any exposure response is expected to be between minutes and hours (i.e., relatively short) and the received sound levels largely below 172 dB (i.e., of a lower level, less likely to evoke a severe response). Additionally, while we do not have information that indicates that these takes would occur sequentially on more than several days in a row or be more severe in nature, the probability of this occurring increases the higher the total take numbers. While interrupted feeding bouts are a known response and concern for odontocetes, we also know that there are often viable alternative habitat options in the relative vicinity. Given the higher number of takes and the associated abundances (especially for short-beaked common dolphin) we acknowledge the possibility that some smaller subset of individuals could experience behavioral PO 00000 Frm 00063 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 disruption of a degree that impacts energetic budgets such that reproduction could be delayed for a year. However, considering the potential reproductive effects from tissue damage and from these levels of take by behavioral Level B harassment, in combination with the estimated mortality, this degree of effect on the small subset of individuals that could be affected is still not expected to adversely affect the stocks through effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival. Regarding the severity of TTS takes, as explained in the 2018 AFTT final rule, they are expected to be low-level, of short duration, and not in a frequency band that would be expected to significantly interfere with dolphin communication, or echolocation or other important low-frequency cues. Therefore, the associated lost opportunities and capabilities would not be expected to impact reproduction or survival of any individuals. For these same reasons (low level and the likely frequency band), while a small permanent loss of hearing sensitivity may include some degree of energetic costs for compensating or may mean some small loss of opportunities or detection capabilities, the estimated Level A harassment takes by PTS for the two dolphin stocks (7 and 101, respectively) would be unlikely to impact behaviors, opportunities, or detection capabilities to a degree that would interfere with reproductive success or survival of any individual, even if PTS were to be experienced by an animal that also experiences one or more Level B harassment takes. Altogether, individual dolphins will likely be taken at a low level, with some animals likely taken once or not at all, many potentially disturbed at low levels across 2–15 predominantly nonsequential days, and a small number potentially experiencing a level of effects that could result in curtailed reproduction for one year. This magnitude and severity of effects, E:\FR\FM\23DER2.SGM 23DER2 ER23DE19.003</GPH> For mortality takes there was an annual average of0.14 dolphins from each dolphin species/stock listed above (i.e., for those species or stocks where one take could potentially occur divided by seven years to get the annual number of mortalities/serious injuries) or 0.86 dolphins in the case of short-beaked common dolphin (i.e., where six takes could potentially occur divided by seven years to get the annual number of mortalities/serious injuries). 70774 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 246 / Monday, December 23, 2019 / Rules and Regulations lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with RULES2 including consideration of the estimated mortality, is not expected to result in impacts on annual rates of recruitment or survival for either of the stocks, especially given the status of the stocks. For these reasons, we have determined, in consideration of all of the effects of the Navy’s activities combined, that the authorized take will have a negligible impact on these two Western North Atlantic dolphins. Pantropical Spotted Dolphin and Spinner Dolphin (Gulf of Mexico Stocks) As described in the 2018 AFTT final rule, the Gulf of Mexico dolphin stocks indicated in Table 20 suffer from lingering health issues resulting from the DWH oil spill (7 and 17 percent of individuals of these stocks, respectively, have adverse health effects), which means that some of them could be more susceptible to exposure to other stressors, as well as negative population effects (predicting it will take up to 39 and 105 years, respectively, for stocks to return to population growth rates predicted in the absence of DWH effects). We authorize one mortality over the course of seven years for each of these two stocks, which is 0.14 annual mortalities for each stock. Given the large residual PBR values for these stocks (402 and 62, respectively), this number of mortalities falls well under the insignificance threshold. As discussed in the 2018 AFTT final rule, there are no known factors, information, or unusual circumstances that indicate that this estimated M/SI below the insignificance threshold could have adverse effects on these stocks through effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival. Some Level A harassment take by tissue damage from explosives has also been estimated and authorized for these stocks (6 and 14, respectively). As noted previously, tissue damage effects could range in impact from minor to something just less than M/SI that could seriously impact fitness. However, given the Navy’s mitigation, which makes exposure at the closer to the source and more severe end of the spectrum less likely, we cautiously assume some moderate impact for this category of take that could lower an individual’s fitness within the year such that females (assuming a 50 percent chance that a take is a female) might forego reproduction for one year. As noted previously, foregone reproduction has less of an impact on population rates than death (especially for one year) and the number of takes anticipated for each stock would not be expected to impact annual rates of recruitment or survival, even if all of the takes were females VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:56 Dec 20, 2019 Jkt 250001 (which would be highly unlikely), especially given the high residual PBRs of these stocks. In other words, if the stocks can absorb the numbers indicated through each stock’s residual PBR without impacting ability to approach OSP, they can absorb the significantly lesser effect of a very small number of one-year delay in calving. Regarding the magnitude of Level B harassment takes (TTS and behavioral disruption), the number of estimated instances of harassment compared to the abundance is 32 percent and 60 percent, respectively, reflecting that only a subset of each stock will be taken by behavioral Level B harassment within a year. Of that subset, those taken would likely be taken one time, but if taken more than that, the 2 or 3 days would not likely be sequential. Regarding the severity of those individual takes by behavioral Level B harassment, as explained in the 2018 AFTT final rule, the duration of any exposure response is expected to be between minutes and hours (i.e., relatively short) and the received sound levels largely below 172 dB (i.e., of a lower to occasionally moderate severity). Regarding the severity of TTS takes, as explained in the 2018 AFTT final rule, they are expected to be low-level, of short duration, and not in a frequency band that would be expected to significantly interfere with dolphin communication, or echolocation or other important low-frequency cues. Therefore, the associated lost opportunities and capabilities are not expected to impact reproduction or survival. For these same reasons (low level and the likely frequency band), while a small permanent loss of hearing sensitivity may include some degree of energetic costs for compensating or may mean some small loss of opportunities or detection capabilities, the estimated Level A harassment takes by PTS for the dolphin stocks addressed here (15 and 31, respectively) would be unlikely to impact behaviors, opportunities, or detection capabilities to a degree that would interfere with reproductive success or survival of any individuals. Altogether, any individual dolphin will likely be taken at a low to occasionally moderate level, with most animals likely not taken at all and with a subset of animals being taken up to a few non-sequential days. Even given the fact that some of the affected individuals may have compromised health, there is nothing to suggest that such a low magnitude and severity of effects, including the potential tissue damage and the estimated mortality of one dolphin from each stock over the seven years, would result in impacts on PO 00000 Frm 00064 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 annual rates of recruitment or survival for either of these two stocks. For these reasons, we have determined, in consideration of all of the effects of the Navy’s activities combined, that the authorized take will have a negligible impact on Gulf of Mexico pantropical spotted dolphins and spinner dolphins. Western North Atlantic Dolphin Stocks (All Stocks in Table 20 Except Atlantic White-Sided Dolphin and Short-Beaked Common Dolphin) There are no specific issues with the status of these stocks that cause particular concern (e.g., no UMEs). No mortality is expected nor authorized for these stocks. For some of these stocks, some tissue damage has been estimated and authorized (1–9 depending on the stock). As discussed previously, tissue damage effects could range in impact from minor to something just less than M/SI that could seriously impact fitness. However, given the Navy’s mitigation, which makes exposure at the closer to the source and more severe end of the spectrum less likely, we cautiously assume some moderate impact for all these takes that could lower an individual’s fitness within the year such that a small number of females (assuming a 50 percent chance of being a female) might forego reproduction for one year. As noted previously, foregone reproduction has less of an impact on population rates than death (especially for one year) and one to a few instances would not be expected to impact annual rates of recruitment or survival, even if all of the takes were females (which would be highly unlikely), especially given the higher residual PBRs, which is known for the majority of stocks. For stocks with no calculated residual PBR or where abundance is unknown, the limited information available on population size indicates that the very low number of females who might forego reproduction would have no effect on annual rates of recruitment or survival. Regarding the magnitude of Level B harassment takes (TTS and behavioral disruption), the number of estimated instances of harassment compared to the abundance ranges up to 984 percent inside the U.S. EEZ (though some are significantly lower) and is generally much lower across the whole range of most stocks, reflecting that for many stocks only a subset of the stock will be impacted—although alternately for a few of the smaller bay stocks all individuals are expected to be taken across multiple days. Generally, individuals of most stocks (especially bottlenose dolphins) might be taken no more than several times each, while the E:\FR\FM\23DER2.SGM 23DER2 lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with RULES2 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 246 / Monday, December 23, 2019 / Rules and Regulations other species in this group will only accrue takes to a portion of the stock, but individuals might be taken across 2– 20 days within a year. Regarding the severity of those individual takes by behavioral Level B harassment, as explained in the 2018 AFTT final rule, the duration of any exposure response is expected to be between minutes and hours (i.e., relatively short) and the received sound levels largely below 172 dB (i.e., of a lower level, less likely to evoke a severe response). While we do not have information to indicate that these takes would occur sequentially on more than several days in a row or be more severe in nature, the probability of this occurring increases the higher the total take numbers. Given higher percentages when compared to abundances, and especially where the absolute number of takes is higher (e.g., spinner dolphin), we acknowledge the possibility that some smaller subset of individuals (especially in the larger stocks with higher total take numbers) could experience behavioral disruption of a degree that impacts energetic budgets such that reproduction could be delayed for a year. However, considering the very small number of potential reproductive effects from Level A harassment by tissue damage (1–9 depending on stock and assuming all individuals are female, which is very unlikely) in addition to the possible reproductive effect on a smaller subset of individuals from the takes by behavioral Level B harassment, this degree of effects on a small subset of individuals is still not expected to adversely affect annual rates of recruitment or survival. For the smaller Estuarine stocks with the potential repeated days of disturbance, we note that as described in the 2018 AFTT final rule, the activities that the Navy conducts in inland areas (not MTEs, etc.) are expected to generally result in lower severity responses, further decreasing the likelihood that they would cause effects on reproduction or survival, even if accrued over several sequential days. Regarding the severity of TTS takes, as explained in the 2018 AFTT final rule, they are expected to be low-level, of short duration, and not in a frequency band that would be expected to significantly interfere with dolphin communication, or echolocation or other important low-frequency cues. Therefore, the associated lost opportunities and capabilities would not be expected to impact reproduction or survival. For these same reasons (low level and the likely frequency band), while a small permanent loss of hearing VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:56 Dec 20, 2019 Jkt 250001 sensitivity may include some degree of energetic costs for compensating or may mean some small loss of opportunities or detection capabilities, the estimated Level A harassment takes by PTS for the dolphin stocks addressed here (between 1 and 77) would be unlikely to impact behaviors, opportunities, or detection capabilities to a degree that would interfere with reproductive success or survival of any individual, even if PTS were to be experienced by an individual that also experiences one or more Level B harassment takes. Altogether, any individual dolphin will likely be taken at a low to occasionally moderate level, with some animals likely taken once or not at all, a subset potentially disturbed across 2– 20 predominantly non-sequential days, and a small number potentially experiencing a level of effects that could curtail reproduction for one year. The magnitude and severity of effects described is not expected to result in impacts on annual rates of recruitment or survival for any of the stocks. For these reasons, we have determined, in consideration of all of the effects of the Navy’s activities combined, that the authorized take will have a negligible impact on these Western North Atlantic dolphins. Gulf of Mexico Dolphin Stocks (All of the Stocks Indicated in Table 20 Except Pantropical Spotted Dolphin and Spinner Dolphin) As mentioned above and discussed in the 2018 AFTT final rule, the Gulf of Mexico stocks indicated in Table 20 suffer from lingering health issues resulting from the DWH oil spill (3–30 percent of individuals of these stocks have adverse health effects), which means that some of them could be more susceptible to exposure to other stressors, as well as negative population effects (predicting it will take up to 76 years, with that number varying across stocks, for stocks to return to population growth rates predicted in the absence of DWH effects). Of note, the Northern Coastal bottlenose dolphin adverse effect statistics are about twice as high as the others (i.e., all other stocks are below 17 percent). As described above there is an active UME for bottlenose dolphins in the Northern Gulf of Mexico and in southwest Florida along the Gulf of Mexico. These UMEs could affect bottlenose dolphins from several stocks in the Gulf of Mexico, including those that are anticipated to be impacted by Navy activities and those that are not anticipated to be impacted by Navy activities. No mortality has been estimated or authorized for these stocks, however a few Level A harassment takes PO 00000 Frm 00065 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 70775 by tissue damage from explosives (zero for most, 1–2 for a few, and 6 for the Atlantic spotted dolphin stock) are estimated and authorized. As noted previously, tissue damage effects could range in impact from minor to something just less than M/SI that could seriously impact fitness. However, given the Navy’s mitigation, which makes exposure at the closer to the source and more severe end of the spectrum less likely, we cautiously assume some moderate impact for these Level A harassment takes that could lower an individual’s fitness within the year such that a female (assuming a 50 percent chance of being a female) might forego reproduction for one year. As noted previously, foregone reproduction has less of an impact on population rates than death (especially for one year) and a few instances, even up to six for the Atlantic spotted dolphin stock, would not be expected to impact annual rates of recruitment or survival, even if all of the takes were of females (which is highly unlikely). Regarding the magnitude of Level B harassment takes (TTS and behavioral disruption), the number of estimated instances of harassment compared to the abundance ranges up to 177 percent, but is generally much lower for most stocks, reflecting that generally only a subset of each stock will be taken, with those in the subset taken only a few nonsequential days of the year. Regarding the severity of those individual takes by Level B behavioral harassment, as explained in the 2018 AFTT final rule, the duration of any exposure response is expected to be between minutes and hours (i.e., relatively short) and the received sound levels largely below 172 dB (i.e., of a lower to occasionally moderate severity). Regarding the severity of TTS takes, as explained in the 2018 AFTT final rule, they are expected to be low-level, of short duration, and not in a frequency band that would be expected to significantly interfere with dolphin communication, or echolocation or other important low-frequency cues. Therefore, the associated lost opportunities and capabilities would not be expected to impact reproduction or survival. For these same reasons (low level and the likely frequency band), while a small permanent loss of hearing sensitivity may include some degree of energetic costs for compensating or may mean some small loss of opportunities or detection capabilities, the estimated Level A harassment takes by PTS for the dolphin stocks addressed here (all 3 or below, with the exception of three stocks with much larger abundances with 4, 8, and 15 PTS takes) would be E:\FR\FM\23DER2.SGM 23DER2 70776 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 246 / Monday, December 23, 2019 / Rules and Regulations unlikely to impact behaviors, opportunities, or detection capabilities to a degree that would interfere with reproductive success or survival of any individual, even if PTS were to be experienced by an animal that also experiences one or more Level B harassment takes. Altogether, any individual dolphin will likely be taken at a low to occasionally moderate level, with many animals likely not taken at all and with a subset of animals being taken up to a few times. A very small number could potentially experience tissue damage that could curtail reproduction for one year. Even given the fact that some of the affected individuals may have compromised health, there is nothing to suggest that such a low magnitude and severity of effects would result in impacts on annual rates of recruitment or survival for any of the Gulf of Mexico stocks indicated in Table 20. For these reasons, we have determined, in consideration of all of the effects of the Navy’s activities combined, that the authorized take will have a negligible impact on these Gulf of Mexico dolphins. Harbor Porpoise In Table 21 below for porpoises, we indicate the total annual mortality, Level A and Level B harassment, and a number indicating the instances of total take as a percentage of abundance. Table 21 is unchanged from Table 75 in the 2018 AFTT final rule. For additional information and analysis supporting the negligible-impact analysis, see the Odontocetes discussion as well as the Harbor Porpoise discussion in the Group and Species-Specific Analyses section of the 2018 AFTT final rule, all of which remains applicable to this final rule unless specifically noted. Table 21 -- Annual Estimated Takes by Level B Harassment, Level A Harassment, and Mortality for Porpoises in the AFTT Study Area and Number Indicating the Instances of Total Take as a Percentage of Stock Abundance lnstallces of Indicated types of lndclental take (not all takes represent separate individuals, especially for disturbance) Level BHarassment Species Stock Total takes Abundance Instances of total take as percentaae of abundance Level A Harassment TTS(may Behavioral also include Disturbance disturbance) PTS Tissue Mortality Damage ln£EZ Inside and OUtslde EEZ ln£EZ Inside and Outside ln£EZ E£Z Inside and OUtslde EEZ Note: In the table we compare estimated takes to abundance estimates generated from the same underlying density estimate (as described in the Estimated Take ofMarine Mammals section of the 2018 AFTT final rule), versus abundance estimates directly from NMFS' SARs, which are not based on the same data and would not be appropriate for this purpose. Note that comparisons are made both within the U.S. EEZ only (where density estimates have lesser uncertainty) and across the whole Study Area (which offers a more comprehensive comparison for many stocks). Below we compile and summarize the information that supports our determination that the Navy’s activities will not adversely affect harbor porpoises through effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival. The Gulf of Maine/Bay of Fundy stock of harbor porpoise is found predominantly in northern U.S. coastal waters (<150 m depth) and up into Canada’s Bay of Fundy. No mortality or tissue damage by explosives are anticipated or authorized for this stock and there are no specific issues with the status of the stock that cause particular concern (e.g., no UMEs). Regarding the magnitude of Level B harassment takes (TTS and behavioral disruption), the number of estimated instances compared to the abundance within the U.S. EEZ and both in and outside of the U.S. EEZ, respectively, is 941 percent and 80 percent. This information, combined with the known range of the VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:56 Dec 20, 2019 Jkt 250001 stock, suggests that only a portion of the individuals in the stock will likely be impacted (i.e., notably less than 80 percent given the likely repeats; in other words more than 20 percent would be taken zero times), but that there will likely be some amount of repeat exposures across days (perhaps 6–19 days within a year) for some subset of individuals that spend extended times within the U.S. EEZ. Regarding the severity of those individual takes by behavioral Level B harassment, as explained in the 2018 AFTT final rule, the duration of any exposure response is expected to be from minutes to hours and not likely exceeding 24 hrs, and the received sound levels of the MF1 bin are largely between 154 and 166 dB, which, for a harbor porpoise (which have a lower behavioral Level B harassment threshold) would mostly be considered a moderate level. PO 00000 Frm 00066 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 Regarding the severity of TTS takes, as explained in the 2018 AFTT final rule, they are expected to be low-level, of short duration, and not in a frequency band that would be expected to significantly interfere with harbor porpoise communication, or echolocation or other important lowfrequency cues. Therefore, the associated lost opportunities and capabilities would not be expected to impact reproduction or survival. For these same reasons (low level and the likely frequency band), while a small permanent loss of hearing sensitivity may include some degree of energetic costs for compensating or may mean some small loss of opportunities or detection capabilities, the estimated 454 Level A harassment takes by PTS for harbor porpoise would be unlikely to impact behaviors, opportunities, or detection capabilities to a degree that would interfere with reproductive E:\FR\FM\23DER2.SGM 23DER2 ER23DE19.004</GPH> lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with RULES2 Total takes inside and outside U.S. EEZ represent the sum of annual Level A and Level B harassment from training and testing plus harassment take from one large ship shock trial. Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 246 / Monday, December 23, 2019 / Rules and Regulations success or survival for most individuals, even if PTS were to be experienced by an individual that also experiences one or more Level B harassment takes. Because of the high number of PTS takes, we acknowledge that a few animals could potentially incur permanent hearing loss of a higher degree that could potentially interfere with their successful reproduction and growth. However, given the status of the stock (high abundance and residual PBR of 451), even if this occurred, it would not adversely impact rates of recruitment or survival. Altogether, because harbor porpoises are particularly sensitive, it is likely that a fair number of the responses would be of a moderate nature. Additionally, as noted, some portion of the stock may be taken repeatedly on up to 19 days within a year, with some of those being sequential. Given this and the larger number of total takes (both to the stock and to individuals), it is more likely (probabilistically) that some small number of individuals could be interrupted during foraging in a manner and amount such that impacts to the energy budgets of females (from either losing feeding opportunities or expending considerable energy to find alternative feeding options) could cause them to forego reproduction for a year (energetic impacts to males generally have limited impact on population rates unless they cause death, and it takes extreme energy deficits beyond what would ever be likely to result from these activities to cause the death of an adult harbor porpoise). As noted previously, however, foregone reproduction (especially for one year) has far less of an impact on population rates than mortality and a small number of instances would not be expected to adversely impact annual rates of recruitment or survival, especially given that the residual PBR of harbor porpoises is 451. All indications are that the number of times in which reproduction would be likely to be 70777 foregone would not affect the stock’s annual rates of recruitment or survival. For these reasons, we have determined, in consideration of all of the effects of the Navy’s activities combined, that the authorized take will have a negligible impact on harbor porpoises. Beaked Whales In Table 22 below for beaked whales, we indicate the total annual mortality, Level A and Level B harassment, and a number indicating the instances of total take as a percentage of abundance. Table 22 is unchanged from Table 76 in the 2018 AFTT final rule. For additional information and analysis supporting the negligible-impact analysis, see the Odontocetes discussion as well as the Beaked Whales discussion in the Group and Species-Specific Analyses section of the 2018 AFTT final rule, all of which remains applicable to this final rule unless specifically noted. Table 22 -- Annual Estimated Takes by Level B Harassment, Level A Harassment, and Mortality for Beaked Whales in the AFTT Study Area and Number Indicating the Instances of Total Take as a Percentage of Stock Abundance. Instances of indicated types of Incidental take (not all takes represent separate Individuals, especially for disturbance) Level 8 Harassment TTS(may Behavioral also Include Olsturbance disturbance) Stock BlainvlHe's beaked whale Cuvier's beaked whale GeMls' beaked whale Northern bottlenose whale Sowersby's beaked whale Northern Gulf of Mexico Western North Atlantic Northern Gulf of Mexico Western North Atlantic Northern Gulf of Mexico Western North Atlantic Abundance Totaltakes Level A Harassment PTS Tissue Mortality Damage lnEEZ Inside and OUtslde EEZ 0 0 0 0 0 0 1,428 23,100 1,420 22,902 0 0 0 0 0 0 1,428 19,959 8 724 8 197 0 1 0 3 0 1 1,495 73,799 1,428 19,959 1,495 85,187 1,428 23,100 Western North Atlantle 2,()40 4 0 0 0 1,836 Western North Atlantic 22,930 197 1 0 0 True's beaked whale Western North Atlantic 22,930 197 1 0 0 1,420 22,902 8 197 1,487 84,460 Instances of total take as percentase of abundance lnEEZ Inside and OUtslde EEZ 966 966 1,274 966 14,277 966 4,704 52,716 lnEEZ Inside and Outside EEZ 148 1,567 148 162 155 162 148 162 966 966 1,274 14,2n 155 1,569 148 1,567 2,044 100 688 1,836 297 19,987 23,128 1,274 14,277 1,569 162 19,987 23,128 1,274 14,m 1,569 162 Total takes inside and outside U.S. EEZ represent the sum of annual Level A and Level B harassment from training and testing plus harassment take from one large ship shock trial. VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:56 Dec 20, 2019 Jkt 250001 PO 00000 Frm 00067 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4725 E:\FR\FM\23DER2.SGM 23DER2 ER23DE19.005</GPH> lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with RULES2 Note: In the table we compare estimated takes to abundance estimates generated from the same underlying density estimate (as described in the Estimated Take of Marine Mammals section of the 2018 AFTT final rule), versus abundance estimates directly from NMFS' SARs, which are not based on the same data and would not be appropriate for this purpose. Note that comparisons are made both within the U.S. EEZ only (where density estimates have lesser uncertainty) and across the whole Study Area (which offers a more comprehensive comparison for many stocks). 70778 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 246 / Monday, December 23, 2019 / Rules and Regulations lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with RULES2 Below we compile and summarize the information that supports our determination that the Navy’s activities will not adversely affect any species or stocks through effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival for any of the affected species or stocks addressed in this section. Beaked Whales, Including Northern Bottlenose Whale (Western North Atlantic Stocks) These stocks span the deeper waters of the East Coast of the U.S. north to Canada and out into oceanic waters beyond the U.S. EEZ. There is no currently reported trend for these populations and there are no specific issues with the status of the stocks that cause particular concern. Neither mortality nor tissue damage from explosives is anticipated or authorized for these stocks. Regarding the magnitude of Level B harassment takes (TTS and behavioral disruption), the number of estimated instances of harassment compared to the abundance within the U.S. EEZ and both in and outside of the U.S. EEZ is 1,567–1,836 percent and 162–297 percent, respectively. This information, combined with the known range of the stocks, suggests that while not all of the individuals in these stocks would most likely be taken (because they span well into oceanic waters, beyond the AFTT Study Area), of those that are, most would be taken over a few days (though likely not sequential) and some subset that spends extended time within the U.S. EEZ will likely be taken over a larger amount of days (maybe 15–37), some of which could be sequential. Regarding the severity of those individual takes by behavioral Level B harassment, as explained in the 2018 AFTT final rule, the duration of any exposure response is expected to generally be between minutes and hours and largely between 148 and 160 dB, though with beaked whales, which are considered somewhat more sensitive, this could mean that some individuals will leave preferred habitat for a day or two. However, while interrupted feeding bouts are a known response and concern for odontocetes, we also know that there are often viable alternative habitat options in the relative vicinity in the Western North Atlantic. Regarding the severity of TTS takes, as explained in the 2018 AFTT final rule, they are expected to be low-level, of short duration, and not in a frequency band that would adversely affect communication, inhibit echolocation, or otherwise interfere with other lowfrequency cues. Therefore any associated lost opportunities and VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:56 Dec 20, 2019 Jkt 250001 capabilities would not impact reproduction or survival. For the same reasons (low level and frequency band) the one to three estimated Level A harassment takes by PTS for these stocks are unlikely to have any effect on the reproduction or survival of any individual, even if PTS were to be experienced by an individual that also experiences one or more Level B harassment takes. Altogether, a small portion of the stock will likely be taken (at a relatively moderate level) on a relatively moderate to high number of days across the year, some of which could be sequential. Though the majority of impacts are expected to be of a sometimes low, but more likely, moderate magnitude and severity, the sensitivity of beaked whales and larger number of takes makes it more likely (probabilistically) that a small number of individuals could be interrupted during foraging in a manner and amount such that impacts to the energy budgets of females (from either losing feeding opportunities or expending considerable energy to find alternative feeding options) could cause them to forego reproduction for a year (energetic impacts to males generally have limited impact on population rates unless they cause death, and it takes extreme energy deficits beyond what would ever be likely to result from these activities to cause the death of an adult beaked whale). As noted previously, however, foregone reproduction (especially for one year) has far less of an impact on population rates than mortality and a small number of instances would not be expected to adversely impact annual rates of recruitment or survival. Based on the abundance of these stocks in the area and the evidence of little, if any, known human-caused mortality, all indications are that the small number of times in which reproduction would be likely to be foregone would not affect the stocks’ annual rates of recruitment or survival. For these reasons, we have determined, in consideration of all of the effects of the Navy’s activities combined, that the authorized take will have a negligible impact on Western North Atlantic beaked whales. Beaked Whales (Gulf of Mexico Stocks) The animals in these stocks suffer from lingering health issues resulting from the DWH oil spill (four percent of individuals of these stocks have adverse health effects), which means that some of them could be more susceptible to exposure to other stressors, and negative population effects (10 years for their growth rate to recover to the rate predicted for the stocks if they had not PO 00000 Frm 00068 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 incurred spill impacts). Neither mortality nor tissue damage from explosives is anticipated or authorized for these stocks. Level A harassment take from PTS is also unlikely to occur. Regarding the magnitude of Level B harassment takes (TTS and behavioral disruption), the number of estimated instances of harassment compared to the abundance is 148–155 percent. This information indicates that either the individuals in these stocks would all be taken by harassment one or two days within a year, or that a subset would not be taken at all and a small subset may be taken several times. Regarding the severity of those individual takes, as explained in the 2018 AFTT final rule, the duration of any exposure response is expected to generally be between minutes and hours and largely between 148 and 160 dB, though with beaked whales, which are considered somewhat more sensitive, this could mean that some individuals will leave preferred habitat for a day or two. However, while interrupted feeding bouts are a known response and concern for odontocetes, we also know that there are often viable alternative habitat options in the relative vicinity in the Gulf of Mexico. Regarding the severity of TTS takes, as explained in the 2018 AFTT final rule, they are expected to be low-level, of short duration, and not in a frequency band that would adversely affect communication, inhibit echolocation, or otherwise interfere with other low frequency cues. Therefore any associated lost opportunities and capabilities would not impact reproduction or survival. Altogether, likely only a portion of these stocks will be impacted and any individual beaked whale likely would be disturbed at a moderate level for no more than a few days per year. Even given the fact that some of the affected individuals may have compromised health, there is nothing to suggest that this magnitude and severity of effects would result in impacts on annual rates of recruitment or survival for any of the stocks. For these reasons, we have determined, in consideration of all of the effects of the Navy’s activities combined, that the authorized take will have a negligible impact on Gulf of Mexico beaked whales included in Table 22. Pinnipeds In Table 23 below for pinnipeds, we indicate the total annual mortality, Level A and Level B harassment, and a number indicating the instances of total take as a percentage of abundance. Table 23 is unchanged from Table 77 in the 2018 AFTT final rule. For additional E:\FR\FM\23DER2.SGM 23DER2 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 246 / Monday, December 23, 2019 / Rules and Regulations information and analysis supporting the negligible-impact analysis, see the Pinnipeds discussion in the Group and Species-Specific Analyses section of the 2018 AFTT final rule, all of which 70779 remains applicable to this final rule unless specifically noted. Table 23 -- Annual Estimated Takes by Level B Harassment, Level A Harassment, and Mortality for Pinnipeds in the AFTT Study Area and Number Indicating the Instances of Total Take as a Percentage of Stock Abundance. Instances of Indicated types of Incidental take (not all takes represent separate Individuals, especially for disturbance) Level BHarassment Species Abundance Level A Harassment TI'S{may Behavioral also Include Disturbance disturbance) Stock Total takes PTS Tissue Mortality Damage lnEEZ Inside and Outside EEZ lnEEZ Inside and Outside EEZ Instances of total take as percentage ofabundance lnEEZ Inside and Outside EEZ 95 Gray seal Harborseal Western North Atlantic 810 1,528 2 0 2,340 2,472 2,472 95 1,312 2,477 4 0 0 0 2,340 Western North Atlantic 3,793 3,793 11,122 11,122 34 34 Harp seal Western North Atlantic Western North Atlantic 6,339 9,955 3 7,242 225 0 16,297 914 7,242 466 0 0 16,297 448 0 0 880 880 104 225 104 Hooded seal 914 Note: In the table we compare estimated takes to abundance estimates generated from the same underlying density estimate (as described in the Estimated Take ofMarine Mammals section of the 2018 AFTT final rule), versus abundance estimates directly from NMFS' SARs, which are not based on the same data and would not be appropriate for this purpose. Note that comparisons are made both within the U.S. EEZ only (where density estimates have lesser uncertainty) and across the whole Study Area (which offers a more comprehensive comparison for many stocks). Below we compile and summarize the information that supports our determination that the Navy’s activities will not adversely affect any pinnipeds through effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival for any of the affected species or stocks addressed in this section. The Western North Atlantic pinniped (harp seal, harbor seal, hooded seal, and gray seal) stocks are northern, but highly migratory species. While harp seals are limited to the northern portion of the U.S. EEZ, gray and harbor seals may be found as far south as the Chesapeake Bay in late fall and hooded seals migrate as far south as Puerto Rico. An UME has been designated for seals from Maine to Virginia and the main pathogen found in the seals that have been tested is phocine distemper virus. Neither mortality nor tissue damage from explosives is anticipated or authorized for any of these stocks. Regarding the magnitude of Level B harassment takes (TTS and behavioral disruption), the number of estimated instances of harassment compared to the abundance that is expected within the AFTT Study Area is 34–225 percent, which suggests that only a subset of the animals in the AFTT Study Area would be taken, but VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:56 Dec 20, 2019 Jkt 250001 that a few might be taken on several days within the year (1–5 days), but not likely on sequential days. When the fact that some of these seals are residing in areas near Navy activities is considered, we can estimate that perhaps some of those individuals might be taken some higher number of days within the year (up to approximately 10 days), but still with no reason to think that these takes would occur on sequential days, which means that we would not expect effects on reproduction or survival. Regarding the severity of those individual behavioral Level B harassment takes, as explained in the 2018 AFTT final rule, the duration of any exposure response is expected to be between minutes and hours (i.e., relatively short) and the received sound levels are largely below 172 dB, with some up to 178 dB (i.e., of a lower to moderate level, less likely to evoke a severe response) and therefore there is no indication that the expected takes by behavioral Level B harassment would have any effect on annual rates of recruitment or survival. Regarding the severity of TTS takes, as explained in the 2018 AFTT final rule, they are expected to be low-level, of short duration, and not in a frequency band that would adversely affect PO 00000 Frm 00069 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 communication or otherwise interfere with other low-frequency cues. Therefore any associated lost opportunities and capabilities would not impact reproduction or survival. For the same reasons (low level and frequency band) the two to four estimated Level A harassment takes by PTS for these stocks are unlikely to have any effect on the reproduction or survival of any individual, even if PTS were to be experienced by an animal that also experiences one or more Level B harassment takes. Even given the fact that some of the affected harbor seal individuals may have compromised health due to the UME, there is nothing to suggest that such a low magnitude and severity of effects would result in impacts on annual rates of recruitment or survival, especially given that the stock abundance in the SAR is 75,839 with a residual PBR of 1,651. Similarly, given the low magnitude and severity of effects, there is no indication that these activities would affect reproduction or survival of harp or hooded seals, much less adversely affect rates of recruitment or survival, especially given that harp seal abundance is estimated at 6.9 million and hooded seal residual PBR is E:\FR\FM\23DER2.SGM 23DER2 ER23DE19.006</GPH> lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with RULES2 Total takes inside and outside U.S. EEZ representthe sum of annual Level A and Level B harassment from training and testing plus harassment take from one large ship shock trial. 70780 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 246 / Monday, December 23, 2019 / Rules and Regulations lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with RULES2 13,950. Gray seals are experiencing an UME as well as an exceedance of more than 4,299 M/SI above PBR, as reported in the SAR. The NMFS SAR notes, however, that the U.S. portion of average annual human-caused M/SI in U.S. waters does not exceed the portion of PBR in U.S. waters, and while the status of the gray seal population relative to OSP in U.S. Atlantic EEZ waters is unknown, despite the exceedance of the reported PBR the stock abundance appears to be increasing in both U.S. and Canadian waters (Hayes et al., 2018). Also, given the low magnitude (take compared to abundance is 95 percent, meaning the subset of individuals taken may be taken a few times on non-sequential days) and low to occasionally moderate severity of impacts, no impacts to individual reproduction or survival are expected and therefore no effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival would occur. For these reasons, in consideration of all of the effects of the Navy’s activities combined, we have determined that the authorized take will have a negligible impact on gray seals, harbor seals, hooded seals, and harp seals. Determination The 2018 AFTT final rule included a detailed discussion of all of the anticipated impacts on the affected species and stocks from serious injury and mortality, Level A harassment, and Level B harassment; impacts on habitat; and how the Navy’s mitigation and monitoring measures reduce the number and/or severity of adverse effects. We evaluated how these impacts and mitigation measures are expected to combine to affect individuals of each stock. Those effects were then evaluated in the context of whether they are reasonably likely to impact reproductive success or survivorship of individuals and then, if so, further analyzed to determine whether there would be effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival that would adversely affect the species or stock. As described above, the basis for the negligible impact determination is the assessment of effects on annual rates of recruitment and survival. Accordingly, the analysis included in the 2018 AFTT final rule, as updated in this rule to consider new information and include the two additional years of activities, mitigation measures, and monitoring and reporting requirements, uses annual activity levels, the best available science, and approved methods to predict the annual impacts to marine mammals, which were then analyzed in the context of whether each species or VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:56 Dec 20, 2019 Jkt 250001 stock would incur more than a negligible impact based on anticipated adverse impacts to annual rates of recruitment or survival. As we have described above, none of the factors upon which the annually-based conclusions in the 2018 AFTT final rule were based have changed in a manner that changes our determinations. Therefore, even though this final rule includes two additional years, because our findings are based on annual rates of recruitment and survival, and nothing has changed in a manner that would change our 2018 AFTT rule annual analyses, it is appropriate to rely on those analyses, in addition to the updated information and analysis discussed above, for this final rule. Based on the applicable information and analysis from the 2018 AFTT final rule as updated with the information and analysis contained herein on the potential and likely effects of the specified activities on the affected marine mammals and their habitat, and taking into consideration the implementation of the monitoring and mitigation measures, NMFS finds that the incidental take from the specified activities will have a negligible impact on all affected marine mammal species and stocks. Subsistence Harvest of Marine Mammals There are no subsistence uses or harvest of marine mammals in the geographic area affected by the specified activities. Therefore, NMFS has determined that the total taking affecting species or stocks will not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of such species or stocks for taking for subsistence purposes. Classifications Endangered Species Act There are six marine mammal species under NMFS jurisdiction that are listed as endangered or threatened under the ESA with confirmed or possible occurrence in the AFTT Study Area: Blue whale, fin whale, sei whale, sperm whale, North Atlantic right whale, and Gulf of Mexico subspecies of Bryde’s whale. The Navy consulted with NMFS pursuant to section 7 of the ESA for AFTT activities. NMFS also consulted internally on the issuance of the AFTT regulations and LOAs under section 101(a)(5)(A) of the MMPA. NMFS issued a Biological and Conference Opinion on October 22, 2018, concluding that the issuance of the 2018 AFTT final rule and subsequent LOAs are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of the threatened and endangered species PO 00000 Frm 00070 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 under NMFS’ jurisdiction and are not likely to result in the destruction or adverse modification of critical habitat in the AFTT Study Area. The 2018 Biological and Conference Opinion included specified conditions under which NMFS would be required to reinitiate section 7 consultation. The agency reviewed these specified conditions for this rulemaking and determined that reinitiation of consultation was not warranted. The incidental take statement that accompanied the 2018 Biological and Conference Opinion has been amended to cover the seven-year period of the rule. NMFS also requested that the Conference Opinion for Gulf of Mexico Bryde’s whale, which was listed as an endangered species on April 15, 2019, be adopted as a Biological Opinion, which was completed on October 24, 2019. The 2018 Biological and Conference Opinion for this action is available at https:// www.fisheries.noaa.gov/national/ marine-mammal-protection/incidentaltake-authorizations-military-readinessactivities. National Marine Sanctuaries Act Federal agency actions that are likely to injure national marine sanctuary resources are subject to consultation with the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (ONMS) under section 304(d) of the National Marine Sanctuaries Act (NMSA). On December 15, 2017, the Navy initiated consultation with ONMS and submitted a Sanctuary Resource Statement (SRS) that discussed the effects of the Navy’s AFTT activities in the vicinity of Stellwagen Bank, Gray’s Reef, and Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuaries on sanctuary resources. NMFS worked with the Navy in the development of the SRS to ensure that it could serve jointly as an SRS for NMFS’ action under the MMPA as well. On December 20, 2017, NMFS initiated consultation with ONMS on MMPA incidental take regulations for the Navy’s AFTT activities. NMFS requested that ONMS consider the description and assessment of the effects of the Navy’s activities included in the joint SRS submitted by the Navy, which included an assessment of the effects on marine mammals, as satisfying NMFS’ need to provide an SRS. ONMS reviewed the SRS, as well as an addendum the Navy provided on April 3, 2018. On April 12, 2018, ONMS found the SRS and addendum sufficient for the purposes of making an injury determination and developing recommended alternatives as required E:\FR\FM\23DER2.SGM 23DER2 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 246 / Monday, December 23, 2019 / Rules and Regulations lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with RULES2 by the NMSA. On May 15, 2018, ONMS recommended two reasonable and prudent measures to the Navy and NMFS (one of which applied to NMFS) to minimize injury and to protect sanctuary resources. ONMS subsequently provided a slight modification of those recommendations to the Navy and NMFS on August 1, 2018. On August 17, 2018, the Navy agreed to implement both ONMS recommendations and on October 30, 2018, NMFS agreed to implement the recommendation that applied to NMFS. For this rulemaking, NMFS reviewed the conditions for reinitiation of NMSA consultation in ONMS’ August 1, 2018, letter. The agency has determined that the current NMSA consultation remains valid for the issuance of the seven-year MMPA incidental take regulations and subsequent LOAs, and that reinitiation of consultation under the NMSA is not warranted. The Navy and NMFS will continue to implement the reasonable and prudent alternatives recommended by ONMS during the 2018 consultation. National Environmental Policy Act To comply with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA; 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) and NOAA Administrative Order (NAO) 216–6A, NMFS must evaluate our proposed actions and alternatives with respect to potential impacts on the human environment. NMFS participated as a cooperating agency on the 2018 AFTT FEIS/OEIS (published on September 14, 2018, https:// www.public.navy.mil/usff/ environmental/Pages/aftt.aspx) which evaluated impacts from Navy training and testing activities in the AFTT Study Area for the reasonably foreseeable future. In accordance with 40 CFR 1506.3, NMFS independently reviewed and evaluated the 2018 AFTT FEIS/ OEIS and determined that it was adequate and sufficient to meet our responsibilities under NEPA for the issuance of the 2018 AFTT final rule and associated LOAs. NOAA therefore adopted the 2018 AFTT FEIS/OEIS. In accordance with 40 CFR 1502.9 and the information and analysis contained in this final rule, NMFS has determined that this final rule and the subsequent LOAs will not result in impacts that were not fully considered in the 2018 AFTT FEIS/OEIS. In addition, as indicated in this final rule, the addition of two years of authorized incidental take associated with the same activities conducted in the same geographic area and having the same potential effects on the same species and stocks is not a substantial change to the action, nor are there significant new VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:56 Dec 20, 2019 Jkt 250001 circumstances or information relevant to environmental concerns or its impacts. Therefore, NMFS has determined that the 2018 AFTT FEIS/OEIS and 2018 NMFS Record of Decision (ROD) remain valid, and there is no need to supplement either document for this rulemaking. Regulatory Flexibility Act The Office of Management and Budget has determined that this rule is not significant for purposes of Executive Order 12866. Pursuant to the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), the Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration during the proposed rule stage that this action would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. The factual basis for the certification was published in the proposed rule and is not repeated here. No comments were received regarding this certification. As a result, a regulatory flexibility analysis was not required and none was prepared. Waiver of Delay in Effective Date Under the Administrative Procedure Act NMFS has determined that there is good cause under the Administrative Procedure Act (5 U.S.C. 553(d)) to waive the 30-day delay in the effective date for this rule. This rule relieves the Navy from the restrictions of the take prohibitions under the MMPA by granting the Navy’s request for incidental take authorization under MMPA section 101(a)(5)(A). In addition, there is good cause to waive the 30-day effective date period because the regulations are identical to those that the Navy has been implementing since November 2018 (except for a small number of minor, technical clarifications that do not affect implementation). The only substantive change in the regulations is to extend the mitigation measures and the monitoring and reporting requirements for an additional two years, until November 13, 2025. The Navy is the only entity affected by the regulations, the Navy specifically requested extension of the regulatory requirements for the two years, and the Navy has fully agreed to these requirements for the additional two years through its application for incidental take authorization. The Navy is anticipating finalization of the rule. For all these reasons, there is no need for a period of time following publication of the rule for the Navy to bring its training and PO 00000 Frm 00071 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 70781 testing operations into compliance with the requirements of the rule. List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 218 Exports, Fish, Imports, Incidental take, Indians, Labeling, Marine mammals, Navy, Penalties, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Seafood, Sonar, Transportation. Dated: December 11, 2019. Samuel D. Rauch III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. For reasons set forth in the preamble, 50 CFR part 218 is amended as follows: PART 218—REGULATIONS GOVERNING THE TAKING AND IMPORTING OF MARINE MAMMALS 1. The authority citation for part 218 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq., unless otherwise noted. ■ 2. Revise subpart I to read as follows: Subpart I—Taking and Importing Marine Mammals; U.S. Navy’s Atlantic Fleet Training and Testing (AFTT) Sec. 218.80 Specified activity and specified geographical region. 218.81 Effective dates. 218.82 Permissible methods of taking. 218.83 Prohibitions. 218.84 Mitigation requirements. 218.85 Requirements for monitoring and reporting. 218.86 Letters of Authorization. 218.87 Renewals and modifications of Letters of Authorization. 218.88–218.89 [Reserved] Subpart I—Taking and Importing Marine Mammals; U.S. Navy’s Atlantic Fleet Training and Testing (AFTT) § 218.80 Specified activity and geographical region. (a) Regulations in this subpart apply only to the U.S. Navy for the taking of marine mammals that occurs in the area described in paragraph (b) of this section and that occurs incidental to the activities listed in paragraph (c) of this section. (b) The taking of marine mammals by the Navy under this subpart may be authorized in Letters of Authorization (LOAs) only if it occurs within the Atlantic Fleet Training and Testing (AFTT) Study Area, which includes areas of the western Atlantic Ocean along the East Coast of North America, portions of the Caribbean Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico. The AFTT Study Area begins at the mean high tide line along the U.S. East Coast and extends east to E:\FR\FM\23DER2.SGM 23DER2 70782 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 246 / Monday, December 23, 2019 / Rules and Regulations the 45-degree west longitude line, north to the 65-degree north latitude line, and south to approximately the 20-degree north latitude line. The AFTT Study Area also includes Navy pierside locations, bays, harbors, and inland waterways, and civilian ports where training and testing occurs. (c) The taking of marine mammals by the Navy is only authorized if it occurs incidental to the Navy conducting training and testing activities, including: (1) Training. (i) Amphibious warfare; (ii) Anti-submarine warfare; (iii) Electronic warfare; (iv) Expeditionary warfare; (v) Mine warfare; (vi) Surface warfare, and (vii) Pile driving. (2) Testing. (i) Naval Air Systems Command Testing Activities; (ii) Naval Sea System Command Testing Activities; and (iii) Office of Naval Research Testing Activities. § 218.81 Effective dates. Regulations in this subpart are effective from December 23, 2019 through November 13, 2025. § 218.82 Permissible methods of taking. (a) Under LOAs issued pursuant to §§ 216.106 of this chapter and 218.86, the Holder of the LOAs (hereinafter ‘‘Navy’’) may incidentally, but not intentionally, take marine mammals within the area described in § 218.80(b) by Level A harassment and Level B harassment associated with the use of active sonar and other acoustic sources and explosives as well as serious injury or mortality associated with ship shock trials and vessel strikes, provided the activity is in compliance with all terms, conditions, and requirements of this subpart and the applicable LOAs. (b) The incidental take of marine mammals by the activities listed in § 218.80(c) is limited to the following species: TABLE 1 TO § 218.82 Species Stock Suborder Mysticeti (baleen whales) Family Balaenidae (right whales): North Atlantic right whale .................................................................. Family Balaenopteridae (roquals): Blue whale ......................................................................................... Bryde’s whale .................................................................................... Minke whale ...................................................................................... Fin whale ........................................................................................... Humpback whale ............................................................................... Sei whale ........................................................................................... Western. Western North Atlantic (Gulf of St. Lawrence). Northern Gulf of Mexico NSD. Canadian East Coast. Western North Atlantic. Gulf of Maine. Nova Scotia. Suborder Odontoceti (toothed whales) Family Physeteridae (sperm whale): Sperm whale ..................................................................................... Family Kogiidae (sperm whales): Dwarf sperm whale ........................................................................... Pygmy sperm whale .......................................................................... Family Ziphiidae (beaked whales): Blainville’s beaked whale .................................................................. Cuvier’s beaked whale ...................................................................... Gervais’ beaked whale ...................................................................... Northern bottlenose whale ................................................................ Sowersby’s beaked whale ................................................................. True’s beaked whale ......................................................................... Family Delphinidae (dolphins): Atlantic spotted dolphin ..................................................................... lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with RULES2 Atlantic white-sided dolphin ............................................................... VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:56 Dec 20, 2019 Jkt 250001 PO 00000 Frm 00072 Fmt 4701 Gulf of Mexico Oceanic. North Atlantic. Gulf of Mexico Oceanic. Western North Atlantic. Northern Gulf of Mexico. Western North Atlantic. Northern Gulf of Mexico. Western North Atlantic. Northern Gulf of Mexico. Western North Atlantic. Northern Gulf of Mexico. Western North Atlantic. Western North Atlantic. Western North Atlantic. Western North Atlantic. Northern Gulf of Mexico. Western North Atlantic. Western North Atlantic. Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\23DER2.SGM 23DER2 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 246 / Monday, December 23, 2019 / Rules and Regulations 70783 TABLE 1 TO § 218.82—Continued Species Stock Bottlenose dolphin ............................................................................. Clymene dolphin ................................................................................ False killer whale ............................................................................... Fraser’s dolphin ................................................................................. Killer whale ........................................................................................ Long-finned pilot whale ..................................................................... Melon-headed whale ......................................................................... Pantropical spotted dolphin ............................................................... Pygmy killer whale ............................................................................ Risso’s dolphin .................................................................................. Rough-toothed dolphin ...................................................................... Short-beaked common dolphin ......................................................... Short-finned pilot whale ..................................................................... Spinner dolphin ................................................................................. Striped dolphin .................................................................................. White-beaked dolphin ........................................................................ Family Phocoenidae (porpoises): Harbor porpoise ................................................................................. Choctawhatchee Bay. Gulf of Mexico Eastern Coastal. Gulf of Mexico Northern Coastal. Gulf of Mexico Western Coastal. Indian River Lagoon Estuarine System. Jacksonville Estuarine System. Mississippi Sound, Lake Borgne, Bay Boudreau. Northern Gulf of Mexico Continental Shelf. Northern Gulf of Mexico Oceanic. Northern North Carolina Estuarine System. Southern North Carolina Estuarine System. Western North Atlantic Northern Florida Coastal. Western North Atlantic Central Florida Coastal. Western North Atlantic Northern Migratory Coastal. Western North Atlantic Offshore. Western North Atlantic South Carolina/Georgia Coastal. Western North Atlantic Southern Migratory Coastal. Northern Gulf of Mexico. Western North Atlantic. Northern Gulf of Mexico. Western North Atlantic. Northern Gulf of Mexico. Western North Atlantic. Northern Gulf of Mexico. Western North Atlantic. Western North Atlantic. Northern Gulf of Mexico. Western North Atlantic. Northern Gulf of Mexico. Western North Atlantic. Northern Gulf of Mexico. Western North Atlantic. Northern Gulf of Mexico. Western North Atlantic. Northern Gulf of Mexico. Western North Atlantic. Western North Atlantic. Northern Gulf of Mexico. Western North Atlantic. Northern Gulf of Mexico. Western North Atlantic. Northern Gulf of Mexico. Western North Atlantic. Western North Atlantic. Gulf of Maine/Bay of Fundy. Suborder Pinnipedia Family Phocidae (true seals): Gray seal ........................................................................................... Harbor seal ........................................................................................ Harp seal ........................................................................................... Hooded seal ...................................................................................... lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with RULES2 § 218.83 Prohibitions. Notwithstanding incidental takings contemplated in § 218.82(a) and authorized by LOAs issued under §§ 216.106 of this chapter and 218.86, no person in connection with the activities listed in § 218.80(c) may: (a) Violate, or fail to comply with the terms, conditions, and requirements of this subpart or an LOA issued under §§ 216.106 of this chapter and 218.86; (b) Take any marine mammal not specified in § 218.82(b); VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:56 Dec 20, 2019 Jkt 250001 Western Western Western Western North North North North Atlantic. Atlantic. Atlantic. Atlantic. (c) Take any marine mammal specified § 218.82(b) in any manner other than as specified in the LOAs; or (d) Take a marine mammal specified § 218.82(b) if the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) determines such taking results in more than a negligible impact on the species or stocks of such marine mammal. § 218.84 Mitigation requirements. When conducting the activities identified in § 218.80(c), the mitigation measures contained in any LOAs issued PO 00000 Frm 00073 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 under §§ 216.106 of this chapter and 218.86 must be implemented. These mitigation measures include, but are not limited to: (a) Procedural mitigation. Procedural mitigation is mitigation that the Navy must implement whenever and wherever an applicable training or testing activity takes place within the AFTT Study Area for each applicable activity category or stressor category and includes acoustic stressors (i.e., active sonar, air guns, pile driving, weapons E:\FR\FM\23DER2.SGM 23DER2 lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with RULES2 70784 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 246 / Monday, December 23, 2019 / Rules and Regulations firing noise), explosive stressors (i.e., sonobuoys, torpedoes, medium-caliber and large-caliber projectiles, missiles and rockets, bombs, sinking exercises, mines, anti-swimmer grenades, line charge testing and ship shock trials), and physical disturbance and strike stressors (i.e., vessel movement; towed in-water devices; small-, medium-, and large-caliber non-explosive practice munitions; non-explosive missiles and rockets; non-explosive bombs and mine shapes). (1) Environmental awareness and education. Appropriate personnel (including civilian personnel) involved in mitigation and training or testing activity reporting under the specified activities must complete one or more modules of the U.S. Navy Afloat Environmental Compliance Training Series, as identified in their career path training plan. Modules include: Introduction to the U.S. Navy Afloat Environmental Compliance Training Series, Marine Species Awareness Training, U.S. Navy Protective Measures Assessment Protocol, and U.S. Navy Sonar Positional Reporting System and Marine Mammal Incident Reporting. (2) Active sonar. Active sonar includes low-frequency active sonar, mid-frequency active sonar, and highfrequency active sonar. For vessel-based active sonar activities, mitigation applies only to sources that are positively controlled and deployed from manned surface vessels (e.g., sonar sources towed from manned surface platforms). For aircraft-based active sonar activities, mitigation applies only to sources that are positively controlled and deployed from manned aircraft that do not operate at high altitudes (e.g., rotary-wing aircraft). Mitigation does not apply to active sonar sources deployed from unmanned aircraft or aircraft operating at high altitudes (e.g., maritime patrol aircraft). (i) Number of Lookouts and observation platform—(A) Hullmounted sources. One Lookout for platforms with space or manning restrictions while underway (at the forward part of a small boat or ship) and platforms using active sonar while moored or at anchor (including pierside); two Lookouts for platforms without space or manning restrictions while underway (at the forward part of the ship); and four Lookouts for pierside sonar testing activities at Port Canaveral, Florida and Kings Bay, Georgia. (B) Sources that are not hull-mounted sources. One Lookout on the ship or aircraft conducting the activity. (ii) Mitigation zones and requirements. During the activity, at 1,000 yard (yd) Navy personnel must VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:56 Dec 20, 2019 Jkt 250001 power down 6 decibels (dB), at 500 yd Navy personnel must power down an additional 4 dB (for a total of 10 dB), and at 200 yd Navy personnel must shut down for low-frequency active sonar ≥200 dB and hull-mounted midfrequency active sonar; or at 200 yd Navy personnel must shut down for low-frequency active sonar <200 dB, mid-frequency active sonar sources that are not hull-mounted, and highfrequency active sonar. (A) Prior to the initial start of the activity (e.g., when maneuvering on station), Navy personnel must observe the mitigation zone for floating vegetation; if floating vegetation is observed, Navy personnel must relocate or delay the start until the mitigation zone is clear. Navy personnel also must observe the mitigation zone for marine mammals; if marine mammals are observed, Navy personnel must relocate or delay the start of active sonar transmission. (B) During low-frequency active sonar at or above 200 dB and hull-mounted mid-frequency active sonar, Navy personnel must observe the mitigation zone for marine mammals and power down active sonar transmission by 6 dB if marine mammals are observed within 1,000 yd of the sonar source; power down by an additional 4 dB (10 dB total) if marine mammals are observed within 500 yd of the sonar source; and cease transmission if marine mammals are observed within 200 yd of the sonar source. (C) During low-frequency active sonar below 200 dB, mid-frequency active sonar sources that are not hull mounted, and high-frequency active sonar, Navy personnel must observe the mitigation zone for marine mammals and cease active sonar transmission if marine mammals are observed within 200 yd of the sonar source. (D) Commencement/recommencement conditions after a marine mammal sighting before or during the activity: Navy personnel must allow a sighted marine mammal to leave the mitigation zone prior to the initial start of the activity (by delaying the start) or during the activity (by not recommencing or powering up active sonar transmission) until one of the following conditions has been met: The animal is observed exiting the mitigation zone; the animal is thought to have exited the mitigation zone based on a determination of its course, speed, and movement relative to the sonar source; the mitigation zone has been clear from any additional sightings for 10 minutes (min) for aircraft-deployed sonar sources or 30 min for vessel-deployed sonar sources; for mobile activities, the active sonar PO 00000 Frm 00074 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 source has transited a distance equal to double that of the mitigation zone size beyond the location of the last sighting; or for activities using hull-mounted sonar where a dolphin(s) is observed in the mitigation zone, the Lookout concludes that the dolphin(s) is deliberately closing in on the ship to ride the ship’s bow wave, and is therefore out of the main transmission axis of the sonar (and there are no other marine mammal sightings within the mitigation zone). (3) Air guns—(i) Number of Lookouts and observation platform. One Lookout must be positioned on a ship or pierside. (ii) Mitigation zone and requirements. 