Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to Mukilteo Multimodal Construction Project in Washington State, 35906-35919 [2020-12753]

Download as PDF 35906 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 114 / Friday, June 12, 2020 / Notices Notification Regarding Administrative Protective Order This notice also serves as a final reminder to parties subject to administrative protective order (APO) of their responsibility concerning the return or destruction of proprietary information disclosed under APO in accordance with 19 CFR 351.305, which continues to govern business proprietary information in this segment of the proceeding. Timely written notification of the return/destruction of APO materials or conversion to judicial protective order is hereby requested. Failure to comply with the regulations and terms of an APO is a violation which is subject to sanction. Notification to Interested Parties This notice is issued and published in accordance with sections 751(a)(1) and 777(i)(1) of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended, and 19 CFR 351.213(d)(4). Dated: June 9, 2020. James Maeder, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Operations. [FR Doc. 2020–12751 Filed 6–11–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–DS–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [RTID 0648–XA171] Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to Mukilteo Multimodal Construction Project in Washington State National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice; proposed incidental harassment authorization; request for comments on proposed authorization and possible renewal. Background NMFS has received a request from the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) for authorization to take marine mammals incidental to Mukilteo Multimodal Construction Project in Washington State. Pursuant to the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), NMFS is requesting comments on its proposal to issue an incidental harassment authorization (IHA) to incidentally take marine mammals during the specified activities. NMFS is also requesting comments on a possible one-year renewal that could be issued under The MMPA prohibits the ‘‘take’’ of marine mammals, with certain exceptions. Sections 101(a)(5)(A) and (D) of the MMPA (16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.) direct the Secretary of Commerce (as delegated to NMFS) to allow, upon request, the incidental, but not intentional, taking of small numbers of marine mammals by U.S. citizens who engage in a specified activity (other than commercial fishing) within a specified geographical region if certain findings are made and either regulations are issued or, if the taking is limited to harassment, a notice of a proposed AGENCY: SUMMARY: jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with NOTICES certain circumstances and if all requirements are met, as described in Request for Public Comments at the end of this notice. NMFS will consider public comments prior to making any final decision on the issuance of the requested MMPA authorizations and agency responses will be summarized in the final notice of our decision. DATES: Comments and information must be received no later than July 13, 2020. ADDRESSES: Comments should be addressed to Jolie Harrison, Chief, Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service. Physical comments should be sent to 1315 EastWest Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910 and electronic comments should be sent to ITP.guan@noaa.gov. Instructions: NMFS is not responsible for comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted online at https:// www.fisheries.noaa.gov/permit/ incidental-take-authorizations-undermarine-mammal-protection-act without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address) voluntarily submitted by the commenter may be publicly accessible. Do not submit confidential business information or otherwise sensitive or protected information. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Shane Guan, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, (301) 427–8401. Electronic copies of the application and supporting documents, as well as a list of the references cited in this document, may be obtained online at: https:// www.fisheries.noaa.gov/permit/ incidental-take-authorizations-undermarine-mammal-protection-act. In case of problems accessing these documents, please call the contact listed above. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:43 Jun 11, 2020 Jkt 250001 PO 00000 Frm 00011 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 incidental take authorization may be provided to the public for review. Authorization for incidental takings shall be granted if NMFS finds that the taking will have a negligible impact on the species or stock(s) and will not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of the species or stock(s) for taking for subsistence uses (where relevant). Further, NMFS must prescribe the permissible methods of taking and other ‘‘means of effecting the least practicable adverse impact’’ on the affected species or stocks and their habitat, paying particular attention to rookeries, mating grounds, and areas of similar significance, and on the availability of the species or stocks for taking for certain subsistence uses (referred to in shorthand as ‘‘mitigation’’); and requirements pertaining to the mitigation, monitoring and reporting of the takings are set forth. The definitions of all applicable MMPA statutory terms cited above are included in the relevant sections below. National Environmental Policy Act To comply with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA; 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) and NOAA Administrative Order (NAO) 216–6A, NMFS must review our proposed action (i.e., the issuance of an IHA) with respect to potential impacts on the human environment. This action is consistent with categories of activities identified in Categorical Exclusion B4 (IHAs with no anticipated serious injury or mortality) of the Companion Manual for NOAA Administrative Order 216–6A, which do not individually or cumulatively have the potential for significant impacts on the quality of the human environment and for which we have not identified any extraordinary circumstances that would preclude this categorical exclusion. Accordingly, NMFS has preliminarily determined that the issuance of the proposed IHA qualifies to be categorically excluded from further NEPA review. We will review all comments submitted in response to this notice prior to concluding our NEPA process or making a final decision on the IHA request. Summary of Request On February 18, 2020, NMFS received a request from WSDOT for an IHA to take marine mammals incidental to Mukilteo Multimodal Project in Mukilteo, Washington. The application was deemed adequate and complete on April 13, 2020. WSDOT’s request is for take of a small number of 11 species of marine mammals by Level B harassment E:\FR\FM\12JNN1.SGM 12JNN1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 114 / Friday, June 12, 2020 / Notices and Level A harassment. Neither WSDOT nor NMFS expects serious injury or mortality to result from this activity and, therefore, an IHA is appropriate. This proposed IHA would cover one year of a larger project for which WSDOT obtained prior IHAs (82 FR 44164; September 21, 2017; 83 FR 43849; August 28, 2018; 84 FR 39263; August 9, 2019). The larger four-year project involves relocating the Mukilteo Ferry Terminal approximately one-third of a mile east of the existing terminal. This is expected to be the fourth and final year of project activity. WSDOT complied with all the requirements (e.g., mitigation, monitoring, and reporting) of the previous IHAs and information regarding their monitoring results may be found in the Potential Effects of Specified Activities on Marine Mammals and their Habitat section. Description of Proposed Activity Overview jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with NOTICES The purpose of the Mukilteo Multimodal Project is to provide safe, reliable, and effective service and connection for general-purpose transportation, transit, high occupancy VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:43 Jun 11, 2020 Jkt 250001 vehicles (HOV), pedestrians, and bicyclists traveling between Island County and the Seattle/Everett metropolitan area and beyond by constructing a new ferry terminal. The current Mukilteo Ferry Terminal has not had significant improvements for almost 30 years and needs key repairs. The existing facility is deficient in a number of aspects, such as safety, multimodal connectivity, capacity, and the ability to support the goals of local and regional long-range transportation and comprehensive plans. The project is intended to: • Reduce conflicts, congestion, and safety concerns for pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists by improving local traffic and safety at the terminal and the surrounding area that serves these transportation needs. • Provide a terminal and supporting facilities with the infrastructure and operating characteristics needed to improve the safety, security, quality, reliability, efficiency, and effectiveness of multimodal transportation. • Accommodate future demand projected for transit, HOV, pedestrian, bicycle, and general-purpose traffic. The proposed Mukilteo Multimodal Project would involve in-water vibratory PO 00000 Frm 00012 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 35907 pile driving and vibratory pile removal. Details of the proposed construction project are provided below. Dates and Duration Due to NMFS and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) in-water work timing restrictions to protect Endangered Species Act (ESA)-listed salmonids, planned WSDOT in-water construction is limited each year to July 15 through February 15. For this project, in-water construction is planned to take place between August 1, 2020 and February 15, 2021. The total worst-case time for pile installation and removal is 54 days (Table 1). Specific Geographic Region The Mukilteo Ferry Terminal is located in the City of Mukilteo, Snohomish County, Washington. The terminal is located in Township 28 North, Range 4 East, Section 3, in Possession Sound. The new terminal will be approximately 1,700 ft (518 m) east of the existing terminal in Township 28N, Range 4E, Section 33 (Figure 1). Land use in the Mukilteo area is a mix of residential, commercial, industrial, and open space and/or undeveloped lands. E:\FR\FM\12JNN1.SGM 12JNN1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 114 / Friday, June 12, 2020 / Notices Detailed Description of Specific Activity The proposed project has two activities involving noise production that may impact marine mammals: Vibratory pile removal and vibratory pile driving. (1) Temporary Pile Removal Sixty-nine temporary 24 inch steel piles installed to support work platforms will be removed with a vibratory hammer. jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with NOTICES (2) Floating Dolphin Piling The floating dolphin will be moved from the current terminal to the new terminal. A combination of anchors (four) and piles (four) will be used to secure the dolphin anchor chains to the VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:43 Jun 11, 2020 Jkt 250001 sea floor. Four 30 inch steel piles will be installed with a vibratory hammer. (3) Existing Terminal Removal The existing terminal will be removed once the new terminal is complete. The existing terminal comprises 8,120 ft2 (754 m2) of overwater cover and contains approximately 290 12-inch diameter timber piles. All timber piles may be removed with a vibratory hammer, a clamshell, or pulled directly. Use of the vibratory hammer for timber pile removal is not the preferred method and it is likely that most piles will be removed via direct pull. However, for purposes of analysis we assume that all timber piles will be removed using the vibratory hammer. PO 00000 Frm 00013 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Details of pile driving activities are provided below and are summarized in Table 1. • Vibratory removal of 12-inch timber piles would take 15 minutes per pile, 10 piles per day, with 290 piles removed over 29 days. • Vibratory removal of 24-inch steel pipe piles would take 15 minutes per pile, 3 piles removed per day, with 69 piles removed in 23 days. • Vibratory driving of 30-inch steel pipe piles would take 30 minutes per pile, 2 piles per day, with 4 piles installed in 2 days. Pile driving or removal will occur in different days. There is no concurrent pile driving or pile removing. E:\FR\FM\12JNN1.SGM 12JNN1 EN12JN20.035</GPH> 35908 35909 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 114 / Friday, June 12, 2020 / Notices TABLE 1—SUMMARY OF IN-WATER PILE DRIVING DURATIONS Method Pile size (inch) Vibratory Removal ............................ Vibratory Removal ............................ Vibratory Drive .................................. 12 (timber) ........................................ 24 (steel) .......................................... 30 (steel) .......................................... 290 69 4 15 15 30 10 3 2 29 23 2 Total ........................................... ........................................................... ........................ ........................ ........................ 54 Description of Marine Mammals in the Area of Specified Activities Sections 3 and 4 of the application summarize available information regarding status and trends, distribution and habitat preferences, and behavior and life history, of the potentially affected species. Additional information regarding population trends and threats may be found in NMFS’s Stock Assessment Reports (SARs; https:// www.fisheries.noaa.gov/national/ marine-mammal-protection/marinemammal-stock-assessments) and more general information about these species (e.g., physical and behavioral descriptions) may be found on NMFS’s website (https://www.fisheries. noaa.gov/find-species). Table 2 lists all species or stocks for which take is expected and proposed to Minutes per pile Number piles be authorized for this action, and summarizes information related to the population or stock, including regulatory status under the MMPA and ESA and potential biological removal (PBR), where known. For taxonomy, we follow Committee on Taxonomy (2019). PBR is defined by the MMPA as the maximum number of animals, not including natural mortalities, that may be removed from a marine mammal stock while allowing that stock to reach or maintain its optimum sustainable population (as described in NMFS’s SARs). While no mortality is anticipated or authorized here, PBR and annual serious injury and mortality from anthropogenic sources are included here as gross indicators of the status of the species and other threats. Marine mammal abundance estimates presented in this document represent Piles per day Days the total number of individuals that make up a given stock or the total number estimated within a particular study or survey area. NMFS’s stock abundance estimates for all species represent the total estimate of individuals within the geographic area, if known, that comprises that stock. All managed stocks in this region are assessed in NMFS’s U.S Pacific and Alaska SARs (e.g., Carretta et al., 2020; Muto et al., 2020). All values presented in Table 2 are the most recent available at the time of publication and are available in the 2018 SARs (Carretta et al., 2019; Muto et al., 2019) and draft 2019 SARs (available online at: https:// www.fisheries.noaa.gov/national/ marine-mammal-protection/draftmarine-mammal-stock-assessmentreports). TABLE 2—MARINE MAMMALS WITH POTENTIAL PRESENCE WITHIN THE PROPOSED PROJECT AREA Common name Scientific name ESA/ MMPA status; strategic (Y/N) 1 Stock Stock abundance (CV, Nmin, most recent abundance survey) 2 Annual M/SI 3 PBR Order Cetartiodactyla—Cetacea—Superfamily Mysticeti (baleen whales) Family Eschrichtiidae: Gray whale ..................... Family Balaenopteridae (rorquals): Humpback whale ............ Minke whale .................... Eschrichtius robustus ............ Eastern North Pacific ............. N 26,960 (0.05, 25,849) ............ 801 139 Megaptera novaeangliae ....... Balaenoptera acutorostrata ... California/Oregon/Washington California/Oregon/Washington Y N 2,900 (0.05, 2,784) ................ 636 (0.72, 369) ...................... 16.7 3.5 unk 1.3 Superfamily Odontoceti (toothed whales, dolphins, and porpoises) Family Delphinidae: Killer whale ..................... Orcinus orca .......................... Bottlenose dolphin .......... Tursiops truncatus ................. Family Phocoenidae (porpoises): Harbor porpoise .............. Dall’s porpoise ................ Phocoena phocoena .............. P. dalli .................................... Eastern North Pacific Southern Resident. West coast transient .............. California/Oregon/Washington offshore. Washington inland waters ..... California/Oregon/Washington Y 75 (NA, 75) ............................ 0 0 N N 243 (NA, 243) ........................ 1,924 (0.54, 1,255) ................ 2.4 11 0 1.6 N N 11,233 (0.37, 8,308) .............. 25,750 (0.45, 17,954) ............ 66 172 7.2 0.3 jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with NOTICES Order Carnivora—Superfamily Pinnipedia Family Otariidae (eared seals and sea lions): California sea lion ........... Steller sea lion ................ Family Phocidae (earless seals): Harbor seal ..................... VerDate Sep<11>2014 Zalophus californianus ........... Eumetopias jubatus ............... U.S ......................................... Eastern U.S ........................... N N 257,606 (NA, 233,515) .......... 43,201 (NA, 43,201) .............. 14,011 2,592 321 113 Phoca vitulina ........................ Washington northern inland waters. N 11,036 4 .................................. NA 10.6 17:43 Jun 11, 2020 Jkt 250001 PO 00000 Frm 00014 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 E:\FR\FM\12JNN1.SGM 12JNN1 35910 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 114 / Friday, June 12, 2020 / Notices TABLE 2—MARINE MAMMALS WITH POTENTIAL PRESENCE WITHIN THE PROPOSED PROJECT AREA—Continued Common name Northern elephant seal ... ESA/ MMPA status; strategic (Y/N) 1 Scientific name Stock Mirounga angustirostris ......... California breeding ................ N Stock abundance (CV, Nmin, most recent abundance survey) 2 179,000 (NA, 81,368) ............ PBR 4,882 Annual M/SI 3 8.8 1 Endangered Species Act (ESA) status: Endangered (E), Threatened (T)/MMPA status: Depleted (D). A dash (-) indicates that the species is not listed under the ESA or designated as depleted under the MMPA. Under the MMPA, a strategic stock is one for which the level of direct human-caused mortality exceeds PBR or which is determined to be declining and likely to be listed under the ESA within the foreseeable future. Any species or stock listed under the ESA is automatically designated under the MMPA as depleted and as a strategic stock. 2 NMFS marine mammal stock assessment reports online at: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/national/marine-mammal-protection/marine-mammal-stock-assessments. CV is coefficient of variation; Nmin is the minimum estimate of stock abundance. 3 These values, found in NMFS’s SARs, represent annual levels of human-caused mortality plus serious injury from all sources combined (e.g., commercial fisheries, ship strike). 4 Harbor seal estimate is based on data that are greater than 8 years old, but this is the best available information for use here. As indicated above, all 11 species (with 12 managed stocks) in Table 2 temporally and spatially co-occur with the activity to the degree that take is reasonably likely to occur, and we have proposed authorizing it, with the exception of the Southern Resident killer whale. Take of Southern Resident killer whale can be avoided by implementing strict monitoring and mitigation measures (see Proposed Mitigation and Proposed Monitoring and Reporting sections below). In addition, the sea otter may be found in inland waters of Washington. However, this species is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and is not considered further in this document. A detailed description of the marine mammals in the area of the activities is found in the notice of proposed IHA for WSDOT’s Season 3 Mukilteo Multimodal construction project (83 FR 30421, June 28, 2018). This information remains valid, as there is no new information available, so we do not repeat it here but provide a summary table with marine mammal species and stock details (Table 2). Marine Mammal Hearing Hearing is the most important sensory modality for marine mammals underwater, and exposure to anthropogenic sound can have deleterious effects. To appropriately assess the potential effects of exposure to sound, it is necessary to understand the frequency ranges marine mammals are able to hear. Current data indicate that not all marine mammal species have equal hearing capabilities (e.g., Richardson et al., 1995; Wartzok and Ketten, 1999; Au and Hastings, 2008). To reflect this, Southall et al. (2007) recommended that marine mammals be divided into functional hearing groups based on directly measured or estimated hearing ranges on the basis of available behavioral response data, audiograms derived using auditory evoked potential techniques, anatomical modeling, and other data. Note that no direct measurements of hearing ability have been successfully completed for mysticetes (i.e., low-frequency cetaceans). Subsequently, NMFS (2018) described generalized hearing ranges for these marine mammal hearing groups. Generalized hearing ranges were chosen based on the approximately 65 decibel (dB) threshold from the normalized composite audiograms, with the exception for lower limits for lowfrequency cetaceans where the lower bound was deemed to be biologically implausible and the lower bound from Southall et al. (2007) retained. Marine mammal hearing groups and their associated hearing ranges are provided in Table 3. TABLE 3—MARINE MAMMAL HEARING GROUPS (NMFS, 2018) Hearing group Generalized hearing range * Low-frequency (LF) cetaceans (baleen whales) ............................................................................. Mid-frequency (MF) cetaceans (dolphins, toothed whales, beaked whales, bottlenose whales) .. High-frequency (HF) cetaceans (true porpoises, Kogia, river dolphins, cephalorhynchid, Lagenorhynchus cruciger & L. australis). Phocid pinnipeds (PW) (underwater) (true seals) ........................................................................... Otariid pinnipeds (OW) (underwater) (sea lions and fur seals) ...................................................... 7 Hz to 35 kHz. 150 Hz to 160 kHz. 275 Hz to 160 kHz. 50 Hz to 86 kHz. 60 Hz to 39 kHz. jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with NOTICES * Represents the generalized hearing range for the entire group as a composite (i.e., all species within the group), where individual species’ hearing ranges are typically not as broad. Generalized hearing range chosen based on ∼65 dB threshold from normalized composite audiogram, with the exception for lower limits for LF cetaceans (Southall et al. 2007) and PW pinniped (approximation). The pinniped functional hearing group was modified from Southall et al. (2007) on the basis of data indicating that phocid species have consistently demonstrated an extended frequency range of hearing compared to otariids, especially in the higher frequency range (Hemila¨ et al., 2006; Kastelein et al., 2009; Reichmuth and Holt, 2013). For more detail concerning these groups and associated frequency ranges, please see NMFS (2018) for a review of available information. Eleven marine mammal species (seven cetacean and VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:43 Jun 11, 2020 Jkt 250001 four pinniped (two otariid and two phocid) species) have the reasonable potential to co-occur with the proposed survey activities. Please refer to Table 2. Of the cetacean species that may be present, three are classified as lowfrequency cetaceans (i.e., all mysticete species), two are classified as midfrequency cetaceans (i.e., all delphinid species), and two are classified as highfrequency cetaceans (i.e., porpoise species). PO 00000 Frm 00015 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Potential Effects of Specified Activities on Marine Mammals and Their Habitat This section includes a summary and discussion of the ways that components of the specified activity may impact marine mammals and their habitat. The Estimated Take section later in this document includes a quantitative analysis of the number of individuals that are expected to be taken by this activity. The Negligible Impact Analysis and Determination section considers the content of this section, the Estimated E:\FR\FM\12JNN1.SGM 12JNN1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 114 / Friday, June 12, 2020 / Notices jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with NOTICES Take section, and the Proposed Mitigation section, to draw conclusions regarding the likely impacts of these activities on the reproductive success or survivorship of individuals and how those impacts on individuals are likely to impact marine mammal species or stocks. The WSDOT’s Mukilteo Multimodal construction work using in-water pile driving and pile removal could adversely affect marine mammal species and stocks by exposing them to elevated noise levels in the vicinity of the activity area. Exposure to high intensity sound for a sufficient duration may result in auditory effects such as a noise-induced threshold shift—an increase in the auditory threshold after exposure to noise (Finneran et al., 2005). Factors that influence the amount of threshold shift include the amplitude, duration, frequency content, temporal pattern, and energy distribution of noise exposure. The magnitude of hearing threshold shift normally decreases over time following cessation of the noise exposure. The amount of threshold shift just after exposure is the initial threshold shift. If the threshold shift eventually returns to zero (i.e., the threshold returns to the pre-exposure value), it is a temporary threshold shift (Southall et al., 2007). Threshold Shift (Noise-Induced Loss of Hearing) When animals exhibit reduced hearing sensitivity (i.e., sounds must be louder for an animal to detect them) following exposure to an intense sound or sound for long duration, it is referred to as a noise-induced threshold shift (TS). An animal can experience temporary threshold shift (TTS) or permanent threshold shift (PTS). TTS can last from minutes or hours to days (i.e., there is complete recovery), can occur in specific frequency ranges (i.e., an animal might only have a temporary loss of hearing sensitivity between the frequencies of 1 and 10 kilohertz (kHz)), and can be of varying amounts (for example, an animal’s hearing sensitivity might be reduced initially by only 6 dB or reduced by 30 dB). PTS is permanent, but some recovery is possible. PTS can also occur in a specific frequency range and amount as mentioned above for TTS. For marine mammals, published data are limited to the captive bottlenose dolphin, beluga, harbor porpoise, and Yangtze finless porpoise (Finneran et al., 2000, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2010a, 2010b; Finneran and Schlundt, 2010; Lucke et al., 2009; Mooney et al., 2009a, 2009b; Popov et al., 2011a, 2011b; VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:43 Jun 11, 2020 Jkt 250001 Kastelein et al., 2012a; Schlundt et al., 2000; Nachtigall et al., 2003, 2004). For pinnipeds in water, data are limited to measurements of TTS in harbor seals, an elephant seal, and California sea lions (Kastak et al., 1999, 2005; Kastelein et al., 2012b). Lucke et al. (2009) found a TS of a harbor porpoise after exposing it to airgun noise with a received sound pressure level (SPL) at 200.2 dB (peakto-peak) re: 1 micropascal (mPa), which corresponds to a sound exposure level of 164.5 dB re: 1 mPa2 s after integrating exposure. Because the airgun noise is a broadband impulse, one cannot directly determine the equivalent of root-meansquare (rms) SPL from the reported peak-to-peak SPLs. However, applying a conservative conversion factor of 16 dB for broadband signals from seismic surveys (McCauley, et al., 2000) to correct for the difference between peakto-peak levels reported in Lucke et al. (2009) and rms SPLs, the rms SPL for TTS would be approximately 184 dB re: 1 mPa, and the received levels associated with PTS (Level A harassment) would be higher. Therefore, based on these studies, NMFS recognizes that TTS of harbor porpoises is lower than other cetacean species empirically tested (Finneran and Schlundt, 2010; Finneran et al., 2002; Kastelein and Jennings, 2012). Marine mammal hearing plays a critical role in communication with conspecifics, and interpretation of environmental cues for purposes such as predator avoidance and prey capture. Depending on the degree (elevation of threshold in dB), duration (i.e., recovery time), and frequency range of TTS, and the context in which it is experienced, TTS can have effects on marine mammals ranging from discountable to serious (similar to those discussed in auditory masking, below). For example, a marine mammal may be able to readily compensate for a brief, relatively small amount of TTS in a non-critical frequency range that occurs during a time where ambient noise is lower and there are not as many competing sounds present. Alternatively, a larger amount and longer duration of TTS sustained during time when communication is critical for successful mother/calf interactions could have more serious impacts. Also, depending on the degree and frequency range, the effects of PTS on an animal could range in severity, although it is considered generally more serious because it is a permanent condition. Of note, reduced hearing sensitivity as a simple function of aging has been observed in marine mammals, as well as humans and other taxa (Southall et al., 2007), so one can infer PO 00000 Frm 00016 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 35911 that strategies exist for coping with this condition to some degree, though likely not without cost. In addition, exposure to noise could cause masking at particular frequencies for marine mammals, which utilize sound for vital biological functions (Clark et al., 2009). Acoustic masking is when other noises such as from human sources interfere with animal detection of acoustic signals such as communication calls, echolocation sounds, and environmental sounds important to marine mammals. Therefore, under certain circumstances, marine mammals whose acoustical sensors or environment are being severely masked could also be impaired from maximizing their performance fitness in survival and reproduction. Masking occurs at the frequency band that the animals utilize. Therefore, since noise generated from vibratory pile driving is mostly concentrated at low frequency ranges, it may have less effect on high frequency echolocation sounds by odontocetes (toothed whales). However, lower frequency man-made noises are more likely to affect detection of communication calls and other potentially important natural sounds such as surf and prey noise. It may also affect communication signals when they occur near the noise band and thus reduce the communication space of animals (e.g., Clark et al., 2009) and cause increased stress levels (e.g., Foote et al., 2004; Holt et al., 2009). Unlike TS, masking, which can occur over large temporal and spatial scales, can potentially affect the species at population, community, or even ecosystem levels, as well as individual levels. Masking affects both senders and receivers of the signals and could have long-term chronic effects on marine mammal species and populations. Recent science suggests that low frequency ambient sound levels have increased by as much as 20 dB (more than three times in terms of sound pressure level) in the world’s ocean from pre-industrial periods, and most of these increases are from distant shipping (Hildebrand 2009). For WSDOT’s Mukilteo Multimodal construction activities, noises from vibratory pile driving and pile removal contribute to the elevated ambient noise levels in the project area, thus increasing potential for or severity of masking. Baseline ambient noise levels in the vicinity of project area are high due to ongoing shipping, construction and other activities in the Puget Sound. Finally, marine mammals’ exposure to certain sounds could lead to behavioral disturbance (Richardson et al., 1995), such as: Changing durations of surfacing E:\FR\FM\12JNN1.SGM 12JNN1 35912 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 114 / Friday, June 12, 2020 / Notices jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with NOTICES and dives, number of blows per surfacing, or moving direction and/or speed; reduced/increased vocal activities; changing/cessation of certain behavioral activities (such as socializing or feeding); visible startle response or aggressive behavior (such as tail/fluke slapping or jaw clapping); avoidance of areas where noise sources are located; and/or flight responses (e.g., pinnipeds flushing into water from haulouts or rookeries). The onset of behavioral disturbance from anthropogenic noise depends on both external factors (characteristics of noise sources and their paths) and the receiving animals (hearing, motivation, experience, demography) and is also difficult to predict (Southall et al., 2007). Currently NMFS uses a received level of 160 dB re 1 mPa (rms) to predict the onset of behavioral harassment from intermittent noises (such as impact pile driving), and 120 dB re 1 mPa (rms) for continuous noises (such as vibratory pile driving). For the WSDOT’s Mukilteo Multimodal construction activities, only continuous noise is considered for effects analysis because WSDOT plans to use vibratory pile driving and pile removal. The biological significance of many of these behavioral disturbances is difficult to predict, especially if the detected disturbances appear minor. However, the consequences of behavioral modification could be biologically significant if the change affects growth, survival, and/or reproduction, which depends on the severity, duration, and context of the effects. During the previous years of the project, WSDOT conducted the required marine mammal mitigation and monitoring and did not exceed the authorized levels of take. The marine mammal monitoring report for the 2019 Mukilteo Ferry Terminal construction activity shows that a total of 168 harbor seals, 105 California sea lions, 7 Steller sea lions, 12 harbor porpoises, and 1 northern elephant seal were observed within the Level A or Level B harassment zones. These numbers are well under the authorized take numbers issued in the 2019 IHA to WSDOT. In addition, no abnormal or drastic change of behavior of marine mammals was observed by the protected species observers (PSOs) during WSDOT’s 2019 Mukilteo Ferry Terminal construction activity. Potential Effects on Marine Mammal Habitat The primary potential impacts to marine mammal habitat are associated with elevated sound levels produced by vibratory pile removal and pile driving VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:43 Jun 11, 2020 Jkt 250001 in the area. However, other potential impacts to the surrounding habitat from physical disturbance are also possible. With regard to fish as a prey source for cetaceans and pinnipeds, fish are known to hear and react to sounds and to use sound to communicate (Tavolga et al. 1981) and possibly