150 yd around the air gun. (A) Prior to the initial start of the activity (e.g., when maneuvering on station), Navy personnel must observe the mitigation zone for floating vegetation; if floating vegetation is observed, Navy personnel must relocate or delay the start until the mitigation zone is clear. Navy personnel also must observe the mitigation zone for marine mammals; if marine mammals are observed, Navy personnel must relocate or delay the start of air gun use. (B) During the activity, Navy personnel must observe the mitigation zone for marine mammals; if marine mammals are observed, Navy personnel must cease use of air guns. (C) Commencement/recommencement conditions after a marine mammal sighting before or during the activity: Navy personnel must allow a sighted marine mammal to leave the mitigation zone prior to the initial start of the activity (by delaying the start) or during the activity (by not recommencing air gun use) until one of the following conditions has been met: The animal is observed exiting the mitigation zone; the animal is thought to have exited the mitigation zone based on a determination of its course, speed, and movement relative to the air gun; the mitigation zone has been clear from any additional sightings for 30 min; or for mobile activities, the air gun has transited a distance equal to double that of the mitigation zone size beyond the location of the last sighting. (4) Pile driving. Pile driving and pile extraction sound during Elevated Causeway System training. (i) Number of Lookouts and observation platform. One Lookout must be positioned on the shore, the elevated causeway, or a small boat. (ii) Mitigation zone and requirements. 100 yd around the pile driver. (A) Prior to the initial start of the activity (for 30 min), Navy personnel must observe the mitigation zone for E:\FR\FM\23DER2.SGM 23DER2 lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with RULES2 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 246 / Monday, December 23, 2019 / Rules and Regulations floating vegetation; if floating vegetation is observed, Navy personnel must delay the start until the mitigation zone is clear. Navy personnel also must observe the mitigation zone for marine mammals; if marine mammals are observed, Navy personnel must delay the start of pile driving or vibratory pile extraction. (B) During the activity, Navy personnel must observe the mitigation zone for marine mammals; if marine mammals are observed, Navy personnel must cease impact pile driving or vibratory pile extraction. (C) Commencement/recommencement conditions after a marine mammal sighting before or during the activity: Navy personnel must allow a sighted marine mammal to leave the mitigation zone prior to the initial start of the activity (by delaying the start) or during the activity (by not recommencing pile driving or pile extraction) until one of the following conditions has been met: The animal is observed exiting the mitigation zone; the animal is thought to have exited the mitigation zone based on a determination of its course, speed, and movement relative to the pile driving location; or the mitigation zone has been clear from any additional sightings for 30 min. (5) Weapons firing noise. Weapons firing noise associated with large-caliber gunnery activities. (i) Number of Lookouts and observation platform. One Lookout must be positioned on the ship conducting the firing. Depending on the activity, the Lookout could be the same as the one provided for under explosive mediumcaliber and large-caliber projectiles or under small-, medium-, and largecaliber non-explosive practice munitions in paragraphs (a)(8)(i) and (a)(19)(i) of this section. (ii) Mitigation zone and requirements. Thirty degrees on either side of the firing line out to 70 yd from the muzzle of the weapon being fired. (A) Prior to the initial start of the activity, Navy personnel must observe the mitigation zone for floating vegetation; if floating vegetation is observed, Navy personnel must relocate or delay the start until the mitigation zone is clear. Navy personnel also must observe the mitigation zone for marine mammals; if marine mammals are observed, Navy personnel must relocate or delay the start of weapons firing. (B) During the activity, Navy personnel must observe the mitigation zone for marine mammals; if marine mammals are observed, Navy personnel must cease weapons firing. (C) Commencement/recommencement conditions after a marine mammal VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:56 Dec 20, 2019 Jkt 250001 sighting before or during the activity: Navy personnel must allow a sighted marine mammal to leave the mitigation zone prior to the initial start of the activity (by delaying the start) or during the activity (by not recommencing weapons firing) until one of the following conditions has been met: The animal is observed exiting the mitigation zone; the animal is thought to have exited the mitigation zone based on a determination of its course, speed, and movement relative to the firing ship; the mitigation zone has been clear from any additional sightings for 30 min; or for mobile activities, the firing ship has transited a distance equal to double that of the mitigation zone size beyond the location of the last sighting. (6) Explosive sonobuoys—(i) Number of Lookouts and observation platform. One Lookout must be positioned in an aircraft or on small boat. If additional platforms are participating in the activity, personnel positioned in those assets (e.g., safety observers, evaluators) must support observing the mitigation zone for marine mammals and other applicable biological resources while performing their regular duties. (ii) Mitigation zone and requirements. 600 yd around an explosive sonobuoy. (A) Prior to the initial start of the activity (e.g., during deployment of a sonobuoy field, which typically lasts 20–30 min), Navy personnel must observe the mitigation zone for floating vegetation; if floating vegetation is observed, Navy personnel must relocate or delay the start until the mitigation zone is clear. Navy personnel must conduct passive acoustic monitoring for marine mammals and use information from detections to assist visual observations. Navy personnel also must visually observe the mitigation zone for marine mammals; if marine mammals are observed, Navy personnel must relocate or delay the start of sonobuoy or source/receiver pair detonations. (B) During the activity, Navy personnel must observe the mitigation zone for marine mammals; if marine mammals are observed, Navy personnel must cease sonobuoy or source/receiver pair detonations. (C) Commencement/recommencement conditions after a marine mammal sighting before or during the activity: Navy personnel must allow a sighted marine mammal to leave the mitigation zone prior to the initial start of the activity (by delaying the start) or during the activity (by not recommencing detonations) until one of the following conditions has been met: The animal is observed exiting the mitigation zone; the animal is thought to have exited the mitigation zone based on a PO 00000 Frm 00075 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 70785 determination of its course, speed, and movement relative to the sonobuoy; or the mitigation zone has been clear from any additional sightings for 10 min when the activity involves aircraft that have fuel constraints (e.g., helicopter), or 30 min when the activity involves aircraft that are not typically fuel constrained. (D) After completion of the activity (e.g., prior to maneuvering off station), when practical (e.g., when platforms are not constrained by fuel restrictions or mission-essential follow-on commitments), Navy personnel must observe for marine mammals in the vicinity of where detonations occurred; if any injured or dead marine mammals are observed, Navy personnel must follow established incident reporting procedures. If additional platforms are supporting this activity (e.g., providing range clearance), these Navy assets must assist in the visual observation of the area where detonations occurred. (7) Explosive torpedoes—(i) Number of Lookouts and observation platform. One Lookout positioned in an aircraft. If additional platforms are participating in the activity, Navy personnel positioned in those assets (e.g., safety observers, evaluators) must support observing the mitigation zone for marine mammals and other applicable biological resources while performing their regular duties. (ii) Mitigation zone and requirements. 2,100 yd around the intended impact location. (A) Prior to the initial start of the activity (e.g., during deployment of the target), Navy personnel must observe the mitigation zone for floating vegetation; if floating vegetation is observed, relocate or delay the start until the mitigation zone is clear. Navy personnel also must conduct passive acoustic monitoring for marine mammals and use the information from detections to assist visual observations. Navy personnel must visually observe the mitigation zone for marine mammals and jellyfish aggregations; if marine mammals or jellyfish aggregations are observed, Navy personnel must relocate or delay the start of firing. (B) During the activity, Navy personnel must observe for marine mammals and jellyfish aggregations; if marine mammals or jellyfish aggregations are observed, Navy personnel must cease firing. (C) Commencement/recommencement conditions after a marine mammal sighting before or during the activity: Navy personnel must allow a sighted marine mammal to leave the mitigation zone prior to the initial start of the activity (by delaying the start) or during E:\FR\FM\23DER2.SGM 23DER2 lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with RULES2 70786 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 246 / Monday, December 23, 2019 / Rules and Regulations the activity (by not recommencing firing) until one of the following conditions has been met: The animal is observed exiting the mitigation zone; the animal is thought to have exited the mitigation zone based on a determination of its course, speed, and movement relative to the intended impact location; or the mitigation zone has been clear from any additional sightings for 10 min when the activity involves aircraft that have fuel constraints, or 30 min when the activity involves aircraft that are not typically fuel constrained. (D) After completion of the activity (e.g., prior to maneuvering off station), when practical (e.g., when platforms are not constrained by fuel restrictions or mission-essential follow-on commitments), Navy personnel must observe for marine mammals in the vicinity of where detonations occurred; if any injured or dead marine mammals are observed, Navy personnel must follow established incident reporting procedures. If additional platforms are supporting this activity (e.g., providing range clearance), these Navy assets must assist in the visual observation of the area where detonations occurred. (8) Explosive medium-caliber and large-caliber projectiles. Gunnery activities using explosive mediumcaliber and large-caliber projectiles. Mitigation applies to activities using a surface target. (i) Number of Lookouts and observation platform. One Lookout must be on the vessel or aircraft conducting the activity. For activities using explosive large-caliber projectiles, depending on the activity, the Lookout could be the same as the one described for weapons firing noise in paragraph (a)(5)(i) of this section. If additional platforms are participating in the activity, Navy personnel positioned in those assets (e.g., safety observers, evaluators) must support observing the mitigation zone for marine mammals and other applicable biological resources while performing their regular duties. (ii) Mitigation zone and requirements. (A) 200 yd around the intended impact location for air-to-surface activities using explosive medium-caliber projectiles. (B) 600 yd around the intended impact location for surface-to-surface activities using explosive mediumcaliber projectiles. (C) 1,000 yd around the intended impact location for surface-to-surface activities using explosive large-caliber projectiles. (D) Prior to the initial start of the activity (e.g., when maneuvering on VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:56 Dec 20, 2019 Jkt 250001 station), Navy personnel must observe the mitigation zone for floating vegetation; if floating vegetation is observed, Navy personnel must relocate or delay the start until the mitigation zone is clear. Navy personnel also must observe the mitigation zone for marine mammals; if marine mammals are observed, Navy personnel must relocate or delay the start of firing. (E) During the activity, Navy personnel must observe for marine mammals; if marine mammals are observed, Navy personnel must cease firing. (F) Commencement/recommencement conditions after a marine mammal sighting before or during the activity: Navy personnel must allow a sighted marine mammal to leave the mitigation zone prior to the initial start of the activity (by delaying the start) or during the activity (by not recommencing firing) until one of the following conditions has been met: The animal is observed exiting the mitigation zone; the animal is thought to have exited the mitigation zone based on a determination of its course, speed, and movement relative to the intended impact location; the mitigation zone has been clear from any additional sightings for 10 min for aircraft-based firing or 30 min for vessel-based firing; or for activities using mobile targets, the intended impact location has transited a distance equal to double that of the mitigation zone size beyond the location of the last sighting. (G) After completion of the activity (e.g., prior to maneuvering off station), when practical (e.g., when platforms are not constrained by fuel restrictions or mission-essential follow-on commitments), Navy personnel must observe for marine mammals in the vicinity of where detonations occurred; if any injured or dead marine mammals are observed, Navy personnel must follow established incident reporting procedures. If additional platforms are supporting this activity (e.g., providing range clearance), these Navy assets must assist in the visual observation of the area where detonations occurred. (9) Explosive missiles and rockets. Aircraft-deployed explosive missiles and rockets. Mitigation applies to activities using a surface target. (i) Number of Lookouts and observation platform. One Lookout must be positioned in an aircraft. If additional platforms are participating in the activity, Navy personnel positioned in those assets (e.g., safety observers, evaluators) must support observing the mitigation zone for marine mammals and other applicable biological PO 00000 Frm 00076 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 resources while performing their regular duties. (ii) Mitigation zone and requirements. (A) 900 yd around the intended impact location for missiles or rockets with 0.6– 20 lb net explosive weight. (B) 2,000 yd around the intended impact location for missiles with 21– 500 lb net explosive weight. (C) Prior to the initial start of the activity (e.g., during a fly-over of the mitigation zone), Navy personnel must observe the mitigation zone for floating vegetation; if floating vegetation is observed, Navy personnel must relocate or delay the start until the mitigation zone is clear. Navy personnel also must observe the mitigation zone for marine mammals; if marine mammals are observed, Navy personnel must relocate or delay the start of firing. (D) During the activity, Navy personnel must observe for marine mammals; if marine mammals are observed, Navy personnel must cease firing. (E) Commencement/recommencement conditions after a marine mammal sighting before or during the activity: Navy personnel must allow a sighted marine mammal to leave the mitigation zone prior to the initial start of the activity (by delaying the start) or during the activity (by not recommencing firing) until one of the following conditions has been met: The animal is observed exiting the mitigation zone; the animal is thought to have exited the mitigation zone based on a determination of its course, speed, and movement relative to the intended impact location; or the mitigation zone has been clear from any additional sightings for 10 min when the activity involves aircraft that have fuel constraints, or 30 min when the activity involves aircraft that are not typically fuel constrained. (F) After completion of the activity (e.g., prior to maneuvering off station), when practical (e.g., when platforms are not constrained by fuel restrictions or mission-essential follow-on commitments), Navy personnel must observe for marine mammals in the vicinity of where detonations occurred; if any injured or dead marine mammals are observed, Navy personnel must follow established incident reporting procedures. If additional platforms are supporting this activity (e.g., providing range clearance), these Navy assets must assist in the visual observation of the area where detonations occurred. (10) Explosive bombs—(i) Number of Lookouts and observation platform. One Lookout must be positioned in an aircraft conducting the activity. If additional platforms are participating in E:\FR\FM\23DER2.SGM 23DER2 lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with RULES2 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 246 / Monday, December 23, 2019 / Rules and Regulations the activity, Navy personnel positioned in those assets (e.g., safety observers, evaluators) must support observing the mitigation zone for marine mammals and other applicable biological resources while performing their regular duties. (ii) Mitigation zone and requirements. 2,500 yd around the intended target. (A) Prior to the initial start of the activity (e.g., when arriving on station), Navy personnel must observe the mitigation zone for floating vegetation; if floating vegetation is observed, Navy personnel must relocate or delay the start until the mitigation zone is clear. Navy personnel also must observe the mitigation zone for marine mammals; if marine mammals are observed, Navy personnel must relocate or delay the start of bomb deployment. (B) During the activity (e.g., during target approach), Navy personnel must observe for marine mammals; if marine mammals are observed, Navy personnel must cease bomb deployment. (C) Commencement/recommencement conditions after a marine mammal sighting before or during the activity: Navy personnel must allow a sighted marine mammal to leave the mitigation zone prior to the initial start of the activity (by delaying the start) or during the activity (by not recommencing bomb deployment) until one of the following conditions has been met: The animal is observed exiting the mitigation zone; the animal is thought to have exited the mitigation zone based on a determination of its course, speed, and movement relative to the intended target; the mitigation zone has been clear from any additional sightings for 10 min; or for activities using mobile targets, the intended target has transited a distance equal to double that of the mitigation zone size beyond the location of the last sighting. (D) After completion of the activity (e.g., prior to maneuvering off station), when practical (e.g., when platforms are not constrained by fuel restrictions or mission-essential follow-on commitments), Navy personnel must observe for marine mammals in the vicinity of where detonations occurred; if any injured or dead marine mammals are observed, Navy personnel must follow established incident reporting procedures. If additional platforms are supporting this activity (e.g., providing range clearance), these Navy assets must assist in the visual observation of the area where detonations occurred. (11) Sinking exercises—(i) Number of Lookouts and observation platform. Two Lookouts (one must be positioned in an aircraft and one must be positioned on a vessel). If additional VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:56 Dec 20, 2019 Jkt 250001 platforms are participating in the activity, Navy personnel positioned in those assets (e.g., safety observers, evaluators) must support observing the mitigation zone for marine mammals and other applicable biological resources while performing their regular duties. (ii) Mitigation zone and requirements. 2.5 nautical miles (nmi) around the target ship hulk. (A) Prior to the initial start of the activity (90 min prior to the first firing), Navy personnel must conduct aerial observations of the mitigation zone for floating vegetation; if floating vegetation is observed Navy personnel must delay the start until the mitigation zone is clear. Navy personnel also must conduct aerial observations of the mitigation zone for marine mammals and jellyfish aggregations; if marine mammals or jellyfish aggregations are observed, Navy personnel must delay the start of firing. (B) During the activity, Navy personnel must conduct passive acoustic monitoring for marine mammals and use information from detections to assist visual observations. Navy personnel must visually observe the mitigation zone for marine mammals from the vessel; if marine mammals are observed, Navy personnel must cease firing. Immediately after any planned or unplanned breaks in weapons firing of longer than two hours, Navy personnel must observe the mitigation zone for marine mammals from the aircraft and vessel; if marine mammals are observed, Navy personnel must delay recommencement of firing. (C) Commencement/recommencement conditions after a marine mammal sighting before or during the activity: Navy personnel must allow a sighted marine mammal to leave the mitigation zone prior to the initial start of the activity (by delaying the start) or during the activity (by not recommencing firing) until one of the following conditions has been met: The animal is observed exiting the mitigation zone; the animal is thought to have exited the mitigation zone based on a determination of its course, speed, and movement relative to the target ship hulk; or the mitigation zone has been clear from any additional sightings for 30 min. (D) After completion of the activity (for two hours after sinking the vessel or until sunset, whichever comes first), Navy personnel must observe for marine mammals in the vicinity of where detonations occurred; if any injured or dead marine mammals are observed, Navy personnel must follow established incident reporting procedures. If additional platforms are supporting this PO 00000 Frm 00077 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 70787 activity (e.g., providing range clearance), these Navy assets must assist in the visual observation of the area where detonations occurred. (12) Explosive mine countermeasure and neutralization activities—(i) Number of Lookouts and observation platform. (A) One Lookout must be positioned on a vessel or in an aircraft when implementing the smaller mitigation zone defined at paragraph (a)(12)(ii)(A) of this section (using 0.1– 5 lb net explosive weight charges). (B) Two Lookouts (one must be in an aircraft and one must be on a small boat) when implementing the larger mitigation zone defined at paragraph (a)(12)(ii)(B) of this section (using 6–650 lb net explosive weight charges). (C) If additional platforms are participating in the activity, Navy personnel positioned in those assets (e.g., safety observers, evaluators) must support observing the mitigation zone for marine mammals and other applicable biological resources while performing their regular duties. (ii) Mitigation zone and requirements. (A) 600 yd around the detonation site for activities using 0.1–5 lb net explosive weight. (B) 2,100 yd around the detonation site for activities using 6–650 lb net explosive weight (including high explosive target mines). (C) Prior to the initial start of the activity (e.g., when maneuvering on station; typically, 10 min when the activity involves aircraft that have fuel constraints, or 30 min when the activity involves aircraft that are not typically fuel constrained), Navy personnel must observe the mitigation zone for floating vegetation; if floating vegetation is observed, Navy personnel must relocate or delay the start until the mitigation zone is clear. Navy personnel also must observe the mitigation zone for marine mammals; if marine mammals are observed, Navy personnel must relocate or delay the start of detonations. (D) During the activity, Navy personnel must observe the mitigation zone for marine mammals; if marine mammals are observed, the Navy must cease detonations. (E) Commencement/recommencement conditions after a marine mammal sighting before or during the activity: Navy personnel must allow a sighted marine mammal to leave the mitigation zone prior to the initial start of the activity (by delaying the start) or during the activity (by not recommencing detonations) until one of the following conditions has been met: The animal is observed exiting the mitigation zone; the animal is thought to have exited the mitigation zone based on a E:\FR\FM\23DER2.SGM 23DER2 lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with RULES2 70788 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 246 / Monday, December 23, 2019 / Rules and Regulations determination of its course, speed, and movement relative to detonation site; or the mitigation zone has been clear from any additional sightings for 10 min when the activity involves aircraft that have fuel constraints, or 30 min when the activity involves aircraft that are not typically fuel constrained. (F) After completion of the activity (typically 10 min when the activity involves aircraft that have fuel constraints, or 30 min when the activity involves aircraft that are not typically fuel constrained), Navy personnel must observe for marine mammals in the vicinity of where detonations occurred; if any injured or dead marine mammals are observed, Navy personnel must follow established incident reporting procedures. If additional platforms are supporting this activity (e.g., providing range clearance), these Navy assets must assist in the visual observation of the area where detonations occurred. (13) Explosive mine neutralization activities involving navy divers—(i) Number of Lookouts and observation platform. (A) Two Lookouts must be positioned (two small boats with one Lookout each, or one Lookout must be on a small boat and one must be in a rotary-wing aircraft) when implementing the smaller mitigation zone defined at paragraph (a)(13)(ii)(A) of this section. (B) Four Lookouts must be positioned (two small boats with two Lookouts each), and a pilot or member of an aircrew must serve as an additional Lookout if aircraft are used during the activity, when implementing the larger mitigation zone defined at paragraph (a)(13)(ii)(B) of this section. (C) All divers placing the charges on mines must support the Lookouts while performing their regular duties and must report applicable sightings to their supporting small boat or Range Safety Officer. (D) If additional platforms are participating in the activity, Navy personnel positioned in those assets (e.g., safety observers, evaluators) must support observing the mitigation zone for marine mammals and other applicable biological resources while performing their regular duties. (ii) Mitigation zone and requirements. (A) 500 yd around the detonation site during activities under positive control using 0.1–20 lb net explosive weight. (B) 1,000 yd around the detonation site during all activities using timedelay fuses (0.1–20 lb net explosive weight) and during activities under positive control using 21–60 lb net explosive weight charges. (C) Prior to the initial start of the activity (e.g., when maneuvering on VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:56 Dec 20, 2019 Jkt 250001 station for activities under positive control; 30 min for activities using timedelay firing devices), Navy personnel must observe the mitigation zone for floating vegetation; if floating vegetation is observed, Navy personnel must relocate or delay the start until the mitigation zone is clear. Navy personnel also must observe the mitigation zone for marine mammals; if marine mammals are observed, Navy personnel must relocate or delay the start of detonation or fuse initiation. (D) During the activity, Navy personnel must observe for marine mammals; if marine mammals are observed, Navy personnel must cease detonation or fuse initiation. To the maximum extent practicable depending on mission requirements, safety, and environmental conditions, boats must position themselves near the mid-point of the mitigation zone radius (but outside of the detonation plume and human safety zone), must position themselves on opposite sides of the detonation location (when two boats are used), and must travel in a circular pattern around the detonation location with one Lookout observing inward toward the detonation site and the other observing outward toward the perimeter of the mitigation zone. If used, aircraft must travel in a circular pattern around the detonation location to the maximum extent practicable. Navy personnel must not set time-delay firing devices (0.1–20 lb. net explosive weight) to exceed 10 min. (E) Commencement/recommencement conditions after a marine mammal sighting before or during the activity: Navy personnel must allow a sighted marine mammal to leave the mitigation zone prior to the initial start of the activity (by delaying the start) or during the activity (by not recommencing detonations) until one of the following conditions has been met: The animal is observed exiting the mitigation zone; the animal is thought to have exited the mitigation zone based on a determination of its course, speed, and movement relative to the detonation site; or the mitigation zone has been clear from any additional sightings for 10 min during activities under positive control with aircraft that have fuel constraints, or 30 min during activities under positive control with aircraft that are not typically fuel constrained and during activities using time-delay firing devices. (F) After completion of an activity (for 30 min), Navy personnel must observe for marine mammals in the vicinity of where any detonations have occurred; if any injured or dead marine mammals are observed, Navy personnel must PO 00000 Frm 00078 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 follow established incident reporting procedures. If additional platforms are supporting this activity (e.g., providing range clearance), these Navy assets must assist in the visual observation of the area where detonations occurred. (14) Maritime security operations— anti-swimmer grenades—(i) Number of Lookouts and observation platform. One Lookout must be positioned on the small boat conducting the activity. If additional platforms are participating in the activity, Navy personnel positioned in those assets (e.g., safety observers, evaluators) must support observing the mitigation zone for marine mammals and other applicable biological resources while performing their regular duties. (ii) Mitigation zone and requirements. 200 yd around the intended detonation location. (A) Prior to the initial start of the activity (e.g., when maneuvering on station), Navy personnel must observe the mitigation zone for floating vegetation; if floating vegetation is observed, Navy personnel must relocate or delay the start until the mitigation zone is clear. Navy personnel also must observe the mitigation zone for marine mammals; if marine mammals are observed, Navy personnel must relocate or delay the start of detonation. (B) During the activity, Navy personnel must observe for marine mammals; if marine mammals are observed, Navy personnel must cease detonation. (C) Commencement/recommencement conditions after a marine mammal sighting before or during the activity: Navy personnel must allow a sighted marine mammal to leave the mitigation zone prior to the initial start of the activity (by delaying the start) or during the activity (by not recommencing detonations) until one of the following conditions has been met: The animal is observed exiting the mitigation zone; the animal is thought to have exited the mitigation zone based on a determination of its course, speed, and movement relative to the intended detonation location; the mitigation zone has been clear from any additional sightings for 30 min; or the intended detonation location has transited a distance equal to double that of the mitigation zone size beyond the location of the last sighting. (D) After completion of the activity (e.g., prior to maneuvering off station), when practical (e.g., when platforms are not constrained by fuel restrictions or mission-essential follow-on commitments), Navy personnel must observe for marine mammals in the vicinity of where detonations occurred; E:\FR\FM\23DER2.SGM 23DER2 lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with RULES2 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 246 / Monday, December 23, 2019 / Rules and Regulations if any injured or dead marine mammals are observed, Navy personnel must follow established incident reporting procedures. If additional platforms are supporting this activity (e.g., providing range clearance), these Navy assets must assist in the visual observation of the area where detonations occurred. (15) Line charge testing—(i) Number of Lookouts and observation platform. One Lookout must be positioned on a vessel. If additional platforms are participating in the activity, Navy personnel positioned in those assets (e.g., safety observers, evaluators) must support observing the mitigation zone for marine mammals and other applicable biological resources while performing their regular duties. (ii) Mitigation zone and requirements. 900 yd around the intended detonation location. (A) Prior to the initial start of the activity (e.g., when maneuvering on station), Navy personnel must observe the mitigation zone for floating vegetation; if floating vegetation is observed, Navy personnel must delay the start until the mitigation zone is clear. Navy personnel also must observe the mitigation zone for marine mammals; if marine mammals are observed, Navy personnel must delay the start of detonations. (B) During the activity, Navy personnel must observe for marine mammals; if marine mammals are observed, Navy personnel must cease detonations. (C) Commencement/recommencement conditions after a marine mammal sighting before or during the activity: Navy personnel must allow a sighted marine mammal to leave the mitigation zone prior to the initial start of the activity (by delaying the start) or during the activity (by not recommencing detonations) until one of the following conditions has been met: The animal is observed exiting the mitigation zone; the animal is thought to have exited the mitigation zone based on a determination of its course, speed, and movement relative to the intended detonation location; or the mitigation zone has been clear from any additional sightings for 30 min. (D) After completion of the activity (e.g., prior to maneuvering off station), when practical (e.g., when platforms are not constrained by fuel restrictions or mission-essential follow-on commitments), Navy personnel must observe for marine mammals in the vicinity of where detonations occurred; if any injured or dead marine mammals are observed, Navy personnel must follow established incident reporting procedures. If additional platforms are VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:56 Dec 20, 2019 Jkt 250001 supporting this activity (e.g., providing range clearance), these Navy assets must assist in the visual observation of the area where detonations occurred. (16) Ship shock trials—(i) Number of Lookouts and observation platform. (A) A minimum of ten Lookouts or trained marine species observers (or a combination thereof) must be positioned either in an aircraft or on multiple vessels (i.e., a Marine Animal Response Team boat and the test ship). (1) If aircraft are used, Lookouts or trained marine species observers must be in an aircraft and on multiple vessels. (2) If aircraft are not used, a sufficient number of additional Lookouts or trained marine species observers must be used to provide vessel-based visual observation comparable to that achieved by aerial surveys. (B) If additional platforms are participating in the activity, Navy personnel positioned in those assets (e.g., safety observers, evaluators) must support observing the mitigation zone for marine mammals and other applicable biological resources while performing their regular duties. (ii) Mitigation zone and requirements. 3.5 nmi around the ship hull. (A) The Navy must not conduct ship shock trials in the Jacksonville Operating Area during North Atlantic right whale calving season from November 15 through April 15. (B) The Navy must develop detailed ship shock trial monitoring and mitigation plans approximately one-year prior to an event and must continue to provide these to NMFS for review and approval. (C) Pre-activity planning must include selection of one primary and two secondary areas where marine mammal populations are expected to be the lowest during the event, with the primary and secondary locations located more than 2 nmi from the western boundary of the Gulf Stream for events in the Virginia Capes Range Complex or Jacksonville Range Complex. (D) If it is determined during preactivity surveys that the primary area is environmentally unsuitable (e.g., observations of marine mammals or presence of concentrations of floating vegetation), the shock trial can be moved to a secondary site in accordance with the detailed mitigation and monitoring plan provided to NMFS. (E) Prior to the initial start of the activity at the shock trial location (in intervals of 5 hrs, 3 hrs, 40 min, and immediately before the detonation), Navy personnel must observe the mitigation zone for floating vegetation; if floating vegetation is observed, Navy personnel must delay the start until the PO 00000 Frm 00079 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 70789 mitigation zone is clear. Navy personnel also must observe the mitigation zone for marine mammals; if marine mammals are observed, Navy personnel must delay triggering the detonation. (F) During the activity, Navy personnel must observe for marine mammals, large schools of fish, jellyfish aggregations, and flocks of seabirds; if marine mammals, large schools of fish, jellyfish aggregations, and flocks of seabirds are observed, Navy personnel must cease triggering the detonation. After completion of each detonation, Navy personnel must observe the mitigation zone for marine mammals; if any injured or dead marine mammals are observed, Navy personnel must follow established incident reporting procedures and halt any remaining detonations until Navy personnel can consult with NMFS and review or adapt the mitigation, if necessary. (G) Commencement/recommencement conditions after a marine mammal sighting before or during the activity: Navy personnel must allow a sighted marine mammal to leave the mitigation zone prior to the initial start of the activity (by delaying the start) or during the activity (by not recommencing detonations) until one of the following conditions has been met: The animal is observed exiting the mitigation zone; the animal is thought to have exited the mitigation zone based on a determination of its course, speed, and movement relative to the ship hull; or the mitigation zone has been clear from any additional sightings for 30 min. (H) After completion of the activity (during the following two days at a minimum, and up to seven days at a maximum), Navy personnel must observe for marine mammals in the vicinity of where detonations occurred; if any injured or dead marine mammals are observed, Navy personnel must follow established incident reporting procedures. If additional platforms are supporting this activity (e.g., providing range clearance), these Navy assets must assist in the visual observation of the area where detonations occurred. (17) Vessel movement. The mitigation must not be applied if: The vessel’s safety is threatened; the vessel is restricted in its ability to maneuver (e.g., during launching and recovery of aircraft or landing craft, during towing activities, when mooring, etc.); or the vessel is operated autonomously. (i) Number of Lookouts and observation platform. One Lookout must be on the vessel that is underway. (ii) Mitigation zone and requirements. (A) 500 yd around whales. (B) 200 yd around all other marine mammals (except bow-riding dolphins E:\FR\FM\23DER2.SGM 23DER2 lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with RULES2 70790 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 246 / Monday, December 23, 2019 / Rules and Regulations and pinnipeds hauled out on man-made navigational structures, port structures, and vessels). (C) During the activity, when underway, Navy personnel must observe the mitigation zone for marine mammals; if any marine mammals are observed, Navy personnel must maneuver to maintain distance. (D) Additionally, Navy personnel must broadcast awareness notification messages with North Atlantic right whale Dynamic Management Area information (e.g., location and dates) to applicable Navy assets operating in the vicinity of the Dynamic Management Area. The information will alert assets to the possible presence of a North Atlantic right whale to maintain safety of navigation and further reduce the potential for a vessel strike. Platforms must use the information to assist their visual observation of applicable mitigation zones during training and testing activities and to aid in the implementation of procedural mitigation, including but not limited to, mitigation for vessel movement. If a marine mammal vessel strike occurs, Navy personnel must follow the established incident reporting procedures. (18) Towed in-water devices. Mitigation applies to devices that are towed from a manned surface platform or manned aircraft. The mitigation will not be applied if the safety of the towing platform or in-water device is threatened. (i) Number of Lookouts and observation platform. One Lookout must be positioned on a manned towing platform. (ii) Mitigation zone and requirements. 250 yd around marine mammals. During the activity, when towing an in-water device, Navy personnel must observe for marine mammals; if marine mammals are observed, Navy personnel must maneuver to maintain distance. (19) Small-, medium-, and largecaliber non-explosive practice munitions. Mitigation applies to activities using a surface target. (i) Number of Lookouts and observation platform. One Lookout must be positioned on the platform conducting the activity. Depending on the activity, the Lookout could be the same as the one described for weapons firing noise in paragraph (a)(5)(i) of this section. (ii) Mitigation zone and requirements. 200 yd around the intended impact location. (A) Prior to the initial start of the activity (e.g., when maneuvering on station), Navy personnel must observe the mitigation zone for floating VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:56 Dec 20, 2019 Jkt 250001 vegetation; if floating vegetation is observed, Navy personnel must relocate or delay the start until the mitigation zone is clear. Navy personnel also must observe the mitigation zone for marine mammals; if marine mammals are observed, Navy personnel must relocate or delay the start of firing. (B) During the activity, Navy personnel must observe for marine mammals; if marine mammals are observed, Navy personnel must cease firing. (C) Commencement/recommencement conditions after a marine mammal sighting before or during the activity: Navy personnel must allow a sighted marine mammal to leave the mitigation zone prior to the initial start of the activity (by delaying the start) or during the activity (by not recommencing firing) until one of the following conditions has been met: The animal is observed exiting the mitigation zone; the animal is thought to have exited the mitigation zone based on a determination of its course, speed, and movement relative to the intended impact location; the mitigation zone has been clear from any additional sightings for 10 min for aircraft-based firing or 30 min for vessel-based firing; or for activities using a mobile target, the intended impact location has transited a distance equal to double that of the mitigation zone size beyond the location of the last sighting. (20) Non-explosive missiles and rockets. Aircraft-deployed nonexplosive missiles and rockets. Mitigation applies to activities using a surface target. (i) Number of Lookouts and observation platform. One Lookout must be positioned in an aircraft. (ii) Mitigation zone and requirements. 900 yd around the intended impact location. (A) Prior to the initial start of the activity (e.g., during a fly-over of the mitigation zone), Navy personnel must observe the mitigation zone for floating vegetation; if floating vegetation is observed, Navy personnel must relocate or delay the start until the mitigation zone is clear. Navy personnel also must observe the mitigation zone for marine mammals; if marine mammals are observed, Navy personnel must relocate or delay the start of firing. (B) During the activity, Navy personnel must observe for marine mammals; if marine mammals are observed, Navy personnel must cease firing. (C) Commencement/recommencement conditions after a marine mammal sighting prior to or during the activity: Navy personnel must allow a sighted PO 00000 Frm 00080 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 marine mammal to leave the mitigation zone prior to the initial start of the activity (by delaying the start) or during the activity (by not recommencing firing) until one of the following conditions has been met: The animal is observed exiting the mitigation zone; the animal is thought to have exited the mitigation zone based on a determination of its course, speed, and movement relative to the intended impact location; or the mitigation zone has been clear from any additional sightings for 10 min when the activity involves aircraft that have fuel constraints, or 30 min when the activity involves aircraft that are not typically fuel constrained. (21) Non-explosive bombs and mine shapes. Non-explosive bombs and nonexplosive mine shapes during mine laying activities. (i) Number of Lookouts and observation platform. One Lookout must be positioned in an aircraft. (ii) Mitigation zone and requirements. 1,000 yd around the intended target. (A) Prior to the initial start of the activity (e.g., when arriving on station), Navy personnel must observe the mitigation zone for floating vegetation; if floating vegetation is observed, Navy personnel must relocate or delay the start until the mitigation zone is clear. Navy personnel also must observe the mitigation zone for marine mammals; if marine mammals are observed, Navy personnel must relocate or delay the start of bomb deployment or mine laying. (B) During the activity (e.g., during approach of the target or intended minefield location), Navy personnel must observe the mitigation zone for marine mammals; if marine mammals are observed, Navy personnel must cease bomb deployment or mine laying. (C) Commencement/recommencement conditions after a marine mammal sighting prior to or during the activity: Navy personnel must allow a sighted marine mammal to leave the mitigation zone prior to the initial start of the activity (by delaying the start) or during the activity (by not recommencing bomb deployment or mine laying) until one of the following conditions has been met: The animal is observed exiting the mitigation zone; the animal is thought to have exited the mitigation zone based on a determination of its course, speed, and movement relative to the intended target or minefield location; the mitigation zone has been clear from any additional sightings for 10 min; or for activities using mobile targets, the intended target has transited a distance equal to double that of the mitigation E:\FR\FM\23DER2.SGM 23DER2 lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with RULES2 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 246 / Monday, December 23, 2019 / Rules and Regulations zone size beyond the location of the last sighting. (b) Mitigation areas. In addition to procedural mitigation, the Navy must implement mitigation measures within mitigation areas to avoid potential impacts on marine mammals. (1) Mitigation areas off the Northeastern United States for sonar, explosives, and physical disturbance and strikes—(i) Mitigation area requirements—(A) Northeast North Atlantic Right Whale Mitigation Area (year-round). (1) Navy personnel must report the total hours and counts of active sonar and in-water explosives used in the mitigation area (which includes North Atlantic right whale ESA-designated critical habitat) in its annual training and testing activity reports submitted to NMFS. (2) Navy personnel must minimize the use of low-frequency active sonar, midfrequency active sonar, and highfrequency active sonar to the maximum extent practicable within the mitigation area. (3) Navy personnel must not use Improved Extended Echo Ranging sonobuoys in or within 3 nmi of the mitigation area or use explosive and non-explosive bombs, in-water detonations, and explosive torpedoes within the mitigation area. (4) For activities using non-explosive torpedoes within the mitigation area, Navy personnel must conduct activities during daylight hours in Beaufort sea state 3 or less. The Navy must use three Lookouts (one positioned on a vessel and two positioned in an aircraft during dedicated aerial surveys) to observe the vicinity of the activity. An additional Lookout must be positioned on the submarine, when surfaced. Immediately prior to the start of the activity, Navy personnel must observe for floating vegetation and marine mammals; if floating vegetation or marine mammals are observed, Navy personnel must not commence the activity until the vicinity is clear or the activity is relocated to an area where the vicinity is clear. During the activity, Navy personnel must observe for marine mammals; if observed, Navy personnel must cease the activity. To allow a sighted marine mammal to leave the area, Navy personnel must not recommence the activity until one of the following conditions has been met: The animal is observed exiting the vicinity of the activity; the animal is thought to have exited the vicinity of the activity based on a determination of its course, speed, and movement relative to the activity location; or the area has been clear from any additional sightings for 30 min. During transits and normal firing, ships VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:56 Dec 20, 2019 Jkt 250001 must maintain a speed of no more than 10 knots (kn). During submarine target firing, ships must maintain speeds of no more than 18 kn. During vessel target firing, vessel speeds may exceed 18 kn for brief periods of time (e.g., 10–15 min). (5) For all activities, before a vessel transits within the mitigation area, Navy personnel must conduct a web query or email inquiry to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration Northeast Fisheries Science Center’s North Atlantic Right Whale Sighting Advisory System to obtain the latest North Atlantic right whale sightings information. Navy personnel on vessels must use the sightings information to reduce potential interactions with North Atlantic right whales during transits. Navy personnel on vessels must implement speed reductions within the mitigation area after observing a North Atlantic right whale, if transiting within 5 nmi of a sighting reported to the North Atlantic Right Whale Sighting Advisory System within the past week, and if transiting at night or during periods of reduced visibility. (B) Gulf of Maine Planning Awareness Mitigation Area (year-round). (1) Navy personnel must report the total hours and counts of active sonar and in-water explosives used in the mitigation area in its annual training and testing activity reports submitted to NMFS. (2) Navy personnel must not conduct greater than 200 hrs of hull-mounted mid-frequency active sonar per year within the mitigation area. (3) Navy personnel must not conduct major training exercises (Composite Training Unit Exercises or Fleet Exercises/Sustainment Exercises) within the mitigation area. If the Navy needs to conduct a major training exercise within the mitigation area in support of training requirements driven by national security concerns, Navy personnel must confer with NMFS to verify that potential impacts are adequately addressed. (C) Northeast Planning Awareness Mitigation Areas (year-round). (1) Navy personnel will avoid planning major training exercises (Composite Training Unit Exercises or Fleet Exercises/ Sustainment Exercises) within the mitigation area to the maximum extent practicable. (2) Navy personnel must not conduct more than four major training exercises per year (all or a portion of the exercise) within the mitigation area. (3) If the Navy needs to conduct additional major training exercises in the mitigation area in support of training requirements driven by national PO 00000 Frm 00081 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 70791 security concerns, Navy personnel must provide NMFS with advance notification and include the information in its annual training and testing activity reports submitted to NMFS. (ii) [Reserved] (2) Mitigation areas off the MidAtlantic and Southeastern United States for sonar, explosives, and physical disturbance and strikes—(i) Mitigation area requirements—(A) Southeast North Atlantic Right Whale Mitigation Area (November 15 through April 15). (1) Navy personnel must report the total hours and counts of active sonar and inwater explosives used in the mitigation area in its annual training and testing activity reports submitted to NMFS. (2) The Navy must not conduct: Lowfrequency active sonar (except as noted in paragraph (b)(2)(i)(A)(3) of this section), mid-frequency active sonar (except as noted in paragraph (b)(2)(i)(A)(3) of this section), highfrequency active sonar, missile and rocket activities (explosive and nonexplosive), small-, medium-, and largecaliber gunnery activities, Improved Extended Echo Ranging sonobuoy activities, explosive and non-explosive bombing activities, in-water detonations, and explosive torpedo activities within the mitigation area. (3) To the maximum extent practicable, Navy personnel must minimize the use of: Helicopter dipping sonar, low-frequency active sonar and hull-mounted mid-frequency active sonar used for navigation training, and low-frequency active sonar and hullmounted mid-frequency active sonar used for object detection exercises within the mitigation area. (4) Before transiting or conducting training or testing activities within the mitigation area, Navy personnel must initiate communication with the Fleet Area Control and Surveillance Facility, Jacksonville to obtain Early Warning System North Atlantic right whale sightings data. The Fleet Area Control and Surveillance Facility, Jacksonville must advise Navy personnel on vessels of all reported whale sightings in the vicinity to help Navy personnel on vessels and aircraft reduce potential interactions with North Atlantic right whales. Commander Submarine Force U.S. Atlantic Fleet must coordinate any submarine activities that may require approval from the Fleet Area Control and Surveillance Facility, Jacksonville. Navy personnel on vessels must use the sightings information to reduce potential interactions with North Atlantic right whales during transits. (5) Navy personnel on vessels must implement speed reductions after they observe a North Atlantic right whale, if E:\FR\FM\23DER2.SGM 23DER2 lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with RULES2 70792 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 246 / Monday, December 23, 2019 / Rules and Regulations they are within 5 nmi of a sighting reported within the past 12 hrs, or when operating in the mitigation area at night or during periods of poor visibility. (6) To the maximum extent practicable, Navy personnel on vessels must minimize north-south transits in the mitigation area. (B) Southeast North Atlantic Right Whale Critical Habitat Special Reporting Area (November 15 through April 15). (1) Navy personnel must report the total hours and counts of active sonar and in-water explosives used in the Special Reporting Area (which includes southeast North Atlantic right whale ESA-designated critical habitat) in its annual training and testing activity reports submitted to NMFS. (2) [Reserved] (C) Jacksonville Operating Area (November 15 through April 15). (1) Navy units conducting training or testing activities in the Jacksonville Operating Area must initiate communication with the Fleet Area Control and Surveillance Facility, Jacksonville to obtain Early Warning System North Atlantic right whale sightings data. The Fleet Area Control and Surveillance Facility, Jacksonville must advise Navy personnel on vessels of all reported whale sightings in the vicinity to help Navy personnel on vessels and aircraft reduce potential interactions with North Atlantic right whales. Commander Submarine Force U.S. Atlantic Fleet must coordinate any submarine activities that may require approval from the Fleet Area Control and Surveillance Facility, Jacksonville. Navy personnel must use the reported sightings information as they plan specific details of events (e.g., timing, location, duration) to minimize potential interactions with North Atlantic right whales to the maximum extent practicable. Navy personnel must use the reported sightings information to assist visual observations of applicable mitigation zones and to aid in the implementation of procedural mitigation. (2) [Reserved] (D) Navy Cherry Point Range Complex Nearshore Mitigation Area (March through September). (1) Navy personnel must not conduct explosive mine neutralization activities involving Navy divers in the mitigation area. (2) To the maximum extent practicable, Navy personnel must not use explosive sonobuoys, explosive torpedoes, explosive medium-caliber and large-caliber projectiles, explosive missiles and rockets, explosive bombs, explosive mines during mine countermeasure and neutralization VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:56 Dec 20, 2019 Jkt 250001 activities, and anti-swimmer grenades in the mitigation area. (E) Mid-Atlantic Planning Awareness Mitigation Areas (year-round). (1) Navy personnel will avoid planning major training exercises (Composite Training Unit Exercises or Fleet Exercises/ Sustainment Exercises) to the maximum extent practicable. (2) Navy personnel must not conduct more than four major training exercises per year (all or a portion of the exercise) within the mitigation area. (3) If the Navy needs to conduct additional major training exercises in the mitigation area in support of training requirements driven by national security concerns, Navy personnel must provide NMFS with advance notification and include the information in its annual training and testing activity reports submitted to NMFS. (ii) [Reserved] (3) Mitigation areas in the Gulf of Mexico for sonar and explosives—(i) Mitigation area requirements—(A) Gulf of Mexico Planning Awareness Mitigation Areas (year-round). (1) Navy personnel must not conduct major training exercises within the mitigation area (all or a portion of the exercise). (2) If the Navy needs to conduct a major training exercise within the mitigation areas in support of training requirements driven by national security concerns, Navy personnel must confer with NMFS to verify that potential impacts are adequately addressed. (B) Bryde’s Whale Mitigation Area (year-round). (1) Navy personnel must report the total hours and counts of active sonar and in-water explosives used in the mitigation area in its annual training and testing activity reports submitted to NMFS. (2) Navy personnel must not conduct greater than 200 hrs of hull-mounted mid-frequency active sonar per year within the mitigation area. (3) Navy personnel must not use explosives (except during mine warfare activities) within the mitigation area. (ii) [Reserved] § 218.85 Requirements for monitoring and reporting. (a) Unauthorized take. The Navy must notify NMFS immediately (or as soon as operational security considerations allow) if the specified activity identified in § 218.80 is thought to have resulted in the mortality or serious injury of any marine mammals, or in any Level A or Level B harassment take of marine mammals not identified in this subpart. (b) Monitoring and reporting under the LOAs. The Navy must conduct all monitoring and required reporting PO 00000 Frm 00082 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 under the LOAs, including abiding by the AFTT Study Area monitoring program. Details on program goals, objectives, project selection process, and current projects are available at www.navymarinespeciesmonitoring.us. (c) Notification of injured, live stranded, or dead marine mammals. The Navy must consult the Notification and Reporting Plan, which sets out notification, reporting, and other requirements when dead, injured, or live stranded marine mammals are detected. The Notification and Reporting Plan is available at www.fisheries.noaa.gov/national/ marine-mammal-protection/incidentaltake-authorizations-military-readinessactivities. (d) Annual AFTT Study Area marine species monitoring report. The Navy must submit an annual report of the AFTT Study Area monitoring describing the implementation and results from the previous calendar year. Data collection methods must be standardized across range complexes and study areas to allow for comparison in different geographic locations. The report must be submitted to the Director, Office of Protected Resources of NMFS either within 90 days after the calendar year, or within 90 days after the conclusion of the monitoring year to be determined by the Adaptive Management process. This report will describe progress of knowledge made with respect to monitoring plan study questions across all Navy ranges associated with the Integrated Comprehensive Monitoring Program. Similar study questions must be treated together so that progress on each topic can be summarized across all Navy ranges. The report need not include analyses and content that does not provide direct assessment of cumulative progress on the monitoring plan study questions. (e) Annual AFTT Study Area training and testing reports. Each year, the Navy must submit a preliminary report (Quick Look Report) detailing the status of authorized sound sources within 21 days after the anniversary of the date of issuance of each LOA to the Director, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS. Each year, the Navy must submit a detailed report within 3 months after the anniversary of the date of issuance of each LOA to the Director, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS. The annual reports must contain information on major training exercises (MTEs), sinking exercise (SINKEX) events, and a summary of all sound sources used, including within specified mitigation reporting areas, as described in paragraph (e)(3) of this section. The analysis in the detailed report must be E:\FR\FM\23DER2.SGM 23DER2 lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with RULES2 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 246 / Monday, December 23, 2019 / Rules and Regulations based on the accumulation of data from the current year’s report and data collected from the previous report. The detailed reports must contain information identified in paragraphs (e)(1) through (5) of this section. (1) Major training exercises (MTEs). This section of the report must contain the following information for MTEs conducted in the AFTT Study Area: (i) Exercise information (for each MTE): (A) Exercise designator; (B) Date that exercise began and ended; (C) Location; (D) Number and types of active sonar sources used in the exercise; (E) Number and types of passive acoustic sources used in exercise; (F) Number and types of vessels, aircraft, and other platforms participating in exercise; (G) Total hours of all active sonar source operation; (H) Total hours of each active sonar source bin; and (I) Wave height (high, low, and average) during exercise. (ii) Individual marine mammal sighting information for each sighting in each exercise where mitigation was implemented: (A) Date/time/location of sighting; (B) Species (if not possible, indication of whale/dolphin/pinniped); (C) Number of individuals; (D) Initial detection sensor (e.g., sonar, Lookout); (E) Indication of specific type of platform observation made from (including, for example, what type of surface vessel or testing platform); (F) Length of time observers maintained visual contact with marine mammal; (G) Sea state; (H) Visibility; (I) Sound source in use at the time of sighting; (J) Indication of whether animal was less than 200 yd, 200 to 500 yd, 500 to 1,000 yd, 1,000 to 2,000 yd, or greater than 2,000 yd from sonar source; (K) Mitigation implementation (e.g. whether operation of sonar sensor was delayed, or sonar was powered or shut down, and how long the delay was); (L) If source in use was hull-mounted, true bearing of animal from the vessel, true direction of vessel’s travel, and estimation of animal’s motion relative to vessel (opening, closing, parallel); and (M) Lookouts must report, in plain language and without trying to categorize in any way, the observed behavior of the animal(s) (such as animal closing to bow ride, paralleling course/speed, floating on surface and VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:56 Dec 20, 2019 Jkt 250001 not swimming, etc.) and if any calves were present. (iii) An evaluation (based on data gathered during all of the MTEs) of the effectiveness of mitigation measures designed to minimize the received level to which marine mammals may be exposed. This evaluation must identify the specific observations that support any conclusions the Navy reaches about the effectiveness of the mitigation. (2) Sinking exercises (SINKEXs). This section of the report must include the following information for each SINKEX completed that year: (i) Exercise information (gathered for each SINKEX): (A) Location; (B) Date and time exercise began and ended; (C) Total hours of observation by Lookouts before, during, and after exercise; (D) Total number and types of explosive source bins detonated; (E) Number and types of passive acoustic sources used in exercise; (F) Total hours of passive acoustic search time; (G) Number and types of vessels, aircraft, and other platforms participating in exercise; (H) Wave height in feet (high, low, and average) during exercise; and (I) Narrative description of sensors and platforms utilized for marine mammal detection and timeline illustrating how marine mammal detection was conducted. (ii) Individual marine mammal sighting information for each sighting where mitigation was implemented: (A) Date/time/location of sighting; (B) Species (if not possible, indicate whale, dolphin, or pinniped); (C) Number of individuals; (D) Initial detection sensor (e.g., sonar or Lookout); (E) Length of time observers maintained visual contact with marine mammal; (F) Sea state; (G) Visibility; and (H) Whether sighting was before, during, or after detonations/exercise, and how many minutes before or after. (I) Distance of marine mammal from actual detonations (e.g. less than 200 yd, 200 to 500 yd, 500 to 1,000 yd, 1,000 to 2,000 yd, or greater than 2,000 yd, or target spot if not yet detonated). (J) Lookouts must report, in plain language and without trying to categorize in any way, the observed behavior of the animal(s) (such as animal closing to bow ride, paralleling course/speed, floating on surface and not swimming etc.), including speed and direction and if any calves were present. PO 00000 Frm 00083 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 70793 (K) Resulting mitigation implementation: The report must indicate whether explosive detonations were delayed, ceased, modified, or not modified due to marine mammal presence and for how long. (L) If observation occurred while explosives were detonating in the water, indicate munition type in use at time of marine mammal detection. (3) Summary of sources used. This section must include the following information summarized from the authorized sound sources used in all training and testing events: (i) Total annual hours or quantity (per the LOA) of each bin of sonar or other acoustic sources (pile driving and air gun activities); and (ii) Total annual expended/detonated ordnance (missiles, bombs, sonobuoys, etc.) for each explosive bin. (4) Geographic information presentation. The reports must present an annual (and seasonal, where practical) depiction of training and testing bin usage (as well as pile driving activities) geographically across the AFTT Study Area. (5) Sonar exercise notification. The Navy must submit to NMFS (contact as specified in the LOA) an electronic report within fifteen calendar days after the completion of any MTE indicating: (i) Location of the exercise; (ii) Beginning and end dates of the exercise; and (iii) Type of exercise. (f) Seven-year close-out comprehensive training and testing report. This report must be included as part of the 2025 annual training and testing report. This report must provide the annual totals for each sound source bin with a comparison to the annual allowance and the seven-year total for each sound source bin with a comparison to the seven-year allowance. Additionally, if there were any changes to the sound source allowance, this report must include a discussion of why the change was made and include the analysis to support how the change did or did not result in a change in the EIS and final rule determinations. The draft report must be submitted within three months after the expiration of this subpart to the Director, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS. NMFS must submit comments on the draft close-out report, if any, within three months of receipt. The report will be considered final after the Navy has addressed NMFS’ comments, or 3 months after the submittal of the draft if NMFS does not provide comments. E:\FR\FM\23DER2.SGM 23DER2 70794 § 218.86 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 246 / Monday, December 23, 2019 / Rules and Regulations Letters of Authorization. lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with RULES2 (a) To incidentally take marine mammals pursuant to the regulations in this subpart, the Navy must apply for and obtain Letters of Authorization (LOAs) in accordance with § 216.106 of this chapter. (b) LOAs, unless suspended or revoked, may be effective for a period of time not to exceed the expiration date of the regulations in this subpart. (c) If an LOA expires prior to the expiration date of the regulations in this subpart, the Navy may apply for and obtain a renewal of the LOA. (d) In the event of projected changes to the activity or to mitigation, monitoring, or reporting (excluding changes made pursuant to the adaptive management provision of § 218.87(c)(1) as required by an LOA issued under this subpart, the Navy must apply for and obtain a modification of the LOA as described in § 218.87. (e) Each LOA will set forth: (1) Permissible methods of incidental taking; (2) Specified geographic areas for incidental taking; (3) Means of effecting the least practicable adverse impact (i.e., mitigation) on the species or stocks of marine mammals and their habitat; and (4) Requirements for monitoring and reporting. (f) Issuance of the LOA(s) will be based on a determination that the level of taking must be consistent with the findings made for the total taking allowable under the regulations in this subpart. (g) Notice of issuance or denial of the LOA(s) will be published in the Federal Register within 30 days of a determination. VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:56 Dec 20, 2019 Jkt 250001 § 218.87 Renewals and modifications of Letters of Authorization. (a) An LOA issued under §§ 216.106 of this subchapter and 218.86 may be renewed or modified upon request by the applicant, provided that: (1) The planned specified activity and mitigation, monitoring, and reporting measures, as well as the anticipated impacts, are the same as those described and analyzed for the regulations in this subpart (excluding changes made pursuant to the adaptive management provision in paragraph (c)(1) of this section); and (2) NMFS determines that the mitigation, monitoring, and reporting measures required by the previous LOA(s) under the regulations in this subpart were implemented. (b) For LOA modification or renewal requests by the applicant that include changes to the activity or to the mitigation, monitoring, or reporting measures (excluding changes made pursuant to the adaptive management provision in paragraph (c)(1) of this section) that do not change the findings made for the regulations in this subpart or result in no more than a minor change in the total estimated number of takes (or distribution by species or stock or years), NMFS may publish a notice of planned LOA in the Federal Register, including the associated analysis of the change, and solicit public comment before issuing the LOA. (c) An LOA issued under §§ 216.106 of this subchapter and 218.86 may be modified by NMFS under the following circumstances: (1) Adaptive management. After consulting with the Navy regarding the practicability of the modifications, PO 00000 Frm 00084 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 9990 NMFS may modify (including adding or removing measures) the existing mitigation, monitoring, or reporting measures if doing so creates a reasonable likelihood of more effectively accomplishing the goals of the mitigation and monitoring. (i) Possible sources of data that could contribute to the decision to modify the mitigation, monitoring, or reporting measures in an LOA include: (A) Results from the Navy’s monitoring from the previous year(s); (B) Results from other marine mammal and/or sound research or studies; or (C) Any information that reveals marine mammals may have been taken in a manner, extent, or number not authorized by the regulations in this subpart or subsequent LOAs. (ii) If, through adaptive management, the modifications to the mitigation, monitoring, or reporting measures are substantial, NMFS will publish a notice of planned LOA in the Federal Register and solicit public comment. (2) Emergencies. If NMFS determines that an emergency exists that poses a significant risk to the well-being of the species or stocks of marine mammals specified in LOAs issued pursuant to §§ 216.106 of this chapter and 218.86, an LOA may be modified without prior notice or opportunity for public comment. Notice would be published in the Federal Register within thirty days of the action. § § 218.88–218.89 [Reserved] [FR Doc. 2019–27098 Filed 12–20–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\23DER2.SGM 23DER2