avoid predators (Wilson and Dill 2002). Experiments have shown that fish can sense both the strength and direction of sound (Hawkins 1981). Primary factors determining whether a fish can sense a sound signal, and potentially react to it, are the frequency of the signal and the strength of the signal in relation to the natural background noise level. The level of sound at which a fish will react or alter its behavior is usually well above the detection level. Fish have been found to react to sounds when the sound level increased to about 20 dB above the detection level of 120 dB (Ona 1988); however, the response threshold can depend on the time of year and the fish’s physiological condition (Engas et al., 1993). In general, fish react more strongly to pulses of sound (such as noise from impact pile driving) rather than continuous signals (such as noise from vibratory pile driving) (Blaxter et al., 1981), and a quicker alarm response is elicited when the sound signal intensity rises rapidly compared to sound rising more slowly to the same level. During the coastal construction only a small fraction of the available habitat would be ensonified at any given time. Disturbance to fish species would be short-term and fish would return to their pre-disturbance behavior once the pile driving activity ceases. Thus, the proposed construction would have little, if any, impact on marine mammals’ prey availability in the area where construction work is planned. Finally, the time of the proposed construction activity would avoid the spawning season of the ESA-listed salmonid species. Estimated Take This section provides an estimate of the number of incidental takes proposed for authorization through this IHA, which will inform both NMFS’ consideration of ‘‘small numbers’’ and the negligible impact determination. Harassment is the only type of take expected to result from these activities. Except with respect to certain activities not pertinent here, section 3(18) of the MMPA defines ‘‘harassment’’ as any act of pursuit, torment, or annoyance, which (i) has the potential to injure a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild (Level A harassment); or (ii) has the potential to disturb a PO 00000 Frm 00017 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild by causing disruption of behavioral patterns, including, but not limited to, migration, breathing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or sheltering (Level B harassment). Authorized takes would be by Level B harassment only, in the form of disruption of behavioral patterns for individual marine mammals resulting from exposure to vibratory pile driving and pile removal. Based on the nature of the activity and the anticipated effectiveness of the mitigation measures (i.e., shutting down pile driving or removal activities when a marine mammal is observed to approach the injury zone)—discussed in detail below in Proposed Mitigation section, Level A harassment is neither anticipated nor proposed to be authorized. As described previously, no mortality is anticipated or proposed to be authorized for this activity. Below we describe how the take is estimated. Generally speaking, we estimate take by considering: (1) Acoustic thresholds above which NMFS believes the best available science indicates marine mammals will be behaviorally harassed or incur some degree of permanent hearing impairment; (2) the area or volume of water that will be ensonified above these levels in a day; (3) the density or occurrence of marine mammals within these ensonified areas; and, (4) and the number of days of activities. We note that while these basic factors can contribute to a basic calculation to provide an initial prediction of takes, additional information that can qualitatively inform take estimates is also sometimes available (e.g., previous monitoring results or average group size). Below, we describe the factors considered here in more detail and present the proposed take estimate. Acoustic Thresholds Using the best available science, NMFS has developed acoustic thresholds that identify the received level of underwater sound above which exposed marine mammals would be reasonably expected to be behaviorally harassed (equated to Level B harassment) or to incur PTS of some degree (equated to Level A harassment). Level B Harassment for non-explosive sources—Though significantly driven by received level, the onset of behavioral disturbance from anthropogenic noise exposure is also informed to varying degrees by other factors related to the source (e.g., frequency, predictability, duty cycle), the environment (e.g., bathymetry), and the receiving animals (hearing, motivation, experience, E:\FR\FM\12JNN1.SGM 12JNN1 35913 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 114 / Friday, June 12, 2020 / Notices demography, behavioral context) and can be difficult to predict (Southall et al., 2007, Ellison et al., 2012). Based on what the available science indicates and the practical need to use a threshold based on a factor that is both predictable and measurable for most activities, NMFS uses a generalized acoustic threshold based on received level to estimate the onset of behavioral harassment. NMFS predicts that marine mammals are likely to be behaviorally harassed in a manner we consider Level B harassment when exposed to underwater anthropogenic noise above received levels of 120 dB re 1 mPa (rms) for continuous (e.g., vibratory pile- driving, drilling) and above 160 dB re 1 mPa (rms) for non-explosive impulsive (e.g., seismic airguns) or intermittent (e.g., scientific sonar) sources. WSDOT’s Mukilteo Ferry Terminal Year 4 construction project includes the use vibratory pile driving and pile removal, and therefore the 120 dB re 1 mPa (rms) is applicable. Level A harassment for non-explosive sources—NMFS’ Technical Guidance for Assessing the Effects of Anthropogenic Sound on Marine Mammal Hearing (Version 2.0) (Technical Guidance, 2018) identifies dual criteria to assess auditory injury (Level A harassment) to five different marine mammal groups (based on hearing sensitivity) as a result of exposure to noise from two different types of sources (impulsive or nonimpulsive). WSDOT’s Mukilteo Ferry Terminal Year 4 construction project includes the use non-impulsive (vibratory pile driving) sources. These thresholds are provided in the table below. The references, analysis, and methodology used in the development of the thresholds are described in NMFS 2018 Technical Guidance, which may be accessed at https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/ national/marine-mammal-protection/ marine-mammal-acoustic-technicalguidance. TABLE 4—THRESHOLDS IDENTIFYING THE ONSET OF PERMANENT THRESHOLD SHIFT PTS Onset acoustic thresholds * (received level) Hearing group Impulsive Low-Frequency (LF) Cetaceans ...................................... Mid-Frequency (MF) Cetaceans ...................................... High-Frequency (HF) Cetaceans ..................................... Phocid Pinnipeds (PW) (Underwater) ............................. Otariid Pinnipeds (OW) (Underwater) ............................. Cell Cell Cell Cell Cell 1: 3: 5: 7: 9: Lpk,flat: Lpk,flat: Lpk,flat: Lpk,flat: Lpk,flat: 219 230 202 218 232 dB; dB; dB; dB; dB; Non-impulsive LE,LF,24h: 183 dB ......................... LE,MF,24h: 185 dB ........................ LE,HF,24h: 155 dB ........................ LE,PW,24h: 185 dB ....................... LE,OW,24h: 203 dB ....................... Cell Cell Cell Cell Cell 2: LE,LF,24h: 199 dB. 4: LE,MF,24h: 198 dB. 6: LE,HF,24h: 173 dB. 8: LE,PW,24h: 201 dB. 10: LE,OW,24h: 219 dB. * Dual metric acoustic thresholds for impulsive sounds: Use whichever results in the largest isopleth for calculating PTS onset. If a non-impulsive sound has the potential of exceeding the peak sound pressure level thresholds associated with impulsive sounds, these thresholds should also be considered. Note: Peak sound pressure (Lpk) has a reference value of 1 μPa, and cumulative sound exposure level (LE) has a reference value of 1μPa2s. In this Table, thresholds are abbreviated to reflect American National Standards Institute standards (ANSI 2013). However, peak sound pressure is defined by ANSI as incorporating frequency weighting, which is not the intent for this Technical Guidance. Hence, the subscript ‘‘flat’’ is being included to indicate peak sound pressure should be flat weighted or unweighted within the generalized hearing range. The subscript associated with cumulative sound exposure level thresholds indicates the designated marine mammal auditory weighting function (LF, MF, and HF cetaceans, and PW and OW pinnipeds) and that the recommended accumulation period is 24 hours. The cumulative sound exposure level thresholds could be exceeded in a multitude of ways (i.e., varying exposure levels and durations, duty cycle). When possible, it is valuable for action proponents to indicate the conditions under which these acoustic thresholds will be exceeded. Ensonified Area Source Levels Here, we describe operational and environmental parameters of the activity that will feed into identifying the area ensonified above the acoustic thresholds, which include source levels and transmission loss coefficient. The project includes vibratory pile removal of 12-inch timber piles and 24inch steel piles, and vibratory pile driving of 30-inch steel piles. Near source levels (defined as noise level at 10-m from the pile) of these pile driving and removal activities are all based on prior measurements conducted by WSDOT. A summary of the 10-m near source levels of the pile driving and removal activities is provided in Table 5, along with references. TABLE 5—NEAR SOURCE NOISE LEVELS AT 10-M FROM THE PILE FOR VARIOUS PILE DRIVING AND REMOVAL AT MUKILTEO FERRY TERMINAL YEAR 4 PROJECT Source level (dB RMS SPL at 10m) Activity/pile size jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with NOTICES Vibratory removal of 12-inch timber pile ..................................... Vibratory removal of 24-inch steel pile ....................................... Vibratory driving of 30-inch steel pile ......................................... Level A Harassment Distances and Areas Distances to Level A harassment thresholds were estimated using the NMFS User Spreadsheet. When the NMFS Technical Guidance (2016) was published, in recognition of the fact that ensonified area/volume could be more VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:43 Jun 11, 2020 Jkt 250001 153 166 170 Literature source WSDOT Port Townsend measurement (2011). WSDOT Manette Bridge measurement (2010). WSDOT Manette Bridge measurement (2010). technically challenging to predict because of the duration component in the new thresholds, we developed a User Spreadsheet that includes tools to help predict a simple isopleth that can be used in conjunction with marine mammal density or occurrence to help predict takes. We note that because of PO 00000 Frm 00018 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 some of the assumptions included in the methods used for these tools, we anticipate that isopleths produced are typically going to be overestimates of some degree, which may result in some degree of overestimate of Level A harassment take. However, these tools offer the best way to predict appropriate E:\FR\FM\12JNN1.SGM 12JNN1 35914 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 114 / Friday, June 12, 2020 / Notices isopleths when more sophisticated 3D modeling methods are not available, and NMFS continues to develop ways to quantitatively refine these tools, and will qualitatively address the output where appropriate. For stationary sources such as vibratory pile driving and pile removal, NMFS User Spreadsheet predicts the distance at which, if a marine mammal remained at that distance the whole duration of the activity, it would incur PTS. A summary of the calculated Level A harassment distances and areas is presented in Table 6. Level B Harassment Distances and Areas Level B harassment distances from all pile driving and pile removal activities were based on in situ measurements conducted by WSDOT on the same or similar piles at Mukilteo Ferry Terminal in the early phases of this project. Specifically, the following measurement data were used. WSDOT has conducted in situ measurements of the Level B harassment zones from vibratory removal of 12-inch diameter timber piles, and vibratory driving of 30-inch diameter steel piles at the Mukilteo Ferry Terminal. For removal of 12-inch timber piles, the measurement results show that underwater noise cannot be detected at a distance of 1.13 km/0.7 miles (Laughlin 2015). For driving of 30inch steel piles, the sound source verification (SSV) results show that underwater noise cannot be detected at a distance of 7.9 km/4.9 miles) (Laughlin 2017). No far distance measurement for 24inch piles has been conducted at the Mukilteo project site to establish the Level B harassment zone. For 24-inch piles, the practical spreading model results in a Level B harassment distance of 10 km/6.2 miles for the source level of 166 dBrms (root-mean-square decibel level). However, given that this source level is less than the 174 dBrms source level for the 30-inch piles, it is assumed that the size of Level B harassment zone for 24-inch pile removal will be the same as for the driving of 30-inch piles (7.9 km/4.9 miles). The Level B harassment areas were estimated by WSDOT using geographic information system (GIS) tools to eliminate land masses and other obstacles that block sound propagation. A summary of the measured Level B harassment distances (and assumed Level B harassment distance for 30-in steel piles) and associated areas, and modeled Level A harassment distances, is presented in Table 6. TABLE 6—LEVEL A AND LEVEL B HARASSMENT DISTANCES AND AREAS Level A harassment distance (m)/area (km2) Source LF cetaceans Vibratory removal 12 inch timber pile ...... Vibratory removal 24 inch steel pile ........ Vibratory drive 30 inch steel pile ............. MF cetaceans HF cetaceans 0.3/0.0 1.1/0.0 2.4/0.0 5.4/0.0 18.0/0.0 40.2/0.0 3.7/0.0 12.1/0.0 27.2/0.0 Marine Mammal Occurrence In this section we provide the information about the presence, density, or group dynamics of marine mammals that will inform the take calculations. Marine mammal occurrence are based on the U.S. Navy Marine Species Density Database (U.S. Navy, 2019) and Phocids 2.2/0.0 7.4/0.0 16.5/0.0 Otariids 0.2/0.0 0.5/0.0 1.2/0.0 Level B harassment distance (m)/ area (km2) 1,130/1.2 7,900/66 7,900/66 on WSDOT marine mammal monitoring efforts during prior years of construction work at Mukilteo Ferry Terminal. A summary of the marine mammal density is provided in Table 7. TABLE 7—MARINE MAMMAL DENSITY IN THE WSDOT MUKILTEO MULTIMODAL PROJECT AREA Density (animals/km2) Marine mammals Gray whale ........................................................................................................................................................................................... Humpback whale ................................................................................................................................................................................. Minke whale ......................................................................................................................................................................................... Killer whale (West Coast transient) ..................................................................................................................................................... Bottlenose dolphin ............................................................................................................................................................................... Harbor porpoise ................................................................................................................................................................................... Dall’s porpoise ..................................................................................................................................................................................... Harbor seal .......................................................................................................................................................................................... Northern elephant seal ........................................................................................................................................................................ California sea lion ................................................................................................................................................................................ Steller sea lion ..................................................................................................................................................................................... jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with NOTICES Take Calculation and Estimation Here we describe how the information provided above is brought together to produce a quantitative take estimate. For most species, take numbers were calculated using the information aggregated in the Navy density database (U.S. Navy, 2019). Where a low to high range of densities is given for a species, the more conservative high density was VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:43 Jun 11, 2020 Jkt 250001 used. In these cases, take numbers were calculated as: Total Take = marine mammal density × ensonified area × pile driving days For species with no density data (e.g., bottlenose dolphin) or species with very low density but observations were made at the project location which may indicate more animals could be present (e.g., humpback whale, West Coast transient killer whale, and northern PO 00000 Frm 00019 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 0.0051 0.00014 0.002 0.002373 NA 0.792 0.047976 2.21 0.00001 0.1266 0.0368 elephant seal), adjustments were made to estimate the take numbers. Specific adjustments for calculating take numbers for these species are provided below. • Northern elephant seal—During the Mukilteo project, individuals have been observed on 2 occasions. Observations have been of single individuals, not groups. It is assumed that one individual may be present in the Level E:\FR\FM\12JNN1.SGM 12JNN1 35915 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 114 / Friday, June 12, 2020 / Notices B harassment zone once a month during the in-water work window (7 months), or 7 incidents of take. • Humpback whale—During the Mukilteo project, individuals have been observed on 2 occasions. Observations have been of single individuals, not groups. It is assumed that one individual may be present in the Level B harassment zone once a month during the in-water work window (7 months), or 7 incidents of take. • West Coast transient killer whale— take is based on maximum group size observed during the project. Groups of 8 individuals have been observed on 2 occasions. It is assumed that one group of 8 animals may be present in the Level B harassment zone once a month during the in-water work window (7 months), or 56 incidents of take. • Bottlenose dolphin—The bottlenose dolphin estimate is based on sightings data from Cascadia Research Collective. Between September 2017 and March 2018, a group of up to 7 individuals was sighted in South Puget Sound (EPS, 2018). It is assumed that this group is still present in the area. Given how rare bottlenose dolphins are in the area, it is unlikely they would be present on a daily basis. Instead it is assumed that one group size of 7 animals may be present in the Level B harassment zone once a month during the in-water work window (7 months), or 49 incidents of take. A summary of estimated marine mammal takes is listed in Table 8. TABLE 8—ESTIMATED NUMBERS OF MARINE MAMMALS THAT MAY BE EXPOSED TO RECEIVED NOISE LEVELS THAT CAUSE LEVEL B HARASSMENT Estimated level B harassment Marine mammals jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with NOTICES Gray whale ................................................................................................................................... Humpback whale ......................................................................................................................... Minke whale ................................................................................................................................. Killer whale (West Coast transient) ............................................................................................. Bottlenose dolphin ....................................................................................................................... Harbor porpoise ........................................................................................................................... Dall’s porpoise ............................................................................................................................. Harbor seal .................................................................................................................................. Northern elephant seal ................................................................................................................ California sea lion ........................................................................................................................ Steller sea lion ............................................................................................................................. Proposed Mitigation In order to issue an IHA under Section 101(a)(5)(D) of the MMPA, NMFS must set forth the permissible methods of taking pursuant to the activity, and other means of effecting the least practicable impact on the species or stock and its habitat, paying particular attention to rookeries, mating grounds, and areas of similar significance, and on the availability of the species or stock for taking for certain subsistence uses (latter not applicable for this action). NMFS regulations require applicants for incidental take authorizations to include information about the availability and feasibility (economic and technological) of equipment, methods, and manner of conducting the activity or other means of effecting the least practicable adverse impact upon the affected species or stocks and their habitat (50 CFR 216.104(a)(11)). In evaluating how mitigation may or may not be appropriate to ensure the least practicable adverse impact on species or stocks and their habitat, as well as subsistence uses where applicable, we carefully consider two primary factors: (1) The manner in which, and the degree to which, the successful implementation of the measure(s) is expected to reduce impacts to marine VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:43 Jun 11, 2020 Jkt 250001 mammals, marine mammal species or stocks, and their habitat. This considers the nature of the potential adverse impact being mitigated (likelihood, scope, range). It further considers the likelihood that the measure will be effective if implemented (probability of accomplishing the mitigating result if implemented as planned), the likelihood of effective implementation (probability implemented as planned), and; (2) The practicability of the measures for applicant implementation, which may consider such things as cost, impact on operations, and, in the case of a military readiness activity, personnel safety, practicality of implementation, and impact on the effectiveness of the military readiness activity. Time Restriction Work would occur only during daylight hours, when visual monitoring of marine mammals can be conducted. In addition, all in-water construction will be limited to the period between August 1, 2020, and February 15, 2021. Establishing and Monitoring Level A, Level B Harassment Zones, and Exclusion Zones Before the commencement of in-water construction activities, which include PO 00000 Frm 00020 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 9 7 3 56 49 1,360 82 3,794 7 217 63 Abundance 26,906 2,900 636 243 1924 11,233 25,750 11,036 179,000 257,606 43,201 Percentage (%) 0.03 0.24 0.47 23.05 2.55 12.11 0.32 1.97 0.04 1.47 0.02 vibratory pile driving and pile removal, WSDOT shall establish Level A harassment zones where received underwater SPLs or SELcum (cumulative sound exposure level) could cause PTS. WSDOT shall also establish Level B harassment zones where received underwater SPLs are higher than 120 dBrms re 1 mPa for continuous noise sources (vibratory pile driving and pile removal). WSDOT shall establish a 50 m exclusion zone for all in-water pile driving for cetaceans except Southern Resident killer whale and a 20 m exclusion zone for all in-water pile driving for pinnipeds. These zones encompass all estimated Level A harassment zones. WSDOT shall establish exclusion zones for Southern Resident killer whale and all marine mammals for which takes are not authorized at the Level B harassment distances. Specifically, for vibratory pile removal of 12-inch timber piles, a 1.13 km exclusion zone shall be established. For vibratory pile removal of 24-inch steel piles and vibratory pile driving of 30inch steel piles, a 7.9 km exclusion zone shall be established. A summary of exclusion zones is provided in Table 9. E:\FR\FM\12JNN1.SGM 12JNN1 35916 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 114 / Friday, June 12, 2020 / Notices TABLE 9—EXCLUSION ZONES (m) FOR VARIOUS MARINE MAMMALS Cetaceans except SRKW * Activities Vibratory pile removal, 12-inch timber pile .................................................................................. Vibratory pile removal, 24-inch steel pile or vibratory pile driving, 30-inch steel pile ................. 50 50 Pinnipeds SRKW 20 20 1,130 7,900 * SRKW = Southern Resident killer whale. NMFS-approved PSOs shall conduct an initial survey of the exclusion zones to ensure that no marine mammals are seen within the zones beginning 30 minutes before pile driving and pile removal of a pile segment begins. If marine mammals are found within the exclusion zone, pile driving of the segment would be delayed until they move out of the area. If a marine mammal is seen above water and then dives below, the contractor would wait 15 minutes. If no marine mammals are seen by the observer in that time it can be assumed that the animal has moved beyond the exclusion zone. If pile driving of a segment ceases for 30 minutes or more and a marine mammal is sighted within the designated exclusion zone prior to commencement of pile driving, the observer(s) must notify the pile driving operator (or other authorized individual) immediately and continue to monitor the exclusion zone. Operations may not resume until the marine mammal has exited the exclusion zone or 15 minutes have elapsed since the last sighting. jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with NOTICES Shutdown Measures WSDOT shall implement shutdown measures if a marine mammal is detected within or entering an exclusion zone listed in Table 9. WSDOT shall also implement shutdown measures if southern resident killer whales are sighted within the vicinity of the project area and are approaching the Level B harassment zone during in-water construction activities. If a killer whale approaches the Level B harassment zone during pile driving or removal, and it is unknown whether it is a Southern Resident killer whale or a transient killer whale, it shall be assumed to be a Southern Resident killer whale and WSDOT shall implement the shutdown measure. If a Southern Resident killer whale or an unidentified killer whale enters the Level B harassment zone undetected, inwater pile driving or pile removal shall be suspended until the whale exits the Level B harassment zone, or 15 minutes have elapsed with no sighting of the VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:43 Jun 11, 2020 Jkt 250001 animal, to avoid further Level B harassment. Further, WSDOT shall implement shutdown measures if the number of authorized takes for any particular species reaches the limit under the IHA (if issued) and if such marine mammals are sighted within the vicinity of the project area and are approaching the Level B harassment zone during inwater construction activities. Coordination With Local Marine Mammal Research Network Prior to the start of pile driving for the day, the Orca Network and/or Center for Whale Research will be contacted by WSDOT to find out the location of the nearest marine mammal sightings. The Orca Sightings Network consists of a list of over 600 (and growing) residents, scientists, and government agency personnel in the U.S. and Canada. Sightings are called or emailed into the Orca Network and immediately distributed to other sighting networks including: The NMFS Northwest Fisheries Science Center, the Center for Whale Research, Cascadia Research, the Whale Museum Hotline and the British Columbia Sightings Network. Sightings information collected by the Orca Network includes detection by hydrophone. The SeaSound Remote Sensing Network is a system of interconnected hydrophones installed in the marine environment of Haro Strait (west side of San Juan Island) to study orca communication, in-water noise, bottom fish ecology and local climatic conditions. A hydrophone at the Port Townsend Marine Science Center measures average in-water sound levels and automatically detects unusual sounds. These passive acoustic devices allow researchers to hear when different marine mammals come into the region. This acoustic network, combined with the volunteer (incidental) visual sighting network allows researchers to document presence and location of various marine mammal species. Based on our evaluation of the applicant’s proposed measures, as well as other measures considered by NMFS, all of which are described above, NMFS has preliminarily determined that the PO 00000 Frm 00021 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 proposed mitigation measures provide the means 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. Proposed Monitoring and Reporting In order to issue an IHA for an activity, Section 101(a)(5)(D) of the MMPA states that NMFS must set forth requirements pertaining to the monitoring and reporting of such taking. The MMPA implementing regulations at 50 CFR 216.104(a)(13) indicate that requests for authorizations must include the suggested means of accomplishing the necessary monitoring and reporting that will result in increased knowledge of the species and of the level of taking or impacts on populations of marine mammals that are expected to be present in the proposed action area. Effective reporting is critical both to compliance as well as ensuring that the most value is obtained from the required monitoring. Monitoring and reporting requirements prescribed by NMFS should contribute to improved understanding of one or more of the following: • Occurrence of marine mammal species or stocks in the area in which take is anticipated (e.g., presence, abundance, distribution, density). • Nature, scope, or context of likely marine mammal exposure to potential stressors/impacts (individual or cumulative, acute or chronic), through better understanding of: (1) Action or environment (e.g., source characterization, propagation, ambient noise); (2) affected species (e.g., life history, dive patterns); (3) co-occurrence of marine mammal species with the action; or (4) biological or behavioral context of exposure (e.g., age, calving or feeding areas). • Individual marine mammal responses (behavioral or physiological) to acoustic stressors (acute, chronic, or cumulative), other stressors, or cumulative impacts from multiple stressors. • How anticipated responses to stressors impact either: (1) Long-term E:\FR\FM\12JNN1.SGM 12JNN1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 114 / Friday, June 12, 2020 / Notices jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with NOTICES fitness and survival of individual marine mammals; or (2) populations, species, or stocks. • Effects on marine mammal habitat (e.g., marine mammal prey species, acoustic habitat, or other important physical components of marine mammal habitat). • Mitigation and monitoring effectiveness. Proposed Monitoring Measures WSDOT shall employ NMFSapproved PSOs to conduct marine mammal monitoring for its Mukilteo Multimodal Project. The PSOs will observe and collect data on marine mammals in and around the project area for 30 minutes before, during, and for 30 minutes after all pile removal and pile installation work. NMFS-approved PSOs shall meet the following requirements: 1. Independent observers (i.e., not construction personnel) are required; 2. At least one observer must have prior experience working as an observer; 3. Other observers may substitute education (undergraduate degree in biological science or related field) or training for experience; 4. Where a team of three or more observers are required, one observer should be designated as lead observer or monitoring coordinator. The lead observer must have prior experience working as an observer; and 5. NMFS will require submission and approval of observer Curriculum vitaes; Monitoring of marine mammals around the construction site shall be conducted using high-quality binoculars (e.g., Zeiss, 10 x 42 power). Due to the different sizes of Level B harassment distances from different pile sizes, several different ZOIs and different monitoring protocols corresponding to a specific pile size will be established. • During 12-inch vibratory timber pile removal, two land-based PSOs will monitor from the lighthouse and the new ferry terminal observation deck. • During 24- and 30-inch steel vibratory driving/removal, four landbased and one ferry-based PSO will monitor the zones. Locations of the land-based PSOs and routes of monitoring vessels are shown in WSDOT’s Marine Mammal Monitoring Plan, which is available online at https://www.fisheries. noaa.gov/permit/incidental-takeauthorizations-under-marine-mammalprotection-act. To verify the required monitoring distance, the exclusion zones and zones of influence will be determined by using a range finder or hand-held global positioning system device. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:43 Jun 11, 2020 Jkt 250001 Proposed Reporting Measures WSDOT is required to submit a draft report on all marine mammal monitoring conducted under the IHA (if issued) within ninety calendar days of the completion of the project. A final report shall be prepared and submitted within 30 days following resolution of comments on the draft report from NMFS. The marine mammal report must contain the informational elements described in the Marine Mammal Monitoring Plan, dated February 18, 2020, including, but not limited to: 1. Dates and times (begin and end) of all marine mammal monitoring. 2. Construction activities occurring during each daily observation period, including how many and what type of piles were driven or removed. 3. Weather parameters and water conditions during each monitoring period (e.g., wind speed, percent cover, visibility, sea state). 4. The number of marine mammals observed, by species, relative to the pile location and if pile driving or removal was occurring at time of sighting. 5. Age and sex class, if possible, of all marine mammals observed. 6. PSO locations during marine mammal monitoring. 7. Distances and bearings of each marine mammal observed to the pile being driven or removed for each sighting (if pile driving or removal was occurring at time of sighting). 8. Description of any marine mammal behavior patterns during observation, including direction of travel and estimated time spent within the Level B harassment zones while the source was active. 