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 84, Number 246 (Monday, December 23, 2019)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 70712-70794]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2019-27098]



[[Page 70711]]

Vol. 84

Monday,

No. 246

December 23, 2019

Part III





Department of Commerce





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





National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration





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





50 CFR Part 218





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

Federal Register / Vol. 84 , No. 246 / Monday, December 23, 2019 / 
Rules and Regulations

[[Page 70712]]


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

DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 218

[Docket No. 191211-0106]
RIN 0648-BI85


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

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

ACTION: Final rule; notification of issuance of Letters of 
Authorization.

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

SUMMARY: NMFS, upon request from the U.S. Navy (Navy), issues these 
regulations pursuant to the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) to 
govern the taking of marine mammals incidental to the training and 
testing activities conducted in the Atlantic Fleet Training and Testing 
(AFTT) Study Area over the course of seven years, effectively extending 
the time period from November 13, 2023, to November 13, 2025. In August 
2018, the MMPA was amended by the John S. McCain National Defense 
Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2019 to allow for seven-year 
authorizations for military readiness activities, as compared to the 
previously allowed five years. The Navy's activities qualify as 
military readiness activities pursuant to the MMPA as amended by the 
NDAA for Fiscal Year 2004. These regulations, which allow for the 
issuance of Letters of Authorization (LOAs) for the incidental take of 
marine mammals during the described activities and timeframes, 
prescribe the permissible methods of taking and other means of 
effecting the least practicable adverse impact on marine mammal species 
or stocks and their habitat, and establish requirements pertaining to 
the monitoring and reporting of such taking.

DATES: Effective from December 23, 2019 to November 13, 2025.

ADDRESSES: Copies of the Navy's applications, NMFS' proposed rule for 
these regulations, NMFS' proposed and final rules and subsequent LOAs 
for the associated five-year AFTT Study Area regulations, other 
supporting documents cited herein, and a list of the references cited 
in this document may be obtained online at: www.fisheries.noaa.gov/national/marine-mammal-protection/incidental-take-authorizations-military-readiness-activities. In case of problems accessing these 
documents, please use the contact listed here (see FOR FURTHER 
INFORMATION CONTACT).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Wendy Piniak, Office of Protected 
Resources, NMFS, (301) 427-8401.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Purpose of Regulatory Action

    These regulations, issued under the authority of the MMPA (16 
U.S.C. 1361 et seq.), extend the framework for authorizing the take of 
marine mammals incidental to the Navy's training and testing activities 
(which qualify as military readiness activities) from the use of sonar 
and other transducers, in-water detonations, air guns, impact pile 
driving/vibratory extraction, and the movement of vessels throughout 
the AFTT Study Area, which includes areas of the western Atlantic Ocean 
along the East Coast of North America, portions of the Caribbean Sea, 
and the Gulf of Mexico.
    NMFS received an application from the Navy requesting to extend 
NMFS' existing MMPA regulations (50 CFR part 218, subpart I; hereafter 
``2018 AFTT regulations'') that authorize the take of marine mammals 
incidental to Navy training and testing activities conducted in the 
AFTT Study Area to cover seven years of the Navy's activities, instead 
of five. Take is anticipated to occur by Level A harassment and Level B 
harassment as well as a very small number of serious injuries or 
mortalities incidental to the Navy's training and testing activities.
    Section 101(a)(5)(A) of the MMPA (16 U.S.C. 1371(a)(5)(A)) directs 
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, after notice and public comment, the agency makes certain findings 
and issues regulations that set forth permissible methods of taking 
pursuant to that activity, as well as monitoring and reporting 
requirements. Section 101(a)(5)(A) of the MMPA and the implementing 
regulations at 50 CFR part 216, subpart I, provide the legal basis for 
issuing this final rule and the subsequent LOAs. As directed by this 
legal authority, this final rule contains mitigation, monitoring, and 
reporting requirements.

Summary of Major Provisions Within the Final Rule

    Following is a summary of the major provisions of this final rule 
regarding the Navy's activities. Major provisions include, but are not 
limited to:
     The use of defined powerdown and shutdown zones (based on 
activity);
     Measures to reduce or eliminate the likelihood of ship 
strikes, especially for North Atlantic right whales (Eubalaena 
glacialis) (NARW);
     Operational limitations in certain areas and times that 
are biologically important (i.e., for foraging, migration, 
reproduction) for marine mammals;
     Implementation of a Notification and Reporting Plan (for 
dead, live stranded, or marine mammals struck by a vessel); and
     Implementation of a robust monitoring plan to improve our 
understanding of the environmental effects resulting from Navy training 
and testing activities.
    Additionally, the rule includes an adaptive management component 
that allows for timely modification of mitigation or monitoring 
measures based on new information, when appropriate.

Background

    The MMPA prohibits the ``take'' of marine mammals, with certain 
exceptions. Sections 101(a)(5)(A) and (D) of the MMPA direct the 
Secretary of Commerce (as delegated to NMFS) to allow, upon request, 
the incidental, but not intentional, taking of small numbers of marine 
mammals by U.S. citizens who engage in a specified activity (other than 
commercial fishing) within a specified geographical region if certain 
findings are made and either regulations are issued or, if the taking 
is limited to harassment, a notice of a proposed authorization is 
provided to the public for review and the opportunity to submit 
comments.
    An authorization for incidental takings shall be granted if NMFS 
finds that the taking will have a negligible impact on the species or 
stocks and will not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the 
availability of the species or stocks 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 this rule as 
``mitigation measures''); and requirements pertaining to the monitoring 
and reporting of such takings. The MMPA defines ``take'' to mean to 
harass, hunt, capture, or kill, or attempt to harass,

[[Page 70713]]

hunt, capture, or kill any marine mammal. The Analysis and Negligible 
Impact Determination section below discusses the definition of 
``negligible impact.''
    The NDAA for Fiscal Year 2004 (2004 NDAA) (Pub. L. 108-136) amended 
section 101(a)(5) of the MMPA to remove the ``small numbers'' and 
``specified geographical region'' provisions indicated above and 
amended the definition of ``harassment'' as it applies to a ``military 
readiness activity'' to read as follows (Section 3(18)(B) of the MMPA): 
(i) Any act that injures or has the significant potential to injure a 
marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild (Level A Harassment); 
or (ii) Any act that disturbs or is likely to disturb a marine mammal 
or marine mammal stock in the wild by causing disruption of natural 
behavioral patterns, including, but not limited to, migration, 
surfacing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or sheltering, to a point where 
such behavioral patterns are abandoned or significantly altered (Level 
B Harassment). In addition, the 2004 NDAA amended the MMPA as it 
relates to military readiness activities such that least practicable 
adverse impact shall include consideration of personnel safety, 
practicality of implementation, and impact on the effectiveness of the 
military readiness activity.
    More recently, section 316 of the NDAA for Fiscal Year 2019 (2019 
NDAA) (Pub. L. 115-232), signed on August 13, 2018, amended the MMPA to 
allow incidental take rules for military readiness activities under 
section 101(a)(5)(A) to be issued for up to seven years. Prior to this 
amendment, all incidental take rules under section 101(a)(5)(A) were 
limited to five years.

Summary of Request

    On November 14, 2018, NMFS issued a five-year final rule governing 
the taking of marine mammals incidental to Navy training and testing 
activities conducted in the AFTT Study Area (83 FR 57076; hereafter 
``2018 AFTT final rule''). Previously, on August 13, 2018, and towards 
the end of the time period in which NMFS was processing the Navy's 
request for the 2018 regulations, the 2019 NDAA amended the MMPA for 
military readiness activities to allow incidental take regulations to 
be issued for up to seven years instead of the previous five years. The 
Navy's training and testing activities conducted in the AFTT Study Area 
qualify as military readiness activities pursuant to the MMPA, as 
amended by the 2004 NDAA. On November 16, 2018, the Navy submitted an 
application requesting that NMFS extend the 2018 AFTT regulations and 
associated LOAs such that they would cover take incidental to seven 
years of training and testing activities instead of five, extending the 
expiration date from November 13, 2023 to November 13, 2025. A revised 
application correcting the estimated takes due to ship shock trials 
(Table 5.1-2) was submitted to NMFS by the Navy on January 18, 2019.
    In its November 16, 2018, application, as revised on January 18, 
2019 (hereafter ``2019 Navy application''), the Navy proposed no 
changes to the nature of the specified activities covered by the 2018 
AFTT final rule, the level of activity within and between years will be 
consistent with that previously analyzed in the 2018 AFTT final rule, 
and all activities will be conducted within the same boundaries of the 
AFTT Study Area identified in the 2018 AFTT final rule. Therefore, the 
training and testing activities (e.g., equipment and sources used, 
exercises conducted) and the mitigation, monitoring, and reporting 
measures are identical to those described and analyzed in the 2018 AFTT 
final rule. The only changes included in the Navy's request were to 
conduct those same activities in the same region for an additional two 
years. In its request, the Navy included all information necessary to 
identify the type and amount of incidental take that may occur in the 
two additional years so NMFS could determine whether the analyses and 
conclusions regarding the impacts of the proposed activities on marine 
mammal species and stocks previously reached for five years of 
activities remain applicable for seven years of identical activity.
    The purpose of the Navy's training and testing activities is to 
ensure that the Navy meets its mission mandated by Federal law (10 
U.S.C. 8062), which is to maintain, train, and equip combat-ready naval 
forces capable of winning wars, deterring aggression, and maintaining 
freedom of the seas. The Navy executes this responsibility by 
establishing and executing training programs, including at-sea training 
and exercises, and ensuring naval forces have access to the ranges, 
operating areas (OPAREAs), and airspace needed to develop and maintain 
skills for conducting naval activities. The Navy's mission is achieved 
in part by conducting training and testing within the AFTT Study Area.
    The 2019 Navy application reflects the same compilation of training 
and testing activities presented in the Navy's June 16, 2017, initial 
rulemaking and LOA application (hereafter ``2017 Navy application'') 
and the 2018 AFTT regulations that were subsequently promulgated, which 
can be found at: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/national/marine-mammal-protection/incidental-take-authorizations-military-readiness-activities. These activities are deemed by the Navy necessary to 
accomplish military readiness requirements and are anticipated to 
continue into the reasonably foreseeable future. The 2019 Navy 
application and this rule cover training and testing activities that 
will occur over seven years, including the five years already 
authorized under the 2018 AFTT regulations, with the regulations valid 
from the publication date of this final rule through November 13, 2025.

Summary of the Regulations

    NMFS is extending the incidental take regulations and associated 
LOAs through November 13, 2025, to cover the same Navy activities 
covered by the 2018 AFTT regulations. The 2018 AFTT final rule was 
recently published and its analysis remains current and valid. In its 
2019 application, the Navy proposed no changes to the nature (e.g., 
equipment and sources used, exercises conducted) or level of the 
specified activities within or between years or to the boundaries of 
the AFTT Study Area. The mitigation, monitoring, and reporting measures 
are identical to those described and analyzed in the 2018 AFTT final 
rule. The regulatory language included at the end of this final rule, 
which will be published at 50 CFR part 218, subpart I, also is the same 
as the AFTT 2018 regulations, except for a small number of minor, 
technical changes. No new information has been received from the Navy, 
or otherwise become available to NMFS, since publication of the 2018 
AFTT final rule that significantly changes the analyses supporting the 
2018 findings. Where there is any new information pertinent to the 
descriptions, analyses, or findings required to authorize incidental 
take for military readiness activities under MMPA section 101(a)(5)(A), 
that information is provided in the appropriate sections below.
    Because the activities included in the 2019 Navy application have 
not changed and the analyses and findings included in the documents 
provided and produced in support of the 2018 AFTT final rule remain 
current and applicable, this final rule relies heavily on and 
references to the applicable information and analyses in those 
documents. Below is a list of the primary documents referenced in this 
final rule. The list indicates the short name by which the document is 
referenced in this final rule, as well as

[[Page 70714]]

the full titles of the cited documents. All of the documents can be 
found at: www.fisheries.noaa.gov/national/marine-mammal-protection/incidental-take-authorizations-military-readiness-activities and 
https://www.public.navy.mil/usff/environmental/Pages/aftt.aspx.
     NMFS March 13, 2018, Atlantic Fleet Training and Testing 
(AFTT) proposed rule (83 FR 10954; hereafter ``2018 AFTT proposed 
rule'');
     NMFS November 14, 2018, Atlantic Fleet Training and 
Testing (AFTT) final rule (83 FR 57076; hereafter ``2018 AFTT final 
rule'');
     NMFS May 13, 2019, Atlantic Fleet Training and Testing 
(AFTT) proposed rule (84 FR 21126; hereafter ``2019 AFTT proposed 
rule'');
     Navy June 16, 2017, MMPA rulemaking and LOA application 
(hereafter ``2017 Navy application'');
     Navy January 18, 2019, MMPA rulemaking and LOA extension 
application (hereafter ``2019 Navy application''); and
     September 14, 2018, Atlantic Fleet Training and Testing 
(AFTT) Final Environmental Impact Statement/Overseas Environmental 
Impact Statement (FEIS/OEIS) (hereafter ``2018 AFTT FEIS/OEIS'').

Description of the Specified Activity

    The Navy requested authorization to take marine mammals incidental 
to conducting training and testing activities. The Navy has determined 
that acoustic and explosives stressors are most likely to result in 
impacts on marine mammals that could rise to the level of harassment. A 
small number of serious injuries or mortalities are also possible from 
vessel strikes or exposure to explosive detonations. Detailed 
descriptions of these activities are provided in Chapter 2 of the 2018 
AFTT FEIS/OEIS and in the 2017 and 2019 Navy applications.

Overview of Training and Testing Activities

    The Navy routinely trains in the AFTT Study Area in preparation for 
national defense missions. Training and testing activities and 
components covered in the 2019 Navy application are described in detail 
in the Overview of Training and Testing Activities sections of the 2018 
AFTT proposed rule and the 2018 AFTT final rule and Chapter 2 of the 
2018 AFTT FEIS/OEIS. Each military training and testing activity 
described meets mandated Fleet requirements to deploy ready forces. The 
Navy proposed no changes to the specified activities described and 
analyzed in the 2018 AFTT final rule. The boundaries of the AFTT Study 
Area (see Figure 1.2-1 of the 2019 Navy application); the training and 
testing activities (e.g., equipment and sources used, exercises 
conducted); manner of and amount of vessel movement; and standard 
operating procedures presented in this final rule are identical to 
those described and analyzed in the 2018 AFTT final rule.

Dates and Duration

    The specified activities will occur at any time during the seven-
year period of validity of the regulations. The number of training and 
testing activities are described in the Detailed Description of the 
Specified Activities section (Tables 1 through 4).

Specified Geographical Region

    The geographic extent of the AFTT Study Area is identical to that 
described in the 2018 AFTT final rule. The AFTT Study Area (see Figure 
2-1 of the 2019 Navy application) includes areas of the western 
Atlantic Ocean along the east coast of North America, the Gulf of 
Mexico, and portions of the Caribbean Sea. The AFTT Study Area begins 
at the mean high tide line along the U.S. coast and extends east to the 
45-degree west longitude line, north to the 65-degree north latitude 
line, and south to approximately the 20-degree north latitude line. The 
AFTT Study Area also includes Navy pierside locations, bays, harbors, 
and inland waterways, and civilian ports where training and testing 
occurs. The AFTT Study Area generally follows the Commander Task Force 
80 area of operations, covering approximately 2.6 million nautical 
miles squared (nmi\2\; approximately 6.7 million kilometers squared) of 
ocean area, and includes designated Navy range complexes and associated 
operating areas (OPAREAs) and special use airspace. While the AFTT 
Study Area itself is very large, the vast majority of Navy training and 
testing occurs in designated range complexes and testing ranges.
    A Navy range complex consists of geographic areas that encompass a 
water component (above and below the surface) and airspace, and may 
encompass a land component where training and testing of military 
platforms, tactics, munitions, explosives, and electronic warfare 
systems occur. Range complexes include established OPAREAs, which may 
be further divided to provide better control of the area for safety 
reasons. Additional detail on range complexes and testing ranges was 
provided in the Duration and Location section of the 2018 AFTT proposed 
rule; please see the 2018 AFTT proposed rule or the 2017 Navy 
application for more information.

Description of Acoustic and Explosive Stressors

    The Navy uses a variety of sensors, platforms, weapons, and other 
devices, including ones used to ensure the safety of Sailors and 
Marines, to meet its mission. Training and testing with these systems 
may introduce acoustic (sound) energy or shock waves from explosives 
into the environment. The specific components that could act as 
stressors by having direct or indirect impacts on the environment are 
described in detail in the Description of Acoustic and Explosive 
Stressors section of the 2018 AFTT final rule and Chapter 2 of the 2018 
AFTT FEIS/OEIS. The Navy proposed no changes to the nature of the 
specified activities and, therefore, the acoustic and explosive 
stressors are identical to those described and analyzed in the 2018 
AFTT final rule.

Other Stressor--Vessel Strike

    Vessel strikes are not specific to any particular training or 
testing activity, but rather a limited, sporadic, and incidental result 
of Navy vessel movement within the AFTT Study Area. Navy vessels 
transit at speeds that are optimal for fuel conservation or to meet 
training and testing requirements. The average speed of large Navy 
ships ranges between 10 and 15 knots and submarines generally operate 
at speeds in the range of 8-13 knots, while a few specialized vessels 
can travel at faster speeds. By comparison, this is slower than most 
commercial vessels where full speed for a container ship is typically 
24 knots (Bonney and Leach, 2010).
    Should a vessel strike occur, it would likely result in incidental 
take from serious injury and/or mortality and, accordingly, for the 
purposes of the analysis we assume that any ship strike would result in 
serious injury or mortality. The Navy proposed no changes to the nature 
of the specified activities, the training and testing activities, the 
manner of or amount of vessel movement, and standard operating 
procedures. Therefore, the description of vessel strikes as a stressor 
is the same as those presented in the Other Stressor--Vessel Strike 
sections of the 2018 AFTT proposed rule and 2018 AFTT final rule.

Detailed Description of the Specified Activities

    The Navy's specified activities are presented and analyzed as a 
representative year of training to

[[Page 70715]]

account for the natural fluctuation of training cycles and deployment 
schedules in any seven-year period. In the 2018 AFTT final rule, NMFS 
analyzed activities based on the Navy conducting three years of a 
representative level of activity and two years of a maximum level of 
activity. For the purposes of this rulemaking, the Navy presented and 
NMFS analyzed activities based on the additional two years of training 
and testing consisting of one additional year of a maximum level of 
activity and one year of a representative level of activity consistent 
with the pattern set forth in the 2018 AFTT final rule, the 2018 AFTT 
FEIS/OEIS, and the 2017 Navy application.
Training Activities
    The number of planned training activities that could occur annually 
and the duration of those activities remains identical to those 
presented in Table 4 of the 2018 AFTT final rule, and are not repeated 
here. The number of planned training activities that could occur over 
the seven-year period are presented in Table 1. The table is organized 
according to primary mission areas and includes the activity name, 
associated stressors applicable to these regulations, sound source bin, 
number of activities, and locations of those activities in the AFTT 
Study Area. For further information regarding the primary platform used 
(e.g., ship or aircraft type) see Appendix A (Navy Activity 
Descriptions) of the 2018 AFTT FEIS/OEIS.

               Table 1--Training Activities Analyzed for Seven-Year Period in the AFTT Study Area
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                 7-Year number
   Stressor category      Activity name         Activity         Source bin      of activities    Location \2\
                                              description                             \1\
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                        Major Training Exercise--Large Integrated Anti-Submarine Warfare
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Acoustic..............  Composite          Aircraft carrier   ASW1, ASW2,                   17  VACAPES RC Navy
                         Training Unit      and its            ASW3, ASW4,                       Cherry Point RC
                         Exercise.          associated         ASW5, HF1, LF6,                   JAX RC.
                                            aircraft           MF1, MF3, MF4,
                                            integrate with     MF5, MF11, MF12.
                                            surface and
                                            submarine units
                                            in a challenging
                                            multi-threat
                                            operational
                                            environment in
                                            order to certify
                                            them for
                                            deployment.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                       Major Training Exercises--Medium Integrated Anti-Submarine Warfare
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Acoustic..............  Fleet Exercises/   Aircraft carrier   ASW1, ASW2,                   28  JAX RC.
                         Sustainment        and its            ASW3, ASW4,                  14  VACAPES RC.
                         Exercise.          associated         HF1, LF6, MF1,
                                            aircraft           MF3, MF4, MF5,
                                            integrates with    MF11, MF12.
                                            surface and
                                            submarine units
                                            in a challenging
                                            multi-threat
                                            operational
                                            environment in
                                            order to
                                            maintain their
                                            ability to
                                            deploy.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                Integrated/Coordinated Training--Small Integrated Anti-Submarine Warfare Training
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Acoustic..............  Naval Undersea     Multiple ships,    ASW1, ASW3,                   42  JAX RC.
                         Warfare Training   aircraft, and      ASW4, HF1, LF6,              21  Navy Cherry
                         Assessment         submarines         MF1, MF3, MF4,               21   Point RC.
                         Course.            integrate the      MF5, MF12.                       VACAPES RC.
                                            use of their
                                            sensors to
                                            search for,
                                            detect,
                                            classify,
                                            localize, and
                                            track a threat
                                            submarine in
                                            order to launch
                                            an exercise
                                            torpedo.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
               Integrated/Coordinated Training--Medium Coordinated Anti-Submarine Warfare Training
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Acoustic..............  Anti-Submarine     Surface ships,     ASW1, ASW3,                   14  JAX RC.
                         Warfare Tactical   aircraft, and      ASW4, HF1, LF6,               7  Navy Cherry
                         Development        submarines         MF1, MF3, MF4,                7   Point RC.
                         Exercise.          coordinate to      MF5, MF11, MF12.                 VACAPES RC.
                                            search for,
                                            detect, and
                                            track submarines.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
               Integrated/Coordinated Training--Small Coordinated Anti-Submarine Warfare Training
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Acoustic..............  Group Sail.......  Surface ships and  ASW2, ASW3,                   28  JAX RC.
                                            helicopters        ASW4, HF1, MF1,              28  Navy Cherry
                                            search for,        MF3, MF4, MF5,               35   Point RC.
                                            detect, and        MF11, MF12.                      VACAPES RC.
                                            track threat
                                            submarines.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                               Amphibious Warfare
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Explosive.............  Naval Surface      Surface ship       E5..............              28  GOMEX RC.
                         Fire Support       crews use large-                                84  JAX RC.
                         Exercise--At Sea.  caliber guns to                                 14  Navy Cherry
                                            support forces                                 266   Point RC.
                                            ashore; however,                                    VACAPES RC.
                                            the land target
                                            is simulated at
                                            sea. Rounds are
                                            scored by
                                            passive acoustic
                                            buoys located at
                                            or near the
                                            target area.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                             Anti-Submarine Warfare
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Acoustic..............  Anti-submarine     Helicopter         MF4, MF5, TORP1.              98  JAX RC.
                         Warfare Torpedo    aircrews search                                 28  VACAPES RC.
                         Exercise--Helico   for, track, and
                         pter.              detect
                                            submarines.
                                            Recoverable air
                                            launched
                                            torpedoes are
                                            employed against
                                            submarine
                                            targets.
Acoustic..............  Anti-submarine     Maritime patrol    MF5, TORP1......              98  JAX RC.
                         Warfare Torpedo    aircraft                                        28  VACAPES RC.
                         Exercise--Mariti   aircrews search
                         me Patrol          for, track, and
                         Aircraft.          detect
                                            submarines.
                                            Recoverable air
                                            launched
                                            torpedoes are
                                            employed against
                                            submarine
                                            targets.
Acoustic..............  Anti-Submarine     Surface ship       ASW3, MF1, TORP1             112  JAX RC.
                         Warfare Torpedo    crews search                                    35  VACAPES RC.
                         Exercise--Ship.    for, track, and
                                            detect
                                            submarines.
                                            Exercise
                                            torpedoes are
                                            used.

[[Page 70716]]

 
Acoustic..............  Anti-Submarine     Submarine crews    ASW4, HF1, MF3,               84  JAX RC.
                         Warfare Torpedo    search for,        TORP2.                       42  Northeast RC.
                         Exercise--Submar   track, and                                      14  VACAPES RC.
                         ine.               detect
                                            submarines.
                                            Exercise
                                            torpedoes are
                                            used.
Acoustic..............  Anti-Submarine     Helicopter         MF4, MF5........             168  Other AFTT
                         Warfare Tracking   aircrews search                              2,590   Areas.
                         Exercise--Helico   for, track, and                                 84  JAX RC.
                         pter.              detect                                          56  Navy Cherry
                                            submarines.                                          Point RC.
                                                                                                VACAPES RC.
Acoustic..............  Anti-Submarine     Maritime patrol    ASW5, ASW2, MF5.             630  Northeast RC.
                         Warfare Tracking   aircraft                                     1,232  VACAPES RC.
                         Exercise--Mariti   aircrews search                              3,675  JAX RC.
                         me Patrol          for, track, and                                322  Navy Cherry
                         Aircraft.          detect                                               Point RC.
                                            submarines.
Acoustic..............  Anti-Submarine     Surface ship       ASW1, ASW3, MF1,            * 35  Northeast RC.
                         Warfare Tracking   crews search       MF11, MF12.               * 770  Other AFTT
                         Exercise--Ship.    for, track, and                               * 35   Areas.
                                            detect                                     * 3,080  GOMEX RC.
                                            submarines.                                  * 385  JAX RC.
                                                                                       * 1,540  Navy Cherry
                                                                                                 Point RC.
                                                                                                VACAPES RC.
Acoustic..............  Anti-Submarine     Submarine crews    ASW4, HF1, MF3..             308  Other AFTT
                         Warfare Tracking   search for,                                      7   Areas.
                         Exercise--Submar   track, and                                      91  JAX RC.
                         ine.               detect                                         126  Navy Cherry
                                            submarines.                                     42   Point RC.
                                                                                                Northeast RC.
                                                                                                VACAPES RC.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                              Expeditionary Warfare
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Explosive.............  Maritime Security  Small boat crews   E2..............              14  GOMEX RC.
                         Operations--Anti-  engage in force                                 14  JAX RC.
                         Swimmer Grenades.  protection                                      14  Navy Cherry
                                            activities by                                   28   Point RC.
                                            using anti-                                     35  Northeast RC.
                                            swimmer grenades                                    VACAPES RC.
                                            to defend
                                            against hostile
                                            divers.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                  Mine Warfare
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Acoustic..............  Airborne Mine      Helicopter         HF4.............             462  GOMEX RC.
                         Countermeasure--   aircrews detect                              2,219  JAX RC.
                         Mine Detection.    mines using                                  2,597  Navy Cherry
                                            towed or laser                               1,708   Point RC.
                                            mine detection                              10,780  NSWC Panama
                                            systems.                                             City.
                                                                                                VACAPES RC.
Acoustic, Explosive...  Civilian Port      Maritime security  HF4, SAS2, E2,                 4  Beaumont, TX;
                         Defense--Homelan   personnel train    E4.                               Boston, MA;
                         d Security Anti-   to protect                                           Corpus Christi,
                         Terrorism/Force    civilian ports                                       TX; Delaware
                         Protection         against enemy                                        Bay, DE; Earle,
                         Exercise.          efforts to                                           NJ; GOMEX RC,
                                            interfere with                                       Hampton Roads,
                                            access to those                                      VA; JAX RC,
                                            ports.                                               Kings Bay, GA;
                                                                                                 NS Mayport,
                                                                                                 Morehead City,
                                                                                                 NC; Port
                                                                                                 Canaveral, FL;
                                                                                                 Savannah, GA;
                                                                                                 Tampa Bay, FL;
                                                                                                 VACAPES RC,
                                                                                                 Wilmington, NC.
Acoustic..............  Coordinated Unit   A detachment of    HF4.............              14  GOMEX RC.
                         Level Helicopter   helicopter                                      14  JAX RC.
                         Airborne Mine      aircrews train                                  14  Navy Cherry
                         Countermeasure     as a unit in the                                14   Point RC.
                         Exercise.          use of airborne                                     VACAPES RC.
                                            mine
                                            countermeasures,
                                            such as towed
                                            mine detection
                                            and
                                            neutralization
                                            systems.
Acoustic, Explosive...  Mine               Ship, small boat,  HF4, E4.........             924  GOMEX RC.
                         Countermeasures-   and helicopter                                 497  JAX RC.
                         -Mine              crews locate and                               497  Navy Cherry
                         Neutralization--   disable mines                                4,410   Point RC.
                         Remotely           using remotely                                      VACAPES RC.
                         Operated Vehicle.  operated
                                            underwater
                                            vehicles.
Acoustic..............  Mine               Ship crews detect  HF4.............             154  GOMEX RC.
                         Countermeasures-   and avoid mines                                371  JAX RC.
                         -Ship Sonar.       while navigating                               371  VACAPES RC.
                                            restricted areas
                                            or channels
                                            using active
                                            sonar.
Explosive.............  Mine               Personnel disable  E4, E5, E6, E7..              42  Lower Chesapeake
                         Neutralization--   threat mines                                   112   Bay.
                         Explosive          using explosive                                140  GOMEX RC.
                         Ordnance           charges.                                       119  JAX RC.
                         Disposal.                                                         112  Key West RC.
                                                                                         3,668  Navy Cherry
                                                                                                 Point RC.
                                                                                                VACAPES RC.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                 Surface Warfare
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Explosive.............  Bombing Exercise   Fixed-wing         E9, E10, E12....             469  GOMEX RC.
                         Air-to-Surface.    aircrews deliver                             3,038  JAX RC.
                                            bombs against                                  756  Navy Cherry
                                            surface targets.                             2,303   Point RC.
                                                                                                VACAPES RC.

[[Page 70717]]

 
Explosive.............  Gunnery Exercise   Small boat crews   E1..............              42  GOMEX RC.
                         Surface-to-        fire medium-                                   182  JAX RC.
                         Surface Boat       caliber guns at                                896  Navy Cherry
                         Medium-Caliber.    surface targets.                                14   Point RC.
                                                                                         1,820  Northeast RC.
                                                                                                VACAPES RC.
Explosive.............  Gunnery Exercise   Surface ship       E3,E5...........              70  Other AFTT
                         Surface-to-        crews fire large-                               63   Areas.
                         Surface Ship       caliber guns at                                357  GOMEX RC.
                         Large-Caliber.     surface targets.                               245  JAX RC.
                                                                                           525  Navy Cherry
                                                                                                 Point RC.
                                                                                                VACAPES RC.
Explosive.............  Gunnery Exercise   Surface ship       E1..............             287  Other AFTT
                         Surface-to-        crews fire                                     231   Areas.
                         Surface Ship       medium-caliber                               1,127  GOMEX RC.
                         Medium-Caliber.    guns at surface                                504  JAX RC.
                                            targets.                                     2,247  Navy Cherry
                                                                                                 Point RC.
                                                                                                VACAPES RC.
Explosive.............  Integrated Live    Naval forces       E1, E3, E6, E10.              14  VACAPES RC.
                         Fire Exercise.     defend against a                                14  JAX RC.
                                            swarm of surface
                                            threats (ships
                                            or small boats)
                                            with bombs,
                                            missiles,
                                            rockets, and
                                            small-, medium-
                                            and large-
                                            caliber guns.
Explosive.............  Missile Exercise   Fixed-wing and     E6, E8, E10.....             714  JAX RC.
                         Air-to-Surface.    helicopter                                     364  Navy Cherry
                                            aircrews fire                                  616   Point RC.
                                            air-to-surface                                      VACAPES RC.
                                            missiles at
                                            surface targets.
Explosive.............  Missile Exercise   Helicopter         E3..............              70  GOMEX RC.
                         Air-to-Surface--   aircrews fire                                  714  JAX RC.
                         Rocket.            both precision-                                 70  Navy Cherry
                                            guided and                                     644   Point RC.
                                            unguided rockets                                    VACAPES RC.
                                            at surface
                                            targets.
Explosive.............  Missile Exercise   Surface ship       E6, E10.........             112  JAX RC.
                         Surface-to-        crews defend                                    84  VACAPES RC.
                         Surface.           against surface
                                            threats (ships
                                            or small boats)
                                            and engage them
                                            with missiles.
Acoustic, Explosive...  Sinking Exercise.  Aircraft, ship,    TORP2, E5, E8,                 7  SINKEX Box.
                                            and submarine      E9, E10, E11.
                                            crews
                                            deliberately
                                            sink a seaborne
                                            target, usually
                                            a decommissioned
                                            ship (made
                                            environmentally
                                            safe for sinking
                                            according to
                                            U.S.
                                            Environmental
                                            Protection
                                            Agency
                                            standards), with
                                            a variety of
                                            munitions.
Acoustic..............  Elevated Causeway  A temporary pier   Impact hammer or               7  Lower Chesapeake
                         System.            is constructed     vibratory                     7   Bay.
                                            off the beach.     extractor.                       Navy Cherry
                                            Supporting                                           Point RC.
                                            pilings are
                                            driven into the
                                            sand and then
                                            later removed.
Acoustic..............  Submarine          Submarine crews    HF1, MF3........           1,183  NSB New London.
                         Navigation.        operate sonar                                   21  NSB Kings Bay.
                                            for navigation                                  21  NS Mayport.
                                            and object                                     588  NS Norfolk.
                                            detection while                                161  Port Canaveral,
                                            transiting into                                      FL.
                                            and out of port
                                            during reduced
                                            visibility.
Acoustic..............  Submarine Sonar    Maintenance of     MF3.............              84  Other AFTT
                         Maintenance.       submarine sonar                                462   Areas.
                                            systems is                                      63  NSB New London.
                                            conducted                                       14  JAX RC.
                                            pierside or at                                 238  NSB Kings Bay.
                                            sea.                                           602  NS Norfolk.
                                                                                            14  Northeast RC.
                                                                                            88  Port Canaveral,
                                                                                           326   FL.
                                                                                                Navy Cherry
                                                                                                 Point RC.
                                                                                                VACAPES RC.
Acoustic..............  Submarine Under    Submarine crews    HF1.............              21  JAX RC.
                         Ice                train to operate                                21  Navy Cherry
                         Certification.     under ice. Ice                                  63   Point RC.
                                            conditions are                                  63  Northeast RC.
                                            simulated during                                    VACAPES RC.
                                            training and
                                            certification
                                            events.
Acoustic..............  Surface Ship       Surface ship       HF8, MF1K.......             532  NS Mayport.
                         Object Detection.  crews operate                                1,134  NS Norfolk.
                                            sonar for
                                            navigation and
                                            object detection
                                            while transiting
                                            in and out of
                                            port during
                                            reduced
                                            visibility.
Acoustic..............  Surface Ship       Maintenance of     HF8, MF1........             350  JAX RC.
                         sonar              surface ship                                   350  NS Mayport.
                         Maintenance.       sonar systems is                               840  Navy Cherry
                                            conducted                                    1,645   Point RC.
                                            pierside or at                                 840  NS Norfolk.
                                            sea.                                                VACAPES RC.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The number of training activities that could occur annually and the duration of those activities remains
  identical to those presented in Table 4 of the 2018 AFTT final rule.
\2\ Locations given are areas where activities typically occur. However, activities could be conducted in other
  locations within the Study Area. Where multiple locations are provided within a single cell, the number of
  activities could occur in any of the locations, not in each of the locations.
* For Anti-Submarine Warfare Tracking Exercise--Ship, 50 percent of requirements are met through synthetic
  training or other training exercises.
Notes: GOMEX: Gulf of Mexico; JAX: Jacksonville; NS: Naval Station; NSB: Naval Submarine Base; NSWC: Naval
  Surface Warfare Center; RC: Range Complex; VACAPES: Virginia Capes.


[[Page 70718]]

Testing Activities
    The number of planned testing activities that could occur annually 
and the duration of those activities are identical to those presented 
in Tables 5 through 7 of the 2018 AFTT final rule, and are not repeated 
here. Similar to the 2017 Navy application, the Navy's planned testing 
activities presented here are based on the level of testing activities 
anticipated to be conducted into the reasonably foreseeable future, 
with adjustments that account for changes in the types and tempo 
(increases or decreases) of testing activities to meet current and 
future military readiness requirements. The number of planned testing 
activities that could occur for the seven-year period are presented in 
Tables 2 through 4. The number of ship shock trials for the seven-year 
period will remain the same as the number covered by the 2018 AFTT 
final rule.
Naval Air Systems Command
    The Naval Air Systems Command testing activities that could occur 
over the seven-year period within the AFTT Study Area are presented in 
Table 2.

   Table 2--Naval Air Systems Command Testing Activities Analyzed for Seven-Year Period in the AFTT Study Area
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                 7-Year number
   Stressor category      Activity name         Activity         Source bin      of activities    Location \2\
                                              description                             \1\
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                             Anti-Submarine Warfare
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Acoustic..........  Anti-Submarine     This event is      MF5, TORP1......             209  JAX RC.
                         Warfare Torpedo    similar to the                                 523  VACAPES RC.
                         Test.              training event
                                            torpedo
                                            exercise. Test
                                            evaluates anti-
                                            submarine
                                            warfare systems
                                            onboard rotary-
                                            wing (e.g.,
                                            helicopter) and
                                            fixed-wing
                                            aircraft and the
                                            ability to
                                            search for,
                                            detect,
                                            classify,
                                            localize, track,
                                            and attack a
                                            submarine or
                                            similar target.
    Acoustic,           Anti-Submarine     This event is      MF4, MF5, E3....              34  GOMEX RC.
     Explosive.          Warfare Tracking   similar to the                                  36  JAX RC.
                         Test--Helicopter.  training event                                  64  Key West RC.
                                            anti-submarine                                 442  Northeast RC
                                            warfare tracking                             1,368  VACAPES RC.
                                            exercise--helico
                                            pter. The test
                                            evaluates the
                                            sensors and
                                            systems used to
                                            detect and track
                                            submarines and
                                            to ensure that
                                            helicopter
                                            systems used to
                                            deploy the
                                            tracking system
                                            perform to
                                            specifications.
    Acoustic,           Anti-Submarine     The test           ASW2, ASW5, E1,               85  GOMEX RC.
     Explosive.          Warfare Tracking   evaluates the      E3, MF5, MF6.               133  JAX RC.
                         Test--Maritime     sensors and                                     76  Key West RC.
                         Patrol Aircraft.   systems used by                                101  Navy Cherry
                                            maritime patrol                                279   Point RC.
                                            aircraft to                                    175  Northeast RC.
                                            detect and track                                    VACAPES RC.
                                            submarines and
                                            to ensure that
                                            aircraft systems
                                            used to deploy
                                            the tracking
                                            systems perform
                                            to
                                            specifications
                                            and meet
                                            operational
                                            requirements.
    Acoustic..........  Kilo Dip.........  Functional check   MF4.............              22  GOMEX RC.
                                            of a helicopter                                 12  JAX RC.
                                            deployed dipping                                12  Key West RC.
                                            sonar system                                    12  Northeast RC.
                                            prior to                                       200  VACAPES RC.
                                            conducting a
                                            testing or
                                            training event
                                            using the
                                            dipping sonar
                                            system.
    Acoustic,           Sonobuoy Lot       Sonobuoys are      ASW2, ASW5, HF5,           1,120  Key West RC.
     Explosive.          Acceptance Test.   deployed from      HF6, LF4, MF5,
                                            surface vessels    MF6, E1, E3, E4.
                                            and aircraft to
                                            verify the
                                            integrity and
                                            performance of a
                                            production lot
                                            or group of
                                            sonobuoys in
                                            advance of
                                            delivery to the
                                            fleet for
                                            operational use.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                  Mine Warfare
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Acoustic..............  Airborne Dipping   A mine-hunting     HF4.............             144  NSWC Panama
                         Sonar              dipping sonar                                   66   City.
                         Minehunting Test.  system that is                                      VACAPES RC.
                                            deployed from a
                                            helicopter and
                                            uses high-
                                            frequency sonar
                                            for the
                                            detection and
                                            classification
                                            of bottom and
                                            moored mines.
    Explosive.........  Airborne Mine      A test of the      E4..............             154  NSWC Panama
                         Neutralization     airborne mine                                  215   City.
                         System Test.       neutralization                                      VACAPES RC.
                                            system evaluates
                                            the system's
                                            ability to
                                            detect and
                                            destroy mines
                                            from an airborne
                                            mine
                                            countermeasures
                                            capable
                                            helicopter. The
                                            airborne mine
                                            neutralization
                                            system uses up
                                            to four unmanned
                                            underwater
                                            vehicles
                                            equipped with
                                            high-frequency
                                            sonar, video
                                            cameras, and
                                            explosive and
                                            non-explosive
                                            neutralizers.
    Acoustic..........  Airborne Sonobuoy  A mine-hunting     HF6.............             364  NSWC Panama
                         Minehunting Test.  system made up                                 168   City.
                                            of a field of                                       VACAPES RC.
                                            sonobuoys
                                            deployed by a
                                            helicopter. A
                                            field of
                                            sonobuoys, using
                                            high-frequency
                                            sonar, is used
                                            to detect and
                                            classify bottom
                                            and moored mines.

[[Page 70719]]

 
                                                 Surface Warfare
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Explosive.........  Air-to-Surface     This event is      E9..............             140  VACAPES RC.
                         Bombing Test.      similar to the
                                            training event
                                            bombing exercise
                                            air-to-surface.
                                            Fixed-wing
                                            aircraft test
                                            the delivery of
                                            bombs against
                                            surface maritime
                                            targets with the
                                            goal of
                                            evaluating the
                                            bomb, the bomb
                                            carry and
                                            delivery system,
                                            and any
                                            associated
                                            systems that may
                                            have been newly
                                            developed or
                                            enhanced.
    Explosive.........  Air-to-Surface     This event is      E1..............             295  JAX RC.
                         Gunnery Test.      similar to the                                 890  VACAPES RC.
                                            training event
                                            gunnery exercise
                                            air-to-surface.
                                            Fixed-wing and
                                            rotary-wing
                                            aircrews
                                            evaluate new or
                                            enhanced
                                            aircraft guns
                                            against surface
                                            maritime targets
                                            to test that the
                                            guns, gun
                                            ammunition, or
                                            associated
                                            systems meet
                                            required
                                            specifications
                                            or to train
                                            aircrews in the
                                            operation of a
                                            new or enhanced
                                            weapon system.
    Explosive.........  Air-to-Surface     This event is      E6, E9, E10.....              30  GOMEX RC.
                         Missile Test.      similar to the                                 234  JAX RC.
                                            training event                                 234  VACAPES RC.
                                            missile exercise
                                            air-to-surface.
                                            Test may involve
                                            both fixed-wing
                                            and rotary-wing
                                            aircraft
                                            launching
                                            missiles at
                                            surface maritime
                                            targets to
                                            evaluate the
                                            weapon system or
                                            as part of
                                            another system's
                                            integration test.
    Explosive.........  Rocket Test......  Rocket tests       E3..............             121  JAX RC.
                                            evaluate the                                   233  VACAPES RC.
                                            integration,
                                            accuracy,
                                            performance, and
                                            safe separation
                                            of guided and
                                            unguided 2.75-
                                            inch rockets
                                            fired from a
                                            hovering or
                                            forward-flying
                                            helicopter.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                            Other Testing Activities
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Acoustic..........  Undersea Range     Following          MF9, BB4........              66  JAX RC.
                         System Test.       installation of
                                            a Navy
                                            underwater
                                            warfare training
                                            and testing
                                            range, tests of
                                            the nodes
                                            (components of
                                            the range) will
                                            be conducted to
                                            include node
                                            surveys and
                                            testing of node
                                            transmission
                                            functionality.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The number of testing activities that could occur annually and the duration of those activities are
  identical to those presented in Table 5 of the 2018 AFTT final rule.
\2\ Locations given are areas where activities typically occur. However, activities could be conducted in other
  locations within the Study Area.
Notes: GOMEX: Gulf of Mexico; JAX: Jacksonville; NSWC: Naval Surface Warfare Center; RC: Range Complex; VACAPES:
  Virginia Capes.

Naval Sea Systems Command
    The Naval Sea Systems Command testing activities that could occur 
over the seven-year period within the AFTT Study Area are presented in 
Table 3.

   Table 3--Naval Sea Systems Command Testing Activities Analyzed for Seven-Year Period in the AFTT Study Area
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                7-year  number
   Stressor category      Activity name         Activity         Source bin     of  activities    Location \2\
                                              description                             \1\
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                             Anti-Submarine Warfare
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Acoustic..........  Anti-Submarine     Ships and their    ASW1, ASW2,                  294  JAX RC.
                         Warfare Mission    supporting         ASW3, ASW5,                  28  Newport, RI.
                         Package Testing.   platforms (e.g.,   MF1, MF4, MF5,               28  NUWC Newport.
                                            helicopters,       MF12, TORP1.                182  VACAPES RC.
                                            unmanned aerial
                                            systems) detect,
                                            localize, and
                                            attack
                                            submarines.
    Acoustic..........  At-Sea Sonar       At-sea testing to  ASW3, ASW4, HF1,              14  JAX RC, Navy
                         Testing.           ensure systems     LF5, M3, MF1,                     Cherry Point
                                            are fully          MF1K, MF3, MF5,                   RC, Northeast
                                            functional in an   MF9, MF11,                        RC, VACAPES RC.
                                            open ocean         TORP2.
                                            environment.
                                                                                             7  JAX RC, Navy
                                                                                                 Cherry Point
                                                                                                 RC, VACAPES RC.

[[Page 70720]]

 
                                                                                            14  offshore Fort
                                                                                                 Pierce, FL,
                                                                                                 GOMEX RC, JAX
                                                                                                 RC, SFOMF,
                                                                                                 Northeast RC,
                                                                                                 VACAPES RC.
                                                                                            28  JAX RC.
                                                                                            14  Navy Cherry
                                                                                                 Point RC.
                                                                                            56  NUWC Newport.
                                                                                            84  VACAPES RC.
    Acoustic..........  Pierside Sonar     Pierside testing   ASW3, HF1, HF3,                7  NSB New London,
                         Testing.           to ensure          HF8, M3, MF1,                     NS Norfolk,
                                            systems are        MF1K, MF3, MF9,                   Port Canaveral,
                                            fully functional   MF10.                             FL.
                                            in a controlled
                                            pierside
                                            environment
                                            prior to at-sea
                                            test activities.
                                                                                            77  Bath, ME.
                                                                                            35  NSB New London.
                                                                                            28  NSB Kings Bay.
                                                                                            56  Newport, RI.
                                                                                            91  NS Norfolk.
                                                                                            14  Pascagoula, MS.
                                                                                            21  Port Canaveral,
                                                                                                 FL.
                                                                                            14  PNS.
    Acoustic..........  Submarine Sonar    Pierside testing   HF1, HF3, M3,                112  Norfolk, VA.
                         Testing/           of submarine       MF3.                        168  PNS.
                         Maintenance.       systems occurs
                                            periodically
                                            following major
                                            maintenance
                                            periods and for
                                            routine
                                            maintenance.
    Acoustic..........  Surface Ship       Pierside and at-   ASW3, MF1, MF1K,               7  JAX RC.
                         Sonar Testing/     sea testing of     MF9, MF10.                    7  NS Mayport.
                         Maintenance.       ship systems                                    21  NS Norfolk.
                                            occur                                           21  VACAPES RC.
                                            periodically
                                            following major
                                            maintenance
                                            periods and for
                                            routine
                                            maintenance.
    Acoustic,           Torpedo            Air, surface, or   ASW3, HF1, HF5,               28  GOMEX RC,
     Explosive.          (Explosive)        submarine crews    HF6, MF1, MF3,                    offshore Fort
                         Testing.           employ explosive   MF4, MF5, MF6,                    Pierce, FL, Key
                                            and non-           TORP1, TORP2,                     West RC, Navy
                                            explosive          E8, E11.                          Cherry Point
                                            torpedoes                                            RC, Northeast
                                            against                                              RC, VACAPES
                                            artificial                                           RC,.
                                            targets.
                                                                                            14  GOMEX RC, JAX
                                                                                                 RC, Northeast
                                                                                                 RC, VACAPES RC.
    Acoustic..........  Torpedo (Non-      Air, surface, or   ASW3, ASW4, HF1,              49  GOMEX RC.
                         Explosive)         submarine crews    HF6, MF1, MF3,               77  offshore Fort
                         Testing.           employ non-        MF4, MF5, MF6,   ..............   Pierce, FL.
                                            explosive          TORP1, TORP2,                12  JAX RC.
                                            torpedoes          TORP 3.                      49  Navy Cherry
                                            against                             ..............   Point RC.
                                            submarines or                                   54  Northeast RC.
                                            surface vessels.                               210  NUWC Newport.
                                            When performed                                  77  VACAPES RC
                                            on a testing
                                            range, these
                                            torpedoes may be
                                            launched from a
                                            range craft or
                                            fixed structures
                                            and may use
                                            artificial
                                            targets.
    Acoustic..........  Countermeasure     Countermeasure     ASW3, HF5,                    35  GOMEX RC, JAX
                         Testing.           testing involves   TORP1, TORP2.                     RC, NUWC
                                            the testing of                                       Newport,
                                            systems that                                         VACAPES RC, Key
                                            will detect,                                         West RC.
                                            localize, track,
                                            and attack
                                            incoming weapons
                                            including marine
                                            vessel targets.
                                            Testing includes
                                            surface ship
                                            torpedo defense
                                            systems and
                                            marine vessel
                                            stopping
                                            payloads.
                                                                                            20  GOMEX RC, JAX
                                                                                                 RC, Northeast
                                                                                                 RC, VACAPES RC.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                  Mine Warfare
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Acoustic,           Mine               Air, surface, and  E4, E11.........              91  NSWC Panama
     Explosive.          Countermeasure     subsurface                                      42   City.
                         and                vessels                                             VACAPES RC.
                         Neutralization     neutralize
                         Testing.           threat mines and
                                            mine-like
                                            objects.

[[Page 70721]]

 
    Acoustic,           Mine               Vessels and        HF4, SAS2, E4...             133  GOMEX RC.
     Explosive.          Countermeasure     associated                                      70  JAX RC.
                         Mission Package    aircraft conduct                                77  NSWC Panama
                         Testing.           mine                                            14   City.
                                            countermeasure                                  35  SFOMF.
                                            operations.                                         VACAPES RC.
    Acoustic..........  Mine Detection     Air, surface, and  HF1,HF4, HF8,                 42  GOMEX RC.
                         and                subsurface         MF1, MF1K, MF9.              70  Navy Cherry
                         Classification     vessels and                         ..............   Point RC.
                         Testing.           systems detect,                                359  NSWC Panama
                                            classify, and                                   66   City.
                                            avoid mines and                                 28  Riviera Beach,
                                            mine-like                                       21   FL.
                                            objects. Vessels                                    SFOMF.
                                            also assess                                         VACAPES RC.
                                            their potential
                                            susceptibility
                                            to mines and
                                            mine-like
                                            objects.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                 Surface Warfare
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Explosive.........  Gun Testing--      Crews defend       E3, E5..........              84  GOMEX RC, JAX
                         Large Caliber.     against targets                                      RC, Key West
                                            with large-                                          RC, Navy Cherry
                                            caliber guns.                                        Point RC,
                                                                                                 Northeast RC,
                                                                                                 VACAPES RC.
                                                                                             7  GOMEX RC.
                                                                                             7  JAX RC.
                                                                                             7  Key West RC.
                                                                                             7  Navy Cherry
                                                                                                 Point RC.
                                                                                             7  Northeast RC.
                                                                                           231  NSWC Panama
                                                                                                 City.
                                                                                            35  VACAPES RC.
    Explosive.........  Gun Testing--      Airborne and       E1..............              84  GOMEX RC, JAX
                         Medium-Caliber.    surface crews                                        RC, Key West
                                            defend against                                       RC, Navy Cherry
                                            targets with                                         Point RC,
                                            medium-caliber                                       Northeast RC,
                                            guns.                                                VACAPES RC.
                                                                                           714  NSWC Panama
                                                                                                 City.
                                                                                            34  VACAPES RC.
    Explosive.........  Missile and        Missile and        E6, E10.........              91  GOMEX RC, JAX
                         Rocket Testing.    rocket testing                                       RC, Key West
                                            includes various                                     RC, Navy Cherry
                                            missiles or                                          Point RC,
                                            rockets fired                                        Northeast RC,
                                            from submarines                                      VACAPES RC.
                                            and surface
                                            combatants.
                                            Testing of the
                                            launching system
                                            and ship defense
                                            is performed.
                                                                                             7  GOMEX RC.
                                                                                            14  JAX RC.
                                                                                            35  Northeast RC.
                                                                                           154  VACAPES RC.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                Unmanned Systems
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Acoustic,           Unmanned           Testing involves   ASW4, FLS2, HF1,             112  GOMEX RC, JAX
     Explosive.          Underwater         the development    HF4, HF5, HF6,                    RC, NUWC
                         Vehicle Testing.   or upgrade of      HF7, LF5, MF9,                    Newport.
                                            unmanned           MF10, SAS1,
                                            underwater         SA2, SAS3,
                                            vehicles. This     VHF1, E8.
                                            may include
                                            testing of mine
                                            detection
                                            capabilities,
                                            evaluating the
                                            basic functions
                                            of individual
                                            platforms, or
                                            complex events
                                            with multiple
                                            vehicles.
                                                                                           287  GOMEX RC.
                                                                                           175  JAX RC.
                                                                                         1,018  NSWC Panama
                                                                                                 City.
                                                                                         2,158  NUWC Newport.
                                                                                            63  Riviera Beach,
                                                                                                 FL.
                                                                                           294  SFOMF.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                Vessel Evaluation
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Explosive.........  Large Ship Shock   Underwater         E17.............               1  GOMEX RC, JAX
                         Trial.             detonations are                                      RC, VACAPES RC.
                                            used to test new
                                            ships or major
                                            upgrades.

[[Page 70722]]

 
    Explosive.........  Surface Warfare    Tests capability   E1, E5, E8......              14  GOMEX RC.
                         Testing.           of shipboard                                    91  JAX RC.
                                            sensors to                                       7  Key West RC.
                                            detect, track,                                  70  Northeast RC.
                                            and engage                                      63  VACAPES RC.
                                            surface targets.
                                            Testing may
                                            include ships
                                            defending
                                            against surface
                                            targets using
                                            explosive and
                                            non-explosive
                                            rounds, gun
                                            system
                                            structural test
                                            firing and
                                            demonstration of
                                            the response to
                                            Call for Fire
                                            against land-
                                            based targets
                                            (simulated by
                                            sea-based
                                            locations).
    Acoustic..........  Undersea Warfare   Ships demonstrate  ASW3, ASW4, HF4,              14  JAX RC, VACAPES
                         Testing.           capability of      HF8, MF1, MF1K,               6   RC.
                                            countermeasure     MF4, MF5, MF9,                   JAX RC, Navy
                                            systems and        MF10, TORP1,                      Cherry Point
                                            underwater         TORP2.                            RC, SFOMF,
                                            surveillance,                                        VACAPES RC.
                                            weapons
                                            engagement, and
                                            communications
                                            systems. This
                                            tests ships'
                                            ability to
                                            detect, track,
                                            and engage
                                            underwater
                                            targets.
                                                                                            14  GOMEX RC.
                                                                                            42  JAX RC.
                                                                                            14  VACAPES RC.
    Explosive.........  Small Ship Shock   Underwater         E16.............               3  JAX RC, VACAPES
                         Trial.             detonations are                                      RC.
                                            used to test new
                                            ships or major
                                            upgrades.
    Acoustic..........  Submarine Sea      Submarine weapons  HF1, M3, MF3,                 14  Offshore Fort
                         Trials--Weapons    and sonar          MF9, MF10,                        Pierce, FL,
                         System Testing.    systems are        TORP2.                            GOMEX RC, JAX
                                            tested at-sea to                                     RC, SFOMF,
                                            meet integrated                                      Northeast RC,
                                            combat system                                        VACAPES RC.
                                            certification
                                            requirements.
                                                                                            28  JAX RC.
                                                                                            28  Northeast RC.
                                                                                            28  VACAPES RC.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                            Other Testing Activities
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Acoustic..........  Insertion/         Testing of         MF3, MF9........              28  Key West RC.
                         Extraction.        submersibles                                 1,848  NSWC Panama
                                            capable of                                           City.
                                            inserting and
                                            extracting
                                            personnel and
                                            payloads into
                                            denied areas
                                            from strategic
                                            distances.
    Acoustic..........  Acoustic           Various surface    FLS2, HF5, HF7,              231  SFOMF.
                         Component          vessels, moored    LF5, MF9, SAS2.
                         Testing.           equipment, and
                                            materials are
                                            tested to
                                            evaluate
                                            performance in
                                            the marine
                                            environment.
    Acoustic..........  Semi-Stationary    Semi-stationary    AG, ASW3, ASW4,               28  Newport, RI.
                         Equipment          equipment (e.g.,   HF5, HF6, LF4,               77  NSWC Panama
                         Testing.           hydrophones) is    LF5, MF9, MF10,           1,330   City.
                                            deployed to        SD1, SD2.                        NUWC Newport.
                                            determine
                                            functionality.
    Acoustic..........  Towed Equipment    Surface vessels    HF6, LF4, MF9...             252  NUWC Newport.
                         Testing.           or unmanned
                                            surface vehicles
                                            deploy and tow
                                            equipment to
                                            determine
                                            functionality of
                                            towed systems.
    Acoustic..........  Signature          Surface ship and   ASW2, HF1, LF4,                7  JAX RC.
                         Analysis           submarine          LF5, LF6, M3,               413  SFOMF.
                         Operations.        testing of         MF9, MF10.
                                            electromagnetic,
                                            acoustic,
                                            optical, and
                                            radar signature
                                            measurements.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The number of testing activities that could occur annually and the duration of those activities are
  identical to those presented in Table 6 of the 2018 AFTT final rule.
\2\ Locations given are areas where activities typically occur. However, activities could be conducted in other
  locations within the Study Area. Where multiple locations are provided within a single cell, the number of
  activities could occur in any of the locations, not in each of the locations.
Notes: JEB LC-FS: Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story; NS: Naval Station; NSB: Naval Submarine
  Base; NSWC: Naval Surface Warfare Center; NUWC: Naval Undersea Warfare Center; PNS: Portsmouth Naval Shipyard;
  SFOMF: South Florida Ocean Measurement Facility Testing Range.


[[Page 70723]]

Office of Naval Research
    The Office of Naval Research testing activities that could occur 
over the seven-year period within the AFTT Study Area are presented in 
Table 4.

   Table 4--Office of Naval Research Testing Activities Analyzed for Seven-Year Period in the AFTT Study Area
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                 7-Year number
   Stressor category      Activity name         Activity         Source bin      of activities      Location
                                              description                             \1\
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                Acoustic and Oceanographic Science and Technology
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Acoustic, Explosive...  Acoustic and       Research using     AG, ASW2, BB4,                30  GOMEX RC.
                         Oceanographic      active             BB5, BB6, BB7,               60  Northeast RC.
                         Research.          transmissions      LF3, LF4, LF5,               16  VACAPES RC.
                                            from sources       MF8, MF9, MF14,              14  Other AFTT
                                            deployed from      E1.                               Areas.
                                            ships and
                                            unmanned
                                            underwater
                                            vehicles.
                                            Research sources
                                            can be used as
                                            proxies for
                                            current and
                                            future Navy
                                            systems.
Acoustic..............  Emerging Mine      Test involves the  BB1, BB2, SAS4..               7  JAX RC.
                         Countermeasure     use of broadband                                14  Northeast RC.
                         Technology         acoustic sources                                 7  VACAPES RC.
                         Research.          on unmanned
                                            underwater
                                            vehicles.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The number of testing activities that could occur annually and the duration of those activities are
  identical to those presented in Table 7 of the 2018 AFTT final rule.
Notes: GOMEX: Gulf of Mexico; JAX: Jacksonville, Florida; RC: Range Complex; VACAPES: Virginia Capes

Summary of Acoustic and Explosive Sources Analyzed for Training and 
Testing

    Tables 5 through 8 show the acoustic source classes and numbers, 
explosive source bins and numbers, airgun sources, and pile driving and 
removal activities associated with the Navy's planned training and 
testing activities over the seven-year period in the AFTT Study Area 
that were analyzed in the 2019 Navy application and for this final 
rule. The annual numbers for acoustic source classes, explosive source 
bins, and airgun sources, as well as the annual pile driving and 
removal activities associated with Navy training and testing activities 
in the AFTT Study Area are identical to those presented in Tables 8 
through 11 of the 2018 AFTT final rule, and are not repeated here. 
Consistent with the periodicity in the 2018 AFTT final rule, the Navy 
included the addition of two pile driving/extraction activities for 
each of the two additional years.
    Table 5 describes the acoustic source classes (i.e., low-frequency 
(LF), mid-frequency (MF), and high-frequency (HF)) that could occur 
over seven years under the planned training and testing activities. 
Acoustic source bin use in the activities would vary annually. The 
seven-year totals for the planned training and testing activities take 
into account that annual variability.

    Table 5--Acoustic Source Classes Analyzed and Number Used for Seven-Year Period for Training and Testing
                                       Activities in the AFTT Study Area.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                           7-Year total
     Source class category            Bin          Description        Unit \1\   -------------------------------
                                                                                     Training         Testing
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Low-Frequency (LF): Sources     LF3...........  LF sources         H............               0           9,156
 that produce signals less                       greater than 200
 than 1 kHz.                                     dB.
                                LF4...........  LF sources equal   H............               0           6,797
                                                 to 180 dB and up  C............               0             140
                                                 to 200 dB.
                                LF5...........  LF sources less    H............              60          12,264
                                                 than 180 dB.
                                LF6...........  LF sources         H............           1,104             280
                                                 greater than 200
                                                 dB with long
                                                 pulse lengths.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Mid-Frequency (MF): Tactical    MF1...........  Hull-mounted       H............          36,833          23,358
 and non-tactical sources that                   surface ship
 produce signals between 1-10                    sonars (e.g., AN/
 kHz.                                            SQS-53C and AN/
                                                 SQS-61).
                                MF1K..........  Kingfisher mode    H............             819           1,064
                                                 associated with
                                                 MF1 sonars.
                                MF3...........  Hull-mounted       H............          14,604           8,799
                                                 submarine sonars
                                                 (e.g., AN/BQQ-
                                                 10).
                                MF4...........  Helicopter-        H............           4,196           3,797
                                                 deployed dipping
                                                 sonars (e.g., AN/
                                                 AQS-22 and AN/
                                                 AQS-13).
                                MF5...........  Active acoustic    C............          47,340          38,663
                                                 sonobuoys (e.g.,
                                                 DICASS).
                                MF6...........  Active underwater  C............               0           8,986
                                                 sound signal
                                                 devices (e.g.,
                                                 MK84).
                                MF8...........  Active sources     H............               0           2,436
                                                 (greater than
                                                 200 dB) not
                                                 otherwise binned.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                MF9...........  Active sources     H............               0          52,128
                                                 (equal to 180 dB
                                                 and up to 200
                                                 dB) not
                                                 otherwise binned.
                                MF10..........  Active sources     H............           6,088          39,830
                                                 (greater than
                                                 160 dB, but less
                                                 than 180 dB) not
                                                 otherwise binned.

[[Page 70724]]

 
                                MF11..........  Hull-mounted       H............           6,495           9,968
                                                 surface ship
                                                 sonars with an
                                                 active duty
                                                 cycle greater
                                                 than 80%.
                                MF12..........  Towed array        H............           2,658           9,716
                                                 surface ship
                                                 sonars with an
                                                 active duty
                                                 cycle greater
                                                 than 80%.
                                MF14..........  Oceanographic MF   H............               0          10,080
                                                 sonar.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
High-Frequency (HF): Tactical   HF1...........  Hull-mounted       H............          13,504           2,772
 and non-tactical sources that                   submarine sonars
 produce signals between 10--                    (e.g., AN/BQQ-
 100 kHz.                                        10).
                                HF3...........  Other hull-        H............          34,275             215
                                                 mounted
                                                 submarine sonars
                                                 (classified).
                                HF4...........  Mine detection,    H............          41,717         179,516
                                                 classification,
                                                 and
                                                 neutralization
                                                 sonar (e.g., AN/
                                                 SQS-20).
                                HF5...........  Active sources     H............               0          13,624
                                                 (greater than     C............               0             280
                                                 200 dB) not
                                                 otherwise binned.
                                HF6...........  Active sources     H............               0          15,254
                                                 (equal to 180 dB
                                                 and up to 200
                                                 dB) not
                                                 otherwise binned.
                                HF7...........  Active sources     H............               0           8,568
                                                 (greater than
                                                 160 dB, but less
                                                 than 180 dB) not
                                                 otherwise binned.
                                HF8...........  Hull-mounted       H............             140          14,587
                                                 surface ship
                                                 sonars (e.g., AN/
                                                 SQS-61).
Very High-Frequency Sonars      VHF1..........  VHF sources        H............               0              84
 (VHF): Non-tactical sources                     greater than 200
 that produce signals between                    dB.
 100--200 kHz.
Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW):   ASW1..........  MF systems         H............           4,251           5,740
 Tactical sources (e.g.,                         operating above
 active sonobuoys and acoustic                   200 dB.
 counter-measures systems)
 used during ASW training and
 testing activities.
                                ASW2..........  MF Multistatic     C............          10,572          35,842
                                                 Active Coherent
                                                 sonobuoy (e.g.,
                                                 AN/SSQ-125).
                                ASW3..........  MF towed active    H............          34,275          21,737
                                                 acoustic
                                                 countermeasure
                                                 systems (e.g.,
                                                 AN/SLQ-25).
                                ASW4..........  MF expendable      C............           2,994          24,043
                                                 active acoustic
                                                 device
                                                 countermeasures
                                                 (e.g., MK 3).
                                ASW5..........  MF sonobuoys with  H............           4,244           4,316
                                                 high duty cycles.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Torpedoes (TORP): Source        TORP1.........  Lightweight        C............             399           6,122
 classes associated with the                     torpedo (e.g.,
 active acoustic signals                         MK 46, MK 54, or
 produced by torpedoes.                          Anti-Torpedo
                                                 Torpedo).
                                TORP2.........  Heavyweight        C............             560           2,600
                                                 torpedo (e.g.,
                                                 MK 48).
                                TORP 3........  Heavyweight        C............               0             640
                                                 torpedo (e.g.,
                                                 MK 48).
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Forward Looking Sonar (FLS):    FLS2..........  HF sources with    H............               0           8,568
 Forward or upward looking                       short pulse
 object avoidance sonars used                    lengths, narrow
 for ship navigation and                         beam widths, and
 safety.                                         focused beam
                                                 patterns.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Acoustic Modems (M): Systems    M3............  MF acoustic        H............               0           4,436
 used to transmit data through                   modems (greater
 the water.                                      than 190 dB).
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Swimmer Detection Sonars (SD):  SD1--SD2......  HF and VHF         H............               0           1,232
 Systems used to detect divers                   sources with
 and sub- merged swimmers.                       short pulse
                                                 lengths, used
                                                 for the
                                                 detection of
                                                 swimmers and
                                                 other objects
                                                 for the purpose
                                                 of port security.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Synthetic Aperture Sonars       SAS1..........  MF SAS systems...  H............               0           6,720
 (SAS): Sonars in which active
 acoustic signals are post-
 processed to form high-
 resolution images of the
 seafloor.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                SAS2..........  HF SAS systems...  H............          33,600          24,584
                                SAS3..........  VHF SAS systems..  H............               0           6,720
                                SAS4..........  MF to HF           H............               0           6,720
                                                 broadband mine
                                                 countermeasure
                                                 sonar.
Broadband Sound Sources (BB):   BB1...........  MF to HF mine      H............               0           6,720
 Sonar systems with large                        countermeasure
 frequency spectra, used for                     sonar.
 various purposes.
                                BB2...........  HF to VHF mine     H............               0           6,720
                                                 countermeasure
                                                 sonar.

[[Page 70725]]

 
                                BB4...........  LF to MF           H............               0          10,884
                                                 oceanographic
                                                 source.
                                BB5...........  LF to MF           H............               0           4,704
                                                 oceanographic
                                                 source.
                                BB6...........  HF oceanographic   H............               0           4,704
                                                 source.
                                BB7...........  LF oceanographic   C............               0             840
                                                 source.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ H = hours; C = count (e.g., number of individual pings or individual sonobuoys).
Note: dB = decibel

    Table 6 describes the number of air gun shots that could occur over 
seven years under the planned training and testing activities.

          Table 6--Training and Testing Air Gun Sources Quantitatively Analyzed in the AFTT Study Area
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                         7-Year total \2\
        Source class category                  Bin                Unit \1\       -------------------------------
                                                                                     Training         Testing
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Air Guns (AG): Small underwater air   AG..................  C...................               0           4,228
 guns.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ C = count. One count (C) of AG is equivalent to 100 air gun firings.
\2\ The annual numbers for airgun sources associated with Navy training and testing activities in the AFTT Study
  Area are identical to those presented in Table 9 in the 2018 AFTT final rule.

    Table 7 summarizes the impact pile driving and vibratory pile 
removal activities that could occur during a 24-hour period. Annually, 
for impact pile driving, the Navy will drive 119 piles, two times a 
year for a total of 238 piles. Over the seven-year period of the rule, 
the Navy will drive a total of 1,666 piles by impact pile driving. 
Annually, for vibratory pile removal, the Navy will remove 119 piles, 
two times a year for a total of 238 piles. Over the seven-year period 
of the rule, the Navy will remove a total of 1,666 piles by vibratory 
pile removal.

        Table 7--Summary of Pile Driving and Removal Activities per 24-Hour Period in the AFTT Study Area
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                       Total
                                                                                                     estimated
                                                                  Piles per  24-   Time per pile  time of  noise
                             Method                                hour  period      (minutes)     per  24-hour
                                                                                                      period
                                                                                                     (minutes)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pile Driving (Impact)...........................................               6              15              90
Pile Removal (Vibratory)........................................              12               6              72
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Table 8 describes the number of in-water explosives that could be 
used in any year under the planned training and testing activities. 
Under the activities, bin use would vary annually, and the seven-year 
totals for the planned training and testing activities take into 
account that annual variability.

     Table 8--Explosive Source Bins Analyzed and Number Used for Seven-Year Period for Training and Testing
                                      Activities Within the AFTT Study Area
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                    Net  explosive                                       7-Year Total \2\
                Bin                    weight \1\    Example  explosive  source  -------------------------------
                                         (lb.)                                       Training         Testing
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
E1................................        0.1-0.25  Medium-caliber projectile...          53,900         160,880
E2................................       >0.25-0.5  Medium-caliber projectile...           1,486               0
E3................................        >0.5-2.5  Large-caliber projectile....          32,144          20,162
E4................................          >2.5-5  Mine neutralization charge..             913           5,330
E5................................           >5-10  5-inch projectile...........          10,052           9,275
E6................................          >10-20  Hellfire missile............           4,214             276
E7................................         > 20-60  Demo block/shaped charge....              28               0
E8................................         >60-100  Light-weight torpedo........             154             231
E9................................        >100-250  500 lb. bomb................             462              28
E10...............................        >250-500  Harpoon missile.............             630             566
E11...............................        >500-650  650 lb. mine................               7              70

[[Page 70726]]

 
E12...............................      >650-1,000  2,000 lb. bomb..............             126               0
E16 \2\...........................   >7,250-14,500  Littoral Combat Ship full                  0              12
                                                     ship shock trial.
E17 \2\...........................  >14,500-58,000  Aircraft carrier full ship                 0               4
                                                     shock trial.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Net Explosive Weight refers to the equivalent amount of Trinitrotoluene (TNT) the actual weight of a
  munition may be larger due to other components.
\2\ The annual numbers for explosive source bins associated with Navy training and testing activities in the
  AFTT Study Area are identical to those presented in Table 11 in the 2018 AFTT final rule.
Note: Shock trials consist of four explosions each. In any given year there could be 0-3 small ship shock trials
  (E16) and 0-1 large ship shock trials (E17). Over a 7-year period, there could be three small ship shock
  trials (E16) and one large ship shock trial (E17) which is the same amount of ship shock trial events that
  could occur over the original five-year period. Therefore, there is no increase in ship shock trial events
  under this final rule.

Vessel Movement

    Vessel movements associated with the planned activities include 
both surface and sub-surface operations. Vessels used as part of the 
activities include ships, submarines, unmanned vessels, and boats 
ranging in size from small, 22 feet (ft) (7 meters (m)) rigid hull 
inflatable boats to aircraft carriers with lengths up to 1,092 ft. (333 
m). Large Navy ships greater than 60 ft (18 m) generally operate at 
speeds in the range of 10 to 15 kn for fuel conservation. Submarines 
generally operate at speeds in the range of 8 to 13 kn in transits and 
less than those speeds for certain tactical maneuvers. Small craft, 
less than 60 ft (18 m) in length, have much more variable speeds 
(dependent on the mission). For small craft types, sizes and speeds 
vary during training and testing. Speeds generally range from 10 to 14 
kn. While these speeds for large and small crafts are representative of 
most events, some vessels need to temporarily operate outside of these 
parameters. A full description of Navy vessels that are used during 
training and testing activities and will be used under the seven-year 
period of this rule can be found in the 2017 Navy application and 
Chapter 2 of the 2018 AFTT FEIS/OEIS.
    The manner in which Navy vessels will be used during training and 
testing activities, the speeds at which they operate, the number of 
vessels that will be used during various activities, and the locations 
in which Navy vessel movement will be concentrated within the AFTT 
Study Area are identical to those analyzed in the 2018 AFTT final rule. 
The only change related to the Navy's request regarding Navy vessel 
movement is the vessel use associated with the additional two years of 
Navy activities.

Standard Operating Procedures

    For training and testing to be effective, personnel must be able to 
safely use their sensors and weapon systems as they are intended to be 
used in a real-world situation and to their optimum capabilities. While 
standard operating procedures are designed for the safety of personnel 
and equipment and to ensure the success of training and testing 
activities, their implementation often yields additional benefits on 
environmental, socioeconomic, public health and safety, and cultural 
resources. Because standard operating procedures are essential to 
safety and mission success, the Navy considers them to be part of the 
planned activities and has included them in the environmental analysis. 
Details on standard operating procedures were provided in the 2018 AFTT 
proposed rule; please see the 2018 AFTT proposed rule, the 2017 Navy 
application, and Chapter 2 of the 2018 AFTT FEIS/OEIS for more 
information. The Standard Operating Procedures for the seven-year 
period will be identical to those in place under the 2018 AFTT final 
rule.

Comments and Responses

    On February 1, 2019, we published a notice of receipt (NOR) of the 
Navy's application in the Federal Register (84 FR 1069), and requested 
comments and information related to the Navy's request. The review and 
comment period for the NOR ended on March 4, 2019. We reviewed and 
considered all comments and information received on the NOR in 
development of the proposed rule. We published a proposed rule in the 
Federal Register on May 13, 2019 (84 FR 21126), with a 30-day comment 
period. In that proposed rule, we requested public input on the request 
for authorization described therein, our analyses, and the proposed 
authorizations and requested that interested persons submit relevant 
information, suggestions, and comments. During the 30-day comment 
period, we received eight comment letters. Of this total, one 
submission was from the Marine Mammal Commission (hereafter 
``Commission''), one letter was from an organization or individual 
acting in an official capacity (e.g., non-governmental organization 
(NGO)) and six submissions were from private citizens. NMFS has 
reviewed and considered all public comments received on the proposed 
rule and issuance of the LOAs. All relevant comments and our responses 
are described below. We provide no response to specific comments that 
addressed species or statutes not relevant to our proposed 
authorization under section 101(a)(5)(A) of the MMPA (e.g., comments 
related to sea turtles).
    The majority of the six comment letters from private citizens 
expressed general opposition toward the Navy's proposed training and 
testing activities and requested that NMFS not issue the LOAs, but 
without providing information relevant to NMFS' decisions. These 
comments appear to indicate a lack of understanding of the MMPA's 
requirement that NMFS ``shall issue'' requested authorizations when 
certain findings (see the Background section) are met; therefore, these 
comments were not considered further. The remaining comments are 
addressed below.
    Both the Commission and NGO included their comments submitted on 
the 2018 AFTT proposed rule. The Commission did not reiterate their 
2018 AFTT proposed rule recommendations in their comment letter but 
maintained that the recommendations that NMFS did not incorporate into 
the 2018 AFTT final rule are still relevant and pertain

[[Page 70727]]

to the extension of the five-year rule and asked that they be reviewed 
again in the course of considering the new seven-year rule. The NGO 
attached their 2018 AFTT proposed rule comment letter and their 
comments on the Notice of Receipt of the 2019 Navy application. They 
stated that ``most of the issues raised [in their 2018 AFTT proposed 
rule comment letter] were not adequately addressed in the 2018-2023 
Final Rule'' and asked that NMFS renew consideration of their prior 
comments. To the extent they raised concerns with how ``most'' issues 
were addressed previously, it did not identify which issues those were. 
NMFS reviewed, considered, and responded to all comments received on 
the 2018 AFTT proposed rule and issuance of the proposed LOAs. Please 
see the 2018 AFTT final rule Comments and Responses section for a 
summary of the comments received and NMFS' responses to these comments. 
As the NGO resubmitted their comments on the Notice of Receipt of the 
2019 Navy Application, we respond to those comments below.
    Comment 1: Commenters noted that NMFS did not propose to authorize 
beaked whale mortalities subsequent to MFA sonar use for any of the 
Navy's Phase III activities and states that that approach is 
inconsistent with the tack taken for both the Trajectory Analysis 
Planner (TAP) I and Phase II activities. The Commenters noted that for 
the previous final rule for AFTT (78 FR 73009; December 4, 2013), NMFS 
authorized up to 10 beaked whale mortality takes during the five-year 
period of the final rule (78 FR 73067; December 4, 2013). They noted 
that NMFS justified authorizing those mortalities by stating that, 
although NMFS and the Navy do not anticipate any beaked whale 
strandings to occur and no strandings have ever been reported in the 
AFTT Study Area, NMFS cannot conclude with certainty the degree to 
which mitigation measures would eliminate or reduce the potential for 
serious injury or mortality (78 FR 73043; December 4, 2013). The 
Commenters stated that this justification is still applicable. The 
Commenters asserted that NMFS indicated that steep bathymetry, multiple 
hull-mounted platforms using sonar simultaneously, constricted 
channels, and strong surface ducts are not all present together in the 
AFTT Study Area during the specified activities (83 FR 57116; November 
14, 2018), and that NMFS specified that it did not authorize beaked 
whale mortalities in the 2018 AFTT final rule based on the lack of 
those factors and the lack of any strandings associated with Navy sonar 
use in the AFTT Study Area (83 FR 57116; November 14, 2018). The 
Commenters stated that this does not comport with NMFS' acknowledgement 
in the 2018 AFTT proposed rule that all five of those factors are not 
necessary for a stranding to occur (83 FR 11012; March 13, 2018). They 
go on to state that ``NMFS still cannot conclude with certainty the 
degree to which mitigation measures would eliminate or reduce the 
potential for serious injury or mortality. This is especially true for 
a species that is cryptic and difficult for researchers, let alone Navy 
Lookouts, to observe visually in order to implement mitigation 
measures, and while passive acoustic monitoring could readily detect 
beaked whales, it is not used by the Navy as part of its mitigation 
measures involving MFA sonar.'' Given that the potential for beaked 
whale mortalities cannot be obviated, the Commenters recommend that 
NMFS authorize at least 10 mortality takes of beaked whales subsequent 
to MFA sonar use, consistent with the AFTT Phase II final rule (83 FR 
57076).
    Response: NMFS does not disregard the fact that it is possible for 
naval activities using hull-mounted tactical sonar to contribute to the 
death of marine mammals in certain circumstances (that are not present 
in the AFTT Study Area) via strandings resulting from behaviorally 
mediated physiological impacts or other gas-related injuries. NMFS 
included a discussion in the 2018 AFTT proposed and final rules of 
these potential causes and outlines the few cases where active naval 
sonar (in the U.S. or, largely, elsewhere) has either potentially 
contributed to or (as with the Bahamas example) been more definitively 
causally linked with marine mammal strandings. As noted, there are a 
suite of factors that have been associated with these specific cases of 
strandings directly associated with sonar (steep bathymetry, multiple 
hull-mounted platforms using sonar simultaneously, constricted 
channels, strong surface ducts, etc.). The Commenters are incorrect, 
however, in implying that NMFS found all these features must be present 
together. While not all of these factors must be present for a beaked 
whale stranding to occur, steep bathymetry and constricted channels 
specifically are not present in the AFTT Study Area, and surface ducts 
are not consistently present at any location. Further, in addition to 
the mitigation and monitoring measures in place (visual monitoring, 
passive acoustic monitoring when practicable, etc., see the 2018 AFTT 
final rule Mitigation and Monitoring sections for a full description of 
these measures) the Navy minimizes active sonar military readiness 
activities when these features are present (in other areas outside of 
the AFTT Study Area) to the maximum extent practicable to meet specific 
training or testing requirements. Additionally, there have never been 
any strandings associated with Navy sonar use in the AFTT Study Area, 
including in the five years of Navy activities since the 2013 
authorizations referenced by the Commenters. For these reasons as well 
as the other reasons discussed more fully in the 2018 AFTT final rule 
(e.g., mitigation measures, monitoring, etc.), NMFS does not anticipate 
that the Navy's AFTT training and testing activities will result in 
beaked whale strandings and mortality, and none are authorized.
    Comment 2: Commenters stated that NMFS cannot amend the existing 
five-year rule without undertaking a new negligible impact analysis for 
the full seven years of AFTT activity. They stated that while the Navy 
has not proposed any changes in activity parameters for the take that 
NMFS previously authorized, the addition of two years of explosives, 
sonar, and other disruptive activities alters the scope of that 
previous analysis. They go one to state that barring a negligible 
impact finding predicated on seven years of activity, taking into 
account the full extent of mortality, injury, and significant 
behavioral disruption that that entails, NMFS cannot amend the rule as 
the Navy has requested.
    Response: NMFS agrees and conducted a negligible impact analysis 
for the full seven years of Navy training and testing activity in the 
AFTT Study Area in both the 2019 AFTT proposed rule and this final 
rule. Please see the Analysis and Negligible Impact Determination 
section below.
    Comment 3: Commenters stated that NMFS must rigorously assess 
cumulative impacts on the same populations from other authorized and 
reasonably foreseeable activities, including the five large-scale 
seismic surveys that NMFS authorized in November, 2018 as well as the 
additional five years of oil and gas exploration that BOEM included in 
its 2014 Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for Atlantic 
seismic, to which NMFS tiered its November environmental assessments. 
They note that NMFS has repeatedly recognized the importance of 
accounting for cumulative effects of human activity on marine mammal 
populations, including

[[Page 70728]]

the cumulative effects of acoustic disturbance and masking, but that 
despite this NMFS has made its negligible impact findings as though 
each authorized activity were taking place in a vacuum, resulting in an 
acoustic environment where the same populations are repeatedly harmed. 
The Commenters note that at particular risk are range-restricted 
populations that are resident off Cape Hatteras; as well as species 
already suffering from poor individual fitness, most notably the North 
Atlantic right whale.
    Response: We recognize the need to address total impacts from the 
Navy's activities, and that the total impacts of the Navy's training 
and testing activities could be greater than the impacts of any one 
particular activity. The total impacts of the Navy's training and 
testing activities were evaluated for each species and stock in the 
Group and Species-Specific Analyses section of the Analysis and 
Negligible Impact Determination section of this rule and the 2018 AFTT 
final rule. See also the 2018 AFTT FEIS/OEIS, which evaluated the 
impacts of a maximum amount of activities, and which NMFS has adopted 
as the basis for its Record of Decision for the issuance of the final 
rule and LOAs.
    As described in the 2019 AFTT proposed rule and this final rule 
along with the 2018 AFTT final rule, the preamble for NMFS' 
implementing regulations under section 101(a)(5) (54 FR 40338; 
September 29, 1989) explains in responses to comments that the impacts 
from other past and ongoing anthropogenic activities are incorporated 
into the negligible impact analysis via their impacts on the 
environmental baseline. Consistent with that direction, NMFS here has 
factored into its negligible impact analyses the impacts of other past 
and ongoing anthropogenic activities via their impacts on the baseline 
(e.g., as reflected in the density/distribution and status of the 
species, population size and growth rate, and relevant stressors (such 
as incidental mortality in commercial fisheries, UMEs, or oil spills)). 
See the Analysis and Negligible Impact Determination section of this 
rule and the 2018 AFTT final rule.
    Our 1989 final rule for the MMPA implementing regulations also 
addressed how cumulative effects from unrelated activities would be 
considered. There we stated that such effects are not considered in 
making findings under section 101(a)(5) concerning negligible impact, 
but that NMFS would consider cumulative effects that are reasonably 
foreseeable when preparing a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) 
analysis and also that reasonably foreseeable cumulative effects would 
be considered under section 7 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) for 
ESA-listed species.
    The cumulative effects of the incremental impact of the proposed 
action when added to other past, present, and reasonably foreseeable 
future actions (as well as the effects of climate change) were 
evaluated against the appropriate resources and regulatory baselines in 
the 2018 AFTT FEIS/OIES. The best available science and a comprehensive 
review of past, present, and reasonably foreseeable actions (including 
the potential for oil and gas exploration in the Atlantic, as the 
commenter notes) was used to develop the Cumulative Impacts analysis. 
This analysis is contained in Chapter 4 of the 2018 AFTT FEIS/OIES. As 
required under NEPA, the level and scope of the analysis is 
commensurate with the scope of potential impacts of the action and the 
extent and character of the potentially-impacted resources (e.g., the 
geographic boundaries for cumulative impacts analysis for some 
resources are expanded to include activities outside the AFTT Study 
Area that might impact migratory or wide-ranging animals), as reflected 
in the resource-specific discussions in Chapter 3 (Affected Environment 
and Environmental Consequences) of the 2018 AFTT FEIS/OEIS. The 2018 
AFTT FEIS/OEIS considered the proposed training and testing activities 
alongside other actions in the region whose impacts may be additive to 
those of the proposed training and testing. Past and present actions 
are also included in the analytical process as part of the affected 
environmental baseline conditions presented in Chapter 3 of the 2018 
AFTT FEIS/OEIS. The 2018 AFTT FEIS/OEIS did so in accordance with 1997 
Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) guidance. Per the guidance, a 
qualitative approach and best professional judgment are appropriate 
where precise measurements are not available. Where precise 
measurements and/or methodologies were available they were used. 
Guidance from CEQ states it ``is not practical to analyze cumulative 
effects of an action on the universe; the list of environmental effects 
must focus on those that are truly meaningful.'' Further, the U.S. EPA 
reviewed the 2018 AFTT FEIS/OEIS and rated the document as LO--lack of 
objections--which means it did not identify any environmental impact 
requiring substantive changes to the proposal. Information on the NEPA 
analysis is provided in Section 4.1.1 (Determination of Significance).
    Comment 4: Commenters stated that NMFS should rigorously review its 
adaptive management procedures for military readiness activities for 
transparency, enforceability, and effectiveness, to strengthen their 
integrity for a seven-year authorization cycle. They particularly noted 
the need to ensure that research required, or simply recommended, by 
NMFS during the rulemaking process is actually completed by the Navy, 
as adaptive management cannot proceed if the underlying research to 
resolve uncertainties is not performed.
    Response: NMFS has rigorously reviewed its adaptive management 
procedures for military readiness activities for transparency, 
enforceability, and effectiveness and continues to do so on an annual 
basis. In addition to the comprehensive written reports provided by the 
Navy and reviewed by NMFS, NMFS holds dual-purpose annual Monitoring 
and Adaptive Management meetings with the Navy that address all of the 
concerns the commenter raises. First, the Navy annually convenes the 
researchers conducting the monitoring studies required by the MMPA 
rules for Navy Training and Testing (along with NMFS and Commission 
staff) to discuss their work and results, allowing for direct 
meaningful discourse between the researchers on the ground and 
regulators, as well as the opportunity for the researchers to highlight 
challenges and recommendations for future work. Second, NMFS, the 
Commission, and Navy staff meet to specifically discuss: (1) Exercise 
Reports detailing the non-classified extent of activities conducted, 
associated mitigation implemented, and marine mammals detected; (2) the 
list of monitoring projects and which are finishing, continuing, or 
newly starting; (3) new science potentially applicable in an adaptive 
management context, and; (4) whether any changes to monitoring or 
mitigation are appropriate pursuant to the Adaptive Management 
provisions.
    Comment 5: Commenters stated that NMFS must improve its negligible 
impact analysis and mitigation in issuing a new rule. They note that 
the Navy's application proposed no substantial changes in its take 
estimation, impact assessment, or mitigation measures, notwithstanding 
the issues raised during the previous rulemaking by Commenters.
    Response: NMFS reviewed, considered, and responded to all comments 
received on the 2018 AFTT proposed rule and issuance of the proposed 
LOAs. Please see the 2018

[[Page 70729]]

AFTT final rule Comments and Responses section for a summary of the 
comments received and NMFS' responses to these comments. The 2019 AFTT 
proposed rule and this final rule contain thorough and complete 
analysis of the incidental take that is estimated or has the potential 
to occur from the Navy's activities, along with analysis of appropriate 
mitigation measures under the least practicable adverse impact 
standard. All analysis, including the negligible impact analysis for 
each species and stock, has been updated from the 2018 AFTT final rule 
as appropriate based on the Navy's application, any new information, 
and in consideration of all comments received.
    Comment 6: Commenters stated that NMFS presents a flawed updated 
vessel strike analysis. The Commenters stated that the Navy made its 
take authorization request based on a Poisson distribution using ship-
strike data (from strikes involving Navy vessels only) between 2009 and 
2018 in the AFTT Study Area, as well as historical at-sea days in the 
AFTT Study Area from 2009-2018 and estimated potential at-sea days for 
the period from 2018-2025 covered by the requested regulations. This 
distribution predicted the probabilities of a specific number of 
strikes over the 2018-2025 period. The Commenters go on to state that 
in its take analysis, NMFS considered two factors in addition to those 
included in the Navy's request: (1) the relative likelihood of hitting 
members of one stock versus another, based on available data from all 
vessel strikes enumerated in the agency's Stock Assessment Reports 
(SARs); and (2) whether the Navy has ever definitively struck an 
individual from a particular stock and, if so, how many times. The 
Commenters stated that, thus in determining vessel strike probability, 
the agency's analysis only factors in vessel strikes reported by the 
Navy, rather than more objectively taking into account the total number 
of Navy ships that will be operating in the AFTT Study Area. The 
Commenters stated that some conditions the Navy operates in, including 
darkness and high sea states, would likely make it impossible to detect 
every vessel strike that occurred. In addition, some of the features of 
military vessels that NMFS notes as reducing vessel strike probability, 
such as the use of marine mammal Lookouts, would also only be effective 
in periods of good visibility. Therefore, the agency should not use the 
number of vessel strikes reported by the Navy as the basis for its 
vessel strike analysis. The Commenters stated that NMFS instead should 
analyze the likelihood of a ship hitting a particular stock in the AFTT 
Study Area (as based on the SARs) and the total number of Navy vessels, 
or the total amount of Navy vessel time spent operating within the AFTT 
Study Area.
    Response: The Commenters are correct in stating that the Navy 
requested incidental takes due to vessel strikes based on probabilities 
derived from a Poisson distribution using Navy ship strike data between 
2009 and 2018 in the AFTT Study Area (the time period from when current 
vessel strike mitigation measures were instituted until the Navy 
conducted the analysis for the 2019 Navy application, with no new ship 
strikes occurring since this analysis), as well as historical at-sea 
days in the AFTT Study Area from 2009-2018 and estimated potential at-
sea days for the period from 2018 to 2025 covered by the requested 
regulations. NMFS concurs with the Navy that it is appropriate to use 
Navy ship strike data in this analysis, rather than all known ship 
strikes (as presented in the SARs), because there are key differences 
between Navy vessels and commercial vessels, as described in the 
Authorized Take from Vessel Strikes section, which reduce the potential 
of ship strikes by Navy vessels and provide confidence that any ship 
strike that did occur would be detected and reported. The Navy also 
implements mitigation measures (Lookouts, passive sonar when 
practicable, etc.) that are not implemented by commercial vessels. 
While visibility is decreased in certain situations, such as nighttime 
as described by the commenters, ships operated by or for the Navy have 
personnel assigned to stand watch at all times, day and night, when 
underway for safety of navigation, collision avoidance, range 
clearance, and man-overboard precautions. After sunset and prior to 
sunrise, watch personnel employ night visual search techniques, which 
can include the use of night vision devices. The Navy is able to detect 
if a whale is struck due to the diligence of standard watch personnel 
and Lookouts stationed specifically to observe for marine mammals while 
a vessel is underway, day and night. These measures make it highly 
unlikely that a Navy vessel would strike a whale, dolphin, porpoise, or 
pinniped without detecting and reporting it and, accordingly, NMFS is 
confident that the Navy's reported strikes are accurate and appropriate 
for use in the analysis.
    NMFS uses all available information to determine the likelihood of 
vessel strike to a particular stock. As the commenter correctly 
asserts, NMFS considered two factors in addition to those considered in 
the Navy's request: (1) The relative likelihood of hitting one stock 
versus another based on available strike data from all vessel types as 
denoted in the SARs and (2) whether the Navy has ever definitively 
struck an individual from a particular stock and, if so, how many 
times. For a detailed description of the methods used to analyze the 
likelihood of vessel strikes, see the Authorized Take from Vessel 
Strikes section. However, the analysis does take into account the total 
number of Navy ships that will be operating in the AFTT Study Area. The 
estimated potential at-sea days for the period from 2018 to 2025 takes 
into account both the number of vessels and the number of days each 
vessel will operate in the AFTT Study Area. In other words, the number 
of vessel at-sea days directly reflects the number of vessels. Indeed 
this metric does exactly what the commenter suggests, which is that 
NMFS ``analyze the likelihood of a ship hitting a particular stock in 
the AFTT Study Area (as based on the SARs) and the total number of Navy 
vessels, or the total amount of Navy vessel time spent operating within 
the AFTT Study Area.''
    Comment 7: Commenters stated that NMFS' adjustment of injury and 
mortality numbers for ``mitigation effectiveness'' remains arbitrary. 
The Commenters noted that in the 2018 AFTT final rule, NMFS stated that 
the Navy quantitatively assessed the effectiveness of its monitoring-
based mitigation on a per-scenario basis using four factors: (1) 
Species sightability; (2) a Lookout's ability to observe the range to 
permanent threshold shift and range to mortality; (3) the portion of 
time when mitigation could be observed during periods of poor 
visibility or at night; and (4) the ability of sound sources to be 
positively controlled (i.e., powered down) (83 FR 57076, 57115; 
November 14, 2018). The Commenters noted that NMFS then concluded that 
the Navy adequately accounted for mitigation effectiveness in its 
adjustment of take. The Commenters stated that while NMFS explained its 
support of the Navy's approach, as requested in these Commenters' 
comments on the 2018 AFTT proposed rule, the adjustments the Navy makes 
to account for reduced mitigation effectiveness at night or during 
periods of poor visibility still overestimate the potential level of 
mitigation effectiveness. The Commenters provided the following example 
to support this statement: ``If a scenario occurs in a high sea state 
(Beaufort sea

[[Page 70730]]

state of 4 or higher), then the Navy applies a visibility reduction 
factor of 0.25. However, the probability of sighting a North Atlantic 
right whale, for example, changed by a factor of 0.628 (95 percent CI: 
0.428-0.921) for every unit increase in sea state. From the findings of 
Baumgartner et al. (2003), we would expect a reduction in detection 
probability of North Atlantic right whales by up to 84.5 percent based 
on an average Beaufort Sea State of 4, relative to ideal sighting 
conditions (i.e., Beaufort Sea State = 0). The reduction of the 
effectiveness of a Navy lookout watching for North Atlantic right 
whales in Beaufort Sea State 4, would therefore be significantly 
greater than the 0.25 factored into the Navy's analysis.'' The 
Commenters reiterated their caution to NMFS against creating an under-
supported, nonconservative adjustment for avoidance in the current AFTT 
final rule.
    Response: As described in the technical report titled ``Quantifying 
Acoustic Impacts on Marine Mammals and Sea Turtles: Methods and 
Analytical Approach for Phase III Training and Testing'' (U.S. 
Department of the Navy, 2018), the Navy conservatively factored 
mitigation effectiveness (i.e., underestimated mitigation 
effectiveness) into its quantitative analysis process. To calculate a 
mitigation effectiveness score for each scenario, the Navy multiplied 
the Species Sightability Factor, g(0), by a Visibility Factor [0.25, 
0.5, 0.75, 1], then by an Observation Area Factor [0, 0.5, 1], and 
lastly by a Positive Control Factor [0, 0.5, 1]. Using a logistic 
regression model, Baumgartner et al. (2003) presented evidence to 
suggest there is an effect of sea state on the probability of sighting 
that changes by a factor of 0.628 for every unit increase in sea state. 
However, the authors did not suggest that the 0.628 factor should be 
applied to further reduce g(0) values that already consider sea state. 
The North Atlantic right whale g(0) value used by the Navy already 
takes into account perception bias (including sea state). Therefore, 
the Navy's approach to calculating mitigation effectiveness is more 
conservative than what is being suggested by Baumgartner et al. (2003) 
because the Navy reduced mitigation effectiveness twice based on sea 
state: once by using g(0) values that already incorporate perception 
bias, and again by multiplying g(0) by additional visibility factors. 
Another example of how the Navy's method for calculating mitigation 
effectiveness is conservative is that the Navy assigns worst-case 
scores (instead of typical-case scores) to each effectiveness factor. 
For example, the Navy assigns a visibility reduction factor of 0.25 if 
a scenario has the ``potential'' to occur in Beaufort sea state 4 or 
higher, even if it typically occurs in Beaufort sea state 3 or lower. 
Similarly, the Navy assigns another visibility reduction factor of 0.25 
or 0.50 if the scenario ``could'' occur at night, rounding up to the 
most conservative reduction factor based on percent chance of nighttime 
occurrence.
    Below is a simplified hypothetical calculation for a scenario 
involving hull-mounted mid-frequency active sonar. The furthest average 
range to a potential permanent threshold shift (PTS) exposure for the 
largest source bin used in this scenario, MF1, is 192 m. The 
hypothetical scenario uses a positive control sound source, would 
rarely occur in a Beaufort 4 sea state, and has a 10 percent chance of 
occurring at night. Lookouts are able to observe the entire range to 
PTS (192 m around the ship) for the duration of the scenario. This 
hypothetical scenario has 10 model-estimated PTS impacts.

Mitigation Effectiveness = Species Sightability [vessel sightability 
g(0) of 0.645 (Palka 2006)] x Visibility [1 - (0.25 reduction for sea 
state + 0.25 reduction for night) = 0.50] x Observation Area [1] x 
Positive Control [1] = 0.323
Number of animals assumed sighted by Lookouts = Mitigation 
Effectiveness [0.323] x Model-Estimated Impacts [10 model-estimated PTS 
impacts] = 3.23 (rounded down to 3)

    This hypothetical calculation results in 3 out of 10 marine mammals 
being sighted by Lookouts within the average range to PTS (192 m from 
the ship). Mitigation measures would be implemented for these three 
individuals, and therefore, these animals would not be exposed to PTS-
level impacts. The Navy corrects the category of predicted impact for 
these three animals (i.e., shifts the level of three impacts from PTS 
to temporary threshold shift (TTS)), but does not modify the total 
number of impacts predicted from the scenario.
    For reasons detailed in the technical report, the small range to 
PTS and close proximity to the observation platform would in reality 
result in a much higher likelihood that Lookouts would detect more than 
three marine mammals within 192 m from the ship hull. For example, the 
Species Sightability reduction factors, g(0), are based on values 
obtained during line-transect surveys, where each primary observer 
looks for marine species in the forward 90-degree quadrant on their 
side of the survey platform out to the limit of the available optics 
(i.e., the horizon). In this example, Navy Lookouts would focus their 
observations directly on the sea space in front of the ship in an area 
several degrees of magnitude smaller than that used to calculate 
species sightability. However, as previously described, the Navy's 
approach to estimating marine mammal impacts integrates a host of 
conservative assumptions to ensure that potential impacts are 
overestimated instead of underestimated.

Description of Marine Mammals and Their Habitat in the Area of the 
Specified Activities

    Marine mammal species and their associated stocks that have the 
potential to occur in the AFTT Study Area are presented in Table 9 
along with the best/minimum abundance estimate and associated 
coefficient of variation value. Some marine mammal species, such as 
manatees, are not managed by NMFS, but by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service and therefore not discussed below. Consistent with the 2018 
AFTT final rule, the Navy anticipates the take of individuals of 39 
marine mammal species by Level A harassment and Level B harassment 
incidental to training and testing activities from the use of sonar and 
other transducers, in-water detonations, air guns, and impact pile 
driving/vibratory extraction activities. The Navy requested 
authorization for nine serious injuries or mortalities combined from 
four marine mammal stocks during ship shock trials, and four takes of 
large whales by serious injury or mortality from vessel strikes over 
the seven-year period.
    We presented a detailed discussion of marine mammals and their 
occurrence in the AFTT Study Area, inclusive of important marine mammal 
habitat (e.g., critical habitat), biologically important areas (BIAs), 
national marine sanctuaries (NMSs), and unusual mortality events (UMEs) 
in the 2018 AFTT proposed rule and 2018 AFTT final rule; please see 
these rules and the 2017 and 2019 Navy applications for additional 
information. There have been no changes to important marine mammal 
habitat, BIAs, NMSs, or Endangered Species Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.; 
ESA) designated critical habitat since the issuance of the 2018 AFTT 
final rule; therefore the information that supports our determinations 
here can be found in the 2018 AFTT proposed and final rules. NMFS has 
reviewed and incorporated into this rule the most recent Stock 
Assessment Reports (SARs) (Hayes et al., 2019, which can be found

[[Page 70731]]

at: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/national/marine-mammal-protection/marine-mammal-stock-assessment-reports-region); updated information on 
relevant UMEs (see below); and new scientific literature (see the 
Potential Effects of Specified Activities on Marine Mammals and their 
Habitat section), and determined that none of these nor any other new 
information changes our determination of which species or stocks have 
the potential to be affected by the Navy's activities or the pertinent 
information in the Description of Marine Mammals and Their Habitat in 
the Area of the Specified Activities section in the 2018 AFTT proposed 
and final rules. Therefore, the information presented in those sections 
of the 2018 proposed and final rules remains current and valid.
    As described in the 2018 AFTT final rule, the species carried 
forward for analysis are those likely to be found in the AFTT Study 
Area based on the most recent data available, and do not include stocks 
or species that may have once inhabited or transited the area but have 
not been sighted in recent years and therefore are extremely unlikely 
to occur in the AFTT Study Area (e.g., species which were extirpated 
because of factors such as nineteenth and twentieth century commercial 
exploitation).
    The species not carried forward for analysis (addressed in more 
detail in the Description of Marine Mammals and Their Habitat in the 
Area of the Specified Activities section of the 2018 AFTT final rule) 
include the bowhead whale, beluga whale, and narwhal, as these would be 
considered extralimital and are not part of the AFTT Study Area 
seasonal species assemblage. Additionally, for multiple bottlenose 
dolphin stocks, there was no potential for overlap with any stressors 
from Navy activities; therefore, there would be no adverse effects (or 
takes), and those stocks were not considered further. Specifically, 
with the exception of the Mississippi Sound, Lake Borgne, Bay Boudreau 
stock of bottlenose dolphins (which is addressed in the Analysis and 
Negligible Impact Determination section below), there is no potential 
for overlap of any Navy stressor with any other bay, sound, or estuary 
stocks in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Also, the following bottlenose 
dolphin stocks for the Atlantic do not have any potential for overlap 
with Navy activity stressors (or take), and therefore are not 
considered further: Northern South Carolina Estuarine System, 
Charleston Estuarine System, Northern Georgia/Southern South Carolina 
Estuarine System, Central Georgia Estuarine System, Southern Georgia 
Estuarine System, Biscayne Bay, and Florida Bay stocks. For the same 
reason, bottlenose dolphins off the coasts of Puerto Rico and the U.S. 
Virgin Islands were also not considered further.

                                           Table 9--Marine Mammals Potentially Present in the AFTT Study Area
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                      Stock Abundance          Occurrence in AFTT study area \5\
                                                                                            \4\       --------------------------------------------------
         Common name            Scientific name      Stock \2\      ESA/MMPA Status ------------------
                                      \1\                                 \3\          Best/minimum       Open ocean      Large marine    Inland waters
                                                                                        population                         ecosystems
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                      Order Cetacea
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                           Suborder Mysticeti (baleen whales)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Family Balaenidae (right
 whales):
    Bowhead whale............  Balaena           Eastern Canada-   Endangered,       7,660 (4,500-     Labrador         Newfoundland-    NA.
                                mysticetus.       West Greenland.   strategic,        11,100) \6\.      Current.         Labrador
                                                                    depleted.                                            Shelf, West
                                                                                                                         Greenland
                                                                                                                         Shelf,
                                                                                                                         Northeast U.S.
                                                                                                                         Continental
                                                                                                                         Shelf.
North Atlantic right whale...  Eubalaena         Western.........  Endangered,       451 (0)/445.....  Gulf Stream,     Southeast U.S.   NA.
                                glacialis.                          strategic,                          Labrador         Continental
                                                                    depleted.                           Current, North   Shelf,
                                                                                                        Atlantic Gyre.   Northeast U.S.
                                                                                                                         Continental
                                                                                                                         Shelf, Scotian
                                                                                                                         Shelf,
                                                                                                                         Newfoundland-
                                                                                                                         Labrador
                                                                                                                         Shelf, Gulf of
                                                                                                                         Mexico
                                                                                                                         (extralimital).
Family Balaenopteridae
 (rorquals):
Blue whale...................  Balaenoptera      Western North     Endangered,       Unknown/440 \11\  Gulf Stream,     Northeast U.S.   NA.
                                musculus.         Atlantic (Gulf    strategic,                          North Atlantic   Continental
                                                  of St.            depleted.                           Gyre, Labrador   Shelf, Scotian
                                                  Lawrence).                                            Current.         Shelf,
                                                                                                                         Newfoundland-
                                                                                                                         Labrador
                                                                                                                         Shelf,
                                                                                                                         Southeast U.S.
                                                                                                                         Continental
                                                                                                                         Shelf,
                                                                                                                         Caribbean Sea,
                                                                                                                         and Gulf of
                                                                                                                         Mexico
                                                                                                                         (strandings
                                                                                                                         only).
Bryde's whale................  Balaenoptera      Northern Gulf of  Endangered,       33 (1.07)/16....  Gulf Stream,     Gulf of Mexico.  NA.
                                brydei/edeni.     Mexico and NSD    strategic.                          North Atlantic
                                                  \21\.                                                 Gyre.

[[Page 70732]]

 
Fin whale....................  Balaenoptera      Western North     Endangered,       1,618...........  Gulf Stream,     Caribbean Sea,   NA.
                                physalus.         Atlantic.         strategic,       (0. 33)/1,234...   North Atlantic   Gulf of
                                                                    depleted.                           Gyre, Labrador   Mexico,
                                                                                                        Current.         Southeast U.S.
                                                                                                                         Continental
                                                                                                                         Shelf,
                                                                                                                         Northeast U.S.
                                                                                                                         Continental
                                                                                                                         Shelf, Scotian
                                                                                                                         Shelf,
                                                                                                                         Newfoundland-
                                                                                                                         Labrador Shelf.
                                                 West Greenland..  Endangered,       4,468 (1,343-     Labrador         West Greenland   NA.
                                                                    strategic,        14,871) \9\.      Current.         Shelf.
                                                                    depleted.
                                                 Gulf of St.       Endangered,       328 (306-350)     Gulf of St.      Newfoundland-    NA.
                                                  Lawrence.         strategic,        \10\.             Lawrence.        Labrador
                                                                    depleted.                                            Shelf, Scotian
                                                                                                                         Shelf.
Humpback whale...............  Megaptera         Gulf of Maine...  NA..............  896 (0)/896.....  Gulf Stream,     Gulf of Mexico,  NA.
                                novaeangliae.                                                           North Atlantic   Caribbean Sea,
                                                                                                        Gyre, Labrador   Southeast U.S.
                                                                                                        Current.         Continental
                                                                                                                         Shelf,
                                                                                                                         Northeast U.S.
                                                                                                                         Continental
                                                                                                                         Shelf, Scotian
                                                                                                                         Shelf,
                                                                                                                         Newfoundland-
                                                                                                                         Labrador Shelf.
Minke whale..................  Balaenoptera      Canadian Eastern  NA..............  2,591 (0.81)/     Gulf Stream,     Caribbean Sea,   NA.
                                acutorostrata.    Coastal.                            1,425.            North Atlantic   Southeast U.S.
                                                                                                        Gyre, Labrador   Continental
                                                                                                        Current.         Shelf,
                                                                                                                         Northeast U.S.
                                                                                                                         Continental
                                                                                                                         Shelf, Scotian
                                                                                                                         Shelf,
                                                                                                                         Newfoundland-
                                                                                                                         Labrador Shelf.
                                                 West Greenland    NA..............  16,609 (range:    Labrador         West Greenland   NA.
                                                  \7\.                                7,172-38,461)/    Current.         Shelf.
                                                                                      NA \7\.
Sei whale....................  Balaenoptera      Nova Scotia.....  Endangered,       357 (0.52)/236..  Gulf Stream,     Gulf of Mexico,  NA.
                                borealis.                           strategic,                          North Atlantic   Caribbean Sea,
                                                                    depleted.                           Gyre.            Southeast
                                                                                                                         Northeast U.S.
                                                                                                                         Continental
                                                                                                                         Shelf, Scotian
                                                                                                                         Shelf,
                                                                                                                         Newfoundland-
                                                                                                                         Labrador Shelf.
                                                 Labrador Sea....  Endangered,       Unknown \8\.....  Labrador         Newfoundland-    NA.
                                                                    strategic,                          Current.         Labrador
                                                                    depleted.                                            Shelf, West
                                                                                                                         Greenland
                                                                                                                         Shelf.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                            Family Physeteridae (sperm whale)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                          Suborder Odontoceti (toothed whales)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sperm whale..................  Physeter          North Atlantic..  Endangered,       2,288 (0.28)/     Gulf Stream,     Southeast U.S.   NA.
                                macrocephalus.                      strategic,        1,815.            North Atlantic   Continental
                                                                    depleted.                           Gyre, Labrador   Shelf,
                                                                                                        Current.         Northeast U.S.
                                                                                                                         Continental
                                                                                                                         Shelf, Scotian
                                                                                                                         Shelf,
                                                                                                                         Newfoundland-
                                                                                                                         Labrador
                                                                                                                         Shelf,
                                                                                                                         Caribbean Sea.
                                                 Northern Gulf of  Endangered,       763 (0.38)/560..  NA.............  Gulf of Mexico.  NA.
                                                  Mexico.           strategic,
                                                                    depleted.
                                                 Puerto Rico and   Endangered,       Unknown.........  North Atlantic   Caribbean Sea..  NA.
                                                  U.S. Virgin       strategic,                          Gyre.
                                                  Islands.          depleted.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

[[Page 70733]]

 
                                                             Family Kogiidae (sperm whales)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pygmy and dwarf sperm whales.  Kogia breviceps   Western North     NA..............  3,785 (0.47)/     Gulf Stream,     Southeast U.S.   NA.
                                and Kogia sima.   Atlantic.                           2,598\12\.        North Atlantic   Continental
                                                                                                        Gyre.            Shelf,
                                                                                                                         Northeast U.S.
                                                                                                                         Continental
                                                                                                                         Shelf, Scotian
                                                                                                                         Shelf,
                                                                                                                         Newfoundland-
                                                                                                                         Labrador
                                                                                                                         Shelf,
                                                                                                                         Caribbean Sea.
                                                 Northern Gulf of  NA..............  186 (1.04)/       NA.............  Gulf of Mexico,  NA.
                                                  Mexico.                             90\12\.                            Caribbean Sea.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                     Family Monodontidae (beluga whale and narwhal)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Beluga whale.................  Delphinapterus    Eastern High      NA..............  21,213 (10,985-   Labrador         West Greenland   NA.
                                leucas.           Arctic/Baffin                       32,619) \13\.     Current.         Shelf.
                                                  Bay \13\.
                                                 West Greenland    NA..............  10,595 (4.904-    NA.............  West Greenland   NA.
                                                  \14\.                               24,650) \ 14\.                     Shelf.
Narwhal......................  Monodon           NA \15\.........  NA..............  NA \15\.........  NA.............  Newfoundland-    NA.
                                monoceros.                                                                               Labrador
                                                                                                                         Shelf, West
                                                                                                                         Greenland
                                                                                                                         Shelf.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                            Family Ziphiidae (beaked whales)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Blainville's beaked whale....  Mesoplodon        Western North     NA..............  7,092 (0.54)/     Gulf Stream,     Southeast U.S.   NA.
                                densirostris.     Atlantic \16\.                      4,632\17\.        North Atlantic   Continental
                                                                                                        Gyre, Labrador   Shelf,
                                                                                                        Current.         Northeast U.S.
                                                                                                                         Continental
                                                                                                                         Shelf, Scotian
                                                                                                                         Shelf,
                                                                                                                         Newfoundland-
                                                                                                                         Labrador Shelf.
                                                 Northern Gulf of  NA..............  149 (0.91)/77     NA.............  Gulf of Mexico,  NA.
                                                  Mexico.                             \18\.                              Caribbean Sea.
Cuvier's beaked whale........  Ziphius           Western North     NA..............  6,532 (0.32)/     Gulf Stream,     Southeast U.S.   NA.
                                cavirostris.      Atlantic \16\.                      5,021.            North Atlantic   Continental
                                                                                                        Gyre.            Shelf,
                                                                                                                         Northeast U.S.
                                                                                                                         Continental
                                                                                                                         Shelf, Scotian
                                                                                                                         Shelf,
                                                                                                                         Newfoundland-
                                                                                                                         Labrador Shelf.
                                                 Northern Gulf of  NA..............  74 (1.04)/36....  NA.............  Gulf of Mexico,  NA.
                                                  Mexico \16\.                                                           Caribbean Sea.
                                                 Puerto Rico and   Strategic.......  Unknown.........  NA.............  Caribbean Sea..  NA.
                                                  U.S. Virgin
                                                  Islands.
Gervais' beaked whale........  Mesoplodon        Western North     NA..............  7,092 (0.54)/     Gulf Stream,     Southeast U.S.   NA.
                                europaeus.        Atlantic \16\.                      4,632 \17\.       North Atlantic   Continental
                                                                                                        Gyre.            Shelf,
                                                                                                                         Northeast
                                                                                                                         United States
                                                                                                                         Continental
                                                                                                                         Shelf.
                                                 Northern Gulf of  NA..............  149 (0.91)/77     Gulf Stream,     Gulf of Mexico,  NA.
                                                  Mexico \16\.                        \18\.             North Atlantic   Caribbean Sea.
                                                                                                        Gyre.
Northern bottlenose whale....  Hyperoodon        Western North     NA..............  Unknown.........  Gulf Stream,     Northeast U.S.   NA.
                                ampullatus.       Atlantic.                                             North Atlantic   Continental
                                                                                                        Gyre, Labrador   Shelf, Scotian
                                                                                                        Current.         Shelf,
                                                                                                                         Newfoundland-
                                                                                                                         Labrador Shelf.
Sowerby's beaked whale.......  Mesoplodon        Western North     NA..............  7,092 (0.54)/     Gulf Stream,     Northeast U.S.   NA.
                                bidens.           Atlantic \16\.                      4,632 \17\.       North Atlantic   Continental
                                                                                                        Gyre.            Shelf, Scotian
                                                                                                                         Shelf,
                                                                                                                         Newfoundland-
                                                                                                                         Labrador Shelf.