9. Number of individuals of each species (differentiated by month as appropriate) detected within the monitoring zone, and estimates of number of marine mammals taken, by species (a correction factor may be applied to total take numbers, as appropriate). 10. Detailed information about any implementation of any mitigation triggered (e.g., shutdowns and delays), a description of specific actions that ensued, and resulting behavior of the animal, if any. 11. Description of attempts to distinguish between the number of individual animals taken and the number of incidences of take, such as ability to track groups or individuals. 12. An extrapolation of the estimated takes by Level B harassment based on the number of observed exposures within the Level B harassment zone and the percentage of the Level B harassment zone that was not visible. PO 00000 Frm 00022 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 35917 13. Submit all PSO datasheets and/or raw sighting data (in a separate file from the Final Report referenced immediately above). In the event that personnel involved in the construction activities discover an injured or dead marine mammal, WSDOT shall report the incident to the Office of Protected Resources (301–427– 8401), NMFS and to the West Coast Region (WCR) regional stranding coordinator (1–866–767–6114) as soon as feasible. If the death or injury was clearly caused by the specified activity, WSDOT must immediately cease the specified activities until NMFS is able to review the circumstances of the incident and determine what, if any, additional measures are appropriate to ensure compliance with the terms of the IHA. WSDOT must not resume their activities until notified by NMFS. The report must include the following information: 1. Time, date, and location (latitude/ longitude) of the first discovery (and updated location information if known and applicable); 2. Species identification (if known) or description of the animal(s) involved; 3. Condition of the animal(s) (including carcass condition if the animal is dead); 4. Observed behaviors of the animal(s), if alive; 5. If available, photographs or video footage of the animal(s); and 6. General circumstances under which the animal was discovered. Negligible Impact Analysis and Determination NMFS has defined negligible impact as an impact resulting from the specified activity that cannot be reasonably expected to, and is not reasonably likely to, adversely affect the species or stock through effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival (50 CFR 216.103). A negligible impact finding is based on the lack of likely adverse effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival (i.e., populationlevel effects). An estimate of the number of takes alone is not enough information on which to base an impact determination. In addition to considering estimates of the number of marine mammals that might be ‘‘taken’’ through harassment, NMFS considers other factors, such as the likely nature of any responses (e.g., intensity, duration), the context of any responses (e.g., critical reproductive time or location, migration), as well as effects on habitat, and the likely effectiveness of the mitigation. We also assess the number, intensity, and context of estimated takes by evaluating this E:\FR\FM\12JNN1.SGM 12JNN1 jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with NOTICES 35918 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 114 / Friday, June 12, 2020 / Notices information relative to population status. Consistent with the 1989 preamble for NMFS’s implementing regulations (54 FR 40338; September 29, 1989), the impacts from other past and ongoing anthropogenic activities are incorporated into this analysis via their impacts on the environmental baseline (e.g., as reflected in the regulatory status of the species, population size and growth rate where known, ongoing sources of human-caused mortality, or ambient noise levels). To avoid repetition, this introductory discussion of our analyses applies to all the species listed in Table 9, given that the anticipated effects of WSDOT’s Mukilteo Multimodal Project activities involving pile driving and pile removal on marine mammals are expected to be relatively similar in nature. There is no information about the nature or severity of the impacts, or the size, status, or structure of any species or stock that would lead to a different analysis by species for this activity, or else speciesspecific factors would be identified and analyzed. Marine mammal takes that are anticipated and proposed to be authorized are expected to be limited to short-term Level B harassment (behavioral and TTS) only. Marine mammals present in the vicinity of the action area and taken by Level B harassment would most likely show overt brief disturbance (startle reaction) and avoidance of the area from elevated noise levels during pile driving and pile removal and the implosion noise. These behavioral distances are not expected to affect marine mammals’ growth, survival, and reproduction due to the limited geographic area that would be affected in comparison to the much larger habitat for marine mammals in the Puget Sound. A few marine mammals could experience TTS if they occur within the Level B TTS ZOI. However, as discussed earlier in this document, TTS is a temporary loss of hearing sensitivity when exposed to loud sound, and the hearing threshold is expected to recover completely within minutes to hours. Therefore, it is not considered an injury. Portions of the SRKW range is within the proposed action area. In addition, the entire Puget Sound is designated as the SRKW critical habitat under the ESA. However, WSDOT would be required to implement strict mitigation measures to suspend pile driving or pile removal activities when this stock is detected in the vicinity of the project area. We anticipate that take of SRKW would be avoided. There are no other known important areas for other marine VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:43 Jun 11, 2020 Jkt 250001 mammals, such as feeding or pupping, areas. The project also is not expected to have significant adverse effects on affected marine mammals’ habitat, as analyzed in detail in the Potential Effects on Marine Mammal Habitat subsection. There is no other ESA designated critical habitat in the vicinity of the Mukilteo Multimodal Project area. The project activities would not permanently modify existing marine mammal habitat. The activities may kill some fish and cause other fish to leave the area temporarily, thus impacting marine mammals’ foraging opportunities in a limited portion of the foraging range. However, because of the short duration of the activities and the relatively small area of the habitat that may be affected, the impacts to marine mammal habitat are not expected to cause significant or long-term negative consequences. Therefore, given the consideration of potential impacts to marine mammal prey species and their physical environment, WSDOT’s proposed construction activity at the Mukilteo Ferry Terminal would not adversely affect marine mammal habitat. In summary and as described above, the following factors primarily support our preliminary determination that the impacts resulting from this activity are not expected to adversely affect the species or stock through effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival: • Injury—no marine mammal would be taken by Level A harassment in the form of either physical injury or PTS; • Behavioral disturbance—11 species/stocks of marine mammals would experience behavioral disturbance and TTS from the WSDOT’s Mukilteo Ferry Terminal construction. However, as discussed earlier, the area to be affected is small and the duration of the project is short. In addition, the nature of the take would involve mild behavioral modification; and • Although portion of the SWKR critical habitat is within the project area, strict mitigation measures such as implementing shutdown measures and suspending pile driving are expected to avoid take of SRKW, and impacts to prey species and the habitat itself are expected to be minimal. No other important habitat for marine mammals exist in the vicinity of the project area. Based on the analysis contained herein of the likely effects of the specified activity on marine mammals and their habitat, and taking into consideration the implementation of the proposed monitoring and mitigation measures, NMFS preliminarily finds that the total marine mammal take from the proposed activity will have a PO 00000 Frm 00023 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 negligible impact on all affected marine mammal species or stocks. Small Numbers As noted above, only small numbers of incidental take may be authorized under Sections 101(a)(5)(A) and (D) of the MMPA for specified activities other than military readiness activities. The MMPA does not define small numbers and so, in practice, where estimated numbers are available, NMFS compares the number of individuals taken to the most appropriate estimation of abundance of the relevant species or stock in our determination of whether an authorization is limited to small numbers of marine mammals. When the predicted number of individuals to be taken is fewer than one third of the species or stock abundance, the take is considered to be of small numbers. Additionally, other qualitative factors may be considered in the analysis, such as the temporal or spatial scale of the activities. The estimated takes are below 24 percent of the population for all marine mammals (Table 7). Based on the analysis contained herein of the proposed activity (including the proposed mitigation and monitoring measures) and the anticipated take of marine mammals, NMFS preliminarily finds that small numbers of marine mammals will be taken relative to the population size of the affected species or stocks. Unmitigable Adverse Impact Analysis and Determination There are no relevant subsistence uses of the affected marine mammal stocks or species implicated by this action. Therefore, NMFS has determined that the total taking of affected species or stocks would not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of such species or stocks for taking for subsistence purposes. Endangered Species Act Section 7(a)(2) of the ESA of 1973 (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) requires that each Federal agency insure that any action it authorizes, funds, or carries out is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any endangered or threatened species or result in the destruction or adverse modification of designated critical habitat. To ensure ESA compliance for the issuance of IHAs, NMFS consults internally, in this case with the WCR Protected Resources Division Office, whenever we propose to authorize take for endangered or threatened species. The only species listed under the ESA with the potential to be present in the E:\FR\FM\12JNN1.SGM 12JNN1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 114 / Friday, June 12, 2020 / Notices action area is the Mexico Distinct Population Segment (DPS) of humpback whales. The effects of this proposed Federal action were adequately analyzed in NMFS’ Biological Opinion for the Mukilteo Multimodal Project, Snohomish, Washington, dated August 1, 2017, which concluded that issuance of an IHA would not jeopardize the continued existence of any endangered or threatened species or destroy or adversely modify any designated critical habitat. NMFS WCR has confirmed the Incidental Take Statement (ITS) issued in 2017 is applicable for this IHA. That ITS authorizes the take of seven humpback whales from the Mexico DPS. Proposed Authorization As a result of these preliminary determinations, NMFS proposes to issue an IHA to WSDOT for conducting Mukilteo Multimodal Project Year 4 construction in the State of Washington between August 1, 2020, through July 31, 2021, provided the previously mentioned mitigation, monitoring, and reporting requirements are incorporated. A draft of the proposed IHA can be found at https://www.fisheries. noaa.gov/permit/incidental-takeauthorizations-under-marine-mammalprotection-act. jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with NOTICES Request for Public Comments We request comment on our analyses, the proposed authorization, and any other aspect of this notice of proposed IHA for WSDOT’s Mukilteo Multimodal construction project. We also request at this time comment on the potential Renewal of this proposed IHA as described in the paragraph below. Please include with your comments any supporting data or literature citations to help inform decisions on the request for this IHA or a subsequent Renewal IHA. On a case-by-case basis, NMFS may issue a one-time one-year Renewal IHA following notice to the public providing an additional 15 days for public comments when (1) up to another year of identical or nearly identical, or nearly identical, activities as described in the Description of Specific Activity section of this notice is planned or (2) the activities as described in the Specified Activities section of this notice would not be completed by the time the IHA expires and a Renewal would allow for completion of the activities beyond that described in the Dates and Duration section of this notice, provided all of the following conditions are met: • A request for renewal is received no later than 60 days prior to the needed Renewal IHA effective date (recognizing that the Renewal IHA expiration date VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:43 Jun 11, 2020 Jkt 250001 cannot extend beyond one year from expiration of the initial IHA). • The request for renewal must include the following: (1) An explanation that the activities to be conducted under the requested Renewal IHA are identical to the activities analyzed under the initial IHA, are a subset of the activities, or include changes so minor (e.g., reduction in pile size) that the changes do not affect the previous analyses, mitigation and monitoring requirements, or take estimates (with the exception of reducing the type or amount of take). (2) A preliminary monitoring report showing the results of the required monitoring to date and an explanation showing that the monitoring results do not indicate impacts of a scale or nature not previously analyzed or authorized. • Upon review of the request for Renewal, the status of the affected species or stocks, and any other pertinent information, NMFS determines that there are no more than minor changes in the activities, the mitigation and monitoring measures will remain the same and appropriate, and the findings in the initial IHA remain valid. Dated: June 9, 2020. Donna S. Wieting, Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2020–12753 Filed 6–11–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [RTID 0648–XA206] Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (MAFMC); Public Meeting National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice; public meeting. AGENCY: The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council’s Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Advisory Panel will hold a public webinar meeting, jointly with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Advisory Panel. DATES: The meeting will be held on Monday, June 29, 2020, from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m. ADDRESSES: The meeting will be held via webinar, which can be accessed at: SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00024 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 35919 http://mafmc.adobeconnect.com/sfsbsbap-jun2020/. Meeting audio can also be accessed via telephone by dialing 1– 800–832–0736 and entering room number 4472108. Council address: Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, 800 N. State Street, Suite 201, Dover, DE 19901; telephone: (302) 674–2331; www.mafmc.org. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Christopher M. Moore, Ph.D., Executive Director, Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, telephone: (302) 526–5255. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The MidAtlantic Fishery Management Council’s Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Advisory Panel will meet via webinar jointly with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Advisory Panel. The purpose of this meeting is to discuss recent performance of the summer flounder, scup, and black sea bass commercial and recreational fisheries and develop Fishery Performance Reports. These reports will be considered by the Scientific and Statistical Committee, the Monitoring Committee, Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, and Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission when reviewing 2021 catch and landings limits and management measures for summer flounder, scup, and black sea bass. These meetings are physically accessible to people with disabilities. Requests for sign language interpretation or other auxiliary aid should be directed to M. Jan Saunders, (302) 526–5251, at least 5 days prior to the meeting date. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Dated: June 9, 2020. Tracey L. Thompson, Acting Deputy Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2020–12731 Filed 6–11–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Telecommunications and Information Administration [Docket No. 200609–0154] RIN 0660–XC046 Promoting the Sharing of Supply Chain Security Risk Information Between Government and Communications Providers and Suppliers National Telecommunications and Information Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce. AGENCY: E:\FR\FM\12JNN1.SGM 12JNN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 114 (Friday, June 12, 2020)]
[Notices]
[Pages 35906-35919]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-12753]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

[RTID 0648-XA171]


Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; 
Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to Mukilteo Multimodal Construction 
Project in Washington State

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

ACTION: Notice; proposed incidental harassment authorization; request 
for comments on proposed authorization and possible renewal.

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

SUMMARY: NMFS has received a request from the Washington State 
Department of Transportation (WSDOT) for authorization to take marine 
mammals incidental to Mukilteo Multimodal Construction Project in 
Washington State. Pursuant to the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), 
NMFS is requesting comments on its proposal to issue an incidental 
harassment authorization (IHA) to incidentally take marine mammals 
during the specified activities. NMFS is also requesting comments on a 
possible one-year renewal that could be issued under certain 
circumstances and if all requirements are met, as described in Request 
for Public Comments at the end of this notice. NMFS will consider 
public comments prior to making any final decision on the issuance of 
the requested MMPA authorizations and agency responses will be 
summarized in the final notice of our decision.

DATES: Comments and information must be received no later than July 13, 
2020.

ADDRESSES: Comments should be addressed to Jolie Harrison, Chief, 
Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, 
National Marine Fisheries Service. Physical comments should be sent to 
1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910 and electronic comments 
should be sent to [email protected].
    Instructions: NMFS is not responsible for comments sent by any 
other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the 
end of the comment period. All comments received are a part of the 
public record and will generally be posted online at https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/permit/incidental-take-authorizations-under-marine-mammal-protection-act without change. All personal identifying 
information (e.g., name, address) voluntarily submitted by the 
commenter may be publicly accessible. Do not submit confidential 
business information or otherwise sensitive or protected information.

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

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Background

    The MMPA prohibits the ``take'' of marine mammals, with certain 
exceptions. Sections 101(a)(5)(A) and (D) of the MMPA (16 U.S.C. 1361 
et seq.) direct the Secretary of Commerce (as delegated to NMFS) to 
allow, upon request, the incidental, but not intentional, taking of 
small numbers of marine mammals by U.S. citizens who engage in a 
specified activity (other than commercial fishing) within a specified 
geographical region if certain findings are made and either regulations 
are issued or, if the taking is limited to harassment, a notice of a 
proposed incidental take authorization may be provided to the public 
for review.
    Authorization for incidental takings shall be granted if NMFS finds 
that the taking will have a negligible impact on the species or 
stock(s) and will not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the 
availability of the species or stock(s) for taking for subsistence uses 
(where relevant). Further, NMFS must prescribe the permissible methods 
of taking and other ``means of effecting the least practicable adverse 
impact'' on the affected species or stocks and their habitat, paying 
particular attention to rookeries, mating grounds, and areas of similar 
significance, and on the availability of the species or stocks for 
taking for certain subsistence uses (referred to in shorthand as 
``mitigation''); and requirements pertaining to the mitigation, 
monitoring and reporting of the takings are set forth.
    The definitions of all applicable MMPA statutory terms cited above 
are included in the relevant sections below.

National Environmental Policy Act

    To comply with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA; 
42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) and NOAA Administrative Order (NAO) 216-6A, 
NMFS must review our proposed action (i.e., the issuance of an IHA) 
with respect to potential impacts on the human environment.
    This action is consistent with categories of activities identified 
in Categorical Exclusion B4 (IHAs with no anticipated serious injury or 
mortality) of the Companion Manual for NOAA Administrative Order 216-
6A, which do not individually or cumulatively have the potential for 
significant impacts on the quality of the human environment and for 
which we have not identified any extraordinary circumstances that would 
preclude this categorical exclusion. Accordingly, NMFS has 
preliminarily determined that the issuance of the proposed IHA 
qualifies to be categorically excluded from further NEPA review.
    We will review all comments submitted in response to this notice 
prior to concluding our NEPA process or making a final decision on the 
IHA request.

Summary of Request

    On February 18, 2020, NMFS received a request from WSDOT for an IHA 
to take marine mammals incidental to Mukilteo Multimodal Project in 
Mukilteo, Washington. The application was deemed adequate and complete 
on April 13, 2020. WSDOT's request is for take of a small number of 11 
species of marine mammals by Level B harassment

[[Page 35907]]

and Level A harassment. Neither WSDOT nor NMFS expects serious injury 
or mortality to result from this activity and, therefore, an IHA is 
appropriate.
    This proposed IHA would cover one year of a larger project for 
which WSDOT obtained prior IHAs (82 FR 44164; September 21, 2017; 83 FR 
43849; August 28, 2018; 84 FR 39263; August 9, 2019). The larger four-
year project involves relocating the Mukilteo Ferry Terminal 
approximately one-third of a mile east of the existing terminal. This 
is expected to be the fourth and final year of project activity. WSDOT 
complied with all the requirements (e.g., mitigation, monitoring, and 
reporting) of the previous IHAs and information regarding their 
monitoring results may be found in the Potential Effects of Specified 
Activities on Marine Mammals and their Habitat section.

Description of Proposed Activity

Overview

    The purpose of the Mukilteo Multimodal Project is to provide safe, 
reliable, and effective service and connection for general-purpose 
transportation, transit, high occupancy vehicles (HOV), pedestrians, 
and bicyclists traveling between Island County and the Seattle/Everett 
metropolitan area and beyond by constructing a new ferry terminal. The 
current Mukilteo Ferry Terminal has not had significant improvements 
for almost 30 years and needs key repairs. The existing facility is 
deficient in a number of aspects, such as safety, multimodal 
connectivity, capacity, and the ability to support the goals of local 
and regional long-range transportation and comprehensive plans. The 
project is intended to:
     Reduce conflicts, congestion, and safety concerns for 
pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists by improving local traffic and 
safety at the terminal and the surrounding area that serves these 
transportation needs.
     Provide a terminal and supporting facilities with the 
infrastructure and operating characteristics needed to improve the 
safety, security, quality, reliability, efficiency, and effectiveness 
of multimodal transportation.
     Accommodate future demand projected for transit, HOV, 
pedestrian, bicycle, and general-purpose traffic.
    The proposed Mukilteo Multimodal Project would involve in-water 
vibratory pile driving and vibratory pile removal. Details of the 
proposed construction project are provided below.

Dates and Duration

    Due to NMFS and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) in-water 
work timing restrictions to protect Endangered Species Act (ESA)-listed 
salmonids, planned WSDOT in-water construction is limited each year to 
July 15 through February 15. For this project, in-water construction is 
planned to take place between August 1, 2020 and February 15, 2021. The 
total worst-case time for pile installation and removal is 54 days 
(Table 1).

Specific Geographic Region

    The Mukilteo Ferry Terminal is located in the City of Mukilteo, 
Snohomish County, Washington. The terminal is located in Township 28 
North, Range 4 East, Section 3, in Possession Sound. The new terminal 
will be approximately 1,700 ft (518 m) east of the existing terminal in 
Township 28N, Range 4E, Section 33 (Figure 1). Land use in the Mukilteo 
area is a mix of residential, commercial, industrial, and open space 
and/or undeveloped lands.

[[Page 35908]]

[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TN12JN20.035

Detailed Description of Specific Activity

    The proposed project has two activities involving noise production 
that may impact marine mammals: Vibratory pile removal and vibratory 
pile driving.
(1) Temporary Pile Removal
    Sixty-nine temporary 24 inch steel piles installed to support work 
platforms will be removed with a vibratory hammer.
(2) Floating Dolphin Piling
    The floating dolphin will be moved from the current terminal to the 
new terminal. A combination of anchors (four) and piles (four) will be 
used to secure the dolphin anchor chains to the sea floor. Four 30 inch 
steel piles will be installed with a vibratory hammer.
(3) Existing Terminal Removal
    The existing terminal will be removed once the new terminal is 
complete. The existing terminal comprises 8,120 ft\2\ (754 m\2\) of 
overwater cover and contains approximately 290 12-inch diameter timber 
piles. All timber piles may be removed with a vibratory hammer, a 
clamshell, or pulled directly. Use of the vibratory hammer for timber 
pile removal is not the preferred method and it is likely that most 
piles will be removed via direct pull. However, for purposes of 
analysis we assume that all timber piles will be removed using the 
vibratory hammer.
    Details of pile driving activities are provided below and are 
summarized in Table 1.
     Vibratory removal of 12-inch timber piles would take 15 
minutes per pile, 10 piles per day, with 290 piles removed over 29 
days.
     Vibratory removal of 24-inch steel pipe piles would take 
15 minutes per pile, 3 piles removed per day, with 69 piles removed in 
23 days.
     Vibratory driving of 30-inch steel pipe piles would take 
30 minutes per pile, 2 piles per day, with 4 piles installed in 2 days.
    Pile driving or removal will occur in different days. There is no 
concurrent pile driving or pile removing.