[[Page 70734]]

 
True's beaked whale..........  Mesoplodon mirus  Western North     NA..............  7,092 (0.54)/     Gulf Stream,     Southeast U.S.   NA.
                                                  Atlantic \16\.                      4,632 \17\.       North Atlantic   Continental
                                                                                                        Gyre.            Shelf,
                                                                                                                         Northeast U.S.
                                                                                                                         Continental
                                                                                                                         Shelf, Scotian
                                                                                                                         Shelf,
                                                                                                                         Newfoundland-
                                                                                                                         Labrador Shelf.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                              Family Delphinidae (dolphins)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Atlantic spotted dolphin.....  Stenella          Western North     NA..............  44,715 (0.43)/    Gulf Stream....  Southeast U.S.   NA.
                                frontalis.        Atlantic \16\.                      31,610.                            Continental
                                                                                                                         Shelf,
                                                                                                                         Northeast U.S.
                                                                                                                         Continental
                                                                                                                         Shelf.
                                                 Northern Gulf of  NA..............  Unknown.........  NA.............  Gulf of Mexico,  NA.
                                                  Mexico.                                                                Caribbean Sea.
                                                 Puerto Rico and   Strategic.......  Unknown.........  NA.............  Caribbean Sea..  NA.
                                                  U.S. Virgin
                                                  Islands.
Atlantic white-sided dolphin.  Lagenorhynchus    Western North     NA..............  48,819 (0.61)/    Gulf Stream,     Northeast U.S.   NA.
                                acutus.           Atlantic.                           30,403.           Labrador         Continental
                                                                                                        Current.         Shelf, Scotian
                                                                                                                         Shelf,
                                                                                                                         Newfoundland-
                                                                                                                         Labrador Shelf.
Clymene dolphin..............  Stenella clymene  Western North     NA..............  Unknown.........  Gulf Stream....  Southeast U.S.   NA.
                                                  Atlantic \16\.                                                         Continental
                                                                                                                         Shelf,
                                                                                                                         Northeast U.S.
                                                                                                                         Continental
                                                                                                                         Shelf.
                                                 Northern Gulf of  NA..............  129 (1.0)/64....  NA.............  Gulf of Mexico,  NA.
                                                  Mexico \16\.                                                           Caribbean Sea.
Common bottlenose dolphin....  Tursiops          Western North     NA..............  77,532 (0.40)/    Gulf Stream,     Southeast U.S.   NA.
                                truncatus.        Atlantic                            56,053.           North Atlantic   Continental
                                                  Offshore \19\.                                        Gyre.            Shelf,
                                                                                                                         Northeast U.S.
                                                                                                                         Continental
                                                                                                                         Shelf, Scotian
                                                                                                                         Shelf.
                                                 Western North     Strategic,        6,639 (0.41)/     NA.............  Southeast U.S.   Long Island
                                                  Atlantic          depleted.         4,759.                             Continental      Sound, Sandy
                                                  Northern                                                               Shelf,           Hook Bay,
                                                  Migratory                                                              Northeast U.S.   Lower
                                                  Coastal \20\.                                                          Continental      Chesapeake
                                                                                                                         Shelf.           Bay, James
                                                                                                                                          River,
                                                                                                                                          Elizabeth
                                                                                                                                          River.
                                                 Western North     Strategic,        3,751 (0.06)/     NA.............  Southeast U.S.   Lower
                                                  Atlantic          depleted.         2,353.                             Continental      Chesapeake
                                                  Southern                                                               Shelf.           Bay, James
                                                  Migratory                                                                               River,
                                                  Coastal \20\.                                                                           Elizabeth
                                                                                                                                          River,
                                                                                                                                          Beaufort
                                                                                                                                          Inlet, Cape
                                                                                                                                          Fear River,
                                                                                                                                          Kings Bay, St.
                                                                                                                                          Johns River.
                                                 Western North     Strategic,        6,027 (0.34)/     NA.............  Southeast U.S.   Kings Bay, St.
                                                  Atlantic South    depleted.         4,569.                             Continental      Johns River.
                                                  Carolina/                                                              Shelf.
                                                  Georgia Coastal
                                                  \20\.
                                                 Northern North    Strategic.......  823 (0.06)/782..  NA.............  Southeast U.S.   Beaufort Inlet,
                                                  Carolina                                                               Continental      Cape Fear
                                                  Estuarine                                                              Shelf,           River.
                                                  System \20\.                                                           Northeast U.S.
                                                                                                                         Continental
                                                                                                                         Shelf.
                                                 Southern North    Strategic.......  Unknown.........  NA.............  Southeast U.S.   Beaufort Inlet,
                                                  Carolina                                                               Continental      Cape Fear
                                                  Estuarine                                                              Shelf.           River.
                                                  System \20\.
                                                 Northern South    Strategic.......  Unknown.........  NA.............  Southeast U.S.   NA.
                                                  Carolina                                                               Continental
                                                  Estuarine                                                              Shelf.
                                                  System \20\.
                                                 Charleston        Strategic.......  Unknown.........  NA.............  Southeast U.S.   NA.
                                                  Estuarine                                                              Continental
                                                  System \20\.                                                           Shelf.

[[Page 70735]]

 
                                                 Northern Georgia/ Strategic.......  Unknown.........  NA.............  Southeast U.S.   NA.
                                                  Southern South                                                         Continental
                                                  Carolina                                                               Shelf.
                                                  Estuarine
                                                  System \20\.
                                                 Central Georgia   Strategic.......  192 (0.04)/185..  NA.............  Southeast U.S.   NA.
                                                  Estuarine                                                              Continental
                                                  System \20\.                                                           Shelf.
                                                 Southern Georgia  Strategic.......  194 (0.05)/185..  NA.............  Southeast U.S.   Kings Bay, St.
                                                  Estuarine                                                              Continental      Johns River.
                                                  System \20\.                                                           Shelf.
                                                 Western North     Strategic,        877 (0.49)/595..  NA.............  Southeast U.S.   Kings Bay, St.
                                                  Atlantic          depleted.                                            Continental      Johns River.
                                                  Northern                                                               Shelf.
                                                  Florida Coastal
                                                  \20\.
                                                 Jacksonville      Strategic.......  Unknown.........  NA.............  Southeast U.S.   Kings Bay, St.
                                                  Estuarine                                                              Continental      Johns River.
                                                  System \20\.                                                           Shelf.
                                                 Western North     Strategic,        1,218 (0.35)/913  NA.............  Southeast U.S.   Port Canaveral.
                                                  Atlantic          depleted.                                            Continental
                                                  Central Florida                                                        Shelf.
                                                  Coastal \20\.
                                                 Indian River      Strategic.......  Unknown.........  NA.............  Southeast U.S.   Port Canaveral.
                                                  Lagoon                                                                 Continental
                                                  Estuarine                                                              Shelf.
                                                  System \20\.
                                                 Biscayne Bay      Strategic.......  Unknown.........  NA.............  Southeast U.S.   NA.
                                                  \16\.                                                                  Continental
                                                                                                                         Shelf.
                                                 Florida Bay \16\  NA..............  Unknown.........  NA.............  Gulf of Mexico.  NA.
                                                 Northern Gulf of  NA..............  51,192 (0.10)/    NA.............  Gulf of Mexico.  NA.
                                                  Mexico                              46,926.
                                                  Continental
                                                  Shelf \20\.
                                                 Gulf of Mexico    NA..............  12,388 (0.13)/    NA.............  Gulf of Mexico.  NA.
                                                  Eastern Coastal                     11,110.
                                                  \20\.
                                                 Gulf of Mexico    NA..............  7,185 (0.21)/     NA.............  Gulf of Mexico.  St. Andrew Bay,
                                                  Northern                            6,044.                                              Pascagoula
                                                  Coastal \20\.                                                                           River.
                                                 Gulf of Mexico    NA..............  20,161 (0.17)/    NA.............  Gulf of Mexico.  Corpus Christi
                                                  Western Coastal                     17,491.                                             Bay, Galveston
                                                  \20\.                                                                                   Bay.
                                                 Northern Gulf of  NA..............  5,806 (0.39)/     NA.............  Gulf of Mexico.  NA.
                                                  Mexico Oceanic                      4,230.
                                                  \20\.
                                                 Laguna Madre      Strategic.......  80 (1.57)/        NA.............  Gulf of Mexico.  NA.
                                                  \20\.                               Unknown.
                                                 Nueces Bay/       Strategic.......  58 (0.61)/        NA.............  Gulf of Mexico.  NA.
                                                  Corpus Christi                      Unknown.
                                                  Bay \20\.
                                                 Copano Bay/       Strategic.......  55 (0.82)/        NA.............  Gulf of Mexico.  NA.
                                                  Aransas Bay/San                     Unknown.
                                                  Antonio Bay/
                                                  Redfish Bay/
                                                  Espiritu Santo
                                                  Bay \20\.
                                                 Matagorda Bay/    Strategic.......  61 (0.45)/        NA.............  Gulf of Mexico.  NA.
                                                  Tres Palacios                       Unknown.
                                                  Bay/Lavaca Bay
                                                  \20\.
                                                 West Bay \20\...  NA..............  32 (0.015)/       NA.............  Gulf of Mexico.  NA.
                                                                                      Unknown.
                                                 Galveston Bay/    Strategic.......  152 (0.43)/       NA.............  Gulf of Mexico.  NA.
                                                  East Bay/                           Unknown.
                                                  Trinity Bay
                                                  \20\.
                                                 Sabine Lake \20\  Strategic.......  0...............  NA.............  Gulf of Mexico.  NA.
                                                 Calcasieu Lake    Strategic.......  0...............  NA.............  Gulf of Mexico.  NA.
                                                  \20\.
                                                 Vermilion Bay/    Strategic.......  0...............  NA.............  Gulf of Mexico.  NA.
                                                  West Cote
                                                  Blanche Bay/
                                                  Atchafalaya Bay
                                                  \20\.
                                                 Terrebonne Bay/   NA..............  3,870 (0.15)/     NA.............  Gulf of Mexico.  NA.
                                                  Timbalier Bay                       3,426.
                                                  \20\.
                                                 Barataria Bay     Strategic.......  2,306 (0.09)/     NA.............  Gulf of Mexico.  NA.
                                                  Estuarine                           2,138.
                                                  System \20\.
                                                 Mississippi       Strategic.......  332 (0.93)/170..  NA.............  Gulf of Mexico.  NA.
                                                  River Delta
                                                  \20\.

[[Page 70736]]

 
                                                 Mississippi       Strategic.......  3,046 (0.06)/     NA.............  Gulf of Mexico.  NA.
                                                  Sound, Lake                         2,896.
                                                  Borgne, Bay
                                                  Boudreau \20\.
                                                 Mobile Bay/       Strategic.......  122 (0.34)/       NA.............  Gulf of Mexico.  NA.
                                                  Bonsecour Bay                       Unknown.
                                                  \20\.
                                                 Perdido Bay \20\  Strategic.......  0...............  NA.............  Gulf of Mexico.  NA.
                                                 Pensacola Bay/    Strategic.......  33 (0.80)/        NA.............  Gulf of Mexico.  NA.
                                                  East Bay \20\.                      Unknown.
                                                 Choctawhatchee    Strategic.......  179 (0.04)/       NA.............  Gulf of Mexico.  NA.
                                                  Bay \20\.                           Unknown.
                                                 St. Andrew Bay    Strategic.......  124 (0.57)/       NA.............  Gulf of Mexico.  NA.
                                                  \20\.                               Unknown.
                                                 St. Joseph Bay    Strategic.......  152 (0.08)/       NA.............  Gulf of Mexico.  NA.
                                                  \20\.                               Unknown.
                                                 St. Vincent       Strategic.......  439 (0.14)/       NA.............  Gulf of Mexico.  NA.
                                                  Sound/                              Unknown.
                                                  Apalachicola
                                                  Bay/St. George
                                                  Sound \20\.
                                                 Apalachee Bay     Strategic.......  491 (0.39)/       NA.............  Gulf of Mexico.  NA.
                                                  \20\.                               Unknown.
                                                 Waccasassa Bay/   Strategic.......  Unknown.........  NA.............  Gulf of Mexico.  NA.
                                                  Withlacoochee
                                                  Bay/Crystal Bay
                                                  \20\.
                                                 St. Joseph Sound/ Strategic.......  Unknown.........  NA.............  Gulf of Mexico.  NA.
                                                  Clearwater
                                                  Harbor \20\.
                                                 Tampa Bay \20\..  Strategic.......  Unknown.........  NA.............  Gulf of Mexico.  NA.
                                                 Sarasota Bay/     NA..............  158 (0.27)/126..  NA.............  Gulf of Mexico.  NA.
                                                  Little Sarasota
                                                  Bay \20\.
                                                 Pine Island       Strategic.......  826 (0.09)/       NA.............  Gulf of Mexico.  NA.
                                                  Sound/Charlotte                     Unknown.
                                                  Harbor/
                                                  Gasparilla
                                                  Sound/Lemon Bay
                                                  \20\.
                                                 Caloosahatchee    Strategic.......  0...............  NA.............  Gulf of Mexico.  NA.
                                                  River \20\.
                                                 Estero Bay \20\.  Strategic.......  Unknown.........  NA.............  Gulf of Mexico.  NA.
                                                 Chokoloskee Bay/  Strategic.......  Unknown.........  NA.............  Gulf of Mexico.  NA.
                                                  Ten Thousand
                                                  Islands/
                                                  Gullivan Bay
                                                  \20\.
                                                 Whitewater Bay    Strategic.......  Unknown.........  NA.............  Gulf of Mexico.  NA.
                                                  \20\.
                                                 Florida Keys      Strategic.......  Unknown.........  NA.............  Gulf of Mexico.  NA.
                                                  (Bahia Honda to
                                                  Key West) \ 20\.
                                                 Puerto Rico and   Strategic.......  Unknown.........  NA.............  Caribbean Sea..  NA.
                                                  U.S. Virgin
                                                  Islands.
False killer whale...........  Pseudorca         Western North     Strategic.......  442 (1.06)/212..  NA.............  Southeast U.S.   NA.
                                crassidens.       Atlantic \22\.                                                         Continental
                                                                                                                         Shelf,
                                                                                                                         Northeast U.S.
                                                                                                                         Continental
                                                                                                                         Shelf.
                                                 Northern Gulf of  NA..............  Unknown.........  NA.............  Gulf of Mexico,  NA.
                                                  Mexico \16\.                                                           Caribbean Sea.
Fraser's dolphin.............  Lagenodelphis     Western North     NA..............  Unknown.........  Gulf Stream....  Northeast U.S.   NA.
                                hosei.            Atlantic \23\.                                                         Continental
                                                                                                                         Shelf,
                                                                                                                         Southeast U.S.
                                                                                                                         Continental
                                                                                                                         Shelf.
                                                 Northern Gulf of  NA..............  Unknown.........  NA.............  Gulf of Mexico,  NA.
                                                  Mexico \16\.                                                           Caribbean Sea.

[[Page 70737]]

 
Killer Whale.................  Orcinus orca....  Western North     NA..............  Unknown.........  Gulf Stream,     Southeast U.S.   NA.
                                                  Atlantic \22\.                                        North Atlantic   Continental
                                                                                                        Gyre, Labrador   Shelf,
                                                                                                        Current.         Northeast
                                                                                                                         United States
                                                                                                                         Continental
                                                                                                                         Shelf, Scotian
                                                                                                                         Shelf,
                                                                                                                         Newfoundland-
                                                                                                                         Labrador Shelf.
                                                 Northern Gulf of  NA..............  28 (1.02)/14....  NA.............  Gulf of Mexico,  NA.
                                                  Mexico \16\.                                                           Caribbean Sea.
Long-finned pilot whale......  Globicephala      Western North     NA..............  5,636 (0.63)/     Gulf Stream....  Northeast U.S.   NA.
                                melas.            Atlantic.                           3,464.                             Continental
                                                                                                                         Shelf, Scotian
                                                                                                                         Shelf,
                                                                                                                         Newfoundland-
                                                                                                                         Labrador Shelf.
Melon-headed Whale...........  Peponocephala     Western North     NA..............  Unknown.........  Gulf Stream,     Southeast U.S.   NA.
                                electra.          Atlantic \23\.                                        North Atlantic   Continental
                                                                                                        Gyre.            Shelf.
                                                 Northern Gulf of  NA..............  2,235 (0.75)/     NA.............  Gulf of Mexico,  NA.
                                                  Mexico \16\.                        1,274.                             Caribbean Sea.
Pantropical spotted-dolphin..  Stenella          Western North     NA..............  3,333 (0.91)/     Gulf Stream....  Southeast U.S.   NA.
                                attenuate.        Atlantic \16\.                      1,733.                             Continental
                                                                                                                         Shelf,
                                                                                                                         Northeast U.S.
                                                                                                                         Continental
                                                                                                                         Shelf.
                                                 Northern Gulf of  NA..............  50,880 (0.27)/    NA.............  Gulf of Mexico,  NA.
                                                  Mexico \22\.                        40,699.                            Caribbean Sea.
Pygmy Killer Whales..........  Feresa attenuata  Western North     NA..............  Unknown.........  Gulf Stream,     Southeast U.S.   NA.
                                                  Atlantic \16\.                                        North Atlantic   Continental
                                                                                                        Gyre.            Shelf.
                                                 Northern Gulf of  NA..............  152 (1.02)/75...  NA.............  Gulf of Mexico,  NA.
                                                  Mexico \16\.                                                           Caribbean Sea.
Risso's dolphin..............  Grampus griseus.  Western North     NA..............  18,250 (0.46)/    Gulf Stream,     Southeast U.S.   NA.
                                                  Atlantic.                           12,619.           North Atlantic   Continental
                                                                                                        Gyre.            Shelf,
                                                                                                                         Northeast
                                                                                                                         United States
                                                                                                                         Continental
                                                                                                                         Shelf, Scotian
                                                                                                                         Shelf,
                                                                                                                         Newfoundland-
                                                                                                                         Labrador Shelf.
                                                 Northern Gulf of  NA..............  2,442 (0.57)/     NA.............  Gulf of Mexico,  NA.
                                                  Mexico.                             1,563.                             Caribbean Sea.
Rough-toothed dolphin........  Steno             Western North     NA..............  136 (1.00)/67...  Gulf Stream,     Caribbean Sea    NA.
                                bredanensis.      Atlantic \16\.                                        North Atlantic   Southeast U.S.
                                                                                                        Gyre.            Continental
                                                                                                                         Shelf,
                                                                                                                         Northeast U.S.
                                                                                                                         Continental
                                                                                                                         Shelf.
                                                 Northern Gulf of  NA..............  624 (0.99)/311..  NA.............  Gulf of Mexico,  NA.
                                                  Mexico.                                                                Caribbean Sea.
Short-finned pilot whale.....  Globicephala      Western North     NA..............  28,924 (0.24)/    NA.............  Northeast        NA.
                                macrorhynchus.    Atlantic.                           23,637.                            Continental
                                                                                                                         Shelf,
                                                                                                                         Southeast U.S.
                                                                                                                         Continental
                                                                                                                         Shelf.
                                                 Northern Gulf of  NA..............  2,415 (0.66)/     NA.............  Gulf of Mexico,  NA.
                                                  Mexico \22\.                        1,456.                             Caribbean Sea.
                                                 Puerto Rico and   Strategic.......  Unknown.........  NA.............  Caribbean Sea..  NA.
                                                  U.S. Virgin
                                                  Islands.
Spinner dolphin..............  Stenella          Western North     NA..............  Unknown.........  Gulf Stream,     Southeast U.S.   NA.
                                longirostris.     Atlantic \16\.                                        North Atlantic   Continental
                                                                                                        Gyre.            Shelf,
                                                                                                                         Northeast U.S.
                                                                                                                         Continental
                                                                                                                         Shelf.
                                                 Northern Gulf of  NA..............  11,441 (0.83)/    NA.............  Gulf of Mexico,  NA.
                                                  Mexico \16\.                        6,221.                             Caribbean Sea.
                                                 Puerto Rico and   Strategic.......  Unknown.........  NA.............  Caribbean Sea..  NA.
                                                  U.S. Virgin
                                                  Islands.
Striped dolphin..............  Stenella          Western North     NA..............  54,807 (0.30)/    Gulf Stream....  Northeast U.S.   NA.
                                coeruleoalba.     Atlantic \16\.                      42,804.                            Continental
                                                                                                                         Shelf, Scotian
                                                                                                                         Shelf.

[[Page 70738]]

 
                                                 Northern Gulf of  NA..............  1,849 (0.77)/     NA.............  Gulf of Mexico,  NA.
                                                  Mexico \16\.                        1,041.                             Caribbean Sea.
Short-beaked common dolphin..  Delphinus         Western North     NA..............  70,184 (0.28)/    Gulf Stream....  Southeast U.S.   NA.
                                delphis.          Atlantic.                           55,690.                            Continental
                                                                                                                         Shelf,
                                                                                                                         Northeast U.S.
                                                                                                                         Continental
                                                                                                                         Shelf, Scotian
                                                                                                                         Shelf,
                                                                                                                         Newfoundland-
                                                                                                                         Labrador Shelf.
White-beaked dolphin.........  Lagenorhynchus,   Western North     NA..............  2,003 (0.94)/     Labrador         Northeast U.S.   NA.
                                albirostris.      Atlantic \23\.                      1,023.            Current.         Continental
                                                                                                                         Shelf, Scotian
                                                                                                                         Shelf,
                                                                                                                         Newfoundland-
                                                                                                                         Labrador Shelf.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                             Family Phocoenidae (porpoises)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Harbor porpoise..............  Phocoena          Gulf of Maine/    NA..............  79,883 (0.32)/    NA.............  Northeast U.S.   Narragansett
                                phocoena.         Bay of Fundy.                       61,415.                            Continental      Bay, Rhode
                                                                                                                         Shelf, Scotian   Island Sound,
                                                                                                                         Shelf,           Block Island
                                                                                                                         Newfoundland-    Sound,
                                                                                                                         Labrador Shelf.  Buzzards Bay,
                                                                                                                                          Vineyard
                                                                                                                                          Sound, Long
                                                                                                                                          Island Sound,
                                                                                                                                          Piscataqua
                                                                                                                                          River, Thames
                                                                                                                                          River,
                                                                                                                                          Kennebec
                                                                                                                                          River.
                                                 Gulf of St.       NA..............  Unknown \24\....  Labrador         Northeast U.S.   NA.
                                                  Lawrence \24\.                                        Current.         Continental
                                                                                                                         Shelf, Scotian
                                                                                                                         Shelf,
                                                                                                                         Newfoundland-
                                                                                                                         Labrador Shelf.
                                                 Newfoundland      NA..............  Unknown \25\....  Labrador         Northeast U.S.   NA.
                                                  \25\.                                                 Current.         Continental
                                                                                                                         Shelf, Scotian
                                                                                                                         Shelf,
                                                                                                                         Newfoundland-
                                                                                                                         Labrador Shelf.
                                                 Greenland \26\..  NA..............  Unknown \26\....  Labrador         Northeast U.S.   NA.
                                                                                                        Current.         Continental
                                                                                                                         Shelf, Scotian
                                                                                                                         Shelf,
                                                                                                                         Newfoundland-
                                                                                                                         Labrador
                                                                                                                         Shelf, West
                                                                                                                         Greenland
                                                                                                                         Shelf.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                     Order Carnivora
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                   Suborder Pinnipedia
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Family Phocidae (true seals):
Gray seal....................  Halichoerus       Western North     NA..............  27,131 (0.19)/    NA.............  Northeast U.S.   Narragansett
                                grypus.           Atlantic.                           23,158.                            Continental      Bay, Rhode
                                                                                                                         Shelf, Scotian   Island Sound,
                                                                                                                         Shelf,           Block Island
                                                                                                                         Newfoundland-    Sound,
                                                                                                                         Labrador Shelf.  Buzzards Bay,
                                                                                                                                          Vineyard
                                                                                                                                          Sound, Long
                                                                                                                                          Island Sound,
                                                                                                                                          Piscataqua
                                                                                                                                          River, Thames
                                                                                                                                          River,
                                                                                                                                          Kennebeck
                                                                                                                                          River.

[[Page 70739]]

 
Harbor seal..................  Phoca vitulina..  Western North     NA..............  75,834 (0.15)/    NA.............  Southeast U.S.   Chesapeake Bay,
                                                  Atlantic.                           66,884.                            Continental      Narragansett
                                                                                                                         Shelf,           Bay, Rhode
                                                                                                                         Northeast U.S.   Island Sound,
                                                                                                                         Continental      Block Island
                                                                                                                         Shelf, Scotian   Sound,
                                                                                                                         Shelf,           Buzzards Bay,
                                                                                                                         Newfoundland-    Vineyard
                                                                                                                         Labrador Shelf.  Sound, Long
                                                                                                                                          Island Sound,
                                                                                                                                          Piscataqua
                                                                                                                                          River, Thames
                                                                                                                                          River,
                                                                                                                                          Kennebeck
                                                                                                                                          River.
Harp seal....................  Pagophilus        Western North     NA..............  Unknown.........  NA.............  Northeast U.S.   NA.
                                groenlandicus.    Atlantic.                                                              Continental
                                                                                                                         Shelf, Scotian
                                                                                                                         Shelf,
                                                                                                                         Newfoundland-
                                                                                                                         Labrador Shelf.
Hooded seal..................  Cystophora        Western North     NA..............  Unknown.........  NA.............  Southeast U.S.   Narragansett
                                cristata.         Atlantic.                                                              Continental      Bay, Rhode
                                                                                                                         Shelf,           Island Sound,
                                                                                                                         Northeast U.S.   Block Island
                                                                                                                         Continental      Sound,
                                                                                                                         Shelf, Scotian   Buzzards Bay,
                                                                                                                         Shelf,           Vineyard
                                                                                                                         Newfoundland-    Sound, Long
                                                                                                                         Labrador         Island Sound,
                                                                                                                         Shelf, West      Piscataqua
                                                                                                                         Greenland        River, Thames
                                                                                                                         Shelf.           River,
                                                                                                                                          Kennebec
                                                                                                                                          River.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Notes: CV coefficient of variation; ESA: Endangered Species Act; MMPA: Marine Mammal Protection Act; NA: not applicable.
\1\ Taxonomy follows (Committee on Taxonomy, 2016).
\2\ Stock designations for the U.S. EEZ and abundance estimates are from Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico SARs prepared by NMFS (Hayes et al., 2019) and the
  final 2018 SARs, unless specifically noted.
\3\ Populations or stocks defined by the MMPA as ``strategic'' for one of the following reasons: (1) the level of direct human-caused mortality exceeds
  the potential biological removal level; (2) based on the best available scientific information, numbers are declining and species are likely to be
  listed as threatened species under the ESA within the foreseeable future; (3) species are listed as threatened or endangered under the ESA; (4)
  species are designated as depleted under the MMPA.
\4\ Stock abundance, CV, and minimum population are numbers provided by the Stock Assessment Reports (SARs; Hayes et al., 2019). The stock abundance is
  an estimate of the number of animals within the stock. The CV is a statistical metric used as an indicator of the uncertainty in the abundance
  estimate. The minimum population estimate is either a direct count (e.g., pinnipeds on land) or the lower 20th percentile of a statistical abundance
  estimate.
\5\ Occurrence in the AFTT Study Area includes open ocean areas--Labrador Current, North Atlantic Gyre, Gulf Stream, and coastal/shelf waters of seven
  large marine ecosystems--West Greenland Shelf, Newfoundland-Labrador Shelf, Scotian Shelf, and Northeast U.S. Continental Shelf, Southeast U.S.
  Continental Shelf, Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, and inland waters of Kennebec River, Piscataqua River, Thames River, Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island
  Sound, Block Island Sound, Buzzards Bay, Vineyard Sound, Long Island Sound, Sandy Hook Bay, Lower Chesapeake Bay, James River, Elizabeth River,
  Beaufort Inlet, Cape Fear River, Kings Bay, St. Johns River, Port Canaveral, St. Andrew Bay, Pascagoula River, Sabine Lake, Corpus Christi Bay, and
  Galveston Bay.
\6\ The bowhead whale population off the West Coast of Greenland is not managed by NMFS and, therefore, does not have an associated Stock Assessment
  Report. Abundance and 95 percent highest density interval were presented in (Frasier et al., 2015).
\7\ The West Greenland stock of minke whales is not managed by NMFS and, therefore, does not have an associated Stock Assessment Report. Abundance and
  95 percent confidence interval were presented in (Heide-J[oslash]rgensen et al., 2010).
\8\ The Labrador Sea stock of sei whales is not managed by NMFS and, therefore, does not have an associated Stock Assessment Report. Information was
  obtained in (Prieto et al., 2014).
\9\ The West Greenland stock of fin whales is not managed by NMFS and, therefore, does not have an associated Stock Assessment Report. Abundance and 95
  percent confidence interval were presented in (Heide-J[oslash]rgensen et al., 2010).
\10\ The Gulf of St. Lawrence stock of fin whales is not managed by NMFS and, therefore, does not have an associated Stock Assessment Report. Abundance
  and 95 percent confidence interval were presented in (Ramp et al., 2014).
\11\ Photo identification catalogue count of 440 recognizable blue whale individuals from the Gulf of St. Lawrence is considered a minimum population
  estimate for the western North Atlantic stock (Waring et al., 2010).
\12\ Estimates include both the pygmy and dwarf sperm whales in the western North Atlantic (Waring et al., 2014) and the northern Gulf of Mexico (Waring
  et al., 2013).
\13\ Beluga whales in the Atlantic are not managed by NMFS and have no associated Stock Assessment Report. Abundance and 95 percent confidence interval
  for the Eastern High Arctic/Baffin Bay stock were presented in (Innes et al., 2002).
\14\ Beluga whales in the Atlantic are not managed by NMFS and have no associated Stock Assessment Report. Abundance and 95 percent confidence interval
  for the West Greenland stock were presented in (Heide-J[oslash]rgensen et al., 2009).
\15\ NA = Not applicable. Narwhals in the Atlantic are not managed by NMFS and have no associated Stock Assessment Report.
\16\ Estimates for these western North Atlantic stocks are from Waring et al. (2014) and the northern Gulf of Mexico stock are from (Waring et al.,
  2013) as applicable.
\17\ Estimate includes undifferentiated Mesoplodon species.
\18\ Estimate includes Gervais' and Blainville's beaked whales.
\19\ Estimate may include sightings of the coastal form.
\20\ Estimates for these Gulf of Mexico stocks are from SARs.
\21\ These Bryde's whales span the mid- and southern Atlantic and have not been designated as a stock (NSD) under the MMPA and therefore have no
  associated Stock Assessment Report.
\22\ Estimates for these stocks are from Waring et al., (2015).
\23\ Estimates for these western North Atlantic stocks are from (Waring et al., 2007).
\24\ Harbor porpoise in the Gulf of St. Lawrence are not managed by NMFS and have no associated Stock Assessment Report.
\25\ Harbor porpoise in Newfoundland are not managed by NMFS and have no associated Stock Assessment Report.
\26\ Harbor porpoise in Greenland are not managed by NMFS and have no associated Stock Assessment Report.


[[Page 70740]]

Unusual Mortality Events (UMEs)

    An UME is defined under section 410(6) of the MMPA as a stranding 
that is unexpected; involves a significant die-off of any marine mammal 
population; and demands immediate response. The six active UMEs with 
ongoing investigations in the AFTT Study Area that inform our analysis 
are discussed below. The impacts to Barataria Bay bottlenose dolphins 
from the closed Northern Gulf of Mexico UME (discussed in the 2018 AFTT 
proposed rule) associated with the Deep Water Horizon oil spill in the 
Gulf of Mexico are thought to be persistent and continue to inform 
population analyses. The other more recent UMEs closed several years 
ago, and little is known about how the effects of those events might be 
appropriately applied to an impact assessment several years later.
North Atlantic Right Whale (NARW) UME
    NOAA declared an UME for NARWs from January 1, 2017, to the 
present. The current total number of mortalities included in the event 
is approximately 30 whales, including potentially 21 NARW carcasses (1 
carcass from 2019 is currently unconfirmed) from Canada in 2017 and 
2019 and nine carcasses in the United States (5 in 2017; 3 in 2018; 1 
in 2019). In 2017, 17 right whale mortalities were documented, in 2018, 
three right whale mortalities were documented, and in the summer and 
fall of 2019 (as of October 24, 2019) an additional 10 right whale 
mortalities have been documented (9 confirmed, 1 unconfirmed). Of the 
12 NARW carcasses found in Canadian waters in 2017, six were necropsied 
and died as a direct result of human activities (either confirmed, 
probable, or suspect), from either rope entanglements (2) or vessel 
strikes (4) (Daoust et al., 2017). Of the eight carcasses found in U.S. 
waters in 2017-2018, the cause of death was determined in six whales, 
with deaths attributable to either rope entanglement (5) or vessel 
strikes (1) (Sharp et al., 2019). Eight carcasses were not able to be 
examined. Of the 10 whales documented in 2019, 8 carcasses were able to 
be examined at some level. Of the examined whales, three had evidence 
of vessel strikes and one had evidence of entanglement, the results 
from the remaining four whales are pending. Daoust et al. (2018) also 
concluded there were no oil and gas seismic surveys authorized in the 
months prior to or during the period over which these mortalities 
occurred, as well as no blasting or major marine development projects. 
Navy was consulted as to sonar use and they confirmed none was used in 
the vicinity of any of the strandings.
    As part of the UME investigation process for NARW, NOAA assembled 
an independent team of scientists (Investigative Team) that coordinates 
with the Working Group on Marine Mammal Unusual Mortality Events to 
review the data collected, sample future whales that strand, and 
determine the next steps for the investigation. For more information on 
this UME, please refer to https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/national/marine-life-distress/2017-2019-north-atlantic-right-whale-unusual-mortality-event#causes-of-the-north-atlantic-right-whale-ume.
    While data are not yet available to statistically estimate the 
population's trend beyond 2015, three lines of evidence indicate the 
population is still in decline. First, calving rates in 2016, 2017, and 
2018 were low. Only five new calves were documented in 2017 (Pettis et 
al., 2017a), well below the number needed to compensate for expected 
mortalities (Pace et al., 2017), and no new calves were reported for 
2018. Long-term photographic identification data indicate new calves 
rarely go undetected, so these years likely represent a continuation of 
the low calving rates that began in 2012 (Kraus et al., 2007; Pace et 
al., 2017). So far in 2019, seven calves have been documented. Second, 
the abundance estimate for 2016 is 451 individuals, down approximately 
1.5 percent from 458 in 2015. Third, since January, 2017, approximately 
30 NARWs have died in what has been declared an UME as discussed above 
(Meyer-Gutbrod et al., 2018; NMFS, 2017).
Humpback Whale UME Along the Atlantic Coast
    NOAA declared an UME for humpback whales from January 1, 2016, to 
the present, along the Atlantic coast from Maine through Florida. As of 
October 24, 2019, 107 humpback strandings have occurred (26, 34, 25, 
and 22 whales in 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 respectively). As of April 
2019, partial or full necropsy examinations have been conducted on 43 
cases, or approximately half of the 92 strandings (at that time). Of 
the 43 whales examined, approximately 20 had evidence of blunt force 
trauma or pre-mortem propeller wounds indicative of vessel strike and 
approximately 6 had evidence of entanglements. NOAA, in coordination 
with our stranding network partners, continues to investigate the 
recent mortalities and environmental conditions, and conduct population 
monitoring to better understand the recent humpback whale mortalities. 
At this time, vessel parameters (including size) are not known for each 
vessel-whale collision that led to the death of a whale. Therefore, 
NOAA considers all sizes of vessels to be a potential risk for whale 
species in highly trafficked areas. The Navy has investigated potential 
strikes and confirmed that it had none. Please refer to https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/national/marine-life-distress/2016-2019-humpback-whale-unusual-mortality-event-along-atlantic-coast for more 
information on this UME.
Minke Whale UME Along the Atlantic Coast
    NOAA declared an UME for minke whales from January 1, 2017, to the 
present, along the Atlantic coast from Maine through Florida. As of 
October 24, 2019, 75 strandings have occurred (27, 30, and 18 whales in 
2017, 2018 and 2019, respectively). As of April 1, 2019, full or 
partial necropsy examinations have been conducted on 33 whales. 
Preliminary findings on several of the whales have shown evidence of 
human interactions, primarily fisheries interactions, or infectious 
disease. These findings are not consistent across all of the whales 
examined, and final diagnostic results are still pending for many of 
the cases. Please refer to https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/national/marine-life-distress/2017-2019-minke-whale-unusual-mortality-event-along-atlantic-coast for more information on this UME.
Northeast Pinniped UME Along the Atlantic Coast
    NOAA declared an UME on August 30, 2018, due to increased numbers 
of harbor seal and gray seal strandings along the U.S. coasts of Maine, 
New Hampshire, and Massachusetts during July and August of 2018. 
Strandings remained elevated in these three states and expanded south 
to Virginia primarily in late 2018 to early 2019 with additional cases 
on-going throughout 2019. In December 2018 and early 2019, harp and 
hooded seals began stranding as these seals migrated from Canada into 
U.S. waters and have been included in the investigation. From July 1, 
2018, to October 24, 2019, 2,964 seals have stranded with approximately 
95 percent of the seals stranding in Maine, New Hampshire, and 
Massachusetts. Full or partial necropsy examinations have been 
conducted on many of the seals and samples have been collected for 
testing. Based on testing conducted so far, the main pathogen found in 
the seals is phocine distemper virus, with

[[Page 70741]]

most positive cases stranded in 2018 and early 2019. Active phocine 
distemper virus infections have only been detected in harbor and gray 
seals to date. Please refer to https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/new-england-mid-atlantic/marine-life-distress/2018-2019-pinniped-unusual-mortality-event-along for more information on this UME.
Southwest Florida Bottlenose Dolphin UME Along the Gulf of Mexico
    NOAA declared an UME in the summer of 2018 due to elevated 
bottlenose dolphin mortalities occurring along the Southwest coast of 
Florida including Collier, Lee, Charlotte, Sarasota, Manatee, 
Hillsborough, and Pinellas counties. From July 1, 2018, to October 24, 
2019, 193 dolphins have been confirmed stranded in this event. 
Stranding network partners have conducted full or partial necropsy 
examinations on several dolphins, with positive results for the red 
tide toxin (brevetoxin) indicating this UME is primarily related to the 
severe bloom of a red tide that occurred in the area from November, 
2017 through February, 2019. Please refer to https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/southeast/marine-life-distress/2018-2019-bottlenose-dolphin-unusual-mortality-event-southwest for more 
information on this UME.
Bottlenose Dolphin UME Along the Northern Gulf of Mexico
    NMFS declared an UME in the spring of 2019 due to elevated 
bottlenose dolphin strandings occurring in the Northern Gulf of Mexico 
including Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and the panhandle of Florida 
(Alabama border through Franklin County). From February 1, 2019 to 
October 24, 2019, 320 dolphins have stranded, which is approximately 
three times higher than the average. Testing is underway of tissue 
samples for morbillivirus, harmful algal bloom toxins and other common 
causes of stranding. Please refer to https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/national/marine-life-distress/2019-bottlenose-dolphin-unusual-mortality-event-along-northern-gulf for more information on this UME.

Potential Effects of Specified Activities on Marine Mammals and Their 
Habitat

    We provided a full discussion of the potential effects of the 
specified activities on marine mammals and their habitat in our 2018 
AFTT proposed rule and 2018 AFTT final rule. In the Potential Effects 
of Specified Activities on Marine Mammals and Their Habitat sections of 
the 2018 AFTT proposed and final rules, NMFS provided a description of 
the ways marine mammals may be affected by the same activities that the 
Navy will be conducting during the seven-year period analyzed in this 
rule in the form of serious injury or mortality, physical trauma, 
sensory impairment (permanent and temporary threshold shifts and 
acoustic masking), physiological responses (particularly stress 
responses), behavioral disturbance, or habitat effects. Therefore, we 
do not repeat the information here, all of which remains current and 
applicable, but refer the reader to those rules and the 2018 AFTT FEIS/
OEIS (Chapter 3, Section 3.7 Marine Mammals) which NMFS participated in 
the development of via our cooperating agency status and adopted to 
meet our NEPA requirements.
    NMFS has reviewed new relevant information from the scientific 
literature since publication of the 2018 AFTT final rule. Summaries of 
new scientific literature since publication of the 2018 AFTT final rule 
are presented below.
    Southall et al. (2019a) evaluated Southall et al. (2007) and used 
updated scientific information to propose revised noise exposure 
criteria to predict onset of auditory effects in marine mammals (i.e., 
PTS and TTS onset). Southall et al. (2019a) note that the quantitative 
processes described and the resulting exposure criteria (i.e., 
thresholds and auditory weighting functions) are largely identical to 
those in Finneran (2016) and NOAA (2016 and 2018). However they differ 
in that the Southall et al. (2019a) exposure criteria are more broadly 
applicable as they include all marine mammal species (rather than those 
only under NMFS jurisdiction) for all noise exposures (both in air and 
underwater for amphibious species), and that while the hearing group 
compositions are identical they renamed the hearing groups.
    In continued investigations of pinniped hearing, Kastelein et al. 
(2019a) exposed two female captive harbor seals to 6.5 kHz continuous, 
sinusoidal tones for 60 minutes (cumulative sound exposure levels 
(SELs) of 159-195 dB re: 1 [micro]Pa\2\s), then measured TTS using 
behavioral (psychoacoustic) methods at the center frequency of the 
fatiguing sound (6.5 kHz) and 0.5 and 1 octave above that frequency 
(9.2 and 13 kHz). Susceptibility to TTS was similar in both individuals 
tested. At cumulative SELs below 179 dB re: 1 [micro]Pa\2\s, maximum 
TTS was induced at the center frequency (6.5 kHz), and at cumulative 
SELs above 179 dB re: 1 [micro]Pa\2\s, maximum TTS was induced at 0.5 
octave above the center frequency (9.2 kHz). The highest TTSs were 
produced in the one-half octave band above the exposure frequency. Both 
seals recovered within 1-2 hours for up to 6 dB of TTS. One seal showed 
19 dB of TTS after a dB re: 1 [micro]Pa\2\s exposure and recovered 
within 24 hours. Overall, this study combined with previous work showed 
that for harbor seals, recovery times are consistent for similar-
magnitude TTS, regardless of the type of fatiguing sound exposure 
(impulsive, continuous noise band, or sinusoidal wave), and that 
susceptibility to TTS in the fatiguing frequency range tested (2.5-6.5 
kHz) varies little with hearing frequency. The two harbor seals in this 
study (and Kastelein et al., 2012) had similar susceptibility to TTS as 
the seal in Kastak et al. (2005). The authors note that more fatiguing 
sound frequencies need to be tested in harbor seals to produce equal 
TTS curves, for generating weighting functions that can be used to 
develop exposure criteria for broadband sounds in the marine 
environment (Houser et al., 2017). To determine the distances at which 
Helicopter Long Range Active Sonar (HELRAS) signals (~1.3-1.4 kHz) can 
be detected, Kastelein et al. (2019b) measured hearing thresholds using 
behavioral (psychoacoustic) techniques to simulated HELRAS signals in 
two captive harbor seals. Both seals showed similar thresholds (51 dB 
re: 1 [micro]Pa rms, approximately 4 dB lower than the detection 
thresholds for the same individuals in Kastelein et al., 2009) to 
previously obtained data for stimuli having the same center 
frequencies, which suggests that the harmonics present within HELRAS 
sources do not impact hearing threshold and that a tonal audiogram can 
be used to estimate the audibility of more complex narrow-band tonal 
signals in harbor seals.
    Recent studies on the behavioral responses of cetaceans to sonar 
examine and continue to demonstrate the importance of not only sound 
source parameters, but exposure context (e.g., behavioral state, 
presence of other animals and social relationships, prey abundance, 
distance to source, presence of vessels, environmental parameters, 
etc.) in determining or predicting a behavioral response.
     Kastelein et al. (2018) examined the role of sound 
pressure level (SPL) and duty cycle on the behavior of two captive 
harbor porpoises when exposed to simulated Navy mid-frequency sonar 
(53C, 3.5 to 4.1 kHz). Neither harbor porpoise responded to the low 
duty cycle (2.7 percent) at any of the five SPLs presented, even at the 
maximum received SPL (143 dB re: 1 [micro]Pa). At the

[[Page 70742]]

higher duty cycle (96 percent), one porpoise responded by increasing 
his respiration rate at a received SPL of greater than or equal to 119 
dB re: 1 [micro]Pa, and moved away from the transducer at a received 
SPL of 143 dB re: 1 [micro]Pa. Kastelein et al. (2018) observed that at 
the same received SPL and duty cycle, harbor porpoises respond less to 
53C sonar sounds than 1-2 kHz, 6-7 kHz, and 25 kHz sonar signals 
observed in previous studies, but noted that when examining behavioral 
responses it is important to take into account the spectrum and 
temporal structure of the signal, the duty cycle, and the psychological 
interpretation by the animal.
     To investigate the effect of signal to noise ratio (SNR) 
on behavioral responses, Kastelein et al. (2019c) observed respiration 
rates (an indicator of behavioral response) of two captive harbor 
porpoises when exposed to simulated 30-minute playbacks of Navy mid-
frequency sonar (53C, 3.5 to 4.1 kHz, 96 percent duty cycle), in noise 
simulating sea state 6 conditions. No behavioral responses were 
observed when the porpoises were exposed to sonar signals at an SPL of 
117 dB re: 1 [micro]Pa (SNR equal to 49 dB re: 1 Hz). Both porpoises 
responded when exposed to sonar signals at an SPL of 122 dB re: 1 
[micro]Pa (SNR equal to 54 dB re: 1 Hz), however in quiet conditions 
one porpoise responded at similar levels (Kastelein et al. 2018), 
suggesting the behavioral responses of harbor porpoises to sonar 
signals are not affected in sea state 6 ambient noise conditions.
     Wensveen et al. (2019) examined the role of sound source 
(simulated sonar pulses) distance and received level in northern 
bottlenose whales in an environment without frequent sonar activity 
using multi-scaled controlled exposure experiments. They observed 
behavioral avoidance of the sound source over a wide range of distances 
(0.8-28 km) and estimated avoidance thresholds ranging from received 
SPLs of 117-126 dB re: 1 [micro]Pa. The behavioral response 
characteristics and avoidance thresholds were comparable to those 
previously observed in beaked whale studies; however, they did not 
observe an effect of distance on behavioral response and found that 
onset and intensity of behavioral response were better predicted by 
received SPL.
     Joyce et al. (2019) presented movement and dive behavior 
data from seven Blainville's beaked whales (Mesoplodon densirostris) 
that were satellite tagged prior to naval sonar exercises using mid-
frequency active sonar (MFAS, 3-8kHz) at the Atlantic Undersea Test and 
Evaluation Center (AUTEC) in the Bahamas. Five of the seven tagged were 
displaced 28-68 km after the onset of sonar exposure and returned to 
the AUTEC range 2-4 days after exercises ended. Three of the 
individuals for which modeled received SPLs were available during this 
movement showed declining received SPLs from initial maxima of 145-172 
dB re: 1 [mu]Pa to maxima of 70-150 dB re: 1 [mu]Pa after 
displacements. Tagged individuals exhibited a continuation of deep 
diving activity consistent with foraging during MFAS exposure periods, 
but data also suggested that time spent on deep dives during initial 
exposure periods was reduced. These findings provide additional data 
for ongoing Population Consequences of Acoustic Disturbance assessments 
of disturbance as authors note that previous studies have suggested 
foraging dives may be lost in response to MFAS exposure, which could 
cause a decrease in energy intake and have potential effects on vital 
parameters. The data presented by Joyce et al. (2019) support the 
initial potential loss of foraging time, however they also suggest that 
Blainville's beaked whales may have the ability to partially compensate 
for this loss (assuming they have ample recovery times between dives) 
by increasing time spent at foraging depths following displacement.
     When conducting controlled exposure experiments on blue 
whales Southall et al. (2019b) observed that after exposure to 
simulated and operational mid-frequency active sonar, more than 50 
percent of blue whales in deep-diving states responded to the sonar, 
while no behavioral response was observed in shallow-feeding blue 
whales. The behavioral responses they observed were generally brief, of 
low to moderate severity, and highly dependent on exposure context 
(behavioral state, source-to-whale horizontal range, and prey 
availability). Blue whale response did not follow a simple exposure-
response model based on received sound exposure level.
     In a review of the previously published data (included in 
the 2018 AFTT EIS/OEIS analysis) on the potential impacts of sonar on 
beaked whales, Bernaldo de Quir[oacute]s et al. (2019) suggested that 
the effect of mid-frequency active sonar on beaked whales varies among 
individuals or populations, and that predisposing conditions such as 
previous exposure to sonar and individual health risk factors may 
contribute to individual outcomes (such as decompression sickness).
    Having considered this information, we have determined that there 
is no new information that substantively affects our analysis of 
potential impacts on marine mammals and their habitat that appeared in 
the 2018 AFTT final rule, all of which remains applicable and valid for 
our assessment of the effects of the Navy's activities during the 
seven-year period of this rule.

Estimated Take of Marine Mammals

    This section indicates the number of takes that NMFS is 
authorizing, which are based on the amount of take that NMFS 
anticipates could occur or is likely to occur, depending on the type of 
take and the methods used to estimate it, as described below. NMFS 
coordinated closely with the Navy in the development of their 
incidental take application, and agrees that the methods the Navy has 
put forth described herein and in the 2018 AFTT proposed and final 
rules to estimate take (including the model, thresholds, and density 
estimates), and the resulting numbers are based on the best available 
science and appropriate for authorization. The number and type of 
incidental takes that could occur or are likely to occur annually 
remain identical to those authorized in the 2018 AFTT regulations.
    Takes are predominantly in the form of harassment, but a small 
number of serious injuries or mortalities are also authorized. For 
military readiness activities, the MMPA defines ``harassment'' as (i) 
Any act that injures or has the significant potential to injure a 
marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild (Level A harassment); 
or (ii) Any act that disturbs or is likely to disturb a marine mammal 
or marine mammal stock in the wild by causing disruption of natural 
behavioral patterns, including, but not limited to, migration, 
surfacing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or sheltering, to a point where 
such behavioral patterns are abandoned or significantly altered (Level 
B harassment).
    Authorized takes will primarily be in the form of Level B 
harassment, as use of the acoustic and explosive sources (i.e., sonar, 
air guns, pile driving, explosives) is more likely to result in 
behavioral disruption (rising to the level of a take as described 
above) or temporary threshold shift (TTS) for marine mammals than other 
forms of take. There is also the potential for Level A harassment, 
however, in the form of auditory injury and/or tissue damage (the 
latter from explosives only) to result from exposure to the sound 
sources utilized in training and testing activities. Lastly, a limited 
number of serious injuries or mortalities could occur for four species 
of mid-frequency

[[Page 70743]]

cetaceans during ship shock trials and no more than four serious 
injuries or mortalities total (over the seven-year period) of 
mysticetes (except for blue whales, Bryde's whales, and North Atlantic 
right whales) and North Atlantic sperm whales could occur through 
vessel collisions. Although we analyze the impacts of these potential 
serious injuries or mortalities that are authorized, the required 
mitigation and monitoring measures are expected to minimize the 
likelihood that ship strike or these high-level explosive exposures 
(and the associated serious injury or mortality) actually occur.
    Generally speaking, for acoustic impacts we estimate the amount and 
type of harassment by considering: (1) Acoustic thresholds above which 
NMFS believes the best available science indicates marine mammals will 
be taken by Level B harassment (in this case, as defined in the 
military readiness definition of Level B harassment included above) or 
incur some degree of temporary or permanent hearing impairment; (2) the 
area or volume of water that will be ensonified above these levels in a 
day or event; (3) the density or occurrence of marine mammals within 
these ensonified areas; and (4) and the number of days of activities or 
events.

Acoustic Thresholds

    Using the best available science, NMFS, in coordination with the 
Navy, has established acoustic thresholds that identify the most 
appropriate received level of underwater sound above which marine 
mammals exposed to these sound sources could be reasonably expected to 
experience a disruption in behavior patterns to a point where they are 
abandoned or significantly altered, or to incur TTS (equated to Level B 
harassment) or permanent threshold shift (PTS) of some degree (equated 
to Level A harassment). Thresholds have also been developed to identify 
the pressure levels above which animals may incur non-auditory injury 
from exposure to pressure waves from explosive detonation.
    Despite the quickly evolving science, there are still challenges in 
quantifying expected behavioral responses that qualify as Level B 
harassment, especially where the goal is to use one or two predictable 
indicators (e.g., received level and distance) to predict responses 
that are also driven by additional factors that cannot be easily 
incorporated into the thresholds (e.g., context). So, while the new 
behavioral Level B harassment thresholds have been refined here to 
better consider the best available science (e.g., incorporating both 
received level and distance), they also still, accordingly, have some 
built-in conservative factors to address the challenge noted. For 
example, while duration of observed responses in the data are now 
considered in the thresholds, some of the responses that are informing 
take thresholds are of a very short duration, such that it is possible 
some of these responses might not always rise to the level of 
disrupting behavior patterns to a point where they are abandoned or 
significantly altered. We describe the application of this Level B 
harassment threshold as identifying the maximum number of instances in 
which marine mammals could be reasonably expected to experience a 
disruption in behavior patterns to a point where they are abandoned or 
significantly altered. In summary, we believe these behavioral Level B 
harassment thresholds are the most appropriate method for predicting 
behavioral Level B harassment given the best available science and the 
associated uncertainty.
    We described these acoustic thresholds, none of which have changed, 
in detail in the Acoustic Thresholds section and Tables 13 through 22 
of the 2018 AFTT final rule; please see the 2018 AFTT final rule for 
detailed information.

Navy's Acoustic Effects Model

    The Navy proposed no changes to the Acoustic Effects Model as 
described in the 2018 AFTT final rule and there is no new information 
that would affect the applicability or validity of the Model. Please 
see the 2018 AFTT final rule and Appendix E of the 2018 AFTT FEIS/OEIS 
for detailed information.

Range to Effects

    The Navy proposed no changes from the 2018 AFTT final rule to the 
type and nature of the specified activities to be conducted during the 
seven-year period analyzed in this final rule, including equipment and 
sources used and exercises conducted. There is also no new information 
that would affect the applicability or validity of the ranges to 
effects previously analyzed for these activities. Therefore, the ranges 
to effects in this final rule are identical to those described and 
analyzed in the 2018 AFTT final rule, including received sound levels 
that may cause onset of significant behavioral response and TTS and PTS 
in hearing for each source type or explosives that may cause non-
auditory injury. Please see the Range to Effects section and Tables 23 
through 38 of the 2018 AFTT final rule for detailed information.

Marine Mammal Density

    The Navy proposed no changes to the methods used to estimate marine 
mammal density described in the 2018 AFTT final rule and there is no 
new information that would affect the applicability or validity of 
these methods. Please see the 2018 AFTT final rule for detailed 
information.

Take Requests

    As in the 2018 AFTT final rule, in its 2019 application, the Navy 
determined that the three stressors below could result in the 
incidental taking of marine mammals. NMFS has reviewed the Navy's data 
and analysis and determined that it is complete and accurate, and NMFS 
agrees that the following stressors have the potential to result in 
takes of marine mammals from the Navy's planned activities:
     Acoustics (sonar and other transducers; air guns; pile 
driving/extraction);
     Explosives (explosive shock wave and sound, assumed to 
encompass the risk due to fragmentation); and
     Vessel strike.
    NMFS reviewed and agrees with the Navy's conclusion that acoustic 
and explosive sources have the potential to result in incidental takes 
of marine mammals by harassment, serious injury, or mortality. NMFS 
carefully reviewed the Navy's analysis and conducted its own analysis 
of vessel strikes, determining that the likelihood of any particular 
species of large whale being struck is quite low. Nonetheless, NMFS 
agrees that vessel strikes have the potential to result in incidental 
take from serious injury or mortality for certain species of large 
whales and the Navy specifically requested coverage for these species. 
Therefore, the likelihood of vessel strikes, and later the effects of 
the incidental take that is being authorized, has been fully analyzed 
and is described below.
    Regarding the quantification of expected takes from acoustic and 
explosive sources (by Level A and Level B harassment, as well as 
mortality resulting from exposure to explosives), the number of takes 
are based directly on the level of activities (days, hours, counts, 
etc., of different activities and events) in a given year. In the 2018 
AFTT final rule, take estimates across the five-years were based on the 
Navy conducting three years of a representative level of activity and 
two years of maximum level of activity. Consistent with the pattern set 
forth in the 2017 application, the 2018 AFTT FEIS/OEIS, and the 2018 
AFTT final rule, the Navy included one additional

[[Page 70744]]

representative year and one additional maximum year to determine the 
predicted take numbers in this rule. Specifically, as in the 2018 AFTT 
final rule, here the Navy uses the maximum annual level to calculate 
annual takes (which would remain identical to what was determined in 
the 2018 AFTT final rule), and the sum of all years (four 
representative and three maximum) to calculate the seven-year totals 
for this rule. The Navy will not conduct any additional ship shock 
activities, and therefore both the total number and annual number of 
ship shock takes estimated and authorized for the seven-year period is 
the same as the number requested in the five-year period under the 2018 
AFTT final rule.
    The quantitative analysis process used for the 2018 AFTT FEIS/OEIS 
and the 2017 and 2019 Navy applications to estimate potential exposures 
to marine mammals resulting from acoustic and explosive stressors is 
detailed in the technical report titled ``Quantifying Acoustic Impacts 
on Marine Mammals and Sea Turtles: Methods and Analytical Approach for 
Phase III Training and Testing'' (U.S. Department of the Navy, 2018). 
The Navy Acoustic Effects Model estimates acoustic and explosive 
effects without taking mitigation into account; therefore, the model 
overestimates predicted impacts on marine mammals within mitigation 
zones. To account for mitigation for marine species in the take 
estimates, the Navy conducts a quantitative assessment of mitigation. 
The Navy conservatively quantifies the manner in which procedural 
mitigation is expected to reduce model-estimated PTS to TTS for 
exposures to sonar and other transducers, and reduces model-estimated 
mortality to injury for exposures to explosives. For a complete 
explanation of the process for assessing the effects of mitigation, see 
the 2017 Navy application and the 2018 AFTT final rule. The extent to 
which the mitigation areas reduce impacts on the affected species and 
stocks is addressed separately in the Analysis and Negligible Impact 
Determination sections of this rule and the 2018 AFTT final rule.
    No changes have been made to the quantitative analysis process to 
estimate potential exposures to marine mammals resulting from acoustic 
and explosive stressors and calculate take estimates. In addition, 
there is no new information that would call into question the validity 
of the Navy's quantitative analysis process. Please see the documents 
described in the paragraph above, the 2018 AFTT proposed rule, and the 
2018 AFTT final rule for detailed descriptions of these analyses. In 
summary, we believe the Navy's methods, including the method for 
incorporating mitigation and avoidance, are the most appropriate 
methods for predicting PTS, TTS, and behavioral disruption. But even 
with the consideration of mitigation and avoidance, given some of the 
more conservative components of the methodology (e.g., the thresholds 
do not consider ear recovery between pulses), we would describe the 
application of these methods as identifying the maximum number of 
instances in which marine mammals would be reasonably expected to be 
taken through PTS, TTS, or behavioral disruption.
Summary of Authorized Take From Training and Testing Activities
    Based on the methods discussed in the previous sections and the 
Navy's model and quantitative assessment of mitigation, the Navy 
provided its take estimate and request for authorization of takes 
incidental to the use of acoustic and explosive sources for training 
and testing activities both annually (based on the maximum number of 
activities that could occur per 12-month period) and over the seven-
year period covered by the 2019 Navy application. Annual takes (based 
on the maximum number of activities that could occur per 12-month 
period) are identical to those presented in Tables 39 through 41 in the 
Take Requests section of the 2018 AFTT final rule. The 2019 Navy 
application also includes the Navy's take estimate and request for 
vessel strikes due to vessel movement in the AFTT Study Area and 
individual small and large ship shock trials over a seven-year period. 
The Navy will not conduct additional ship shock trials, so the 
estimated and requested takes from ship shock trials are the same as 
those authorized in the 2018 AFTT final rule. NMFS has reviewed the 
Navy's data, methodology, and analysis and determined that it is 
complete and accurate. NMFS agrees that the estimates for incidental 
takes by harassment from all sources as well as the incidental takes by 
serious injury or mortality from explosives requested for authorization 
are reasonably expected to occur. NMFS also agrees that the takes by 
serious injury or mortality as a result of vessel strikes could occur. 
The total amount of estimated incidental take from acoustic and 
explosive sources over the total seven-year period covered by the 2019 
Navy application is less than the annual total multiplied by seven, 
because although the annual estimates are based on the maximum number 
of activities per year and therefore the maximum possible estimated 
takes, the seven-year total take estimates are based on the sum of 
three maximum years and four representative years. Not all activities 
occur every year. Some activities would occur multiple times within a 
year, and some activities would occur only a few times over the course 
of the seven-year period. Using seven years of the maximum number of 
activities each year would vastly overestimate the amount of incidental 
take that would occur over the seven-year period where the Navy knows 
that it will not conduct the maximum number of activities each and 
every year for the seven years.
Authorized Harassment Take From Training Activities
    For training activities, Table 10 summarizes the Navy's take 
estimate and request and the maximum amount and type of Level A 
harassment and Level B harassment for the seven-year period covered by 
the 2019 Navy application that NMFS concurs is reasonably expected to 
occur by species or stock, and is therefore authorized. For the 
authorized amount and type of Level A harassment and Level B harassment 
annually, see Table 39 in the 2018 AFTT final rule. Note that take by 
Level B harassment includes both behavioral disruption and TTS. Navy 
Figures 6.4-10 through 6.5-39 in Section 6 of the 2017 Navy application 
illustrate the comparative amounts of TTS and behavioral disruption for 
each species annually, noting that if a modeled marine mammal was 
``taken'' through exposure to both TTS and behavioral disruption in the 
model, it was recorded as a TTS.

[[Page 70745]]



 Table 10--Seven-Year Total Species- and Stock-Specific Take Authorized From Acoustic and Explosive Sound Source
                                       Effects for All Training Activities
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                         7-Year total \1\
                    Species                                   Stock              -------------------------------
                                                                                      Level A         Level B
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                       Suborder Mysticeti (baleen whales)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Family Balaenidae (right whales):
    North Atlantic right whale *..............  Western North Atlantic..........           1,644               0
Family Balaenopteridae (roquals):
    Blue whale *..............................  Western North Atlantic..........             171               0
                                                (Gulf of St. Lawrence)..........
    Bryde's whale.............................  Northern Gulf of Mexico *.......               5               0
                                                No Stock Designation............           1,351               0
    Minke whale...............................  Canadian East Coast.............          15,824               0
    Fin whale *...............................  Western North Atlantic..........          10,225              19
    Humpback whale............................  Gulf of Maine...................           1,564               4
    Sei whale *...............................  Nova Scotia.....................           1,964               0
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                      Suborder Odontoceti (toothed whales)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Family Physeteridae (sperm whale):
    Sperm whale *.............................  Gulf of Mexico Oceanic..........             167               0
                                                North Atlantic..................          96,479               0
Family Kogiidae (sperm whales):
    Dwarf sperm whale.........................  Gulf of Mexico Oceanic..........             103               0
                                                Western North Atlantic..........          56,060              68
    Pygmy sperm whale.........................  Northern Gulf of Mexico.........             103               0
                                                Western North Atlantic..........          56,060              68
Family Ziphiidae (beaked whales):
    Blainville's beaked whale.................  Northern Gulf of Mexico.........             244               0
                                                Western North Atlantic..........          85,661               0
    Cuvier's beaked whale.....................  Northern Gulf of Mexico.........             242               0
                                                Western North Atlantic..........         317,180               0
    Gervais' beaked whale.....................  Northern Gulf of Mexico.........             244               0
                                                Western North Atlantic..........          85,661               0
    Northern bottlenose whale.................  Western North Atlantic..........           7,504               0
    Sowersby's beaked whale...................  Western North Atlantic..........          85,661               0
    True's beaked whale.......................  Western North Atlantic..........          85,661               0
Family Delphinidae (dolphins):
    Atlantic spotted dolphin..................  Northern Gulf of Mexico.........           6,584               0
                                                Western North Atlantic..........         804,058              64
    Atlantic white-sided dolphin..............  Western North Atlantic..........          99,615               3
    Bottlenose dolphin........................  Choctawhatchee Bay..............              46               0
                                                Gulf of Mexico Eastern Coastal..             166               0
                                                Gulf of Mexico Northern Coastal.           1,524               0
                                                Gulf of Mexico Western Coastal..          16,778               0
                                                Indian River Lagoon Estuarine              1,980               0
                                                 System.
                                                Jacksonville Estuarine System...             589               0
                                                Mississippi Sound, Lake Borgne,                0               0
                                                 Bay Boudreau.
                                                Northern Gulf of Mexico                   10,918              13
                                                 Continental Shelf.
                                                Northern Gulf of Mexico Oceanic.           1,356               0
                                                Northern North Carolina                   16,089               0
                                                 Estuarine System.
                                                Southern North Carolina                        0               0
                                                 Estuarine System.
                                                Western North Atlantic Northern            6,060               0
                                                 Florida Coastal.
                                                Western North Atlantic Central            35,861               0
                                                 Florida Coastal.
                                                Western North Atlantic Northern          175,237              30
                                                 Migratory Coastal.
                                                Western North Atlantic Offshore.       2,062,942             269
                                                Western North Atlantic South              28,814               0
                                                 Carolina/Georgia Coastal.
                                                Western North Atlantic Southern           81,155              14
                                                 Migratory Coastal.
    Clymene dolphin...........................  Northern Gulf of Mexico.........             694               0
                                                Western North Atlantic..........         463,220              19
    False killer whale........................  Northern Gulf of Mexico.........             291               0
                                                Western North Atlantic..........          54,818               0
    Fraser's dolphin..........................  Northern Gulf of Mexico.........             418               0
                                                ................................
Western North Atlantic........................  26,155..........................               0
    Killer whale..............................  Northern Gulf of Mexico.........               5               0
                                                Western North Atlantic..........             522               0
    Long-finned pilot whale...................  Western North Atlantic..........         116,412               0
    Melon-headed whale........................  Northern Gulf of Mexico.........             493               0
    Western North Atlantic....................  246,178.........................               4
    Pantropical spotted dolphin...............  Northern Gulf of Mexico.........           3,959               0

[[Page 70746]]

 
                                                Western North Atlantic..........         964,072              16
    Pygmy killer whale........................  Northern Gulf of Mexico.........             118               0
                                                Western North Atlantic..........          43,009               0
    Risso's dolphin...........................  Northern Gulf of Mexico.........             276               0
                                                Western North Atlantic..........         140,368               0
    Rough-toothed dolphin.....................  Northern Gulf of Mexico.........             606               0
                                                Western North Atlantic..........         129,594               0
    Short-beaked common dolphin...............  Western North Atlantic..........       1,467,625              87
    Short-finned pilot whale..................  Northern Gulf of Mexico.........             251               0
                                                Western North Atlantic..........         210,736               0
    Spinner dolphin...........................  Northern Gulf of Mexico.........           1,593               0
                                                Western North Atlantic..........         487,644               9
    Striped dolphin...........................  Northern Gulf of Mexico.........             471               0
                                                Western North Atlantic..........         631,680              22
    White-beaked dolphin......................  Western North Atlantic..........             269               0
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Family Phocoenidae (porpoises):
    Harbor porpoise...........................  Gulf of Maine/Bay of Fundy......         206,071           1,121
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                               Suborder Pinnipedia
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Family Phocidae (true seals):
    Gray seal.................................  Western North Atlantic..........          10,038               0
    Harbor seal...............................  Western North Atlantic..........          16,277               0
    Harp seal.................................  Western North Atlantic..........          59,063               6
    Hooded seal...............................  Western North Atlantic..........             882               0
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The estimated amount and type of Level A harassment and Level B harassment annually are identical to those
  presented in Table 39 in the 2018 AFTT final rule.
* ESA-listed species or stocks within the AFTT Study Area.
[dagger] NSD: No stock designated.

Authorized Harassment Take From Testing Activities
    For testing activities (excluding ship shock trials), Table 11 
summarizes the Navy's take estimate and request and the maximum amount 
and type of Level A harassment and Level B harassment for the seven-
year period covered by the 2019 Navy application that NMFS concurs is 
reasonably expected to occur by species or stock, and is therefore 
authorized. For the authorized amount and type of Level A harassment 
and Level B harassment annually, see Table 40 in the 2018 AFTT final 
rule. Note that take by Level B harassment includes both behavioral 
disruption and TTS. Navy Figures 6.4-10 through 6.5-39 in Section 6 of 
the 2017 Navy application illustrate the comparative amounts of TTS and 
behavioral disruption for each species annually, noting that if a 
modeled marine mammal was ``taken'' through exposure to both TTS and 
behavioral disruption in the model, it was recorded as a TTS.

 Table 11--Seven-Year Total Species and Stock-Specific Take Authorized From Acoustic and Explosive Sound Source
                                       Effects for All Testing Activities
                                          [Excluding Ship Shock Trials]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                         7-Year total \1\
                    Species                                   Stock              -------------------------------
                                                                                      Level B         Level A
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                       Suborder Mysticeti (baleen whales)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Family Balaenidae (right whales):
    North Atlantic right whale *..............  Western North Atlantic..........           1,528               0
Family Balaenopteridae (roquals):
    Blue whale *..............................  Western North Atlantic (Gulf of              127               0
                                                 St. Lawrence).
    Bryde's whale.............................  Northern Gulf of Mexico *.......             358               0
                                                No Stock Designation............             856               0
    Minke whale...............................  Canadian East Coast.............          11,155               9
    Fin whale *...............................  Western North Atlantic..........          24,808              22
    Humpback whale............................  Gulf of Maine...................           3,380               0
    Sei whale *...............................  Nova Scotia.....................           3,262               0
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                      Suborder Odontoceti (toothed whales)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Family Physeteridae (sperm whale):
    Sperm whale *.............................  Gulf of Mexico Oceanic..........           7,315               0

[[Page 70747]]

 
                                                North Atlantic..................          71,820               0
Family Kogiidae (sperm whales):
    Dwarf sperm whale.........................  Gulf of Mexico Oceanic..........           4,787              38
                                                Western North Atlantic..........          29,368              91
    Pygmy sperm whale.........................  Northern Gulf of Mexico.........           4,787              38
                                                Western North Atlantic..........          29,368              91
Family Ziphiidae (beaked whales):
    Blainville's beaked whale.................  Northern Gulf of Mexico.........           9,368               0
                                                Western North Atlantic..........          68,738               0
    Cuvier's beaked whale.....................  Northern Gulf of Mexico.........           9,757               0
                                                Western North Atlantic..........         252,367               0
    Gervais' beaked whale.....................  Northern Gulf of Mexico.........           9,368               0
                                                Western North Atlantic..........          68,738               0
    Northern bottlenose whale.................  Western North Atlantic..........           6,231               0
    Sowersby's beaked whale...................  Western North Atlantic..........          68,903               0
    True's beaked whale.......................  Western North Atlantic..........          68,903               0
Family Delphinidae (dolphins):
    Atlantic spotted dolphin..................  Northern Gulf of Mexico.........         473,262              18
                                                Western North Atlantic..........         708,931              72
    Atlantic white-sided dolphin..............  Western North Atlantic..........         210,578               8
    Bottlenose dolphin........................  Choctawhatchee Bay..............           6,297               0
                                                Gulf of Mexico Eastern Coastal..               0               0
                                                Gulf of Mexico Northern Coastal.         108,154               7
                                                Gulf of Mexico Western Coastal..          25,200               0
                                                Indian River Lagoon Estuarine                 21               0
                                                 System.
                                                Jacksonville Estuarine System...              20               0
                                                Mississippi Sound, Lake Borgne,                5               0
                                                 Bay Boudreau.
                                                Northern Gulf of Mexico                  841,076              56
                                                 Continental Shelf.
                                                Northern Gulf of Mexico Oceanic.          95,044               8
                                                Northern North Carolina                      746               0
                                                 Estuarine System.
                                                Southern North Carolina                        0               0
                                                 Estuarine System.
                                                Western North Atlantic Northern            2,263               0
                                                 Florida Coastal.
                                                Western North Atlantic Central            15,409               0
                                                 Florida Coastal.
                                                Western North Atlantic Northern           79,042              20
                                                 Migratory Coastal.
                                                Western North Atlantic Offshore.         794,581             161
                                                Western North Atlantic South              11,232               0
                                                 Carolina/Georgia Coastal.
                                                Western North Atlantic Southern           29,176               0
                                                 Migratory Coastal.
    Clymene dolphin...........................  Northern Gulf of Mexico.........          27,841               0
                                                Western North Atlantic..........         234,001              12
    False killer whale........................  Northern Gulf of Mexico.........          12,788               0
                                                Western North Atlantic..........          24,580               0
    Fraser's dolphin..........................  Northern Gulf of Mexico.........           7,452               0
                                                Western North Atlantic..........           8,270               0
    Killer whale..............................  Northern Gulf of Mexico.........             212               0
                                                Western North Atlantic..........             264               0
    Long-finned pilot whale...................  Western North Atlantic..........         131,095              11
    Melon-headed whale........................  Northern Gulf of Mexico.........          20,324               0
                                                Western North Atlantic..........         109,192               6
    Pantropical spotted dolphin...............  Northern Gulf of Mexico.........         169,678               6
                                                Western North Atlantic..........         495,207              26
    Pygmy killer whale........................  Northern Gulf of Mexico.........           4,771               0
                                                Western North Atlantic..........          18,609               0
    Risso's dolphin...........................  Northern Gulf of Mexico.........          10,929               0
                                                Western North Atlantic..........         132,141               9
    Rough-toothed dolphin.....................  Northern Gulf of Mexico.........          26,033               0
                                                Western North Atlantic..........          58,008               0
    Short-beaked common dolphin...............  Western North Atlantic..........       2,351,361             101
    Short-finned pilot whale..................  Northern Gulf of Mexico.........          12,041               0
                                                Western North Atlantic..........         111,326              10
    Spinner dolphin...........................  Northern Gulf of Mexico.........          51,039               0
                                                Western North Atlantic..........         218,786              10
    Striped dolphin...........................  Northern Gulf of Mexico.........          16,344               0
                                                Western North Atlantic..........         652,197              32
    White-beaked dolphin......................  Western North Atlantic..........             300               0
Family Phocoenidae (porpoises):
    Harbor porpoise...........................  Gulf of Maine/Bay of Fundy......         811,201           1,405
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

[[Page 70748]]

 
                                               Suborder Pinnipedia
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Family Phocidae (true seals):
    Gray seal.................................  Western North Atlantic..........           6,130              14
    Harbor seal...............................  Western North Atlantic..........           9,941              23
    Harp seal.................................  Western North Atlantic..........          53,646              17
    Hooded seal...............................  Western North Atlantic..........           5,335               0
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The estimated amount and type of Level A harassment and Level B harassment annually are identical to those
  presented in Table 40 in the 2018 AFTT final rule.
* ESA-listed species or stocks within the AFTT Study Area.
[dagger] NSD: No stock designated.

Authorized Take From Ship Shock
    For ship shock trials, Table 12 summarizes the Navy's take estimate 
and request and the maximum amount and type of Level A and Level B 
harassment and serious injury/mortality for the seven-year period 
covered by the Navy application that NMFS concurs is reasonably 
expected to occur by species or stock per small and large ship shock 
events, and is therefore authorized. For the authorized amount and type 
of Level A harassment, Level B harassment, and serious injury/mortality 
annually, see Table 41 in the 2018 AFTT final rule. The Navy will not 
conduct additional ship shock trials over the additional two years 
covered by the 2019 Navy application, so the amount and type of 
authorized takes are the same as those authorized in the 2018 AFTT 
final rule.

                         Table 12--Seven-Year Total Species and Stock-Specific Take Estimates Authorized From Ship Shock Trials
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                Small ship shock                       Large ship shock                         7-Year total
                                    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
           Species/stock               Level B      Level A                   Level B      Level A                   Level B      Level A
                                      harassment   harassment   Mortality    harassment   harassment   Mortality    harassment   harassment   Mortality
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                           Suborder Mysticeti (baleen whales)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Family Balaenidae (right whales):
    North Atlantic right whale *...            1            0            0            2            0            0            5            0            0
        Western North Atlantic.....            1            0            0            2            0            0            5            0            0
Family Balaenopteridae (roquals):
    Blue whale *...................            0            0            0            1            0            0            1            0            0
        Western North Atlantic                 0            0            0            1            0            0            1            0            0
         (Gulf of St. Lawrence)....
    Bryde's whale..................            3            0            0            6            1            0           15            1            0
        Northern Gulf of Mexico *..            0            0            0            3            1            0            3            1            0
        NSD [dagger]...............            3            0            0            6            0            0           15            0            0
    Minke whale....................           19            1            0           39            3            0           96            6            0
        Canadian East Coast........           19            1            0           39            3            0           96            6            0
    Fin whale *....................          131            3            0          234           27            0          627           36            0
        Western North Atlantic.....          131            3            0          234           27            0          627           36            0
    Humpback whale.................            8            0            0           20            2            0           44            2            0
        Gulf of Maine..............            8            0            0           20            2            0           44            2            0
    Sei whale *....................           12            1            0           27            4            0           63            7            0
        Nova Scotia................           12            1            0           27            4            0           63            7            0
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                          Suborder Odontoceti (toothed whales)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Family Physeteridae (sperm whale):
    Sperm whale *..................            1            1            0            3            4            0            6            7            0
        Gulf of Mexico Oceanic.....            0            0            0            2            0            0            2            0            0
        North Atlantic.............            1            1            0            3            4            0            6            7            0
Family Kogiidae (sperm whales):
    Dwarf sperm whale..............           46           28            0           91           70            0          229          154            0
        Gulf of Mexico Oceanic.....            0            0            0           51           64            0           51           64            0
        Western North Atlantic.....           46           28            0           91           70            0          229          154            0
    Pygmy sperm whale..............           46           28            0           91           70            0          229          154            0
        Northern Gulf of Mexico....            0            0            0           51           64            0           51           64            0
        Western North Atlantic.....           46           28            0           91           70            0          229          154            0

[[Page 70749]]

 
Family Ziphiidae (beaked whales):
    Blainville's beaked whale......            1            0            0            1            1            0            4            1            0
        Northern Gulf of Mexico....            0            0            0            1            0            0            1            0            0
        Western North Atlantic.....            1            0            0            1            1            0            4            1            0
    Cuvier's beaked whale..........            2            1            0            2            3            0            8            6            0
        Northern Gulf of Mexico....            0            0            0            1            0            0            1            0            0
        Western North Atlantic.....            2            1            0            2            3            0            8            6            0
    Gervais' beaked whale..........            1            0            0            1            1            0            4            1            0
        Northern Gulf of Mexico....            0            0            0            1            0            0            1            0            0
        Western North Atlantic.....            1            0            0            1            1            0            4            1            0
    Northern bottlenose whale......            0            0            0            0            0            0            0            0            0
        Western North Atlantic.....            0            0            0            0            0            0            0            0            0
    Sowerby's beaked whale.........            1            0            0            1            1            0            4            1            0
        Western North Atlantic.....            1            0            0            1            1            0            4            1            0
    True's beaked whale............            1            0            0            1            1            0            4            1            0
        Western North Atlantic.....            1            0            0            1            1            0            4            1            0
Family Delphinidae (dolphins):
    Atlantic spotted dolphin.......            6            4            0            8           12            0           26           24            0
        Northern Gulf of Mexico....            0            0            0            2            1            0            2            1            0
        Western North Atlantic.....            6            4            0            8           12            0           26           24            0
    Atlantic white-sided dolphin...            1            1            0            3            9            1            6           12            1
        Western North Atlantic.....            1            1            0            3            9            1            6           12            1
    Bottlenose dolphin.............           13           10            0           16           24            0           55           54            0
        Choctawhatchee Bay.........            0            0            0            0            0            0            0            0            0
        Gulf of Mexico Eastern                 0            0            0            0            0            0            0            0            0
         Coastal...................
        Gulf of Mexico Northern                0            0            0            1            1            0            1            1            0
         Coastal...................
        Gulf of Mexico Western                 0            0            0            0            0            0            0            0            0
         Coastal...................
        Indian River Lagoon                    0            0            0            0            0            0            0            0            0
         Estuarine System..........
        Jacksonville Estuarine                 0            0            0            0            0            0            0            0            0
         System....................
        Mississippi Sound, Lake                0            0            0            0            0            0            0            0            0
         Borgne, Bay Boudreau......
        Northern Gulf of Mexico                0            0            0           10            6            0           10            6            0
         Continental Shelf.........
        Northern Gulf of Mexico                0            0            0           10            9            0           10            9            0
         Oceanic...................
        Northern North Carolina                0            0            0            0            0            0            0            0            0
         Estuarine System..........
        Southern North Carolina                0            0            0            0            0            0            0            0            0
         Estuarine System..........
        Western North Atlantic                 0            0            0            0            0            0            0            0            0
         Northern Florida Coastal..
        Western North Atlantic                 0            0            0            0            0            0            0            0            0
         Central Florida Coastal...
        Western North Atlantic                 0            0            0            0            0            0            0            0            0
         Northern Migratory Coastal
        Western North Atlantic                13           10            0           16           24            0           55           54            0
         Offshore..................
        Western North Atlantic                 0            0            0            0            0            0            0            0            0
         South Carolina/Georgia
         Coastal...................
        Western North Atlantic                 0            0            0            0            0            0            0            0            0
         Southern Migratory Coastal
    Clymene dolphin................            2            5            0            9            8            0           15           23            0
        Northern Gulf of Mexico....            0            0            0            8            6            0            8            6            0
        Western North Atlantic.....            2            5            0            9            8            0           15           23            0
    False killer whale.............            0            0            0            2            1            0            2            1            0
        Northern Gulf of Mexico....            0            0            0            2            1            0            2            1            0
        Western North Atlantic.....            0            0            0            2            0            0            2            0            0

[[Page 70750]]

 
    Fraser's dolphin...............            0            0            0            2            3            0            2            3            0
        Northern Gulf of Mexico....            0            0            0            2            3            0            2            3            0
        Western North Atlantic.....            0            0            0            0            0            0            0            0            0
    Killer whale...................            0            0            0            0            0            0            0            0            0
        Northern Gulf of Mexico....            0            0            0            0            0            0            0            0            0
        Western North Atlantic.....            0            0            0            0            0            0            0            0            0
    Long-finned pilot whale........            2            2            0            5            6            0           11           12            0
        Western North Atlantic.....            2            2            0            5            6            0           11           12            0
    Melon-headed whale.............            1            1            0            5            4            0            8            7            0
        Northern Gulf of Mexico....            0            0            0            4            4            0            4            4            0
        Western North Atlantic.....            1            1            0            5            1            0            8            4            0
    Pantropical spotted dolphin....            2            3            0           25           20            1           31           29            1
        Northern Gulf of Mexico....            0            0            0           25           20            1           25           20            1
        Western North Atlantic.....            2            3            0            7            3            0           13           12            0
    Pygmy killer whale.............            0            0            0            1            1            0            1            1            0
        Northern Gulf of Mexico....            0            0            0            1            1            0            1            1            0
        Western North Atlantic.....            0            0            0            1            0            0            1            0            0
    Risso's dolphin................            1            1            0            3            1            0            6            4            0
        Northern Gulf of Mexico....            0            0            0            2            1            0            2            1            0
        Western North Atlantic.....            1            1            0            3            1            0            6            4            0
    Rough-toothed dolphin..........            1            0            0            3            2            0            6            2            0
        Northern Gulf of Mexico....            0            0            0            2            2            0            2            2            0
        Western North Atlantic.....            0            0            0            0            0            0            0            0            0
    Short-beaked common dolphin....           40           51            1           67          107            3          187          260            6
        Western North Atlantic.....           40           51            1           67          107            3          187          260            6
    Short-finned pilot whale.......            2            2            0            4            5            0           10           11            0
        Northern Gulf of Mexico....            0            0            0            2            3            0            2            3            0
        Western North Atlantic.....            2            2            0            4            5            0           10           11            0
    Spinner dolphin................            3            1            0           37           45            1           46           48            1
        Northern Gulf of Mexico....            0            0            0           37           45            1           37           45            1
        Western North Atlantic.....            3            1            0            7            3            0           16            6            0
    Striped dolphin................            4            8            0           10           12            0           22           36            0
        Northern Gulf of Mexico....            0            0            0            4            3            0            4            3            0
        Western North Atlantic.....            4            8            0           10           12            0           22           36            0
    White-beaked dolphin...........            0            0            0            0            0            0            0            0            0
        Western North Atlantic.....            0            0            0            0            0            0            0            0            0
Family Phocoenidae (porpoises):
    Harbor porpoisE................           43           41            0          120           81            0          249          204            0
        Gulf of Maine/Bay of Fundy.           43           41            0          120           81            0          249          204            0
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                   Suborder Pinnipedia
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Family Phocidae (true seals):
    Gray seal......................            0            0            0            0            0            0            0            0            0
        Western North Atlantic.....            0            0            0            0            0            0            0            0            0
    Harbor seal....................            0            0            0            0            0            0            0            0            0
        Western North Atlantic.....            0            0            0            0            0            0            0            0            0
    Harp seal......................            0            0            0            0            0            0            0            0            0
        Western North Atlantic.....            0            0            0            0            0            0            0            0            0
    Hooded seal....................            0            0            0            0            0            0            0            0            0
        Western North Atlantic.....            0            0            0            0            0            0            0            0            0
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Note: The table displays maximum ship shock impacts to marine mammals by species (in bold text), as well as maximum impacts on individual stocks.
* ESA-listed species or stocks within the AFTT Study Area.
[dagger] NSD: No stock designated.

Authorized Take From Vessel Strikes
    Vessel strikes from commercial, recreational, and military vessels 
are known to affect large whales and have resulted in serious injury 
and occasional fatalities to cetaceans (Berman-Kowalewski et al., 2010; 
Calambokidis, 2012; Douglas et al., 2008; Laggner 2009; Lammers et al., 
2003). Records of collisions date back to the early 17th century, and 
the worldwide number of collisions appears to have increased steadily 
during recent decades (Laist et al., 2001; Ritter, 2012).
    Numerous studies of interactions between surface vessels and marine

[[Page 70751]]

mammals have demonstrated that free-ranging marine mammals often, but 
not always (e.g., McKenna et al., 2015), engage in avoidance behavior 
when surface vessels move toward them. It is not clear whether these 
responses are caused by the physical presence of a surface vessel, the 
underwater noise generated by the vessel, or an interaction between the 
two (Amaral and Carlson, 2005; Au and Green, 2000; Bain et al., 2006; 
Bauer 1986; Bejder et al., 1999; Bejder and Lusseau, 2008; Bejder et 
al., 2009; Bryant et al., 1984; Corkeron, 1995; Erbe, 2002; 
F[eacute]lix, 2001; Goodwin and Cotton, 2004; Lemon et al., 2006; 
Lusseau, 2003; Lusseau, 2006; Magalhaes et al., 2002; Nowacek et al., 
2001; Richter et al., 2003; Scheidat et al., 2004; Simmonds, 2005; 
Watkins, 1986; Williams et al., 2002; Wursig et al., 1998). Several 
authors suggest that the noise generated during motion is probably an 
important factor (Blane and Jaakson, 1994; Evans et al., 1992; Evans et 
al., 1994). Water disturbance may also be a factor. These studies 
suggest that the behavioral responses of marine mammals to surface 
vessels are similar to their behavioral responses to predators. 
Avoidance behavior is expected to be even stronger in the subset of 
instances that the Navy is conducting training or testing activities 
using active sonar or explosives.
    The marine mammals most vulnerable to vessel strikes are those that 
spend extended periods of time at the surface in order to restore 
oxygen levels within their tissues after deep dives (e.g., the sperm 
whale). In addition, some baleen whales, such as the NARW seem 
generally unresponsive to vessel sound, making them more susceptible to 
vessel collisions (Nowacek et al., 2004). These species are primarily 
large, slower moving whales.
    Some researchers have suggested the relative risk of a vessel 
strike can be assessed as a function of animal density and the 
magnitude of vessel traffic (e.g., Fonnesbeck et al., 2008; Vanderlaan 
et al., 2008). Differences among vessel types also influence the 
probability of a vessel strike. The ability of any ship to detect a 
marine mammal and avoid a collision depends on a variety of factors, 
including environmental conditions, ship design, size, speed, and 
personnel, as well as the behavior of the animal. Vessel speed, size, 
and mass are all important factors in determining if injury or death of 
a marine mammal is likely due to a vessel strike. For large vessels, 
speed and angle of approach can influence the severity of a strike. For 
example, Vanderlaan and Taggart (2007) found that between vessel speeds 
of 8.6 and 15 knots, the probability that a vessel strike is lethal 
increases from 0.21 to 0.79. Large whales also do not have to be at the 
water's surface to be struck. Silber et al. (2010) found when a whale 
is below the surface (about one to two times the vessel draft), there 
is likely to be a pronounced propeller suction effect. This suction 
effect may draw the whale into the hull of the ship, increasing the 
probability of propeller strikes.
    There are some key differences between the operation of military 
and non-military vessels, which make the likelihood of a military 
vessel striking a whale lower than some other vessels (e.g., commercial 
merchant vessels). Key differences include:
     Many military ships have their bridges positioned closer 
to the bow, offering better visibility ahead of the ship (compared to a 
commercial merchant vessel).
     There are often aircraft associated with the training or 
testing activity (which can serve as Lookouts), which can more readily 
detect cetaceans in the vicinity of a vessel or ahead of a vessel's 
present course before crew on the vessel would be able to detect them.
     Military ships are generally more maneuverable than 
commercial merchant vessels, and if cetaceans are spotted in the path 
of the ship, could be capable of changing course more quickly.
     The crew size on military vessels is generally larger than 
merchant ships, allowing for stationing more trained Lookouts on the 
bridge. At all times when vessels are underway, trained Lookouts and 
bridge navigation teams are used to detect objects on the surface of 
the water ahead of the ship, including cetaceans. Additional Lookouts, 
beyond those already stationed on the bridge and on navigation teams, 
are positioned as Lookouts during some activities.
     When submerged, submarines are generally slow moving (to 
avoid detection) and therefore marine mammals at depth with a submarine 
are likely able to avoid collision with the submarine. When a submarine 
is transiting on the surface, there are Lookouts serving the same 
function as they do on surface ships.
    Vessel strike to marine mammals is not associated with any specific 
training or testing activity but is rather an extremely limited and 
sporadic, but possible, accidental result of Navy vessel movement 
within the AFTT Study Area or while in transit.
    There have been three recorded Navy vessel strikes (one in 2011 and 
two in 2012) of large whales in the AFTT Study Area from 2009 through 
2018 (ten years), the period in which the Navy began implementing 
effective mitigation measures to reduce the likelihood of vessel 
strikes. Two of the vessel strikes occurred in the Virginia Capes Range 
Complex and one occurred in the lower Chesapeake Bay. One of the whales 
in 2012 had features suggesting it was most likely a humpback whale. 
Note that while the Navy was unable to identify the species of whale, 
it is unlikely the unidentified whales were NARW as the strikes 
occurred in areas where, or times of year when, NARW are not known to 
be present. In order to account for the accidental nature of vessel 
strikes to large whales in general, and the potential risk from any 
vessel movement within the AFTT Study Area within the seven-year 
period, the Navy requested incidental takes based on probabilities 
derived from a Poisson distribution using ship strike data between 2009 
and 2018 in the AFTT Study Area (the time period from when current 
mitigation measures were instituted until the Navy conducted the 
analysis for the 2019 Navy application, with no new ship strikes 
occurring since this analysis), as well as historical at-sea days in 
the AFTT Study Area from 2009-2018 and estimated potential at-sea days 
for the period from 2018 to 2025 covered by the requested regulations. 
This distribution predicted the probabilities of a specific number of 
strikes (n = 0, 1, 2, etc.) over the period from 2018 to 2025. The 
analysis is described in detail in Chapter 6 of the Navy's 2017 and 
2019 applications.
    For the same reasons listed above describing why a Navy vessel 
strike is comparatively unlikely, it is highly unlikely that a Navy 
vessel would strike a whale, dolphin, porpoise, or pinniped without 
detecting it and, accordingly, NMFS is confident that the Navy's 
reported strikes are accurate and appropriate for use in the analysis. 
Specifically, Navy ships have multiple Lookouts, including on the 
forward part of the ship that can visually detect a hit animal, in the 
unlikely event ship personnel do not feel the strike. Unlike the 
situation for non-Navy ships engaged in commercial activities, NMFS and 
the Navy have no evidence that the Navy has struck a whale and not 
detected it. Navy's strict internal procedures and mitigation 
requirements include reporting of any vessel strikes of marine mammals, 
and the Navy's discipline, extensive training (not only for detecting 
marine mammals, but for detecting and reporting any potential 
navigational obstruction), and strict chain of command give NMFS a high 
level of confidence that all strikes actually get reported.

[[Page 70752]]

    The Navy used the three whale strikes since 2009 in their 
calculations to determine the number of strikes likely to result from 
their activities (although worldwide strike information, from all Navy 
activities and other strikes, was used to inform the species that may 
be struck). The Navy evaluated data beginning in 2009, as that was the 
start of the Navy's Marine Species Awareness Training and adoption of 
additional mitigation measures to address ship strike, which will 
remain in place along with additional mitigation measures during the 
seven years of this rule.
    The updated probability analysis in the 2019 Navy application 
concluded that there was a 12 percent chance that zero whales would be 
struck by Navy vessels over the next seven years in the AFTT Study 
Area, indicating an 88 percent chance that at least one whale would be 
struck over the next seven years. The analysis also concludes that 
there is a 10 percent chance of striking four whales over the seven-
year period. Based on the revised analysis, the Navy requested coverage 
for one additional large whale mortality not previously included in the 
2018 AFTT final rule bringing the total from three vessel strikes over 
five years to four vessel strikes over seven years. NMFS agrees that 
there is some probability that the Navy could strike, and take by 
serious injury or mortality, up to four large whales incidental to 
training and testing activities within the AFTT Study Area over the 
course of the seven years covered by this final rule.
    Small whales, delphinids, porpoises, and pinnipeds are not expected 
to be struck by Navy vessels. In addition to the reasons listed above 
that make it unlikely that the Navy will hit a large whale (more 
maneuverable ships, larger crew, etc.), the following are additional 
reasons that vessel strike of dolphins, small whales, porpoises, and 
pinnipeds is very unlikely. Dating back more than 20 years and for as 
long as it has kept records, the Navy has no records of individuals of 
these groups being struck by a vessel as a result of Navy activities 
and, further, their smaller size and maneuverability make a strike 
unlikely. Also, NMFS has never received any reports from other 
authorized activities indicating that these species have been struck by 
vessels. Worldwide ship strike records show little evidence of strikes 
of these groups from the shipping sector and larger vessels, and the 
majority of the Navy's activities involving faster-moving vessels (that 
could be considered more likely to hit a marine mammal) are located in 
offshore areas where smaller delphinid, porpoise, and pinniped 
densities are lower. Based on this information, NMFS concurs with the 
Navy's assessment and recognizes the potential for incidental take by 
vessel strike of large whales only (i.e., no dolphins, small whales, 
porpoises, or pinnipeds) over the course of the seven-year period 
analyzed here from training and testing activities.
    Taking into account the available information regarding how many of 
any given stock could be struck and therefore should be authorized for 
take NMFS considered two factors in addition to those considered in the 
Navy's request: (1) The relative likelihood of hitting one stock versus 
another based on available strike data from all vessel types as denoted 
in the SARs and (2) whether the Navy has ever definitively struck an 
individual from a particular stock and, if so, how many times. To 
address number (1) above, NMFS compiled information from NMFS' SARs on 
detected annual rates of large whale serious injury and mortality from 
vessel collisions (Table 13). The annual rates of large whale serious 
injury and mortality from vessel collisions from the SARs help inform 
the relative susceptibility of large whale species to vessel strike in 
the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. We summed the annual rates 
of mortality and serious injury from vessel collisions as reported in 
the SARs, then divided each species' annual rate by this sum to get the 
relative likelihood. To estimate the percent likelihood of striking a 
particular species of large whale, we multiplied the relative 
likelihood of striking each species by the total probability of 
striking a whale (i.e., 88 percent, as described by the Navy's 
probability analysis). We also calculated the percent likelihood of 
striking a particular species of large whale twice by squaring the 
value estimated for the probability of striking a particular species of 
whale once (i.e., to calculate the probability of an event occurring 
twice, multiply the probability of the first event by the second). We 
note that these probabilities vary from year to year as the average 
annual mortality for a given five-year window, as analyzed in the SARS, 
changes (and we include the annual averages from 2017 and 2018 draft 
SARs in Table 13 to illustrate); however, over the years and through 
changing SARs, stocks tend to consistently maintain a relatively higher 
or relatively lower likelihood of being struck. The analysis indicates 
that there is a very low percent chance of striking any particular 
species or stock more than once except for humpback whales, as shown in 
Table 13. The probabilities calculated as described above are then 
considered in combination with the information indicating the species 
that the Navy has definitively hit in the AFTT Study Area since 1995 
(since they started tracking consistently). Accordingly, stocks that 
have no record of ever having been struck by any vessel are considered 
unlikely to be struck by the Navy in the seven-year period of the rule. 
Stocks that have never been struck by the Navy, have rarely been struck 
by other vessels, and have a low percentage likelihood based on the SAR 
calculation and a low relative abundance are also considered unlikely 
to be struck by the Navy during the seven-year rule.

 Table 13--Annual Rates of Mortality and Serious Injury (M/SI) From Vessel Collisions Compiled From NMFS 2018 Final Stock Assessment Reports (SARs) and
                      Estimated Percent Chance of Striking Each Large Whale Species in the AFTT Study Area Over a Seven-Year Period
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                          Annual rate of  Annual rate of
                                                             M/SI from       M/SI from                                        Annual           Take
                   Species (stock) \1\                        vessel          vessel      Percent chance  Percent chance    authorized      authorized
                                                             collision       collision     of ONE strike  of TWO strikes       take        over 7 years
                                                            (2017 SARs)     (2018 SARs)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Fin whale (Western North Atlantic)......................             1.6             1.4           19.83            3.93            0.14               1
Sei whale (Nova Scotia).................................             0.8             0.8           11.33            1.28            0.14               1
Minke whale (Canadian East Coast).......................             1.4               1           14.16            2.01            0.14               1
Humpback whale (Gulf of Maine)..........................             1.8             2.6           36.82           13.55            0.29               2
Sperm whale (North Atlantic)............................             0.2             0.2            2.83            0.08            0.14           \2\ 1
Bryde's whale (Northern Gulf of Mexico).................             0.2             0.2            2.83            0.08               0           \3\ 0
Sperm whale (Gulf of Mexico)............................               0               0               0               0               0               0

[[Page 70753]]

 
Blue whale (Western North Atlantic).....................               0               0               0               0               0               0
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ North Atlantic right whales are not included in this analysis as NARWs are not anticipated to be struck due to the additional extensive mitigation
  the Navy implements to minimize the risk of striking this particular species. In addition, the Navy has not struck this species since prior to 2009
  when the Navy's current vessel movement mitigation, reporting, and monitoring requirements have been in place.
\2\ The analysis indicates only a very small likelihood (less than 3 percent) that a North Atlantic sperm whale would be struck over the seven years,
  however, the Navy has struck a sperm whale previously in the Atlantic, which may indicate a higher possibility that it could occur and suggests that
  authorizing one mortality over the seven years would be appropriate.
\3\ Due to their low population abundance within the Study Area and lack of previous vessel strikes by the Navy, along with the Navy's enhanced
  mitigation measures in the Bryde's Whale Mitigation Area, Bryde's whales are not anticipated to be struck, and therefore have zero mortality/serious
  injury takes. The annual rate of mortality (0.2) is estimated from 1 Bryde's whale in 2009 (no more recent strikes have been documented).

    For the reasons discussed in detail in the 2018 AFTT final rule and 
discussed further below, due to enhanced mitigation measures, NARWs are 
not anticipated to be struck by Navy vessels and are anticipated to 
have zero mortality/serious injury takes over the seven years of the 
rule. In addition, based on the quantitative method described above, 
blue whales and Gulf of Mexico sperm whales have a zero percent chance 
of being struck. After considering this result, along with additional 
factors discussed below, the Navy found that any vessel strike of these 
two stocks is highly unlikely. After fully considering all relevant 
information, NMFS agreed with this conclusion. Finally, the 
quantitative analysis outlined above indicates only a very small 
likelihood the Navy would strike a Bryde's whale (3 percent). Due to 
their low population abundance and lack of previous vessel strikes by 
the Navy, Bryde's whales are also unlikely to be struck and we have not 
authorized any mortality/serious injury takes. Alternately, the 
quantitative analysis discussed above also indicates only a very small 
likelihood that the Navy would strike a North Atlantic sperm whale over 
the seven years covered by the 2019 Navy application (less than 3 
percent), however, the Navy has struck a sperm whale previously in the 
Atlantic (2005), which points to a higher possibility that it could 
occur and suggests that authorizing a single mortality/serious injury 
would be appropriate. Additional discussion relevant to our 
determinations for North Atlantic blue whales, Gulf of Mexico sperm 
whale, NARW, and Bryde's whale is included below.
    In addition to the zero probability predicted by the quantitative 
model, there are no recent confirmed records of vessel collision to 
blue whales in the U.S. Atlantic waters, although there is one older 
historical record pointing to a ship strike that likely occurred beyond 
the U.S. Atlantic Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ; outside of where most 
Navy activities occur, so less relevant) and one 1998 record of a dead 
20 m (66 ft) male blue whale brought into Rhode Island waters on the 
bow of a tanker. The cause of death was determined to be ship strike; 
however, some of the injuries were difficult to explain from the 
necropsy. As noted previously, the Navy has been conducting Marine 
Species Awareness Training and implementing additional mitigation 
measures to protect against vessel strikes since 2009. Therefore, given 
the absence of any strikes in the recent past since the Navy has 
implemented its current mitigation measures, the very low abundance of 
North Atlantic blue whales throughout the AFTT Study Area (Nmin = 440 
for the Western North Atlantic stock, Waring et al., 2010), and the 
very low number of blue whales ever known to be struck in the area by 
any type of vessel (and none known to be struck by Navy vessels), we 
believe the likelihood of the Navy hitting a blue whale is 
discountable.
    In addition to the zero probability of hitting a sperm whale in the 
Gulf of Mexico predicted by the quantitative model, there have been no 
vessel strikes of sperm whales by any entity since 2009 in the Gulf of 
Mexico per the SAR (2009-2013) and no Navy strikes of any large whales 
since 1995 (based on our records, which include Navy's records) in the 
Gulf of Mexico. Further, the Navy has comparatively fewer steaming days 
in the Gulf of Mexico and there is a fairly low abundance of sperm 
whales occurring there. As noted previously, the Navy has been 
conducting Marine Species Awareness Training and implementing 
additional mitigation measures to protect against vessel strikes since 
2009. Therefore, NMFS believes that the likelihood of the Navy hitting 
a Gulf of Mexico sperm whale is discountable.
    Although the quantitative analysis would indicate that NARWs do 
have a low probability of being struck one time within the seven-year 
period when vessel strikes across all activity types (including non-
Navy) are considered (annual mortality and serious injury, hereafter 
abbreviated as M/SI, from vessel strikes is calculated as 0.41 in the 
2018 SAR), when the enhanced mitigation measures (discussed below) that 
the Navy has been implementing and will continue to implement for NARWs 
are considered in combination with this low probability, a vessel 
strike is highly unlikely. Therefore, lethal take of NARWs was not 
requested by the Navy and is not authorized by NMFS. We further note 
that while there have been two strikes of unidentified whales by the 
Navy since 2009, it is unlikely they were NARW as the strikes occurred 
in areas where, or times of year when, NARW are not known to be 
present.
    Regarding the Bryde's whale, due to the fact that the Navy has not 
struck a Bryde's whale (as no Navy strikes have occurred in the Gulf of 
Mexico), the very low abundance numbers (Nbest = 33 individuals, Hayes 
et al., 2019), and the limited Navy ship traffic that overlaps with 
Bryde's whale habitat, neither the Navy nor NMFS anticipate any vessel-
strike takes, and none were requested or authorized. The Navy is now 
also limiting activities (i.e., 200 hr cap on hull-mounted MFAS) and 
will not use explosives (except during mine warfare activities) in the 
Bryde's Whale Mitigation Area. For a complete discussion and analysis 
of these mitigation areas, see the Mitigation Measures section in the 
2018 AFTT

[[Page 70754]]

final rule along with a summary in the Mitigation Measures section of 
this final rule; see also Chapter 5 (Mitigation) of the 2018 AFTT FEIS/
OEIS.
    In addition to procedural mitigation, the Navy will continue to 
implement measures in mitigation areas used by NARW for foraging, 
calving, and migration. For a complete discussion and analysis of these 
mitigation areas, see the Mitigation Measures section in the 2018 AFTT 
final rule along with a summary in the Mitigation Measures section of 
this final rule; see also Chapter 5 (Mitigation) of the 2018 AFTT FEIS/
OEIS. These measures, which go above and beyond those focused on other 
species (e.g., funding of and communication with sightings systems, 
implementation of speed reductions during applicable circumstances in 
certain areas) have succeeded in the Navy avoiding strike of a NARW 
during training and testing activities in the past and essentially 
eliminate the potential for vessel strikes to occur during the seven-
year period of this rule. In particular, the mitigation pertaining to 
vessels, including the continued participation in and sponsoring of the 
Early Warning System, will help Navy vessels avoid NARW during transits 
and training and testing activities. The Early Warning System is a 
comprehensive information exchange network dedicated to reducing the 
risk of vessel strikes to NARW off the southeast United States from all 
mariners (i.e., Navy and non-Navy vessels). Navy participants include 
the Fleet Area Control and Surveillance Facility, Jacksonville; 
Commander, Naval Submarine Forces, Norfolk, Virginia; and Naval 
Submarine Support Command. The Navy, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Army Corps 
of Engineers, and NMFS collaboratively sponsor daily aerial surveys 
from December 1 through March 31 (weather permitting) to observe for 
NARW from the shoreline out to approximately 30-35 nmi offshore. Aerial 
surveyors relay sightings information to all mariners transiting within 
the NARW calving habitat (e.g., commercial vessels, recreational 
boaters, and Navy ships).
    In the Northeast NARW Mitigation Area, before all vessel transits, 
the Navy conducts a web query or email inquiry of NOAA's NARW Sighting 
Advisory System to obtain the latest NARW sightings information. Navy 
vessels currently use and will continue to use the obtained sightings 
information to reduce potential interactions with NARW during transits 
and prevent ship strikes. In this mitigation area, vessels will 
continue to implement speed reductions after they observe a NARW; if 
they are within 5 nmi of the location of a sighting reported to the 
NARW Sighting Advisory System within the past week; and when operating 
at night or during periods of reduced visibility. During transits and 
normal firing involving non-explosive torpedos activities, the Navy 
ships will continue to maintain a speed of no more than 10 kn. During 
submarine target firing, ships would maintain speeds of no more than 18 
kn. During vessel target firing, vessel speeds would exceed 18 kn for 
only brief periods of time (e.g., 10-15 min).
    In the Southeast NARW Mitigation Area, before transiting or 
conducting training or testing activities within the mitigation area, 
the Navy will continue to initiate communication with the Fleet Area 
Control and Surveillance Facility, Jacksonville to obtain Early Warning 
System NARW whale sightings data. The Fleet Area Control and 
Surveillance Facility, Jacksonville will continue to advise vessels of 
all reported whale sightings in the vicinity to help vessels and 
aircraft reduce potential interactions with NARWs and prevent ship 
strikes. Commander Submarine Force U.S. Atlantic Fleet will coordinate 
any submarine activities that may require approval from the Fleet Area 
Control and Surveillance Facility, Jacksonville. Vessels will continue 
to use the sightings information to reduce potential interactions with 
NARW during transits and prevent ship strikes. Vessels will also 
implement speed reductions after they observe a NARW, if they are 
within 5 nmi of a sighting reported within the past 12 hours (hrs), or 
when operating in the mitigation area at night or during periods of 
poor visibility. To the maximum extent practicable, vessels will 
continue to minimize north-south transits in the mitigation area. 
Finally, the Navy will continue to broadcast awareness notification 
messages with NARW Dynamic Management Area information (e.g., location 
and dates) to applicable Navy vessels operating in the vicinity of the 
Dynamic Management Area. The information will continue to alert assets 
to the possible presence of a NARW to maintain safety of navigation and 
further reduce the potential for a vessel strike. Navy platforms would 
use the information to assist their visual observation of applicable 
mitigation zones during training and testing activities and to aid in 
the implementation of procedural mitigation, including but not limited 
to, mitigation for vessel movement.
    Implementation of these measures significantly reduces the 
possibility of striking NARWs during the seven-year period of the rule. 
The probability for any particular ship to strike a marine mammal is 
primarily a product of the ability of the ship to detect a marine 
mammal and the ability to effectively act to avoid it. Navy combat 
ships are inherently among the best at both of these because compared 
to large commercial vessels, they have trained Lookouts which have 
received specialized Marine Mammal Observer (MMO) training, and they 
are the most maneuverable ships, which means that they are more likely 
to sight a marine mammal and more likely to be able to maneuver to 
avoid it in the available time--both of which decrease the probability 
of striking a marine mammal below what it would have been in the 
absence of those abilities. In the case of the NARW, the extensive 
communication/detection network described above, which is in use in the 
areas of highest NARW occurrence and where they may be more susceptible 
to strike, further increases the likelihood of detecting a NARW and 
thereby avoiding it, which further reduces the probability of NARW 
strike. Further, detection of NARW in some areas/times is associated 
with reduced speed requirements, which may reduce the strike 
probability further by slightly increasing the time within which an 
operator has to maneuver away from a whale. Because of these additional 
mitigation measures combined with the already low probability that a 
NARW will be struck, it is extremely unlikely the Navy would strike a 
NARW, and mortality/serious injury of a NARW from vessel strike is 
neither anticipated nor authorized.
    In conclusion, although it is generally unlikely that any whales 
will be struck in a year, based on the information and analysis above, 
NMFS anticipates that no more than four whales have the potential to be 
taken by serious injury or mortality over the seven-year period of the 
rule. Of those four whales over the seven years, no more than two would 
be humpback whales (Gulf of Maine stock) and no more than one would 
come from any of the four following stocks: Fin whale (Western North 
Atlantic stock), minke (Canadian East Coast stock), sperm whale (North 
Atlantic stock), and sei whale (Nova Scotia stock). Accordingly in the 
Analysis and Negligible Impact Determination section, NMFS has 
evaluated under the negligible impact standard the serious injury or 
mortality of 0.14 whales annually from each of these species or stocks 
(i.e., 1 take over the 7 years divided by 7 to get the annual number), 
except for the humpback whale (North Atlantic stock) for which we used 
0.29 (i.e., 2 takes over

[[Page 70755]]

the 7 years divided by 7 to get the annual number) along with other 
expected harassment incidental take.