[[Page 35909]]



                               Table 1--Summary of In-Water Pile Driving Durations
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                    Pile size                      Minutes  per
            Method                   (inch)        Number piles        pile        Piles per day       Days
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Vibratory Removal.............  12 (timber).....             290              15              10              29
Vibratory Removal.............  24 (steel)......              69              15               3              23
Vibratory Drive...............  30 (steel)......               4              30               2               2
                                                 ---------------------------------------------------------------
    Total.....................  ................  ..............  ..............  ..............              54
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Description of Marine Mammals in the Area of Specified Activities

    Sections 3 and 4 of the application summarize available information 
regarding status and trends, distribution and habitat preferences, and 
behavior and life history, of the potentially affected species. 
Additional information regarding population trends and threats may be 
found in NMFS's Stock Assessment Reports (SARs; https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/national/marine-mammal-protection/marine-mammal-stock-assessments) and more general information about these species 
(e.g., physical and behavioral descriptions) may be found on NMFS's 
website (https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/find-species).
    Table 2 lists all species or stocks for which take is expected and 
proposed to be authorized for this action, and summarizes information 
related to the population or stock, including regulatory status under 
the MMPA and ESA and potential biological removal (PBR), where known. 
For taxonomy, we follow Committee on Taxonomy (2019). PBR is defined by 
the MMPA as the maximum number of animals, not including natural 
mortalities, that may be removed from a marine mammal stock while 
allowing that stock to reach or maintain its optimum sustainable 
population (as described in NMFS's SARs). While no mortality is 
anticipated or authorized here, PBR and annual serious injury and 
mortality from anthropogenic sources are included here as gross 
indicators of the status of the species and other threats.
    Marine mammal abundance estimates presented in this document 
represent the total number of individuals that make up a given stock or 
the total number estimated within a particular study or survey area. 
NMFS's stock abundance estimates for all species represent the total 
estimate of individuals within the geographic area, if known, that 
comprises that stock. All managed stocks in this region are assessed in 
NMFS's U.S Pacific and Alaska SARs (e.g., Carretta et al., 2020; Muto 
et al., 2020). All values presented in Table 2 are the most recent 
available at the time of publication and are available in the 2018 SARs 
(Carretta et al., 2019; Muto et al., 2019) and draft 2019 SARs 
(available online at: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/national/marine-mammal-protection/draft-marine-mammal-stock-assessment-reports).

                                    Table 2--Marine Mammals With Potential Presence Within the Proposed Project Area
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                        ESA/MMPA  status;    Stock abundance  (CV,
             Common name                  Scientific name               Stock            strategic  (Y/N)      Nmin, most recent       PBR     Annual M/
                                                                                               \1\           abundance survey) \2\               SI \3\
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                          Order Cetartiodactyla--Cetacea--Superfamily Mysticeti (baleen whales)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Family Eschrichtiidae:
    Gray whale......................  Eschrichtius robustus..  Eastern North Pacific.  N                    26,960 (0.05, 25,849).        801        139
Family Balaenopteridae (rorquals):
    Humpback whale..................  Megaptera novaeangliae.  California/Oregon/      Y                    2,900 (0.05, 2,784)...       16.7        unk
                                                                Washington.
    Minke whale.....................  Balaenoptera             California/Oregon/      N                    636 (0.72, 369).......        3.5        1.3
                                       acutorostrata.           Washington.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                            Superfamily Odontoceti (toothed whales, dolphins, and porpoises)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Family Delphinidae:
    Killer whale....................  Orcinus orca...........  Eastern North Pacific   Y                    75 (NA, 75)...........          0          0
                                                                Southern Resident.
                                                               West coast transient..  N                    243 (NA, 243).........        2.4          0
    Bottlenose dolphin..............  Tursiops truncatus.....  California/Oregon/      N                    1,924 (0.54, 1,255)...         11        1.6
                                                                Washington offshore.
Family Phocoenidae (porpoises):
    Harbor porpoise.................  Phocoena phocoena......  Washington inland       N                    11,233 (0.37, 8,308)..         66        7.2
                                                                waters.
    Dall's porpoise.................  P. dalli...............  California/Oregon/      N                    25,750 (0.45, 17,954).        172        0.3
                                                                Washington.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                         Order Carnivora--Superfamily Pinnipedia
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Family Otariidae (eared seals and
 sea lions):
    California sea lion.............  Zalophus californianus.  U.S...................  N                    257,606 (NA, 233,515).     14,011        321
    Steller sea lion................  Eumetopias jubatus.....  Eastern U.S...........  N                    43,201 (NA, 43,201)...      2,592        113
Family Phocidae (earless seals):
    Harbor seal.....................  Phoca vitulina.........  Washington northern     N                    11,036 \4\............         NA       10.6
                                                                inland waters.

[[Page 35910]]

 
    Northern elephant seal..........  Mirounga angustirostris  California breeding...  N                    179,000 (NA, 81,368)..      4,882        8.8
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Endangered Species Act (ESA) status: Endangered (E), Threatened (T)/MMPA status: Depleted (D). A dash (-) indicates that the species is not listed
  under the ESA or designated as depleted under the MMPA. Under the MMPA, a strategic stock is one for which the level of direct human-caused mortality
  exceeds PBR or which is determined to be declining and likely to be listed under the ESA within the foreseeable future. Any species or stock listed
  under the ESA is automatically designated under the MMPA as depleted and as a strategic stock.
\2\ NMFS marine mammal stock assessment reports online at: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/national/marine-mammal-protection/marine-mammal-stock-assessments assessments. CV is coefficient of variation; Nmin is the minimum estimate of stock abundance.
\3\ These values, found in NMFS's SARs, represent annual levels of human-caused mortality plus serious injury from all sources combined (e.g.,
  commercial fisheries, ship strike).
\4\ Harbor seal estimate is based on data that are greater than 8 years old, but this is the best available information for use here.

    As indicated above, all 11 species (with 12 managed stocks) in 
Table 2 temporally and spatially co-occur with the activity to the 
degree that take is reasonably likely to occur, and we have proposed 
authorizing it, with the exception of the Southern Resident killer 
whale. Take of Southern Resident killer whale can be avoided by 
implementing strict monitoring and mitigation measures (see Proposed 
Mitigation and Proposed Monitoring and Reporting sections below).
    In addition, the sea otter may be found in inland waters of 
Washington. However, this species is managed by the U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service and is not considered further in this document.
    A detailed description of the marine mammals in the area of the 
activities is found in the notice of proposed IHA for WSDOT's Season 3 
Mukilteo Multimodal construction project (83 FR 30421, June 28, 2018). 
This information remains valid, as there is no new information 
available, so we do not repeat it here but provide a summary table with 
marine mammal species and stock details (Table 2).

Marine Mammal Hearing

    Hearing is the most important sensory modality for marine mammals 
underwater, and exposure to anthropogenic sound can have deleterious 
effects. To appropriately assess the potential effects of exposure to 
sound, it is necessary to understand the frequency ranges marine 
mammals are able to hear. Current data indicate that not all marine 
mammal species have equal hearing capabilities (e.g., Richardson et 
al., 1995; Wartzok and Ketten, 1999; Au and Hastings, 2008). To reflect 
this, Southall et al. (2007) recommended that marine mammals be divided 
into functional hearing groups based on directly measured or estimated 
hearing ranges on the basis of available behavioral response data, 
audiograms derived using auditory evoked potential techniques, 
anatomical modeling, and other data. Note that no direct measurements 
of hearing ability have been successfully completed for mysticetes 
(i.e., low-frequency cetaceans). Subsequently, NMFS (2018) described 
generalized hearing ranges for these marine mammal hearing groups. 
Generalized hearing ranges were chosen based on the approximately 65 
decibel (dB) threshold from the normalized composite audiograms, with 
the exception for lower limits for low-frequency cetaceans where the 
lower bound was deemed to be biologically implausible and the lower 
bound from Southall et al. (2007) retained. Marine mammal hearing 
groups and their associated hearing ranges are provided in Table 3.

           Table 3--Marine Mammal Hearing Groups (NMFS, 2018)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
               Hearing group                 Generalized hearing range *
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Low-frequency (LF) cetaceans (baleen         7 Hz to 35 kHz.
 whales).
Mid-frequency (MF) cetaceans (dolphins,      150 Hz to 160 kHz.
 toothed whales, beaked whales, bottlenose
 whales).
High-frequency (HF) cetaceans (true          275 Hz to 160 kHz.
 porpoises, Kogia, river dolphins,
 cephalorhynchid, Lagenorhynchus cruciger &
 L. australis).
Phocid pinnipeds (PW) (underwater) (true     50 Hz to 86 kHz.
 seals).
Otariid pinnipeds (OW) (underwater) (sea     60 Hz to 39 kHz.
 lions and fur seals).
------------------------------------------------------------------------
* Represents the generalized hearing range for the entire group as a
  composite (i.e., all species within the group), where individual
  species' hearing ranges are typically not as broad. Generalized
  hearing range chosen based on ~65 dB threshold from normalized
  composite audiogram, with the exception for lower limits for LF
  cetaceans (Southall et al. 2007) and PW pinniped (approximation).

    The pinniped functional hearing group was modified from Southall et 
al. (2007) on the basis of data indicating that phocid species have 
consistently demonstrated an extended frequency range of hearing 
compared to otariids, especially in the higher frequency range 
(Hemil[auml] et al., 2006; Kastelein et al., 2009; Reichmuth and Holt, 
2013).
    For more detail concerning these groups and associated frequency 
ranges, please see NMFS (2018) for a review of available information. 
Eleven marine mammal species (seven cetacean and four pinniped (two 
otariid and two phocid) species) have the reasonable potential to co-
occur with the proposed survey activities. Please refer to Table 2. Of 
the cetacean species that may be present, three are classified as low-
frequency cetaceans (i.e., all mysticete species), two are classified 
as mid-frequency cetaceans (i.e., all delphinid species), and two are 
classified as high-frequency cetaceans (i.e., porpoise species).

Potential Effects of Specified Activities on Marine Mammals and Their 
Habitat

    This section includes a summary and discussion of the ways that 
components of the specified activity may impact marine mammals and 
their habitat. The Estimated Take section later in this document 
includes a quantitative analysis of the number of individuals that are 
expected to be taken by this activity. The Negligible Impact Analysis 
and Determination section considers the content of this section, the 
Estimated

[[Page 35911]]

Take section, and the Proposed Mitigation section, to draw conclusions 
regarding the likely impacts of these activities on the reproductive 
success or survivorship of individuals and how those impacts on 
individuals are likely to impact marine mammal species or stocks.
    The WSDOT's Mukilteo Multimodal construction work using in-water 
pile driving and pile removal could adversely affect marine mammal 
species and stocks by exposing them to elevated noise levels in the 
vicinity of the activity area.
    Exposure to high intensity sound for a sufficient duration may 
result in auditory effects such as a noise-induced threshold shift--an 
increase in the auditory threshold after exposure to noise (Finneran et 
al., 2005). Factors that influence the amount of threshold shift 
include the amplitude, duration, frequency content, temporal pattern, 
and energy distribution of noise exposure. The magnitude of hearing 
threshold shift normally decreases over time following cessation of the 
noise exposure. The amount of threshold shift just after exposure is 
the initial threshold shift. If the threshold shift eventually returns 
to zero (i.e., the threshold returns to the pre-exposure value), it is 
a temporary threshold shift (Southall et al., 2007).

Threshold Shift (Noise-Induced Loss of Hearing)