Mitigation Measures

    Under section 101(a)(5)(A) of the MMPA, NMFS must set forth the 
permissible methods of taking pursuant to the activity, and other means 
of effecting the least practicable adverse impact on the species or 
stock(s) and their habitat, paying particular attention to rookeries, 
mating grounds, and areas of similar significance, and on the 
availability of the species or stock(s) for subsistence uses (``least 
practicable adverse impact''). NMFS does not have a regulatory 
definition for least practicable adverse impact. The 2004 NDAA amended 
the MMPA as it relates to military readiness activities and the 
incidental take authorization process such that a determination of 
``least practicable adverse impact'' shall include consideration of 
personnel safety, practicality of implementation, and impact on the 
effectiveness of the military readiness activity. For the full 
discussion of how NMFS interprets least practicable adverse impact, 
including how it relates to the negligible-impact standard, see the 
Mitigation Measures section in the 2018 AFTT final rule.
    Section 101(a)(5)(A)(i)(II) requires NMFS to issue, in conjunction 
with its authorization, binding--and enforceable--restrictions (in the 
form of regulations) setting forth how the activity must be conducted, 
thus ensuring the activity has the ``least practicable adverse impact'' 
on the affected species or stocks. In situations where mitigation is 
specifically needed to reach a negligible impact determination, section 
101(a)(5)(A)(i)(II) also provides a mechanism for ensuring compliance 
with the ``negligible impact'' requirement. Finally, we reiterate that 
the least practicable adverse impact standard also requires 
consideration of measures for marine mammal habitat, with particular 
attention to rookeries, mating grounds, and other areas of similar 
significance, and for subsistence impacts, whereas the negligible 
impact standard is concerned solely with conclusions about the impact 
of an activity on annual rates of recruitment and survival.\1\ In 
evaluating what mitigation measures are appropriate, NMFS considers the 
potential impacts of the Specified Activities, the availability of 
measures to minimize those potential impacts, and the practicability of 
implementing those measures, as we describe below.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \1\ Outside of the military readiness context, mitigation may 
also be appropriate to ensure compliance with the ``small numbers'' 
language in MMPA sections 101(a)(5)(A) and (D).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Implementation of Least Practicable Adverse Impact Standard

    Our evaluation of potential mitigation measures includes 
consideration of two primary factors:
    (1) The manner in which, and the degree to which, implementation of 
the potential measure(s) is expected to reduce adverse impacts to 
marine mammal species or stocks, their habitat, and their availability 
for subsistence uses (where relevant). This analysis considers such 
things as the nature of the potential adverse impact (such as 
likelihood, scope, and range), the likelihood that the measure will be 
effective if implemented, and the likelihood of successful 
implementation; and
    (2) The practicability of the measures for applicant 
implementation. Practicability of implementation may consider such 
things as cost, impact on activities, and, in the case of a military 
readiness activity, under section 101(a)(5)(A)(ii) specifically 
considers personnel safety, practicality of implementation, and impact 
on the effectiveness of the military readiness activity.
    While the language of the least practicable adverse impact standard 
calls for minimizing impacts to affected species or stocks and their 
habitats, we recognize that the reduction of impacts to those species 
or stocks accrues through the application of mitigation measures that 
limit impacts to individual animals. Accordingly, NMFS' analysis 
focuses on measures that are designed to avoid or minimize impacts on 
individual marine mammals when those impacts are likely to increase the 
probability or severity of population-level effects.
    While direct evidence of impacts to species or stocks from a 
specified activity is rarely available, and additional study is still 
needed to understand how specific disturbance events affect the fitness 
of individuals of certain species, there have been improvements in 
understanding the process by which disturbance effects are translated 
to the population. With recent scientific advancements (both marine 
mammal energetic research and the development of energetic frameworks), 
the relative likelihood or degree of impacts on species or stocks may 
often be inferred given a detailed understanding of the activity, the 
environment, and the affected species or stocks--and the best available 
science has been used here. This same information is used in the 
development of mitigation measures and helps us understand how 
mitigation measures contribute to lessening effects (or the risk 
thereof) to species or stocks and their habitat. We also acknowledge 
that there is always the potential that new information, or a new 
recommendation that we had not previously considered becomes available 
in the future and necessitates reevaluation of mitigation measures 
(which may be addressed through adaptive management) to see if further 
reductions of population impacts are possible and practicable.
    In the evaluation of specific measures, the details of the 
specified activity will necessarily inform each of the two primary 
factors discussed above (expected reduction of impacts and 
practicability), and are carefully considered to determine the types of 
mitigation that are appropriate under the least practicable adverse 
impact standard. Analysis of how a potential mitigation measure may 
reduce adverse impacts on a marine mammal stock or species, 
consideration of personnel safety, practicality of implementation, and 
consideration of the impact on effectiveness of military readiness 
activities are not issues that can be meaningfully evaluated through a 
yes/no lens. The manner in which, and the degree to which, 
implementation of a measure is expected to reduce impacts, as well as 
its practicability in terms of these considerations, can vary widely. 
For example, a time/area restriction could be of very high value for 
decreasing population-level impacts (e.g., avoiding disturbance of 
feeding females in an area of established biological importance) or it 
could be of lower value (e.g., decreased disturbance in an area of high 
productivity but of less firmly established biological importance). 
Regarding practicability, a measure might involve restrictions in an 
area or time that impede the Navy's ability to certify a strike group 
(higher impact on mission effectiveness), or it could mean delaying a 
small in-port training event by 30 minutes to avoid exposure of a 
marine mammal to injurious levels of sound (lower impact). A 
responsible evaluation of ``least practicable adverse impact'' 
considers the factors along these realistic scales. Accordingly, the 
greater the likelihood that a measure will contribute to reducing the 
probability or severity of adverse impacts to the species or stocks or 
their habitat, the greater the weight that measure is given when 
considered in combination with practicability to determine the 
appropriateness of the mitigation measure, and vice versa. In

[[Page 70756]]

the evaluation of specific measures, the details of the specified 
activity necessarily inform each of the two primary factors discussed 
above (expected reduction of impacts and practicability), and are 
carefully considered to determine the types of mitigation that are 
appropriate under the least practicable adverse impact standard. For 
more detail on how we apply these factors, see the discussion in the 
Mitigation Measures section of the 2018 AFTT final rule.
    NMFS fully reviewed the Navy's specified activities and the 
mitigation measures for the 2018 AFTT rulemaking and determined that 
the mitigation measures would result in the least practicable adverse 
impact on marine mammals and their habitat. There is no change in 
either the activities or the mitigation measures for this seven-year 
rule. See the 2019 Navy application and the 2018 AFTT final rule for 
detailed information on the Navy's mitigation measures. NMFS worked 
with the Navy in the development of the Navy's initially proposed 
measures, which were informed by years of implementation and 
monitoring. A complete discussion of the Navy's evaluation process used 
to develop, assess, and select mitigation measures, which was informed 
by input from NMFS, can be found in Chapter 5 (Mitigation) of the 2018 
AFTT FEIS/OEIS. The process described in Chapter 5 (Mitigation) of the 
2018 AFTT FEIS/OEIS robustly supported NMFS' independent evaluation of 
whether the mitigation measures would meet the least practicable 
adverse impact standard. The Navy has implemented the mitigation 
measures under the 2018 AFTT regulations and will continue 
implementation of the mitigation measures identified in this rule for 
the full seven years to avoid or reduce potential impacts from 
acoustic, explosive, and physical disturbance and ship strike 
stressors.
    In its 2019 application, the Navy proposed no changes to the 
mitigation measures in the 2018 AFTT final rule and there is no new 
information that affects NMFS' assessment of the applicability or 
effectiveness of those measures over the new seven-year period. See the 
2018 AFTT proposed rule and the 2018 AFTT final rule for our full 
assessment and description of these measures. In summary, the Navy has 
agreed to procedural mitigation measures that will reduce the 
probability and/or severity of impacts expected to result from acute 
exposure to acoustic sources or explosives, ship strike, and impacts to 
marine mammal habitat. Specifically, the Navy will use a combination of 
delayed starts, powerdowns, and shutdowns to minimize or avoid serious 
injury or mortality, minimize the likelihood or severity of PTS or 
other injury, and reduce instances of TTS or more severe behavioral 
disruption caused by acoustic sources or explosives. The Navy also will 
implement multiple time/area restrictions (several of which were added 
in the 2018 AFTT final rule since the previous AFTT MMPA incidental 
take rule) that would reduce take of marine mammals in areas or at 
times where they are known to engage in important behaviors, such as 
feeding or calving, where the disruption of those behaviors would have 
a higher probability of resulting in impacts on reproduction or 
survival of individuals that could lead to population-level impacts. 
Summaries of the Navy's procedural mitigation measures and mitigation 
areas for the AFTT Study Area are provided in Tables 14 and 15.

               Table 14--Summary of Procedural Mitigation
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                            Mitigation zones sizes and
          Stressor or activity                  other requirements
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Environmental Awareness and Education..   Afloat Environmental
                                          Compliance Training program
                                          for applicable personnel.
Active Sonar...........................  Depending on sonar source:
                                          1,000 yd power down,
                                          500 yd power down, and 200 yd
                                          shut down.
                                          200 yd shut down.
Air Guns...............................   150 yd.
Pile Driving...........................   100 yd.
Weapons Firing Noise...................   30 degrees on either
                                          side of the firing line out to
                                          70 yd.
Explosive Sonobuoys....................   600 yd.
Explosive Torpedoes....................   2,100 yd.
Explosive Medium-Caliber and Large-       1,000 yd (large-
 Caliber Projectiles.                     caliber projectiles).
                                          600 yd (medium-caliber
                                          projectiles during surface-to-
                                          surface activities).
                                          200 yd (medium-caliber
                                          projectiles during air-to-
                                          surface activities).
Explosive Missiles and Rockets.........   2,000 yd (21-500 lb
                                          net explosive weight).
                                          900 yd (0.6-20 lb net
                                          explosive weight).
Explosive Bombs........................   2,500 yd.
Sinking Exercises......................   2.5 nmi.
Explosive Mine Countermeasure and         2,100 yd (6-650 lb net
 Neutralization Activities.               explosive weight).
                                          600 yd (0.1-5 lb net
                                          explosive weight).
Explosive Mine Neutralization             1,000 yd (21-60 lb net
 Activities Involving Navy Divers.        explosive weight for positive
                                          control charges and charges
                                          using time-delay fuses).
                                          500 yd (0.1-20 lb net
                                          explosive weight for positive
                                          control charges).
Maritime Security Operations--Anti-       200 yd.
 Swimmer Grenades.
Line Charge Testing....................   900 yd.
Ship Shock Trials......................   3.5 nmi.
Vessel Movement........................   500 yd (whales).
                                          200 yd (other marine
                                          mammals).
                                          North Atlantic right
                                          whale Dynamic Management Area
                                          notification messages.
Towed In-Water Devices.................   250 yd.
Small-, Medium-, and Large-Caliber Non-   200 yd.
 Explosive Practice Munitions.
Non-Explosive Missiles and Rockets.....   900 yd.
Non-Explosive Bombs and Mine Shapes....   1,000 yd.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Notes: lb: pounds; nmi: nautical miles; yd: yards.


[[Page 70757]]


        Table 15--Summary of Mitigation Areas for Marine Mammals
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 Summary of mitigation area requirements
-------------------------------------------------------------------------
          Northeast North Atlantic Right Whale Mitigation Area
------------------------------------------------------------------------
 The Navy must report the total hrs and counts of active sonar
 and in-water explosives used in the mitigation area in its annual
 training and testing activity reports.
 The Navy must minimize use of active sonar to the maximum
 extent practicable and must not use explosives that detonate in the
 water.
 The Navy must conduct non-explosive torpedo testing during
 daylight hrs in Beaufort sea state 3 or less using three Lookouts (one
 on a vessel, two in an aircraft during aerial surveys) and an
 additional Lookout on the submarine when surfaced; during transits,
 ships must maintain a speed of no more than 10 knots; during firing,
 ships must maintain a speed of no more than 18 knots except brief
 periods of time during vessel target firing.
 Vessels must obtain the latest North Atlantic right whale
 sightings data and implement speed reductions after they observe a
 North Atlantic right whale, if within 5 nmi of a sighting reported
 within the past week, and when operating at night or during periods of
 reduced visibility.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
            Gulf of Maine Planning Awareness Mitigation Area
------------------------------------------------------------------------
 The Navy must report the total hrs and counts of active sonar
 and in-water explosives used in the mitigation area in its annual
 training and testing activity reports.
 The Navy must not conduct major training exercises and must not
 conduct >200 hrs of hull-mounted mid-frequency active sonar per year.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
 Northeast Planning Awareness Mitigation Areas and Mid-Atlantic Planning
                       Awareness Mitigation Areas
------------------------------------------------------------------------
 The Navy must avoid conducting major training exercises to the
 maximum extent practicable.
 The Navy must not conduct more than four major training
 exercises per year.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
 Southeast North Atlantic Right Whale Mitigation Area (November 15-April
                                   15)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
 The Navy must report the total hrs and counts of active sonar
 and in-water explosives used in the mitigation area in its annual
 training and testing activity reports.
 The Navy must not use active sonar except as necessary for
 navigation training, object detection training, and dipping sonar.
 The Navy must not expend explosive or non-explosive ordnance.
 Vessels must obtain the latest North Atlantic right whale
 sightings data; must implement speed reductions after they observe a
 North Atlantic right whale, if within 5 nmi of a sighting reported
 within the past 12 hrs, and when operating at night or during periods
 of reduced visibility; and must minimize north-south transits to the
 maximum extent practicable.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
           Jacksonville Operating Area (November 15-April 15)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
 Navy units conducting training or testing activities in the
 Jacksonville Operating Area must obtain and use Early Warning System
 North Atlantic right whale sightings data as they plan specific details
 of events to minimize potential interactions with North Atlantic right
 whales to the maximum extent practicable. The Navy must use the
 reported sightings information to assist visual observations of
 applicable mitigation zones and to aid in the implementation of
 procedural mitigation.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
 Southeast North Atlantic Right Whale Critical Habitat Special Reporting
                       Area (November 15-April 15)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
 The Navy must report the total hrs and counts of active sonar
 and in-water explosives used in the mitigation area in its annual
 training and testing activity reports.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Navy Cherry Point Range Complex Nearshore Mitigation Area (March-
                               September)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
 The Navy must not conduct explosive mine neutralization
 activities involving Navy divers in the mitigation area.
 To the maximum extent practicable, the Navy must not use
 explosive sonobuoys, explosive torpedoes, explosive medium-caliber and
 large-caliber projectiles, explosive missiles and rockets, explosive
 bombs, explosive mines during mine countermeasure and neutralization
 activities, and anti-swimmer grenades in the mitigation area.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                      Bryde's Whale Mitigation Area
------------------------------------------------------------------------
 The Navy must report the total hrs and counts of active sonar
 and in-water explosives used in the mitigation area in its annual
 training and testing activity reports.
 The Navy must not conduct >200 hrs of hull-mounted mid-
 frequency active sonar per year and must not use explosives (except
 during explosive mine warfare activities).
------------------------------------------------------------------------
           Gulf of Mexico Planning Awareness Mitigation Areas
------------------------------------------------------------------------
 The Navy must not conduct any major training exercises under
 the action.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Notes: min.: minutes; nmi: nautical miles.

Mitigation Conclusions

    NMFS has carefully evaluated the Navy's proposed mitigation 
measures--many of which were developed with NMFS' input during the 
previous phases of Navy training and testing authorizations and none of 
which have changed since our evaluation during the 2018 AFTT 
rulemaking--and considered a broad range of other measures (i.e., the 
measures considered but eliminated in the 2018 AFTT FEIS/OEIS, which 
reflect many of the comments that have arisen via NMFS or public input 
in past years) in the context of ensuring that NMFS prescribes the 
means of effecting the least practicable adverse impact on the

[[Page 70758]]

affected marine mammal species and stocks and their habitat. Our 
evaluation of potential measures included consideration of the 
following factors in relation to one another: The manner in which, and 
the degree to which, the successful implementation of the mitigation 
measures is expected to reduce the likelihood and/or magnitude of 
adverse impacts to marine mammal species and stocks and their habitat; 
the proven or likely efficacy of the measures; and the practicability 
of the measures for applicant implementation, including consideration 
of personnel safety, practicality of implementation, and impact on the 
effectiveness of the military readiness activity. There is no new 
information that affects our analysis from the 2018 AFTT rulemaking, 
all of which remains applicable and valid for our assessment of the 
appropriateness of the mitigation measures during the seven-year period 
of this rule.
    Based on our evaluation of the Navy's measures (which are currently 
being implemented under the 2018 AFTT regulations), as well as other 
measures considered by the Navy and NMFS, NMFS has determined that the 
Navy's mitigation measures are appropriate means of effecting the least 
practicable adverse impacts on marine mammal species or stocks and 
their habitat, paying particular attention to rookeries, mating 
grounds, and areas of similar significance, and considering 
specifically personnel safety, practicality of implementation, and 
impact on the effectiveness of the military readiness activity. 
Additionally, as described in more detail below, the 2018 AFTT final 
rule included an adaptive management provision, which NMFS has extended 
for the additional two years of this rule, which ensures that 
mitigation is regularly assessed and provides a mechanism to improve 
the mitigation, based on the factors above, through modification as 
appropriate.

Monitoring

    Section 101(a)(5)(A) of the MMPA states that in order to authorize 
incidental take for an activity, 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 incidental take authorizations must include the suggested 
means of accomplishing the necessary monitoring and reporting that will 
result in increased knowledge of the species and of the level of taking 
or impacts on populations of marine mammals that are expected to be 
present.
    In its 2019 application, the Navy proposed no changes to the 
monitoring described in the 2018 AFTT final rule. They would continue 
implementation of the robust Integrated Comprehensive Monitoring 
Program and Strategic Planning Process described in the 2018 AFTT final 
rule. The Navy's monitoring strategy, currently required by the 2018 
AFTT regulations and extended for two years under this final rule, is 
well-designed to work across Navy ranges to help better understand the 
impacts of the Navy's activities on marine mammals and their habitat by 
focusing on learning more about marine mammal occurrence in different 
areas and exposure to Navy stressors, marine mammal responses to 
different sound sources, and the consequences of those exposures and 
responses on marine mammal populations. Similarly, the seven-year 
regulations include identical adaptive management provisions and 
reporting requirements as the 2018 AFTT regulations. There is no new 
information to indicate that the monitoring measures put in place under 
the 2018 AFTT final rule do not remain applicable and appropriate for 
the seven-year period of this final rule. See the Monitoring section of 
the 2018 AFTT final rule for more details on the monitoring that is 
required under this rule.

Adaptive Management

    The 2018 AFTT regulations governing the take of marine mammals 
incidental to Navy training and testing activities in the AFTT Study 
Area contain an adaptive management component. Our understanding of the 
effects of Navy training and testing activities (e.g., acoustic and 
explosive stressors) on marine mammals continues to evolve, which makes 
the inclusion of an adaptive management component both valuable and 
necessary within the context of seven-year regulations. The 2019 Navy 
application proposed no changes to the adaptive management component 
included in the 2018 AFTT final rule.
    The reporting requirements associated with this rule are designed 
to provide NMFS with monitoring data from the previous year to allow 
NMFS to consider whether any changes to existing mitigation and 
monitoring requirements are appropriate. The use of adaptive management 
allows NMFS to consider new information from different sources to 
determine (with input from the Navy regarding practicability) on an 
annual or biennial basis if mitigation or monitoring measures should be 
modified (including additions or deletions). Mitigation measures could 
be modified if new data suggests that such modifications would have a 
reasonable likelihood of more effectively accomplishing the goals of 
the mitigation and monitoring and if the measures are practicable. If 
the modifications to the mitigation, monitoring, or reporting measures 
are substantial, NMFS will publish a notice of the planned LOA in the 
Federal Register and solicit public comment.
    The following are some of the possible sources of applicable data 
to be considered through the adaptive management process: (1) Results 
from monitoring and exercises reports, as required by MMPA 
authorizations; (2) compiled results of Navy funded research and 
development studies; (3) results from specific stranding 
investigations; (4) results from general marine mammal and sound 
research; and (5) any information which reveals that marine mammals may 
have been taken in a manner, extent, or number not authorized by these 
regulations or subsequent LOAs. The results from monitoring reports and 
other studies may be viewed at https://www.navymarinespeciesmonitoring.us/.

Reporting

    In order to issue incidental take authorization for an activity, 
section 101(a)(5)(A) of the MMPA states that NMFS must set forth 
requirements pertaining to the monitoring and reporting of such taking. 
Effective reporting is critical both to compliance as well as ensuring 
that the most value is obtained from the required monitoring. Reports 
from individual monitoring events, results of analyses, publications, 
and periodic progress reports for specific monitoring projects will be 
posted to the Navy's Marine Species Monitoring web portal: http://www.navymarinespeciesmonitoring.us. The 2019 Navy application proposed 
no changes to the reporting requirements identified in the 2018 AFTT 
final rule. Reporting requirements under this final rule remain 
identical to those described in the 2018 AFTT final rule, where there 
is no new information to indicate that the reporting requirements put 
in place under the 2018 AFTT final rule do not remain applicable and 
appropriate for the seven-year period of this final rule. See the 
Reporting section of the 2018 AFTT final rule for more details on the 
reporting that is required under this rule.

[[Page 70759]]

Analysis and Negligible Impact Determination

    NMFS has defined negligible impact as an impact resulting from the 
specified activity that cannot be reasonably expected to, and is not 
reasonably likely to, adversely affect the species or stock through 
effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival (50 CFR 216.103). A 
negligible impact finding is based on the lack of likely adverse 
effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival (i.e., population-
level effects). An estimate of the number of takes alone is not enough 
information on which to base an impact determination. In addition to 
considering estimates of the number of marine mammals that might be 
``taken'' through mortality, serious injury, and Level A or Level B 
harassment (as presented in Tables 10-13), 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' 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, other ongoing 
sources of human-caused mortality, and ambient noise levels).
    In the Estimated Take of Marine Mammals sections of this final rule 
and the 2018 AFTT final rule (where the activities, species and stocks, 
potential effects, and mitigation measures are the same as for this 
rule), we identified the subset of potential effects that would be 
expected to rise to the level of takes both annually and over the 
seven-year period covered by this rule, and then identified the number 
of each of those mortality takes that we believe could occur or the 
maximum number of harassment takes that are reasonably expected to 
occur based on the methods described. The impact that any given take 
will have is dependent on many case-specific factors that need to be 
considered in the negligible impact analysis (e.g., the context of 
behavioral exposures such as duration or intensity of a disturbance, 
the health of impacted animals, the status of a species that incurs 
fitness-level impacts to individuals, etc.). For this final rule we 
evaluated the likely impacts of the enumerated maximum number of 
harassment takes proposed to be authorized and reasonably expected to 
occur, in the context of the specific circumstances surrounding these 
predicted takes. We also assessed M/SI takes that have the potential to 
occur, as well as considering the traits and statuses of the affected 
species and stocks. Last, we collectively evaluated this information, 
as well as other more taxa-specific information and mitigation measure 
effectiveness, in group-specific assessments that support our 
negligible impact conclusions for each stock.
    The nature and level of the specified activities and the boundaries 
of the AFTT Study Area, and therefore the training and testing 
activities (e.g., equipment and sources used, exercises conducted) are 
the same as those analyzed in the 2018 AFTT final rule. In addition, 
the mitigation, monitoring, and reporting measures are identical to 
those described and analyzed in the 2018 AFTT final rule. As described 
above, there is no new information available since the publication of 
the 2018 AFTT final rule regarding the impacts of the specified 
activities on marine mammals, the status and distribution of any of the 
affected marine mammal species or stocks, or the effectiveness of the 
mitigation and monitoring measures that would change our analyses.

Harassment

    As described in the Estimated Takes of Marine Mammals section, the 
annual number of takes authorized and reasonably expected to occur by 
Level A harassment and Level B harassment (based on the maximum number 
of activities per 12-month period) are identical to those presented in 
Tables 39 through 41 in the Take Requests section of the 2018 AFTT 
final rule. As such the negligible impact analyses and determinations 
of the effects of the estimated Level A harassment and Level B 
harassment takes on annual rates of recruitment or survival for each 
species and stock are identical to that presented in the 2018 AFTT 
final rule. The only difference is that the annual levels of take and 
the associated effects on reproduction or survival will occur for the 
seven-year period of the rule instead of the five-year period of the 
2018 AFTT final rule, which will make no difference in effects on 
annual rates of recruitment or survival. For detailed discussion of the 
impacts that affected individuals may experience given the specific 
characteristics of the specified activities and required mitigation 
(e.g., from behavioral harassment, masking, and temporary or permanent 
threshold shift), along with the effects of the expected Level A 
harassment and Level B harassment take on reproduction and survival, 
see the applicable subsections in the Analysis and Negligible Impact 
Determination section of the 2018 AFTT final rule (83 FR 57211-57217; 
November 14, 2018).

Serious Injury or Mortality

    No additional ship shock trials will occur during the seven-year 
period of the rule, so the requested and authorized total takes by M/SI 
due to explosives used during ship shock trials over seven years are 
the same as those authorized in the existing 2018 AFTT regulations. 
There is no new information that affects the methodology or results of 
the ship-shock analysis presented in the 2018 AFTT final rule. But as 
these same activities would occur over seven years rather than five 
years, the estimated annual take is calculated as the number of total 
takes divided by seven. For each of the dolphin species and stocks 
listed in Table 16 there would be an annual take of 0.14 dolphins 
(i.e., for those species and stocks where one take could occur divided 
by seven years to get the annual number of M/SIs) or 0.86 dolphins in 
the case of short-beaked common dolphin (i.e., where six takes could 
occur divided by seven years to get the annual number of M/SIs). This 
is a decrease from the annual take of 0.2 dolphins (for the three 
species where one lethal take could occur) and annual take of 1.2 
short-beaked common dolphins (where six lethal takes could occur) over 
the five-year period of the 2018 AFTT regulations, as shown in Table 70 
in the 2018 AFTT final rule. As this annual number is less than that 
analyzed and authorized in the 2018 AFTT final rule and no other 
relevant information about the status, abundance, or effects of 
mortality on each species and stock has changed, the analysis of the 
effects of take from ship shock trials mirrors that presented in the 
2018 AFTT final rule.

[[Page 70760]]



                                    Table 16--Summary Information Related to AFTT Serious Injury or Mortality From Explosives (Ship Shock Trials), 2018-2025
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                            Annual                         Fisheries                                     Residual PBR-
                                                        estimated take                   interactions      Potential                       PBR minus
                                             Stock        by serious    Total annual M/  (Y/N); annual    biological         NEFSC        annual M/SI     Stock
            Species (stock)                abundance       injury or       SI * \2\      rate of M/SI    removal (PBR)    authorized       and NEFSC     trend *     UME (Y/N); number and year
                                           (Nbest)*      mortality (M/                  from fisheries       * \3\       take (annual)    authorized       \5\
                                                            SI) \1\                     interactions *                                     take \4\
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Atlantic white-sided dolphin (Western           48,819            0.14              30              30             304             0.6           273.4         ?   N
 N. Atlantic).
Pantropical spotted dolphin (Northern           50,880            0.14             4.4             4.4             407               0           402.6         ?   Y; 3 in 2010-2014
 GOMEX).
Short-beaked common dolphin (Western            70,184            0.86             406             406             557               2             149         ?   N
 N. Atlantic).
Spinner dolphin (Northern GOMEX)......          11,441            0.14               0               0              62               0              62         ?   Y; 7 in 2010-2014
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
* Presented in the 2018 SARS.
\1\ This column represents the annual take by M/SI during ship shock trials and was calculated by the number of mortalities planned for authorization divided by seven years (the length of the
  rule and LOAs).
\2\ This column represents the total number of incidents of M/SI that could potentially accrue to the specified species or stock. This number comes from the SAR, but deducts the takes accrued
  from either Navy or NEFSC takes as noted in the SARs to ensure they are not double-counted against PBR. However, for these species, there were no takes from either Navy or NEFSC as noted in
  the SARs to deduct that would be considered double-counting.
\3\ Potential biological removal (PBR) is defined in section 3 of the MMPA. See the Analysis and Negligible Impact Determination section of the 2018 AFTT final rule for a description of PBR.
\4\ This value represents the calculated PBR less the average annual estimate of ongoing anthropogenic mortalities (i.e., total annual human-caused M/SI, which is presented in the 2018 SARs)
  and authorized take for NEFSC.
\5\ See relevant SARs for more information regarding stock status and trends.

    The other facet of the analysis for which there is a quantitative 
change from the 2018 AFTT final rule is the number of potential 
mortalities due to ship strike authorized over the seven-year period. 
First, based on the information and methods discussed in the Estimated 
Take of Marine Mammals section (which are identical to those used in 
the 2018 AFTT final rule), NMFS has predicted that mortal takes of four 
large whales over the course of the seven-year rule could occur (as 
compared to three large whales over five years in the 2018 AFTT final 
rule). Second, while no more than one whale over the seven years of any 
species of fin whale, sei whale, minke whale, or sperm whale (North 
Atlantic stock) would occur (which is the same as in the five-year 2018 
AFTT final rule), as described above in the Estimated Take of Marine 
Mammals section, the number of potential mortality takes of humpback 
whales has increased from one to two. This means an annual average of 
0.29 humpback whales and an annual average of 0.14 whales for each of 
the other four species or stocks as described in Table 17 (i.e., one, 
or two, take(s) over seven years divided by seven to get the annual 
number) are expected to potentially occur and are authorized. As this 
annual number is less than that analyzed and authorized in the 2018 
AFTT final rule for fin whale, sei whale, minke whale, and sperm whale 
(North Atlantic stock), which was an annual average of 0.2 whales for 
the same four species and stocks, and no other relevant information 
about the status, abundance, or effects of mortality on each species or 
stock has changed, the analysis of the effects of vessel strike mirrors 
that presented in the 2018 AFTT final rule. For humpback whales, the 
annual number for potential mortality takes is slightly higher than in 
the 2018 AFTT final rule, but the number still falls below the 
insignificance threshold of 10 percent of residual Potential Biological 
Removal (PBR), which indicates an insignificant incremental increase in 
ongoing anthropogenic mortality that alone will not adversely affect 
annual rates of recruitment or survival. The analysis of the effects of 
this potential mortality on humpback whales' annual rates of 
recruitment and survival, considered in combination with other 
estimated harassment takes, appears in the Group and Species-Specific 
Analyses section for Mysticetes below.
    See the Serious Injury and Mortality subsection in the Analysis and 
Negligible Impact Determination section of the 2018 AFTT final rule (83 
FR 57217-57223; November 14, 2018) for detailed discussions of the 
impacts of M/SI, including a description of how the agency uses the PBR 
metric and other factors to inform our analysis, and an analysis of the 
impacts on each species and stock for which mortality is authorized, 
including the relationship of potential mortality for each species to 
the insignificance threshold and residual PBR. Because the annual 
number of potential mortality takes for humpback whales remains below 
the insignificance threshold, the discussion for humpback whales (83 FR 
57221-57222; November 14, 2018) remains fully applicable. For 
discussion specifically on the role of the calculated PBR in evaluating 
the effects of M/SI, see both the 2018 AFTT final rule and the 2018 
Hawaii-Southern California Training and Testing (HSTT) Study Area final 
rule (83 FR 66846; December 27, 2018).

                                                              Table 17--Summary Information Related to AFTT Ship Strike, 2018-2025.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                    Annual                                                                                   Residual
                                                  estimated                    Fisheries                                                     PBR-PBR
                                        Stock      take by      Total     interactions (Y/N);  Vessel collisions (Y/              NEFSC       minus
          Species (stock)             abundance    serious    annual  M/  Annual rate of M/SI  N); Annual rate of M/   PBR *   authorized  annual M/SI  Stock trend   UME (Y/N); number and year
                                      (Nbest) *   injury or    SI * \2\     from fisheries        SI from vessel                  take      and NEFSC       *\4\                 \5\
                                                  mortality                 interactions *          collision *                 (annual)    authorized
                                                  (M/SI) \1\                                                                                 take \3\
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Fin whale (Western North Atlantic).       1,618         0.14        2.5  Y; 1.1..............  Y; 1.4..............       2.5           0            0           ?   N.
Sei whale (Nova Scotia)............         357         0.14        0.8  N; 0................  Y; 0.8 *............       0.5           0         -0.3           ?   N.
Minke Whale (Canadian East Coast)..       2,591         0.14        7.5  Y; 6.5..............  Y; 1[dagger]........        14           1          5.5           ?   Y; 18 in 2019 as of 10/24/
                                                                                                                                                                      2019 (27 in 2017 and 30 in
                                                                                                                                                                      2018).

[[Page 70761]]

 
Humpback whale (Gulf of Maine).....         896         0.29        9.7  Y; 7.1..............  Y; 2.6..............      14.6           0          4.9      [uarr]   Y; 22 in 2019 as of 10/24/
                                                                                                                                                                      2019 (26 in 2016, 34 in
                                                                                                                                                                      2017 and 25 in 2018).
Sperm whale (North Atlantic).......       2,288         0.14        0.8  Y; 0.6..............  Y; 0.2..............       3.6           0          2.8           ?   N.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
* Presented in the 2018 SARS.
[dagger] Value presented incorrectly in the 2018 AFTT final rule and corrected here.
\1\ This column represents the annual take by M/SI by vessel collision and was calculated by the number of mortalities planned for authorization divided by seven years (the length of the rule
  and LOAs).
\2\ This column represents the total number of incidents of M/SI that could potentially accrue to the specified species or stock. This number comes from the SAR, but deducts the takes accrued
  from either Navy strikes or NEFSC takes as noted in the SARs to ensure they are not double-counted against PBR. However, for these species, there were no takes from either Navy or NEFSC as
  noted in the SARs to deduct that would be considered double-counting.
\3\ This value represents the calculated PBR less the average annual estimate of ongoing anthropogenic mortalities (i.e., total annual human-caused M/SI, which is presented in the 2018 SARs)
  and authorized take for NEFSC.
\4\ See relevant SARs for more information regarding stock status and trends.
\5\ This column presents UME information updated since the 2018 AFTT final rule, as discussed in the earlier section Potential Effects of Specified Activities on Marine Mammals and their
  Habitat.

Group and Species-Specific Analyses

    In addition to broader analyses of the impacts of the Navy's 
activities on mysticetes, odontocetes, and pinnipeds, the 2018 AFTT 
final rule contained detailed analyses of the effects of the Navy's 
activities in the AFTT Study Area on each affected species and stock. 
All of that information and analyses remain applicable and valid for 
our analyses of the effects of the same Navy activities on the same 
species and stocks for the seven-year period of this final rule. See 
the Group and Species-Specific Analyses subsection in the Analysis and 
Negligible Impact Determination section of the 2018 AFTT final rule (83 
FR 57223-57247; November 14, 2018). In addition, no new information has 
been received since the publication of the 2018 AFTT final rule that 
significantly changes the analyses on the effects of the Navy's 
activities on each species and stock presented in the 2018 AFTT final 
rule.
    In the discussions below, the estimated Level B harassment takes 
represent instances of take, not the number of individuals taken (the 
much lower and less frequent Level A harassment takes are far more 
likely to be associated with separate individuals), and in many cases 
some individuals are expected to be taken more than one time, while in 
other cases a portion of individuals will not be taken at all. Below, 
we compare the total take numbers (including PTS, TTS, and behavioral 
disruption) for species or stocks to their associated abundance 
estimates to evaluate the magnitude of impacts across the stock and to 
individuals. Specifically, when an abundance percentage comparison is 
below 100, it means that that percentage or less of the individuals in 
the stock will be affected (i.e., some individuals will not be taken at 
all), that the average for those taken is one day per year, and that we 
would not expect any individuals to be taken more than a few times in a 
year. When it is more than 100 percent, it means there will definitely 
be some number of repeated takes of individuals. For example, if the 
percentage is 300, the average would be each individual is taken on 
three days in a year if all were taken, but it is more likely that some 
number of individuals will be taken more than three times and some 
number of individuals fewer or not at all. While it is not possible to 
know the maximum number of days across which individuals of a stock 
might be taken, in acknowledgement of the fact that it is more than the 
average, for the purposes of this analysis, we assume a number 
approaching twice the average. For example, if the percentage of take 
compared to the abundance is 800, we estimate that some individuals 
might be taken as many as 16 times. Those comparisons are included in 
the sections below. For some stocks these numbers have been adjusted 
slightly (with these adjustments being in the single digits) so as to 
more consistently apply this approach, but these minor changes did not 
change the analysis or findings.
    To assist in understanding what this analysis means, we clarify a 
few issues related to estimated takes and the analysis here. In the 
annual estimated take tables below, takes within the U.S. EEZ include 
only those takes within the U.S. EEZ where most Navy activities occur 
and where we often have the best information on species and stock 
presence and abundance. Takes inside and outside the EEZ include all 
takes in the AFTT Study Area. An individual that incurs a PTS or TTS 
take may sometimes, for example, also be behaviorally disturbed at the 
same time. As described in the Harassment subsection of the Analysis 
and Negligible Impact Determination section of the 2018 AFTT final 
rule, the degree of PTS, and the degree and duration of TTS, expected 
to be incurred from the Navy's activities are not expected to impact 
marine mammals such that their reproduction or survival could be 
affected. Similarly, data do not suggest that a single instance in 
which an animal accrues PTS or TTS and is also behaviorally harassed 
would result in impacts to reproduction or survival. Alternately, we 
recognize that if an individual is behaviorally harassed repeatedly for 
a longer duration and on consecutive days, effects could accrue to the 
point that reproductive success is jeopardized (as discussed below in 
the stock-specific summaries). Accordingly, in analyzing the number of 
takes and the likelihood of repeated and sequential takes (which could 
result in reproductive impacts), we consider the total takes, not just 
the behavioral Level B harassment takes, so that individuals 
potentially exposed to both threshold shift and behavioral disruption 
are appropriately considered. We note that the same reasoning applies 
with the potential addition of behavioral disruption (harassment) to 
tissue damage from explosives, the difference

[[Page 70762]]

being that we do already consider the likelihood of reproductive 
impacts whenever tissue damage occurs. Further, the number of Level A 
harassment takes by either PTS or tissue damage are so low compared to 
abundance numbers that it is considered highly unlikely that any 
individual would be taken at those levels more than once.
    Having considered all of the information and analyses previously 
presented in the 2018 AFTT final rule, including the information 
presented in the Overview, the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) Oil Spill 
discussion, and the Group and Species-Specific Analyses discussions 
organized by the different groups and species, below we present tables 
showing instances of total take as a percentage of stock abundance for 
each group, updated with the new vessel strike and ship shock 
calculations for some species. We then summarize the information for 
each species or stock, considering the analysis from the 2018 AFTT 
final rule and any new analysis. The analyses below in some cases 
address species collectively if they occupy the same functional hearing 
group (i.e., low, mid, and high-frequency cetaceans and pinnipeds in 
water), share similar life history strategies, and/or are known to 
behaviorally respond similarly to acoustic stressors. Because some of 
these groups or species share characteristics that inform the impact 
analysis similarly, it would be duplicative to repeat the same analysis 
for each species or stock. In addition, animals belonging to each stock 
within a species typically have the same hearing capabilities and 
behaviorally respond in the same manner as animals in other stocks 
within the species.
Mysticetes
    In Table 18 below for mysticetes, we indicate the total annual 
mortality, Level A and Level B harassment, and a number indicating the 
instances of total take as a percentage of abundance. Table 18 is 
unchanged from Table 72 in the 2018 AFTT final rule, except for updated 
information on mortality, as discussed above. For additional 
information and analysis supporting the negligible-impact analysis, see 
the Mysticetes discussion in the Group and Species-Specific Analyses 
section of the 2018 AFTT final rule, all of which remains applicable to 
this final rule unless specifically noted.
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P

[[Page 70763]]

[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR23DE19.000

BILLING CODE 3510-22-C
    Below we compile and summarize the information that supports our 
determination that the Navy's activities will not adversely affect any 
species or stocks through effects on annual rates of recruitment or 
survival for any of the affected mysticete species and stocks.

North Atlantic Right Whale (Western Stock)

    As described in the 2018 AFTT final rule, the status of NARW is 
precarious and they are listed as endangered under the ESA. There is an 
active UME associated with the recent unusually high number of deaths, 
some of which have been attributed to entanglement or vessel strike, 
although no vessel strikes have been attributed to the Navy. The number 
of births in recent years has been unusually low and recent studies 
have reported individuals showing poor health or high stress levels. 
Accordingly, as described above and in the 2018 AFTT final rule, the 
Navy is implementing and will continue to implement a suite of 
mitigation measures that not only avoid the likelihood of ship strikes, 
but also minimize the severity of behavioral disruption by minimizing 
impacts in areas that are important for feeding and calving, thus 
ensuring that the relatively small number of Level B harassment takes 
that do occur are not expected to affect reproductive success or 
survivorship via detrimental impacts to energy intake or cow/calf 
interactions. Specifically, no mortality or Level A harassment is 
anticipated or authorized. Regarding the magnitude of Level B 
harassment takes (TTS and behavioral disruption), the number of 
estimated instances compared to the abundance (137 percent) combined 
with the fact that the AFTT Study Area overlaps most if not all of the 
range, suggests that many to most of the individuals in the stock will 
likely be taken, but only on one or two days per year, with no reason 
to think the days will likely be sequential. Regarding the severity of 
those individual takes by behavioral Level B harassment, as explained 
in the 2018 AFTT final rule, the duration of any exposure is expected 
to be between minutes and hours (i.e., relatively short), the received 
sound levels are largely below 172 dB with some lesser portion up to 
178 dB (i.e., of a moderate or lower level, less likely to evoke a 
severe response), and because of the mitigation measures the exposures 
will

[[Page 70764]]

not occur in areas or at times where impacts would be likely to affect 
feeding and energetics or important cow/calf interactions that could 
lead to reduced reproductive success or survival. Regarding the 
severity of TTS takes, as explained in the 2018 AFTT final rule, they 
are expected to be low-level and of short duration and the associated 
lost opportunities and capabilities are not at a level that would 
impact reproduction or survival.
    Altogether, any individual NARW is likely to be disturbed at a low-
moderate level on no more than a couple of likely non-sequential days 
per year (and not in biologically important areas). Even given the fact 
that some of the affected individuals may have compromised health, 
there is nothing to suggest that such a low magnitude and severity of 
effects would result in impacts on reproduction or survival of any 
individual, much less annual rates of recruitment or survival for the 
stock. For these reasons, we have determined, in consideration of all 
of the effects of the Navy's activities combined, that the authorized 
take will have a negligible impact on NARW.

Blue Whale (Western North Atlantic Stock)

    This is a wide-ranging stock that is best considered as ``an 
occasional visitor'' to the U.S. EEZ, which may represent the southern 
limit of its feeding range (Hayes et al., 2018), though no specific 
feeding areas have been identified. For this reason, the abundances 
calculated by the Navy based on survey data in the U.S. EEZ are very 
low (9 and 104, in the U.S. EEZ and throughout the range respectively) 
and while NMFS' SAR does not predict an abundance, it does report an 
Nmin (minimum abundance) of 440. There is no currently reported trend 
for the population and there are no specific issues with the status of 
the stock that cause particular concern (e.g., no UMEs), although the 
species is listed as endangered under the ESA. We note, however, that 
this species was originally listed under the ESA as a result of the 
impacts from commercial whaling, which is no longer affecting the 
species. No mortality or Level A harassment is anticipated or 
authorized for blue whales. Regarding the magnitude of Level B 
harassment takes (TTS and behavioral disruption), given the number of 
total takes (47), the large range and wide-ranging nature of blue 
whales, and the minimum abundance identified in the SAR, there is no 
reason to think that any single animal will be taken by Level B 
harassment more than one time (though perhaps a few could be) and less 
than 10 percent of the population is likely to be impacted. Regarding 
the severity of those individual Level B harassment behavioral takes, 
as explained in the 2018 AFTT final rule, the duration of any exposure 
is expected to be between minutes and hours (i.e., relatively short) 
and the received sound levels are largely below 172 dB with a portion 
up to 178 dB (i.e., of a moderate or lower level, less likely to evoke 
a severe response). Regarding the severity of TTS takes, as explained 
in the 2018 AFTT final rule, they are expected to be low-level and of 
short duration and the associated lost opportunities and capabilities 
not at a level that would impact reproduction or survival.
    Altogether, less than 10 percent of the stock is likely to be 
impacted and any individual blue whale is likely to be disturbed at a 
low-moderate level on no more than a day or two days per year and not 
in any known biologically important areas. This low magnitude and 
severity of effects is unlikely to result in impacts on the 
reproduction or survival of any individual, much less annual rates of 
recruitment or survival for the stock. For these reasons, we have 
determined, in consideration of all of the effects of the Navy's 
activities combined, that the authorized take will have a negligible 
impact on blue whales.

Bryde's Whale (Northern Gulf of Mexico Stock)

    The Northern Gulf of Mexico Bryde's whale is a small resident 
population and is listed as endangered under the ESA. Although there is 
no current UME, the small size of the population and its constricted 
range, combined with the lingering effects of exposure to oil from the 
DWH oil spill (which include adverse health effects on individuals, as 
well as population effects) are cause for considerable caution. 
Accordingly, as described above, the Navy is implementing and will 
continue to implement considerable time/area mitigation to minimize 
impacts within their limited range, including not planning major 
training exercises (which include the most powerful sound sources 
operating in a more concentrated area), limiting the hours of other 
sonar use, and not using explosives, with the exception of mine warfare 
activities, which has both reduced the amount of take and reduced the 
likely severity of impacts. No mortality or Level A harassment by 
tissue damage injury is anticipated or authorized, and only one Level A 
harassment take by PTS is estimated and authorized.
    Regarding the magnitude of Level B harassment takes (TTS and 
behavioral disruption), the number of estimated instances compared to 
the abundance (112 percent) combined with the fact that the AFTT Study 
Area overlaps all of the small range, suggests that most to all of the 
individuals in the stock will likely be taken, but only on one or two 
days per year, with no reason to think the days would likely be 
sequential. Regarding the severity of those individual Level B 
harassment behavioral takes, as explained in the 2018 AFTT final rule, 
the duration of any exposure is expected to be between minutes and 
hours (i.e., relatively short); the received sound levels are largely 
below 172 dB with a portion up to 178 dB (i.e., of a moderate or lower 
level, less likely to evoke a severe response); and because of the 
mitigation the exposures will be of a less impactful nature. Regarding 
the severity of TTS takes, as explained in the 2018 AFTT final rule, 
they are expected to be low-level and of short duration and the 
associated lost opportunities and capabilities not at a level that 
would impact reproduction or survival. For similar reasons the one 
estimated Level A harassment take by PTS for this stock is unlikely to 
have any effect on the reproduction or survival of that individual, 
even if it were to be experienced by an individual that also 
experiences one or more Level B harassment takes.
    Altogether, any individual Bryde's whale is likely to be disturbed 
at a low-moderate level on no more than one or two days per year. Even 
given the fact that some of the affected individuals may have 
compromised health, there is nothing to suggest that such a low 
magnitude and severity of effects would result in impacts on the 
reproduction or survival of any individual, much less annual rates of 
recruitment or survival for the stock. For these reasons, we have 
determined, in consideration of all of the effects of the Navy's 
activities combined, that the authorized take will have a negligible 
impact on the Gulf of Mexico stock of Bryde's whales.

Bryde's Whale (No Stock Designated--NSD)

    These Bryde's whales span the mid- and southern Atlantic and have 
not been designated as a stock under the MMPA. There is no currently 
reported trend for the population and there are no specific issues with 
the status of these whales that cause particular concern (e.g., UMEs). 
No mortality or Level A harassment is anticipated or authorized. 
Regarding the magnitude of Level B harassment takes (TTS and

[[Page 70765]]

behavioral disruption), the number of estimated instances compared to 
the abundance within the U.S. EEZ and both in and outside of the U.S. 
EEZ, respectively, is 626 percent and 60 percent, though the 
percentages would be far lower if compared against the abundance of the 
entire range of this species in the Atlantic. This information suggests 
that only a portion of the stock is likely impacted (significantly less 
than 60 percent given the large range), but that there is likely some 
repeat exposure (5 to 12 days within a year) of some subset of 
individuals within the U.S. EEZ if some animals spend extended time 
within the U.S. EEZ. Regarding the severity of those individual Level B 
harassment behavioral takes, as explained in the 2018 AFTT final rule, 
the duration of any exposure is expected to be between minutes and 
hours (i.e., relatively short) and the received sound levels are 
largely below 172 dB with a portion up to 178 dB (i.e., of a moderate 
or lower level, less likely to evoke a severe response). Regarding the 
severity of TTS takes, as explained in the 2018 AFTT final rule, they 
are expected to be low-level and of short duration and the associated 
lost opportunities and capabilities not at a level that would impact 
reproduction or survival.
    Altogether, only a portion of the population is impacted and any 
individual Bryde's whale is likely to be disturbed at a low to moderate 
level, with many animals likely exposed only once or twice and a subset 
potentially disturbed across 5 to 12 likely non-sequential days not in 
any known biologically important areas. This low magnitude and severity 
of effects is not expected to result in impacts on annual rates of 
recruitment or survival for the stock. For these reasons, we have 
determined, in consideration of all of the effects of the Navy's 
activities combined, that the authorized take will have a negligible 
impact on Bryde's whales.

Minke Whale (Canadian East Coast Stock)

    This stock of minke whales spans the East Coast and far into 
Northern Canada waters. Minke whales in the Atlantic are currently 
experiencing an UME wherein there have been unexpectedly elevated 
deaths along the Atlantic Coast, some of which have been preliminarily 
attributed to human interaction (primarily fisheries interactions) or 
infectious disease. As of July 26, 2019, six whales have stranded in 
2019 (30 whales stranded in 2018 and 27 whales stranded in 2017). 
Because the most recent population estimate is based only on surveys in 
U.S. waters and slightly into Canada, and did not cover the habitat of 
the entire Canadian East Coast stock, the abundance is underestimated 
in the SAR and is likely significantly greater than what is reflected 
in the current SAR. NMFS authorizes one mortality in seven years, and 
the resulting 0.14 annual mortality which falls below 10 percent of 
residual PBR (0.55), remains under the insignificance threshold, and 
would be considerably even lower if compared against a more appropriate 
PBR. As discussed in the 2018 AFTT final rule, there are no known 
factors, information, or unusual circumstances that indicate that this 
potential M/SI below the insignificance threshold could have adverse 
effects on the stock through effects on annual rates of recruitment or 
survival. Consideration of all applicable information indicates that 
the authorized mortality of one whale over the seven years will not 
result in more than a negligible impact on this stock.
    Regarding the magnitude of Level B harassment takes (TTS and 
behavioral disruption), the number of estimated instances compared to 
the abundance within the U.S. EEZ and both in and outside of the U.S. 
EEZ, respectively, is 536 percent and 53 percent. This information 
suggests that approximately less than half of the individuals are 
likely impacted, but that there is likely some repeat exposure (5 to 10 
days within a year) of some subset of individuals within the U.S. EEZ 
if some animals spend extended time within the U.S. EEZ. Regarding the 
severity of those individual takes by behavioral Level B harassment, as 
explained in the 2018 AFTT final rule, the duration of any exposure is 
expected to be between minutes and hours (i.e., relatively short) and 
the received sound levels largely below 172 dB, with a portion up to 
178 dB (i.e., of a moderate or lower level, less likely to evoke a 
severe response). Also, the Navy currently implements and will continue 
to implement time/area mitigation in the Northeast that minimizes major 
training exercises and total sonar hours in an area that significantly 
overlaps an important feeding area for minke whales. This mitigation 
will reduce the severity of impacts to minke whales by reducing 
interference in feeding that could result in lost feeding opportunities 
or necessitate additional energy expenditure to find other good 
foraging opportunities. Regarding the severity of TTS takes, as 
explained in the 2018 AFTT final rule, they are expected to be low-
level and of short duration and the associated lost opportunities and 
capabilities not at a level that would impact reproduction or survival.
    For similar reasons the five estimated Level A harassment takes by 
PTS for this stock are unlikely to have an effect on the reproduction 
or survival of any individual, even if PTS were to be experienced by an 
individual that also experiences one or more Level B harassment takes.
    Altogether, only a portion of the stock will be impacted and any 
individual minke whale is likely to be disturbed at a low to moderate 
level, with many animals likely exposed only once or twice and a subset 
potentially disturbed across 5 to 10 likely non-sequential days, 
minimized in biologically important areas. Even given the potential for 
compromised health of some individuals, this low magnitude and severity 
of effects is not expected to result in impacts on the reproduction or 
survival of individuals, nor are these harassment takes combined with 
the potential mortality expected to adversely affect this stock through 
impacts on annual rates of recruitment or survival for the stock. For 
these reasons, we have determined, in consideration of all of the 
effects of the Navy's activities combined, that the authorized take 
will have a negligible impact on minke whales.

Fin Whale (Western North Atlantic Stock)

    This stock spans the East Coast north into the Newfoundland waters 
of Canada. There is no currently reported trend for the population and 
there are no specific issues with the status of the stock that cause 
particular concern (e.g., no UMEs), although the species is listed as 
endangered under the ESA. NMFS authorizes one mortality over the seven 
years of the rule, or 0.14 annually. With the addition of this 0.14 
annual mortality, residual PBR is exceeded, which means the total 
human-caused mortality would exceed residual PBR by 0.14. However, as 
explained in the 2018 AFTT final rule, this does not mean that the 
stock is not at or increasing toward its optimum sustainable population 
level (OSP) or that one lethal take by the Navy over the seven years 
covered by this rule would adversely affect the stock through effects 
on annual rates of reproduction or survival. Consideration of all 
applicable information indicates that the authorized mortality will not 
result in more than a negligible impact on this stock.
    The abundance of fin whales is likely significantly greater than 
what is reflected in the current SAR because, as noted in the SAR, the 
most recent population estimate is based only on

[[Page 70766]]

surveys in U.S. waters and slightly into Canada which does not include 
the habitat of the entire stock as it extends over a very large 
additional area into Nova Scotian and Newfoundland waters. Accordingly, 
if the PBR in the SAR reflected the actual abundance across the entire 
range of the stock, residual PBR would be notably higher. Additionally, 
the current abundance estimate does not account for availability bias 
due to submerged animals (i.e., estimates are not corrected to account 
for the fact that given X number of animals seen at the surface, we can 
appropriately assume that Y number were submerged and not counted). 
Without a correction for this bias, the abundance estimate is likely 
further biased low. Because of these limitations, the current 
calculated PBR is not a reliable indicator of how removal of animals 
will affect the stock's ability to reach or maintain OSP. We note that, 
generally speaking, while the abundance may be underestimated in this 
manner for some stocks due to the lack of surveys in areas outside of 
the U.S. EEZ, it is also possible that the human-caused mortality could 
be underestimated in the un-surveyed area. However, in the case of fin 
whales, most mortality is caused by entanglement in gear that is 
deployed relatively close to shore and, therefore, unrecorded mortality 
offshore would realistically be proportionally less as compared to the 
unsurveyed abundance and therefore the premise that PBR is likely 
underestimated still holds. Given the small amount by which residual 
PBR is exceeded and more significant degree (proportionally) to which 
abundance is likely underestimated, it is reasonable to conclude that 
if a more realistic PBR were used, the anticipated total human-caused 
mortality would be notably under it.
    We also note that 0.14 mortalities/serious injuries means one 
mortality/serious injury in one of the seven years and zero 
mortalities/serious injuries in six of the seven years. Therefore 
residual PBR would not be exceeded in 86 percent of the years covered 
by this rule. In situations where mortality/serious injury is 
fractional, consideration must be given to the lessened impacts due to 
the absence of mortality in six of the seven years. Further, as 
described in the 2018 AFTT final rule, the Atlantic Large Whale Take 
Reduction Plan directs multiple efforts and requirements towards 
reducing mortality from commercial fishing (via gear modifications, 
area closures, and other mechanisms) and NOAA Office of Law Enforcement 
has reported high compliance rates. Nonetheless, the exceedance of 
residual PBR calls for close attention to the remainder of impacts on 
fin whales from this activity to ensure that the total authorized 
impacts are negligible.
    Regarding the magnitude of Level B harassment takes (TTS and 
behavioral disruption), the number of estimated instances compared to 
the abundance within the U.S. EEZ and both in and outside of the U.S. 
EEZ, respectively, is 323 percent and 37 percent. This information 
suggests that less than a third of the individuals are likely impacted, 
but that there is likely some repeat exposure (2-6 days within a year) 
of some subset of individuals within the U.S. EEZ if some animals spend 
extended time within the U.S. EEZ. Regarding the severity of those 
individual takes by behavioral Level B harassment, as explained in the 
2018 AFTT final rule, the duration of any exposure is expected to be 
between minutes and hours (i.e., relatively short) and the received 
sound levels largely below 172 dB (i.e., of a moderate or lower level, 
less likely to evoke a severe response). Also, the Navy currently 
implements, and will continue to implement time/area mitigation in the 
Northeast that minimizes major training exercises and total sonar hours 
in an area that significantly overlaps an important BIA feeding area 
for fin whales. This mitigation will reduce the severity of impacts to 
fin whales by reducing interference in feeding that could result in 
lost feeding opportunities or necessitate additional energy expenditure 
to find other good opportunities. Regarding the severity of TTS takes, 
as explained in the 2018 AFTT final rule, they are expected to be low-
level, of short duration, and mostly not in a frequency band that would 
be expected to interfere with fin whale communication or other 
important low-frequency cues, and the associated lost opportunities and 
capabilities are not at a level that would impact reproduction or 
survival. For these same reasons (low level and frequency band), while 
a small permanent loss of hearing sensitivity may include some degree 
of energetic costs for compensating or may mean some small loss of 
opportunities or detection capabilities, at the expected scale the 33 
estimated Level A harassment takes by PTS for fin whales would be 
unlikely to impact behaviors, opportunities, or detection capabilities 
to a degree that would interfere with reproductive success or survival 
of any individuals, even if PTS were experienced by an individual that 
also experiences one or more Level B harassment takes.
    Altogether, only a portion of the stock will be impacted and any 
individual fin whale is likely to be disturbed at a low to moderate 
level, with many animals likely exposed only once or twice and a subset 
potentially disturbed across approximately six likely non-sequential 
days, minimized in biologically important areas. This low magnitude and 
severity of effects is not expected to result in impacts on 
reproduction or survival of individuals, nor are these harassment takes 
combined with the single potential mortality expected to adversely 
affect this stock through impacts on annual rates of recruitment or 
survival for the stock. For these reasons, we have determined, in 
consideration of all of the effects of the Navy's activities combined, 
that the authorized take will have a negligible impact on fin whales.

Humpback Whale

    The feeding group stock of humpback whales found in the Gulf of 
Maine is one of several associated with the larger, and increasing, 
West Indies DPS. The Gulf of Maine stock is reported in the SAR as 
increasing in abundance. Nonetheless, humpback whales in the Atlantic 
are currently experiencing an UME in which a portion of the whales have 
shown evidence of entanglement or vessel strike. There have been 22 
strandings so far in 2019 (2018 had 25 total strandings and 2017 had 34 
total strandings). NMFS authorizes two mortalities over the seven-year 
period (versus the one mortality over the five-year period of the 2018 
AFTT final rule), as described in the Estimated Take of Marine Mammals 
section above. Though an increase from the 2018 AFTT final rule, this 
amount of mortality (0.29 per year) still falls below the 
insignificance threshold of 10 percent of residual PBR (0.49) for the 
Gulf of Maine stock based on a stock abundance of 896 from the 2018 
SAR. As discussed in the 2018 AFTT final rule, there are no known 
factors, information, or unusual circumstances that indicate that this 
potential M/SI below the insignificance threshold could have adverse 
effects on the stock through effects on annual rates of recruitment or 
survival. Also, importantly, deaths of humpback whales along the 
Atlantic coast (whether by ship strike or other source) must be 
considered within the context of the larger West Indies DPS, as animals 
along the coast could come from the Gulf of Maine stock or any of three 
or more other associated feeding groups. Specifically, the West Indies 
DPS, the larger population from which

[[Page 70767]]

a humpback whale could potentially be taken, numbers in excess of 
10,000 whales and has an increasing growth trend of 3.1 percent 
(Bettridge et al., 2015), with an associated PBR, if calculated, much 
larger than that presented for the Gulf of Maine stock. Further, as 
described in the 2018 AFTT final rule, the Atlantic Large Whale Take 
Reduction Plan directs multiple efforts and requirements towards 
reducing mortality from commercial fishing (via gear modifications, 
area closures, and other mechanisms) and NOAA Office of Law Enforcement 
has reported high compliance rates. Therefore, even though the 
potential for M/SI from the Navy's activities has increased since the 
2018 AFTT final rule, there is no information to indicate that the loss 
of two whales over seven years, even if it were to occur, would 
adversely affect the stock or the overall species through effects on 
annual rates of recruitment or survival. See the Humpback Whale section 
in the 2018 AFTT final rule for additional supporting information.
    Regarding the magnitude of Level B harassment takes (TTS and 
behavioral disruption), the number of estimated instances (of any 
humpbacks) compared to the abundance within the U.S. EEZ and both in 
and outside of the U.S. EEZ, respectively, is 141 percent and 16 
percent. This suggests that only a small portion of the humpback whales 
in the AFTT Study Area would be likely impacted, with perhaps some 
individuals taken on a few days of the year. It would be impossible to 
determine exactly what portion of the takes are from the Gulf of Maine 
stock. However, based on information in the 2018 AFTT final rule, which 
indicated about one third of the humpback whales traversing the 
Atlantic Coast likely come from the Gulf of Maine stock, we estimate 
that approximately 250 of the 749 total humpback whale takes (both by 
Level A harassment and Level B harassment) might be from the Gulf of 
Maine stock. Two hundred and fifty represents about 28 percent of the 
minimum population estimate for the Gulf of Maine humpback whale 
abundance in NMFS' 2018 SAR, equating to an expectation that few 
animals would be exposed more than one time. The remaining 
approximately 499 Level A and Level B harassment takes would affect 
individuals from the much larger West Indies DPS, with a relatively 
small percentage of individuals affected as the estimated abundance is 
greater than 10,000. Regarding the severity of those individual takes 
by behavioral Level B harassment, as explained in the 2018 AFTT final 
rule, the duration of any exposure is expected to be between minutes 
and hours (i.e., relatively short) and the received sound levels 
largely below 172 dB with a portion above 178 dB (i.e., of a moderate 
or lower level, less likely to evoke a severe response). Also, the Navy 
currently implements and will continue to implement time/area 
mitigation in the Northeast that minimizes major training exercises and 
total sonar hours in an area that significantly overlaps with an 
important feeding area for humpbacks. This mitigation will reduce the 
severity of impacts to humpbacks by reducing interference in feeding 
that could result in lost feeding opportunities or necessitate 
additional energy expenditure to find other good opportunities. 
Regarding the severity of TTS takes, as explained in the 2018 AFTT 
final rule, they are expected to be low-level and of short duration and 
the associated lost opportunities and capabilities not at a level that 
would impact reproduction or survival. For similar reasons the three 
estimated Level A harassment takes by PTS for this stock are unlikely 
to have any effect on the reproduction or survival of any individual, 
even if PTS were to be experienced by an individual that also 
experiences one or more Level B harassment takes.
    Altogether, only a portion of the stock or species is impacted and 
any individual humpback whale will likely be disturbed at a low-
moderate level, with most animals exposed only once or twice, and 
minimized in biologically important areas. This low magnitude and 
severity of effects is not expected to result in impacts on the 
reproduction or survival of any individuals, nor are these harassment 
takes combined with the potential mortalities of up to two whales 
expected to adversely affect the stock or species through impacts on 
annual rates of recruitment or survival. For these reasons, we have 
determined, in consideration of all of the effects of the Navy's 
activities combined, that the authorized take will have a negligible 
impact on humpback whales, including the Gulf of Maine stock, as well 
as the larger species as a whole.

Sei Whale (Nova Scotia Stock)

    This stock spans the northern East Coast and up to southern 
Newfoundland. There is no currently reported trend for the population 
and there are no specific issues with the status of the stock that 
cause particular concern (e.g., no UMEs), although the species is 
listed as endangered under the ESA. NMFS authorizes one mortality over 
the seven years of the rule, or 0.14 annually. With the addition of 
this 0.14 annual mortality, residual PBR is exceeded, which means the 
total human-caused mortality would exceed residual PBR by 0.44. 
However, as explained in the 2018 AFTT final rule, this does not mean 
that the stock is not at or increasing toward its OSP or that one 
lethal take by the Navy over the seven years covered by this rule would 
adversely affect the stock through effects on annual rates of 
reproduction or survival. Consideration of all applicable information 
indicates that the authorized mortality will not result in more than a 
negligible impact on this stock.
    As noted in the SAR, the abundance of sei whales is likely 
significantly greater than what is reflected in the current SAR because 
the population estimate is based only on surveys in U.S. waters and 
slightly into Canada, which does not cover the habitat of the entire 
stock, as it extends over a large additional area around to the south 
of Newfoundland. Accordingly, if a PBR were calculated based on an 
appropriately enlarged abundance, it would be higher. Additionally, the 
current abundance estimate does not account for availability bias due 
to submerged animals (i.e., estimates are not corrected to account for 
the fact that given X number of animals seen at the surface, we can 
appropriate assume that Y number were submerged and not counted). 
Without a correction for this bias, the abundance estimate is likely 
biased low. Because of these limitations, the current calculated PBR is 
not a reliable indicator of how removal of animals will affect the 
stock's ability to reach or maintain OSP. We note that, generally 
speaking, while the abundance may be underestimated in this manner for 
some stocks due to the lack of surveys in areas outside of the U.S. 
EEZ, it is also possible that the human-caused mortality could be 
underestimated in the un-surveyed area. However, in the case of sei 
whales, most mortality is caused by ship strike and the density of ship 
traffic is higher the closer you are to shore (making strikes more 
likely closer to shore) and, therefore, unrecorded mortality offshore 
would realistically be proportionally less as compared to the 
unsurveyed abundance and therefore the premise that PBR is likely 
underestimated still holds.
    Given the small amount by which residual PBR is exceeded and more 
significant degree (proportionally) to which abundance is likely 
underestimated, it is reasonable to think that if a more realistic PBR 
were used,

[[Page 70768]]

the anticipated total human-caused mortality would be notably under 
residual PBR. We also note that 0.14 mortalities/serious injuries means 
one mortality/serious injury in one of the seven years and zero 
mortalities/serious injuries in six of the seven years. Further, as 
described in the 2018 AFTT final rule the Atlantic Large Whale Take 
Reduction Plan directs multiple efforts and requirements towards 
reducing mortality from commercial fishing (via gear modifications, 
area closures, and other mechanisms) and NOAA Office of Law Enforcement 
has reported high compliance rates.
    Regarding the magnitude of Level B harassment takes (TTS and 
behavioral disruption), the number of estimated instances compared to 
the abundance within the U.S. EEZ and both in and outside of the U.S. 
EEZ, respectively, is 317 percent and 7 percent. This information 
suggests that only a very small portion of individuals in the stock 
will be likely impacted, but that there will likely be some repeat 
exposure (several days within a year) of some subset of individuals 
within the U.S. EEZ if some animals spend extended time within the U.S. 
EEZ. Regarding the severity of those individual takes by behavioral 
Level B harassment, as explained in the 2018 AFTT final rule, the 
duration of any exposure is expected to be between minutes and hours 
(i.e., relatively short) and the received sound levels largely below 
172 dB with a portion up to 178 dB (i.e., of a moderate or lower level, 
less likely to evoke a severe response). Also, the Navy implements 
time/area mitigation in the Northeast that minimizes major training 
exercises and total sonar hours in an area that significantly overlaps 
an important BIA feeding area for sei whales, which will reduce the 
severity of impacts to sei whales by reducing interference in feeding 
that could result in lost feeding opportunities or necessitate 
additional energy expenditure to find other good opportunities. 
Regarding the severity of TTS takes, as explained in the 2018 AFTT 
final rule, they are expected to be low-level and of short duration and 
the associated lost opportunities and capabilities not at a level that 
would impact reproduction or survival. For similar reasons the four 
estimated Level A harassment takes by PTS for this stock are unlikely 
to have any effect on the reproduction or survival of any individual, 
even if PTS were to be experienced by an individual that also 
experiences one or more Level B harassment takes. Altogether, only a 
small portion of the stock will be impacted and any individual sei 
whale will likely be disturbed at a low-moderate level, with many 
animals likely exposed only once or twice and a subset potentially 
disturbed across a few days, minimized in biologically important areas. 
This low magnitude and severity of harassment effects is not expected 
to result in impacts on individual reproduction or survival, nor are 
these harassment takes combined with the single potential mortality 
expected to adversely affect this stock through impacts on annual rates 
of recruitment or survival. For these reasons, we have determined, in 
consideration of all of the effects of the Navy's activities combined, 
that the authorized take will have a negligible impact on sei whales.
Odontocetes
Sperm Whales, Dwarf Sperm Whales, and Pygmy Sperm Whales
    In Table 19 below for sperm whales, dwarf sperm whales, and pygmy 
sperm whales, we indicate the total annual mortality, Level A and Level 
B harassment, and a number indicating the instances of total take as a 
percentage of abundance. Table 19 is unchanged from Table 73 in the 
2018 AFTT final rule, except for updated information on mortality, as 
discussed above. For additional information and analysis supporting the 
negligible-impact analysis, see the Odontocetes discussion as well as 
the Sperm Whales, Dwarf Sperm Whales, and Pygmy Sperm Whales discussion 
in the Group and Species-Specific Analyses section of the 2018 AFTT 
final rule, all of which remains applicable to this final rule unless 
specifically noted.
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P

[[Page 70769]]

[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR23DE19.001

BILLING CODE 3510-22-C
    Below we compile and summarize the information that supports our 
determination that the Navy's activities will not adversely affect any 
species or stocks through effects on annual rates of recruitment or 
survival for any of the affected species and stocks addressed in this 
section.
Sperm Whale (North Atlantic Stock)
    This stock spans the East Coast out into oceanic waters well beyond 
the U.S. EEZ. There is no currently reported trend for the stock and, 
although the species is listed as endangered under the ESA, there are 
no specific issues with the status of the stock that cause particular 
concern (e.g., no UMEs). NMFS authorizes one mortality over the seven 
years covered by this rule, and the resulting 0.14 annual mortality 
which falls below 10 percent of residual PBR (0.28), remains below the 
PBR insignificance threshold. As discussed in the 2018 AFTT final rule, 
there are no known factors, information, or unusual circumstances that 
indicate that this potential M/SI below the insignificance threshold 
could have adverse effects on the stock through effects on annual rates 
of recruitment or survival. One Level A harassment take by tissue 
damage is also estimated and authorized which, as discussed in the 2018 
AFTT final rule, could range in impact from minor to something just 
less than M/SI that could seriously impact fitness. However, given the 
Navy's mitigation and the sperm whale's large size, which improves 
detection by Lookouts, exposure at the closer to the source and more 
severe end of the spectrum is less likely, and we cautiously assume 
some moderate impact for this single take that could lower one 
individual's fitness within the year such that a female (assuming a 50 
percent chance of the one take being a female) might forego 
reproduction for one year. As discussed in the 2018 AFTT final rule, 
foregone reproduction has less of an impact on population rates than 
death (especially for one year) and one instance would not be expected 
to impact annual rates of recruitment or survival, even if it were a 
female.
    Regarding the magnitude of Level B harassment takes (TTS and 
behavioral disruption), the number of estimated instances of harassment 
compared to the abundance within the U.S. EEZ and both in and outside 
of the U.S. EEZ, respectively, is 544 percent and 41 percent. This 
information, combined with the known range of the stock, suggests that 
something less than one half of the individuals in the stock will 
likely be impacted, but that there will likely be some repeat exposure 
(2-11 days within a year) of some subset of individuals that remain 
within the U.S. EEZ for an extended time. Regarding the severity of 
those individual takes by behavioral Level B harassment, as explained 
in the 2018 AFTT final rule, the duration of any exposure response is 
expected to be between minutes and hours (i.e., relatively short) and 
the received sound levels largely between 160 and 172 dB (i.e., of a 
lower, to occasionally moderate, level). Regarding the severity of TTS 
takes, as explained in the 2018 AFTT final rule, they are expected to 
be low-level and of short duration and the associated lost 
opportunities and capabilities not at a level that would impact 
reproduction or survival. For similar reasons three estimated Level A 
harassment takes by PTS for this stock is unlikely to have any effect 
on the reproduction or survival of any individual, even if PTS were to 
be experienced by an individual that also experiences one or more Level 
B harassment takes.

[[Page 70770]]

    Altogether, less than one half of the stock will be impacted and 
any individual sperm whale will likely be disturbed at a low-moderate 
level, with the majority of animals likely disturbed once or not at 
all, and a subset potentially disturbed across 2-11 likely non-
sequential days. Even for an animal disturbed at the high end of this 
range (11 days over a year), given the low to moderate impact from each 
incident, and the fact that few days with take will likely be 
sequential, no impacts to individual fitness are expected. This low to 
occasionally moderate magnitude and severity of effects is not expected 
to result in impacts on reproduction or survival, and nor are these 
harassment takes combined with the single authorized mortality and one 
possible instance of foregone reproduction expected to adversely affect 
the stock through annual rates of recruitment or survival. For these 
reasons, we have determined, in consideration of all of the effects of 
the Navy's activities combined, that the authorized take will have a 
negligible impact on North Atlantic sperm whales.
Sperm Whale, Dwarf Sperm Whale, and Pygmy Sperm Whale (Gulf of Mexico 
Stocks)
    These stocks suffer from lingering health issues from the DWH oil 
spill (6-7 percent of individuals of these stocks have adverse health 
effects), which means that some could be more susceptible to exposure 
to other stressors, and negative population effects (21-42 years until 
the DWH oil-injured population trajectory is projected to catch up with 
the baseline population trajectory (i.e., in the absence of DWH, 
reported as years to recovery)). Neither mortality nor tissue damage 
from explosives is anticipated or authorized for any of these three 
stocks, and sperm whales are not expected to incur PTS. Regarding the 
magnitude of Level B harassment takes (TTS and behavioral disruption), 
the number of estimated instances of harassment compared to the 
abundance is 54-78 percent, which suggests that for each of the three 
species/stocks either this percentage of the individuals in these 
stocks will all be taken by harassment on a single day each within a 
year, or a small subset may be taken on a few days and the remainder 
not taken at all. Regarding the severity of those individual takes by 
behavioral Level B harassment, as explained in the 2018 AFTT final 
rule, the duration of any exposure response is expected to be between 
minutes and hours (i.e., relatively short) and the received sound 
levels are largely between 160 and 172 dB (i.e., of a lower level, less 
likely to evoke a severe response). Additionally, the Navy is currently 
implementing and will continue to implement mitigation areas for sperm 
whales that are expected to reduce impacts in important feeding areas, 
further lessening the severity of impacts. In the Gulf of Mexico 
Planning Awareness Mitigation Areas, the Navy will not conduct any 
major training exercises. Regarding the severity of TTS takes, as 
explained in the 2018 AFTT final rule, they are expected to be low-
level, of short duration, and mostly not in a frequency band that would 
be expected to interfere significantly with conspecific communication, 
echolocation, or other important low-frequency cues. Also, there is no 
reason to believe that any individual would incur these TTS takes more 
than a few days in a year, and the associated lost opportunities and 
capabilities would not be expected to impact reproduction or survival. 
For these same reasons (low level and frequency band), while a small 
permanent loss of hearing sensitivity may include some degree of 
energetic costs for compensating or may mean some small loss of 
opportunities or detection capabilities, 70 estimated Level A 
harassment takes by PTS for each of the two Kogia stocks in the Gulf of 
Mexico would be unlikely to impact behaviors, opportunities, or 
detection capabilities to a degree that would interfere with 
reproductive success or survival of any individual, even if PTS were to 
be experienced by an animal that also experiences one or more Level B 
harassment takes.
    Altogether, only a portion of these stocks will be impacted and any 
individual sperm, dwarf sperm, or pygmy sperm whale is likely to be 
disturbed at a low to occasionally moderate level and no more than a 
few days per year. Even given the fact that some of the affected 
individuals may have compromised health, there is nothing to suggest 
that such a low magnitude and severity of effects would result in 
impacts on the reproduction or survival of individuals, much less 
annual rates of recruitment or survival for any of the stocks. For 
these reasons, we have determined, in consideration of all of the 
effects of the Navy's activities combined, that the authorized take 
will have a negligible impact on Gulf of Mexico sperm whales, dwarf 
sperm whales, and pygmy sperm whales.
Pygmy and Dwarf Sperm Whales (Western North Atlantic Stocks)
    These stocks span the deeper waters of the East Coast north to 
Canada and out into oceanic waters beyond the U.S. EEZ. There is no 
currently reported trend for these populations and there are no 
specific issues with the status of the stocks that cause particular 
concern. Neither mortality nor tissue damage from explosives is 
anticipated or authorized for these stocks. Regarding the magnitude of 
Level B harassment takes (TTS and behavioral disruption), the number of 
estimated instances of harassment compared to the abundance within the 
U.S. EEZ and both in and outside of the U.S. EEZ, respectively, is 
2,105 percent and 360 percent. This information, combined with the 
known range of the stock, suggests that while not all of the 
individuals in these stocks will most likely be taken (because they 
span well into oceanic waters) of those that are taken, most would be 
taken over several repeated days (though likely not sequential) and 
some subset that spends extended time within the U.S. EEZ will likely 
be taken over a larger amount of days (likely 15-42 days during a 
year), some of which could be sequential.
    Regarding the severity of the individual takes by behavioral Level 
B harassment, as explained in the 2018 AFTT final rule, the duration of 
any exposure response is expected to be between minutes and hours (and 
likely not more than 24 hours) and the received sound levels are 
largely between 160 and 172 dB (i.e., of a lower level, less likely to 
evoke a severe response). Additionally, while interrupted feeding bouts 
are a known response and concern for odontocetes, we also know that 
there are often viable alternative habitat options in the relative 
vicinity. Regarding the severity of TTS takes, as explained in the 2018 
AFTT final rule, they are expected to be low-level, of short duration 
and mostly not in a frequency band that would be expected to interfere 
significantly with conspecific communication, echolocation, or other 
important low-frequency cues. Also, there is no reason to believe that 
any individual would incur these TTS takes more than a few days in a 
year, and the associated lost opportunities and capabilities would not 
be expected to impact reproduction or survival. For these same reasons 
(low level and frequency band), while a small permanent loss of hearing 
sensitivity may include some degree of energetic costs for compensating 
or may mean some small loss of opportunities or detection capabilities, 
at the expected scale the 94 estimated Level A harassment takes by PTS 
for each of the two Kogia stocks in the North Atlantic would be 
unlikely to impact behaviors, opportunities, or detection capabilities 
to a degree that would interfere with reproductive success or survival 
of any

[[Page 70771]]

individual, even if PTS were to be experienced by an individual that 
also experiences one or more Level B harassment takes.
    Altogether, a large portion of each stock will likely be taken (at 
a low to occasionally moderate level) over several days a year, and 
some smaller portion of the stock will likely be taken on a relatively 
moderate to high number of days across the year, some of which could be 
sequential days. Though the majority of impacts are expected to be of a 
lower to sometimes moderate severity, the larger number of takes (in 
total and for certain individuals) makes it more likely 
(probabilistically) that a small number of individuals could be 
interrupted during foraging in a manner and amount such that impacts to 
the energy budgets of females (from either losing feeding opportunities 
or expending considerable energy to find alternative feeding options) 
could cause them to forego reproduction for a year (energetic impacts 
to males generally have little impact on population rates unless they 
cause death, and it takes extreme energy deficits beyond what would 
ever be likely to result from these activities to cause the death of an 
adult pygmy or dwarf sperm whale). As noted previously and discussed 
more fully in the 2018 AFTT final rule, however, foregone reproduction 
(especially for one year) has far less of an impact on population rates 
than mortality, and a small number of instances of foregone 
reproduction would not be expected to adversely impact annual rates of 
recruitment or survival, especially given that residual PBR for both of 
these stocks is 17.5. For these reasons, in consideration of all of the 
effects of the Navy's activities combined, we have determined that the 
authorized take will have a negligible impact on Western North Atlantic 
pygmy and dwarf sperm whales.

Dolphins and Small Whales

    In Table 20 below for dolphins and small whales, we indicate the 
total annual mortality, Level A and Level B harassment, and a number 
indicating the instances of total take as a percentage of abundance. 
Table 20 is unchanged from Table 74 in the 2018 AFTT final rule, except 
for updated information on mortality, as discussed above. For 
additional information and analysis supporting the negligible-impact 
analysis, see the Odontocetes discussion as well as the Dolphins and 
Small Whales discussion in the Group and Species-Specific Analyses 
section of the 2018 AFTT final rule, all of which remains applicable to 
this final rule unless specifically noted.
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P

[[Page 70772]]

[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR23DE19.002


[[Page 70773]]


[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR23DE19.003

BILLING CODE 3510-22-C
    Below we compile and summarize the information that supports our 
determination that the Navy's activities will not adversely affect any 
species or stocks through effects on annual rates of recruitment or 
survival for any of the affected species or stocks addressed in this 
section.

Atlantic White-Sided Dolphin and Short-Beaked Common Dolphin (Western 
North Atlantic Stocks)

    There is no currently reported trend for these stocks and there are 
no specific issues with the status of these stocks that cause 
particular concern (e.g., no UMEs). We anticipate and therefore 
authorize one and six mortalities over the course of seven years for 
these two stocks, which is 0.14 and 0.86 annual mortalities for each 
stock, respectively. Given the large residual PBR values for these 
stocks (248 and 148), this number of mortalities falls well under the 
insignificance threshold. There are no known factors, information, or 
unusual circumstances that indicate that this estimated M/SI below the 
insignificance threshold could have adverse effects on these stocks 
through effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival. Some Level 
A harassment take by tissue damage from explosives has also been 
estimated and authorized for these stocks (3 and 36, respectively). As 
discussed previously and in the 2018 AFTT final rule, tissue damage 
effects could range in impact from minor to something just less than M/
SI that could seriously impact fitness. However, given the Navy's 
mitigation, which makes exposure at the closer to the source and more 
severe end of the spectrum less likely, we cautiously assume some 
moderate impact for this category of take that could lower an 
individual's fitness within the year such that females (assuming a 50 
percent chance that a take is a female) might forego reproduction for 
one year. As noted previously, foregone reproduction has less of an 
impact on population rates than death (especially for one year) and the 
number of takes anticipated for each stock would not be expected to 
impact annual rates of recruitment or survival, even if all of the 
takes were females (which would be highly unlikely), especially given 
the high residual PBRs of these stocks. In other words, if the stocks 
can absorb the numbers of mortalities indicated through each stock's 
residual PBR without impacting ability to approach OSP, they could 
absorb the significantly lesser effects of a small number of one-year 
delay in calving. Regarding the magnitude of Level B harassment takes 
(TTS and behavioral disruption), the number of estimated instances of 
harassment compared to the abundance within the U.S. EEZ and both in 
and outside of the U.S. EEZ for these two stocks, respectively, is 308 
and 777 percent and 34 and 110 percent. This information suggests that 
some portion of these stocks will likely not be taken at all, but that 
there will likely be some repeat exposure (2-15 days within a year) of 
some subset of individuals. Regarding the severity of those individual 
takes by behavioral Level B harassment, as explained in the 2018 AFTT 
final rule, the duration of any exposure response is expected to be 
between minutes and hours (i.e., relatively short) and the received 
sound levels largely below 172 dB (i.e., of a lower level, less likely 
to evoke a severe response). Additionally, while we do not have 
information that indicates that these takes would occur sequentially on 
more than several days in a row or be more severe in nature, the 
probability of this occurring increases the higher the total take 
numbers. While interrupted feeding bouts are a known response and 
concern for odontocetes, we also know that there are often viable 
alternative habitat options in the relative vicinity. Given the higher 
number of takes and the associated abundances (especially for short-
beaked common dolphin) we acknowledge the possibility that some smaller 
subset of individuals could experience behavioral disruption of a 
degree that impacts energetic budgets such that reproduction could be 
delayed for a year. However, considering the potential reproductive 
effects from tissue damage and from these levels of take by behavioral 
Level B harassment, in combination with the estimated mortality, this 
degree of effect on the small subset of individuals that could be 
affected is still not expected to adversely affect the stocks through 
effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival.
    Regarding the severity of TTS takes, as explained in the 2018 AFTT 
final rule, they are expected to be low-level, of short duration, and 
not in a frequency band that would be expected to significantly 
interfere with dolphin communication, or echolocation or other 
important low-frequency cues. Therefore, the associated lost 
opportunities and capabilities would not be expected to impact 
reproduction or survival of any individuals. For these same reasons 
(low level and the likely frequency band), while a small permanent loss 
of hearing sensitivity may include some degree of energetic costs for 
compensating or may mean some small loss of opportunities or detection 
capabilities, the estimated Level A harassment takes by PTS for the two 
dolphin stocks (7 and 101, respectively) would be unlikely to impact 
behaviors, opportunities, or detection capabilities to a degree that 
would interfere with reproductive success or survival of any 
individual, even if PTS were to be experienced by an animal that also 
experiences one or more Level B harassment takes.
    Altogether, individual dolphins will likely be taken at a low 
level, with some animals likely taken once or not at all, many 
potentially disturbed at low levels across 2-15 predominantly non-
sequential days, and a small number potentially experiencing a level of 
effects that could result in curtailed reproduction for one year. This 
magnitude and severity of effects,

[[Page 70774]]

including consideration of the estimated mortality, is not expected to 
result in impacts on annual rates of recruitment or survival for either 
of the stocks, especially given the status of the stocks. For these 
reasons, we have determined, in consideration of all of the effects of 
the Navy's activities combined, that the authorized take will have a 
negligible impact on these two Western North Atlantic dolphins.
Pantropical Spotted Dolphin and Spinner Dolphin (Gulf of Mexico Stocks)
    As described in the 2018 AFTT final rule, the Gulf of Mexico 
dolphin stocks indicated in Table 20 suffer from lingering health 
issues resulting from the DWH oil spill (7 and 17 percent of 
individuals of these stocks, respectively, have adverse health 
effects), which means that some of them could be more susceptible to 
exposure to other stressors, as well as negative population effects 
(predicting it will take up to 39 and 105 years, respectively, for 
stocks to return to population growth rates predicted in the absence of 
DWH effects). We authorize one mortality over the course of seven years 
for each of these two stocks, which is 0.14 annual mortalities for each 
stock. Given the large residual PBR values for these stocks (402 and 
62, respectively), this number of mortalities falls well under the 
insignificance threshold. As discussed in the 2018 AFTT final rule, 
there are no known factors, information, or unusual circumstances that 
indicate that this estimated M/SI below the insignificance threshold 
could have adverse effects on these stocks through effects on annual 
rates of recruitment or survival. Some Level A harassment take by 
tissue damage from explosives has also been estimated and authorized 
for these stocks (6 and 14, respectively). As noted previously, tissue 
damage effects could range in impact from minor to something just less 
than M/SI that could seriously impact fitness. However, given the 
Navy's mitigation, which makes exposure at the closer to the source and 
more severe end of the spectrum less likely, we cautiously assume some 
moderate impact for this category of take that could lower an 
individual's fitness within the year such that females (assuming a 50 
percent chance that a take is a female) might forego reproduction for 
one year. As noted previously, foregone reproduction has less of an 
impact on population rates than death (especially for one year) and the 
number of takes anticipated for each stock would not be expected to 
impact annual rates of recruitment or survival, even if all of the 
takes were females (which would be highly unlikely), especially given 
the high residual PBRs of these stocks. In other words, if the stocks 
can absorb the numbers indicated through each stock's residual PBR 
without impacting ability to approach OSP, they can absorb the 
significantly lesser effect of a very small number of one-year delay in 
calving.
    Regarding the magnitude of Level B harassment takes (TTS and 
behavioral disruption), the number of estimated instances of harassment 
compared to the abundance is 32 percent and 60 percent, respectively, 
reflecting that only a subset of each stock will be taken by behavioral 
Level B harassment within a year. Of that subset, those taken would 
likely be taken one time, but if taken more than that, the 2 or 3 days 
would not likely be sequential. Regarding the severity of those 
individual takes by behavioral Level B harassment, as explained in the 
2018 AFTT final rule, the duration of any exposure response is expected 
to be between minutes and hours (i.e., relatively short) and the 
received sound levels largely below 172 dB (i.e., of a lower to 
occasionally moderate severity).
    Regarding the severity of TTS takes, as explained in the 2018 AFTT 
final rule, they are expected to be low-level, of short duration, and 
not in a frequency band that would be expected to significantly 
interfere with dolphin communication, or echolocation or other 
important low-frequency cues. Therefore, the associated lost 
opportunities and capabilities are not expected to impact reproduction 
or survival. For these same reasons (low level and the likely frequency 
band), while a small permanent loss of hearing sensitivity may include 
some degree of energetic costs for compensating or may mean some small 
loss of opportunities or detection capabilities, the estimated Level A 
harassment takes by PTS for the dolphin stocks addressed here (15 and 
31, respectively) would be unlikely to impact behaviors, opportunities, 
or detection capabilities to a degree that would interfere with 
reproductive success or survival of any individuals.
    Altogether, any individual dolphin will likely be taken at a low to 
occasionally moderate level, with most animals likely not taken at all 
and with a subset of animals being taken up to a few non-sequential 
days. Even given the fact that some of the affected individuals may 
have compromised health, there is nothing to suggest that such a low 
magnitude and severity of effects, including the potential tissue 
damage and the estimated mortality of one dolphin from each stock over 
the seven years, would result in impacts on annual rates of recruitment 
or survival for either of these two stocks. For these reasons, we have 
determined, in consideration of all of the effects of the Navy's 
activities combined, that the authorized take will have a negligible 
impact on Gulf of Mexico pantropical spotted dolphins and spinner 
dolphins.
Western North Atlantic Dolphin Stocks (All Stocks in Table 20 Except 
Atlantic White-Sided Dolphin and Short-Beaked Common Dolphin)
    There are no specific issues with the status of these stocks that 
cause particular concern (e.g., no UMEs). No mortality is expected nor 
authorized for these stocks. For some of these stocks, some tissue 
damage has been estimated and authorized (1-9 depending on the stock). 
As discussed previously, tissue damage effects could range in impact 
from minor to something just less than M/SI that could seriously impact 
fitness. However, given the Navy's mitigation, which makes exposure at 
the closer to the source and more severe end of the spectrum less 
likely, we cautiously assume some moderate impact for all these takes 
that could lower an individual's fitness within the year such that a 
small number of females (assuming a 50 percent chance of being a 
female) might forego reproduction for one year. As noted previously, 
foregone reproduction has less of an impact on population rates than 
death (especially for one year) and one to a few instances would not be 
expected to impact annual rates of recruitment or survival, even if all 
of the takes were females (which would be highly unlikely), especially 
given the higher residual PBRs, which is known for the majority of 
stocks. For stocks with no calculated residual PBR or where abundance 
is unknown, the limited information available on population size 
indicates that the very low number of females who might forego 
reproduction would have no effect on annual rates of recruitment or 
survival.
    Regarding the magnitude of Level B harassment takes (TTS and 
behavioral disruption), the number of estimated instances of harassment 
compared to the abundance ranges up to 984 percent inside the U.S. EEZ 
(though some are significantly lower) and is generally much lower 
across the whole range of most stocks, reflecting that for many stocks 
only a subset of the stock will be impacted--although alternately for a 
few of the smaller bay stocks all individuals are expected to be taken 
across multiple days. Generally, individuals of most stocks (especially 
bottlenose dolphins) might be taken no more than several times each, 
while the

[[Page 70775]]

other species in this group will only accrue takes to a portion of the 
stock, but individuals might be taken across 2-20 days within a year. 
Regarding the severity of those individual takes by behavioral Level B 
harassment, as explained in the 2018 AFTT final rule, the duration of 
any exposure response is expected to be between minutes and hours 
(i.e., relatively short) and the received sound levels largely below 
172 dB (i.e., of a lower level, less likely to evoke a severe 
response). While we do not have information to indicate that these 
takes would occur sequentially on more than several days in a row or be 
more severe in nature, the probability of this occurring increases the 
higher the total take numbers. Given higher percentages when compared 
to abundances, and especially where the absolute number of takes is 
higher (e.g., spinner dolphin), we acknowledge the possibility that 
some smaller subset of individuals (especially in the larger stocks 
with higher total take numbers) could experience behavioral disruption 
of a degree that impacts energetic budgets such that reproduction could 
be delayed for a year. However, considering the very small number of 
potential reproductive effects from Level A harassment by tissue damage 
(1-9 depending on stock and assuming all individuals are female, which 
is very unlikely) in addition to the possible reproductive effect on a 
smaller subset of individuals from the takes by behavioral Level B 
harassment, this degree of effects on a small subset of individuals is 
still not expected to adversely affect annual rates of recruitment or 
survival. For the smaller Estuarine stocks with the potential repeated 
days of disturbance, we note that as described in the 2018 AFTT final 
rule, the activities that the Navy conducts in inland areas (not MTEs, 
etc.) are expected to generally result in lower severity responses, 
further decreasing the likelihood that they would cause effects on 
reproduction or survival, even if accrued over several sequential days.
    Regarding the severity of TTS takes, as explained in the 2018 AFTT 
final rule, they are expected to be low-level, of short duration, and 
not in a frequency band that would be expected to significantly 
interfere with dolphin communication, or echolocation or other 
important low-frequency cues. Therefore, the associated lost 
opportunities and capabilities would not be expected to impact 
reproduction or survival. For these same reasons (low level and the 
likely frequency band), while a small permanent loss of hearing 
sensitivity may include some degree of energetic costs for compensating 
or may mean some small loss of opportunities or detection capabilities, 
the estimated Level A harassment takes by PTS for the dolphin stocks 
addressed here (between 1 and 77) would be unlikely to impact 
behaviors, opportunities, or detection capabilities to a degree that 
would interfere with reproductive success or survival of any 
individual, even if PTS were to be experienced by an individual that 
also experiences one or more Level B harassment takes.
    Altogether, any individual dolphin will likely be taken at a low to 
occasionally moderate level, with some animals likely taken once or not 
at all, a subset potentially disturbed across 2-20 predominantly non-
sequential days, and a small number potentially experiencing a level of 
effects that could curtail reproduction for one year. The magnitude and 
severity of effects described is not expected to result in impacts on 
annual rates of recruitment or survival for any of the stocks. For 
these reasons, we have determined, in consideration of all of the 
effects of the Navy's activities combined, that the authorized take 
will have a negligible impact on these Western North Atlantic dolphins.
Gulf of Mexico Dolphin Stocks (All of the Stocks Indicated in Table 20 
Except Pantropical Spotted Dolphin and Spinner Dolphin)
    As mentioned above and discussed in the 2018 AFTT final rule, the 
Gulf of Mexico stocks indicated in Table 20 suffer from lingering 
health issues resulting from the DWH oil spill (3-30 percent of 
individuals of these stocks have adverse health effects), which means 
that some of them could be more susceptible to exposure to other 
stressors, as well as negative population effects (predicting it will 
take up to 76 years, with that number varying across stocks, for stocks 
to return to population growth rates predicted in the absence of DWH 
effects). Of note, the Northern Coastal bottlenose dolphin adverse 
effect statistics are about twice as high as the others (i.e., all 
other stocks are below 17 percent). As described above there is an 
active UME for bottlenose dolphins in the Northern Gulf of Mexico and 
in southwest Florida along the Gulf of Mexico. These UMEs could affect 
bottlenose dolphins from several stocks in the Gulf of Mexico, 
including those that are anticipated to be impacted by Navy activities 
and those that are not anticipated to be impacted by Navy activities. 
No mortality has been estimated or authorized for these stocks, however 
a few Level A harassment takes by tissue damage from explosives (zero 
for most, 1-2 for a few, and 6 for the Atlantic spotted dolphin stock) 
are estimated and authorized. As noted previously, tissue damage 
effects could range in impact from minor to something just less than M/
SI that could seriously impact fitness. However, given the Navy's 
mitigation, which makes exposure at the closer to the source and more 
severe end of the spectrum less likely, we cautiously assume some 
moderate impact for these Level A harassment takes that could lower an 
individual's fitness within the year such that a female (assuming a 50 
percent chance of being a female) might forego reproduction for one 
year. As noted previously, foregone reproduction has less of an impact 
on population rates than death (especially for one year) and a few 
instances, even up to six for the Atlantic spotted dolphin stock, would 
not be expected to impact annual rates of recruitment or survival, even 
if all of the takes were of females (which is highly unlikely).
    Regarding the magnitude of Level B harassment takes (TTS and 
behavioral disruption), the number of estimated instances of harassment 
compared to the abundance ranges up to 177 percent, but is generally 
much lower for most stocks, reflecting that generally only a subset of 
each stock will be taken, with those in the subset taken only a few 
non-sequential days of the year. Regarding the severity of those 
individual takes by Level B behavioral harassment, as explained in the 
2018 AFTT final rule, the duration of any exposure response is expected 
to be between minutes and hours (i.e., relatively short) and the 
received sound levels largely below 172 dB (i.e., of a lower to 
occasionally moderate severity).
    Regarding the severity of TTS takes, as explained in the 2018 AFTT 
final rule, they are expected to be low-level, of short duration, and 
not in a frequency band that would be expected to significantly 
interfere with dolphin communication, or echolocation or other 
important low-frequency cues. Therefore, the associated lost 
opportunities and capabilities would not be expected to impact 
reproduction or survival. For these same reasons (low level and the 
likely frequency band), while a small permanent loss of hearing 
sensitivity may include some degree of energetic costs for compensating 
or may mean some small loss of opportunities or detection capabilities, 
the estimated Level A harassment takes by PTS for the dolphin stocks 
addressed here (all 3 or below, with the exception of three stocks with 
much larger abundances with 4, 8, and 15 PTS takes) would be

[[Page 70776]]

unlikely to impact behaviors, opportunities, or detection capabilities 
to a degree that would interfere with reproductive success or survival 
of any individual, even if PTS were to be experienced by an animal that 
also experiences one or more Level B harassment takes.
    Altogether, any individual dolphin will likely be taken at a low to 
occasionally moderate level, with many animals likely not taken at all 
and with a subset of animals being taken up to a few times. A very 
small number could potentially experience tissue damage that could 
curtail reproduction for one year. Even given the fact that some of the 
affected individuals may have compromised health, there is nothing to 
suggest that such a low magnitude and severity of effects would result 
in impacts on annual rates of recruitment or survival for any of the 
Gulf of Mexico stocks indicated in Table 20. For these reasons, we have 
determined, in consideration of all of the effects of the Navy's 
activities combined, that the authorized take will have a negligible 
impact on these Gulf of Mexico dolphins.
Harbor Porpoise
    In Table 21 below for porpoises, we indicate the total annual 
mortality, Level A and Level B harassment, and a number indicating the 
instances of total take as a percentage of abundance. Table 21 is 
unchanged from Table 75 in the 2018 AFTT final rule. For additional 
information and analysis supporting the negligible-impact analysis, see 
the Odontocetes discussion as well as the Harbor Porpoise discussion in 
the Group and Species-Specific Analyses section of the 2018 AFTT final 
rule, all of which remains applicable to this final rule unless 
specifically noted.
[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR23DE19.004

    Below we compile and summarize the information that supports our 
determination that the Navy's activities will not adversely affect 
harbor porpoises through effects on annual rates of recruitment or 
survival.
    The Gulf of Maine/Bay of Fundy stock of harbor porpoise is found 
predominantly in northern U.S. coastal waters (<150 m depth) and up 
into Canada's Bay of Fundy. No mortality or tissue damage by explosives 
are anticipated or authorized for this stock and there are no specific 
issues with the status of the stock that cause particular concern 
(e.g., no UMEs). Regarding the magnitude of Level B harassment takes 
(TTS and behavioral disruption), the number of estimated instances 
compared to the abundance within the U.S. EEZ and both in and outside 
of the U.S. EEZ, respectively, is 941 percent and 80 percent. This 
information, combined with the known range of the stock, suggests that 
only a portion of the individuals in the stock will likely be impacted 
(i.e., notably less than 80 percent given the likely repeats; in other 
words more than 20 percent would be taken zero times), but that there 
will likely be some amount of repeat exposures across days (perhaps 6-
19 days within a year) for some subset of individuals that spend 
extended times within the U.S. EEZ. Regarding the severity of those 
individual takes by behavioral Level B harassment, as explained in the 
2018 AFTT final rule, the duration of any exposure response is expected 
to be from minutes to hours and not likely exceeding 24 hrs, and the 
received sound levels of the MF1 bin are largely between 154 and 166 
dB, which, for a harbor porpoise (which have a lower behavioral Level B 
harassment threshold) would mostly be considered a moderate level.
    Regarding the severity of TTS takes, as explained in the 2018 AFTT 
final rule, they are expected to be low-level, of short duration, and 
not in a frequency band that would be expected to significantly 
interfere with harbor porpoise communication, or echolocation or other 
important low-frequency cues. Therefore, the associated lost 
opportunities and capabilities would not be expected to impact 
reproduction or survival. For these same reasons (low level and the 
likely frequency band), while a small permanent loss of hearing 
sensitivity may include some degree of energetic costs for compensating 
or may mean some small loss of opportunities or detection capabilities, 
the estimated 454 Level A harassment takes by PTS for harbor porpoise 
would be unlikely to impact behaviors, opportunities, or detection 
capabilities to a degree that would interfere with reproductive

[[Page 70777]]

success or survival for most individuals, even if PTS were to be 
experienced by an individual that also experiences one or more Level B 
harassment takes. Because of the high number of PTS takes, we 
acknowledge that a few animals could potentially incur permanent 
hearing loss of a higher degree that could potentially interfere with 
their successful reproduction and growth. However, given the status of 
the stock (high abundance and residual PBR of 451), even if this 
occurred, it would not adversely impact rates of recruitment or 
survival.
    Altogether, because harbor porpoises are particularly sensitive, it 
is likely that a fair number of the responses would be of a moderate 
nature. Additionally, as noted, some portion of the stock may be taken 
repeatedly on up to 19 days within a year, with some of those being 
sequential. Given this and the larger number of total takes (both to 
the stock and to individuals), it is more likely (probabilistically) 
that some small number of individuals could be interrupted during 
foraging in a manner and amount such that impacts to the energy budgets 
of females (from either losing feeding opportunities or expending 
considerable energy to find alternative feeding options) could cause 
them to forego reproduction for a year (energetic impacts to males 
generally have limited impact on population rates unless they cause 
death, and it takes extreme energy deficits beyond what would ever be 
likely to result from these activities to cause the death of an adult 
harbor porpoise). As noted previously, however, foregone reproduction 
(especially for one year) has far less of an impact on population rates 
than mortality and a small number of instances would not be expected to 
adversely impact annual rates of recruitment or survival, especially 
given that the residual PBR of harbor porpoises is 451. All indications 
are that the number of times in which reproduction would be likely to 
be foregone would not affect the stock's annual rates of recruitment or 
survival. For these reasons, we have determined, in consideration of 
all of the effects of the Navy's activities combined, that the 
authorized take will have a negligible impact on harbor porpoises.

Beaked Whales

    In Table 22 below for beaked whales, we indicate the total annual 
mortality, Level A and Level B harassment, and a number indicating the 
instances of total take as a percentage of abundance. Table 22 is 
unchanged from Table 76 in the 2018 AFTT final rule. For additional 
information and analysis supporting the negligible-impact analysis, see 
the Odontocetes discussion as well as the Beaked Whales discussion in 
the Group and Species-Specific Analyses section of the 2018 AFTT final 
rule, all of which remains applicable to this final rule unless 
specifically noted.
[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR23DE19.005


[[Page 70778]]


    Below we compile and summarize the information that supports our 
determination that the Navy's activities will not adversely affect any 
species or stocks through effects on annual rates of recruitment or 
survival for any of the affected species or stocks addressed in this 
section.
Beaked Whales, Including Northern Bottlenose Whale (Western North 
Atlantic Stocks)
    These stocks span the deeper waters of the East Coast of the U.S. 
north to Canada and out into oceanic waters beyond the U.S. EEZ. There 
is no currently reported trend for these populations and there are no 
specific issues with the status of the stocks that cause particular 
concern. Neither mortality nor tissue damage from explosives is 
anticipated or authorized for these stocks. Regarding the magnitude of 
Level B harassment takes (TTS and behavioral disruption), the number of 
estimated instances of harassment compared to the abundance within the 
U.S. EEZ and both in and outside of the U.S. EEZ is 1,567-1,836 percent 
and 162-297 percent, respectively. This information, combined with the 
known range of the stocks, suggests that while not all of the 
individuals in these stocks would most likely be taken (because they 
span well into oceanic waters, beyond the AFTT Study Area), of those 
that are, most would be taken over a few days (though likely not 
sequential) and some subset that spends extended time within the U.S. 
EEZ will likely be taken over a larger amount of days (maybe 15-37), 
some of which could be sequential. Regarding the severity of those 
individual takes by behavioral Level B harassment, as explained in the 
2018 AFTT final rule, the duration of any exposure response is expected 
to generally be between minutes and hours and largely between 148 and 
160 dB, though with beaked whales, which are considered somewhat more 
sensitive, this could mean that some individuals will leave preferred 
habitat for a day or two. However, while interrupted feeding bouts are 
a known response and concern for odontocetes, we also know that there 
are often viable alternative habitat options in the relative vicinity 
in the Western North Atlantic.
    Regarding the severity of TTS takes, as explained in the 2018 AFTT 
final rule, they are expected to be low-level, of short duration, and 
not in a frequency band that would adversely affect communication, 
inhibit echolocation, or otherwise interfere with other low-frequency 
cues. Therefore any associated lost opportunities and capabilities 
would not impact reproduction or survival. For the same reasons (low 
level and frequency band) the one to three estimated Level A harassment 
takes by PTS for these stocks are unlikely to have any effect on the 
reproduction or survival of any individual, even if PTS were to be 
experienced by an individual that also experiences one or more Level B 
harassment takes.
    Altogether, a small portion of the stock will likely be taken (at a 
relatively moderate level) on a relatively moderate to high number of 
days across the year, some of which could be sequential. Though the 
majority of impacts are expected to be of a sometimes low, but more 
likely, moderate magnitude and severity, the sensitivity of beaked 
whales and larger number of takes makes it more likely 
(probabilistically) that a small number of individuals could be 
interrupted during foraging in a manner and amount such that impacts to 
the energy budgets of females (from either losing feeding opportunities 
or expending considerable energy to find alternative feeding options) 
could cause them to forego reproduction for a year (energetic impacts 
to males generally have limited impact on population rates unless they 
cause death, and it takes extreme energy deficits beyond what would 
ever be likely to result from these activities to cause the death of an 
adult beaked whale). As noted previously, however, foregone 
reproduction (especially for one year) has far less of an impact on 
population rates than mortality and a small number of instances would 
not be expected to adversely impact annual rates of recruitment or 
survival. Based on the abundance of these stocks in the area and the 
evidence of little, if any, known human-caused mortality, all 
indications are that the small number of times in which reproduction 
would be likely to be foregone would not affect the stocks' annual 
rates of recruitment or survival. For these reasons, we have 
determined, in consideration of all of the effects of the Navy's 
activities combined, that the authorized take will have a negligible 
impact on Western North Atlantic beaked whales.
Beaked Whales (Gulf of Mexico Stocks)
    The animals in these stocks suffer from lingering health issues 
resulting from the DWH oil spill (four percent of individuals of these 
stocks have adverse health effects), which means that some of them 
could be more susceptible to exposure to other stressors, and negative 
population effects (10 years for their growth rate to recover to the 
rate predicted for the stocks if they had not incurred spill impacts). 
Neither mortality nor tissue damage from explosives is anticipated or 
authorized for these stocks. Level A harassment take from PTS is also 
unlikely to occur. Regarding the magnitude of Level B harassment takes 
(TTS and behavioral disruption), the number of estimated instances of 
harassment compared to the abundance is 148-155 percent. This 
information indicates that either the individuals in these stocks would 
all be taken by harassment one or two days within a year, or that a 
subset would not be taken at all and a small subset may be taken 
several times. Regarding the severity of those individual takes, as 
explained in the 2018 AFTT final rule, the duration of any exposure 
response is expected to generally be between minutes and hours and 
largely between 148 and 160 dB, though with beaked whales, which are 
considered somewhat more sensitive, this could mean that some 
individuals will leave preferred habitat for a day or two. However, 
while interrupted feeding bouts are a known response and concern for 
odontocetes, we also know that there are often viable alternative 
habitat options in the relative vicinity in the Gulf of Mexico. 
Regarding the severity of TTS takes, as explained in the 2018 AFTT 
final rule, they are expected to be low-level, of short duration, and 
not in a frequency band that would adversely affect communication, 
inhibit echolocation, or otherwise interfere with other low frequency 
cues. Therefore any associated lost opportunities and capabilities 
would not impact reproduction or survival.
    Altogether, likely only a portion of these stocks will be impacted 
and any individual beaked whale likely would be disturbed at a moderate 
level for no more than a few days per year. Even given the fact that 
some of the affected individuals may have compromised health, there is 
nothing to suggest that this magnitude and severity of effects would 
result in impacts on annual rates of recruitment or survival for any of 
the stocks. For these reasons, we have determined, in consideration of 
all of the effects of the Navy's activities combined, that the 
authorized take will have a negligible impact on Gulf of Mexico beaked 
whales included in Table 22.

Pinnipeds

    In Table 23 below for pinnipeds, we indicate the total annual 
mortality, Level A and Level B harassment, and a number indicating the 
instances of total take as a percentage of abundance. Table 23 is 
unchanged from Table 77 in the 2018 AFTT final rule. For additional

[[Page 70779]]

information and analysis supporting the negligible-impact analysis, see 
the Pinnipeds discussion in the Group and Species-Specific Analyses 
section of the 2018 AFTT final rule, all of which remains applicable to 
this final rule unless specifically noted.
[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR23DE19.006

    Below we compile and summarize the information that supports our 
determination that the Navy's activities will not adversely affect any 
pinnipeds through effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival 
for any of the affected species or stocks addressed in this section.
    The Western North Atlantic pinniped (harp seal, harbor seal, hooded 
seal, and gray seal) stocks are northern, but highly migratory species. 
While harp seals are limited to the northern portion of the U.S. EEZ, 
gray and harbor seals may be found as far south as the Chesapeake Bay 
in late fall and hooded seals migrate as far south as Puerto Rico. An 
UME has been designated for seals from Maine to Virginia and the main 
pathogen found in the seals that have been tested is phocine distemper 
virus. Neither mortality nor tissue damage from explosives is 
anticipated or authorized for any of these stocks. Regarding the 
magnitude of Level B harassment takes (TTS and behavioral disruption), 
the number of estimated instances of harassment compared to the 
abundance that is expected within the AFTT Study Area is 34-225 
percent, which suggests that only a subset of the animals in the AFTT 
Study Area would be taken, but that a few might be taken on several 
days within the year (1-5 days), but not likely on sequential days. 
When the fact that some of these seals are residing in areas near Navy 
activities is considered, we can estimate that perhaps some of those 
individuals might be taken some higher number of days within the year 
(up to approximately 10 days), but still with no reason to think that 
these takes would occur on sequential days, which means that we would 
not expect effects on reproduction or survival. Regarding the severity 
of those individual behavioral Level B harassment takes, as explained 
in the 2018 AFTT final rule, the duration of any exposure response is 
expected to be between minutes and hours (i.e., relatively short) and 
the received sound levels are largely below 172 dB, with some up to 178 
dB (i.e., of a lower to moderate level, less likely to evoke a severe 
response) and therefore there is no indication that the expected takes 
by behavioral Level B harassment would have any effect on annual rates 
of recruitment or survival.
    Regarding the severity of TTS takes, as explained in the 2018 AFTT 
final rule, they are expected to be low-level, of short duration, and 
not in a frequency band that would adversely affect communication or 
otherwise interfere with other low-frequency cues. Therefore any 
associated lost opportunities and capabilities would not impact 
reproduction or survival. For the same reasons (low level and frequency 
band) the two to four estimated Level A harassment takes by PTS for 
these stocks are unlikely to have any effect on the reproduction or 
survival of any individual, even if PTS were to be experienced by an 
animal that also experiences one or more Level B harassment takes.
    Even given the fact that some of the affected harbor seal 
individuals may have compromised health due to the UME, there is 
nothing to suggest that such a low magnitude and severity of effects 
would result in impacts on annual rates of recruitment or survival, 
especially given that the stock abundance in the SAR is 75,839 with a 
residual PBR of 1,651. Similarly, given the low magnitude and severity 
of effects, there is no indication that these activities would affect 
reproduction or survival of harp or hooded seals, much less adversely 
affect rates of recruitment or survival, especially given that harp 
seal abundance is estimated at 6.9 million and hooded seal residual PBR 
is

[[Page 70780]]

13,950. Gray seals are experiencing an UME as well as an exceedance of 
more than 4,299 M/SI above PBR, as reported in the SAR. The NMFS SAR 
notes, however, that the U.S. portion of average annual human-caused M/
SI in U.S. waters does not exceed the portion of PBR in U.S. waters, 
and while the status of the gray seal population relative to OSP in 
U.S. Atlantic EEZ waters is unknown, despite the exceedance of the 
reported PBR the stock abundance appears to be increasing in both U.S. 
and Canadian waters (Hayes et al., 2018). Also, given the low magnitude 
(take compared to abundance is 95 percent, meaning the subset of 
individuals taken may be taken a few times on non-sequential days) and 
low to occasionally moderate severity of impacts, no impacts to 
individual reproduction or survival are expected and therefore no 
effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival would occur. For 
these reasons, in consideration of all of the effects of the Navy's 
activities combined, we have determined that the authorized take will 
have a negligible impact on gray seals, harbor seals, hooded seals, and 
harp seals.

Determination

    The 2018 AFTT final rule included a detailed discussion of all of 
the anticipated impacts on the affected species and stocks from serious 
injury and mortality, Level A harassment, and Level B harassment; 
impacts on habitat; and how the Navy's mitigation and monitoring 
measures reduce the number and/or severity of adverse effects. We 
evaluated how these impacts and mitigation measures are expected to 
combine to affect individuals of each stock. Those effects were then 
evaluated in the context of whether they are reasonably likely to 
impact reproductive success or survivorship of individuals and then, if 
so, further analyzed to determine whether there would be effects on 
annual rates of recruitment or survival that would adversely affect the 
species or stock.
    As described above, the basis for the negligible impact 
determination is the assessment of effects on annual rates of 
recruitment and survival. Accordingly, the analysis included in the 
2018 AFTT final rule, as updated in this rule to consider new 
information and include the two additional years of activities, 
mitigation measures, and monitoring and reporting requirements, uses 
annual activity levels, the best available science, and approved 
methods to predict the annual impacts to marine mammals, which were 
then analyzed in the context of whether each species or stock would 
incur more than a negligible impact based on anticipated adverse 
impacts to annual rates of recruitment or survival. As we have 
described above, none of the factors upon which the annually-based 
conclusions in the 2018 AFTT final rule were based have changed in a 
manner that changes our determinations. Therefore, even though this 
final rule includes two additional years, because our findings are 
based on annual rates of recruitment and survival, and nothing has 
changed in a manner that would change our 2018 AFTT rule annual 
analyses, it is appropriate to rely on those analyses, in addition to 
the updated information and analysis discussed above, for this final 
rule.
    Based on the applicable information and analysis from the 2018 AFTT 
final rule as updated with the information and analysis contained 
herein on the potential and likely effects of the specified activities 
on the affected marine mammals and their habitat, and taking into 
consideration the implementation of the monitoring and mitigation 
measures, NMFS finds that the incidental take from the specified 
activities will have a negligible impact on all affected marine mammal 
species and stocks.

Subsistence Harvest of Marine Mammals

    There are no subsistence uses or harvest of marine mammals in the 
geographic area affected by the specified activities. Therefore, NMFS 
has determined that the total taking affecting species or stocks will 
not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of such 
species or stocks for taking for subsistence purposes.

Classifications

Endangered Species Act

    There are six marine mammal species under NMFS jurisdiction that 
are listed as endangered or threatened under the ESA with confirmed or 
possible occurrence in the AFTT Study Area: Blue whale, fin whale, sei 
whale, sperm whale, North Atlantic right whale, and Gulf of Mexico 
subspecies of Bryde's whale. The Navy consulted with NMFS pursuant to 
section 7 of the ESA for AFTT activities. NMFS also consulted 
internally on the issuance of the AFTT regulations and LOAs under 
section 101(a)(5)(A) of the MMPA. NMFS issued a Biological and 
Conference Opinion on October 22, 2018, concluding th