    When animals exhibit reduced hearing sensitivity (i.e., sounds must 
be louder for an animal to detect them) following exposure to an 
intense sound or sound for long duration, it is referred to as a noise-
induced threshold shift (TS). An animal can experience temporary 
threshold shift (TTS) or permanent threshold shift (PTS). TTS can last 
from minutes or hours to days (i.e., there is complete recovery), can 
occur in specific frequency ranges (i.e., an animal might only have a 
temporary loss of hearing sensitivity between the frequencies of 1 and 
10 kilohertz (kHz)), and can be of varying amounts (for example, an 
animal's hearing sensitivity might be reduced initially by only 6 dB or 
reduced by 30 dB). PTS is permanent, but some recovery is possible. PTS 
can also occur in a specific frequency range and amount as mentioned 
above for TTS.
    For marine mammals, published data are limited to the captive 
bottlenose dolphin, beluga, harbor porpoise, and Yangtze finless 
porpoise (Finneran et al., 2000, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2010a, 2010b; 
Finneran and Schlundt, 2010; Lucke et al., 2009; Mooney et al., 2009a, 
2009b; Popov et al., 2011a, 2011b; Kastelein et al., 2012a; Schlundt et 
al., 2000; Nachtigall et al., 2003, 2004). For pinnipeds in water, data 
are limited to measurements of TTS in harbor seals, an elephant seal, 
and California sea lions (Kastak et al., 1999, 2005; Kastelein et al., 
2012b).
    Lucke et al. (2009) found a TS of a harbor porpoise after exposing 
it to airgun noise with a received sound pressure level (SPL) at 200.2 
dB (peak-to-peak) re: 1 micropascal ([mu]Pa), which corresponds to a 
sound exposure level of 164.5 dB re: 1 [mu]Pa\2\ s after integrating 
exposure. Because the airgun noise is a broadband impulse, one cannot 
directly determine the equivalent of root-mean-square (rms) SPL from 
the reported peak-to-peak SPLs. However, applying a conservative 
conversion factor of 16 dB for broadband signals from seismic surveys 
(McCauley, et al., 2000) to correct for the difference between peak-to-
peak levels reported in Lucke et al. (2009) and rms SPLs, the rms SPL 
for TTS would be approximately 184 dB re: 1 [mu]Pa, and the received 
levels associated with PTS (Level A harassment) would be higher. 
Therefore, based on these studies, NMFS recognizes that TTS of harbor 
porpoises is lower than other cetacean species empirically tested 
(Finneran and Schlundt, 2010; Finneran et al., 2002; Kastelein and 
Jennings, 2012).
    Marine mammal hearing plays a critical role in communication with 
conspecifics, and interpretation of environmental cues for purposes 
such as predator avoidance and prey capture. Depending on the degree 
(elevation of threshold in dB), duration (i.e., recovery time), and 
frequency range of TTS, and the context in which it is experienced, TTS 
can have effects on marine mammals ranging from discountable to serious 
(similar to those discussed in auditory masking, below). For example, a 
marine mammal may be able to readily compensate for a brief, relatively 
small amount of TTS in a non-critical frequency range that occurs 
during a time where ambient noise is lower and there are not as many 
competing sounds present. Alternatively, a larger amount and longer 
duration of TTS sustained during time when communication is critical 
for successful mother/calf interactions could have more serious 
impacts. Also, depending on the degree and frequency range, the effects 
of PTS on an animal could range in severity, although it is considered 
generally more serious because it is a permanent condition. Of note, 
reduced hearing sensitivity as a simple function of aging has been 
observed in marine mammals, as well as humans and other taxa (Southall 
et al., 2007), so one can infer that strategies exist for coping with 
this condition to some degree, though likely not without cost.
    In addition, exposure to noise could cause masking at particular 
frequencies for marine mammals, which utilize sound for vital 
biological functions (Clark et al., 2009). Acoustic masking is when 
other noises such as from human sources interfere with animal detection 
of acoustic signals such as communication calls, echolocation sounds, 
and environmental sounds important to marine mammals. Therefore, under 
certain circumstances, marine mammals whose acoustical sensors or 
environment are being severely masked could also be impaired from 
maximizing their performance fitness in survival and reproduction.
    Masking occurs at the frequency band that the animals utilize. 
Therefore, since noise generated from vibratory pile driving is mostly 
concentrated at low frequency ranges, it may have less effect on high 
frequency echolocation sounds by odontocetes (toothed whales). However, 
lower frequency man-made noises are more likely to affect detection of 
communication calls and other potentially important natural sounds such 
as surf and prey noise. It may also affect communication signals when 
they occur near the noise band and thus reduce the communication space 
of animals (e.g., Clark et al., 2009) and cause increased stress levels 
(e.g., Foote et al., 2004; Holt et al., 2009).
    Unlike TS, masking, which can occur over large temporal and spatial 
scales, can potentially affect the species at population, community, or 
even ecosystem levels, as well as individual levels. Masking affects 
both senders and receivers of the signals and could have long-term 
chronic effects on marine mammal species and populations. Recent 
science suggests that low frequency ambient sound levels have increased 
by as much as 20 dB (more than three times in terms of sound pressure 
level) in the world's ocean from pre-industrial periods, and most of 
these increases are from distant shipping (Hildebrand 2009). For 
WSDOT's Mukilteo Multimodal construction activities, noises from 
vibratory pile driving and pile removal contribute to the elevated 
ambient noise levels in the project area, thus increasing potential for 
or severity of masking. Baseline ambient noise levels in the vicinity 
of project area are high due to ongoing shipping, construction and 
other activities in the Puget Sound.
    Finally, marine mammals' exposure to certain sounds could lead to 
behavioral disturbance (Richardson et al., 1995), such as: Changing 
durations of surfacing

[[Page 35912]]

and dives, number of blows per surfacing, or moving direction and/or 
speed; reduced/increased vocal activities; changing/cessation of 
certain behavioral activities (such as socializing or feeding); visible 
startle response or aggressive behavior (such as tail/fluke slapping or 
jaw clapping); avoidance of areas where noise sources are located; and/
or flight responses (e.g., pinnipeds flushing into water from haulouts 
or rookeries).
    The onset of behavioral disturbance from anthropogenic noise 
depends on both external factors (characteristics of noise sources and 
their paths) and the receiving animals (hearing, motivation, 
experience, demography) and is also difficult to predict (Southall et 
al., 2007). Currently NMFS uses a received level of 160 dB re 1 [mu]Pa 
(rms) to predict the onset of behavioral harassment from intermittent 
noises (such as impact pile driving), and 120 dB re 1 [mu]Pa (rms) for 
continuous noises (such as vibratory pile driving). For the WSDOT's 
Mukilteo Multimodal construction activities, only continuous noise is 
considered for effects analysis because WSDOT plans to use vibratory 
pile driving and pile removal.
    The biological significance of many of these behavioral 
disturbances is difficult to predict, especially if the detected 
disturbances appear minor. However, the consequences of behavioral 
modification could be biologically significant if the change affects 
growth, survival, and/or reproduction, which depends on the severity, 
duration, and context of the effects.
    During the previous years of the project, WSDOT conducted the 
required marine mammal mitigation and monitoring and did not exceed the 
authorized levels of take. The marine mammal monitoring report for the 
2019 Mukilteo Ferry Terminal construction activity shows that a total 
of 168 harbor seals, 105 California sea lions, 7 Steller sea lions, 12 
harbor porpoises, and 1 northern elephant seal were observed within the 
Level A or Level B harassment zones. These numbers are well under the 
authorized take numbers issued in the 2019 IHA to WSDOT. In addition, 
no abnormal or drastic change of behavior of marine mammals was 
observed by the protected species observers (PSOs) during WSDOT's 2019 
Mukilteo Ferry Terminal construction activity.

Potential Effects on Marine Mammal Habitat

    The primary potential impacts to marine mammal habitat are 
associated with elevated sound levels produced by vibratory pile 
removal and pile driving in the area. However, other potential impacts 
to the surrounding habitat from physical disturbance are also possible.
    With regard to fish as a prey source for cetaceans and pinnipeds, 
fish are known to hear and react to sounds and to use sound to 
communicate (Tavolga et al. 1981) and possibly avoid predators (Wilson 
and Dill 2002). Experiments have shown that fish can sense both the 
strength and direction of sound (Hawkins 1981). Primary factors 
determining whether a fish can sense a sound signal, and potentially 
react to it, are the frequency of the signal and the strength of the 
signal in relation to the natural background noise level.
    The level of sound at which a fish will react or alter its behavior 
is usually well above the detection level. Fish have been found to 
react to sounds when the sound level increased to about 20 dB above the 
detection level of 120 dB (Ona 1988); however, the response threshold 
can depend on the time of year and the fish's physiological condition 
(Engas et al., 1993). In general, fish react more strongly to pulses of 
sound (such as noise from impact pile driving) rather than continuous 
signals (such as noise from vibratory pile driving) (Blaxter et al., 
1981), and a quicker alarm response is elicited when the sound signal 
intensity rises rapidly compared to sound rising more slowly to the 
same level.
    During the coastal construction only a small fraction of the 
available habitat would be ensonified at any given time. Disturbance to 
fish species would be short-term and fish would return to their pre-
disturbance behavior once the pile driving activity ceases. Thus, the 
proposed construction would have little, if any, impact on marine 
mammals' prey availability in the area where construction work is 
planned.
    Finally, the time of the proposed construction activity would avoid 
the spawning season of the ESA-listed salmonid species.

Estimated Take

    This section provides an estimate of the number of incidental takes 
proposed for authorization through this IHA, which will inform both 
NMFS' consideration of ``small numbers'' and the negligible impact 
determination.
    Harassment is the only type of take expected to result from these 
activities. Except with respect to certain activities not pertinent 
here, section 3(18) of the MMPA defines ``harassment'' as any act of 
pursuit, torment, or annoyance, which (i) has the potential to injure a 
marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild (Level A harassment); 
or (ii) has the potential to disturb a marine mammal or marine mammal 
stock in the wild by causing disruption of behavioral patterns, 
including, but not limited to, migration, breathing, nursing, breeding, 
feeding, or sheltering (Level B harassment).
    Authorized takes would be by Level B harassment only, in the form 
of disruption of behavioral patterns for individual marine mammals 
resulting from exposure to vibratory pile driving and pile removal. 
Based on the nature of the activity and the anticipated effectiveness 
of the mitigation measures (i.e., shutting down pile driving or removal 
activities when a marine mammal is observed to approach the injury 
zone)--discussed in detail below in Proposed Mitigation section, Level 
A harassment is neither anticipated nor proposed to be authorized.
    As described previously, no mortality is anticipated or proposed to 
be authorized for this activity. Below we describe how the take is 
estimated.
    Generally speaking, we estimate take by considering: (1) Acoustic 
thresholds above which NMFS believes the best available science 
indicates marine mammals will be behaviorally harassed or incur some 
degree of permanent hearing impairment; (2) the area or volume of water 
that will be ensonified above these levels in a day; (3) the density or 
occurrence of marine mammals within these ensonified areas; and, (4) 
and the number of days of activities. We note that while these basic 
factors can contribute to a basic calculation to provide an initial 
prediction of takes, additional information that can qualitatively 
inform take estimates is also sometimes available (e.g., previous 
monitoring results or average group size). Below, we describe the 
factors considered here in more detail and present the proposed take 
estimate.

Acoustic Thresholds

    Using the best available science, NMFS has developed acoustic 
thresholds that identify the received level of underwater sound above 
which exposed marine mammals would be reasonably expected to be 
behaviorally harassed (equated to Level B harassment) or to incur PTS 
of some degree (equated to Level A harassment).
    Level B Harassment for non-explosive sources--Though significantly 
driven by received level, the onset of behavioral disturbance from 
anthropogenic noise exposure is also informed to varying degrees by 
other factors related to the source (e.g., frequency, predictability, 
duty cycle), the environment (e.g., bathymetry), and the receiving 
animals (hearing, motivation, experience,

[[Page 35913]]

demography, behavioral context) and can be difficult to predict 
(Southall et al., 2007, Ellison et al., 2012). Based on what the 
available science indicates and the practical need to use a threshold 
based on a factor that is both predictable and measurable for most 
activities, NMFS uses a generalized acoustic threshold based on 
received level to estimate the onset of behavioral harassment. NMFS 
predicts that marine mammals are likely to be behaviorally harassed in 
a manner we consider Level B harassment when exposed to underwater 
anthropogenic noise above received levels of 120 dB re 1 [mu]Pa (rms) 
for continuous (e.g., vibratory pile-driving, drilling) and above 160 
dB re 1 [mu]Pa (rms) for non-explosive impulsive (e.g., seismic 
airguns) or intermittent (e.g., scientific sonar) sources.
    WSDOT's Mukilteo Ferry Terminal Year 4 construction project 
includes the use vibratory pile driving and pile removal, and therefore 
the 120 dB re 1 [mu]Pa (rms) is applicable.
    Level A harassment for non-explosive sources--NMFS' Technical 
Guidance for Assessing the Effects of Anthropogenic Sound on Marine 
Mammal Hearing (Version 2.0) (Technical Guidance, 2018) identifies dual 
criteria to assess auditory injury (Level A harassment) to five 
different marine mammal groups (based on hearing sensitivity) as a 
result of exposure to noise from two different types of sources 
(impulsive or non-impulsive). WSDOT's Mukilteo Ferry Terminal Year 4 
construction project includes the use non-impulsive (vibratory pile 
driving) sources.
    These thresholds are provided in the table below. The references, 
analysis, and methodology used in the development of the thresholds are 
described in NMFS 2018 Technical Guidance, which may be accessed at 
https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/national/marine-mammal-protection/marine-mammal-acoustic-technical-guidance.

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

Ensonified Area

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

Source Levels

    The project includes vibratory pile removal of 12-inch timber piles 
and 24-inch steel piles, and vibratory pile driving of 30-inch steel 
piles. Near source levels (defined as noise level at 10-m from the 
pile) of these pile driving and removal activities are all based on 
prior measurements conducted by WSDOT. A summary of the 10-m near 
source levels of the pile driving and removal activities is provided in 
Table 5, along with references.

Table 5--Near Source Noise Levels at 10-m From the Pile for Various Pile
      Driving and Removal at Mukilteo Ferry Terminal Year 4 Project
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                  Source level
       Activity/pile size         (dB RMS  SPL      Literature source
                                     at 10m)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Vibratory removal of 12-inch                153  WSDOT Port Townsend
 timber pile.                                     measurement (2011).
Vibratory removal of 24-inch                166  WSDOT Manette Bridge
 steel pile.                                      measurement (2010).
Vibratory driving of 30-inch                170  WSDOT Manette Bridge
 steel pile.                                      measurement (2010).
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Level A Harassment Distances and Areas
    Distances to Level A harassment thresholds were estimated using the 
NMFS User Spreadsheet. When the NMFS Technical Guidance (2016) was 
published, in recognition of the fact that ensonified area/volume could 
be more technically challenging to predict because of the duration 
component in the new thresholds, we developed a User Spreadsheet that 
includes tools to help predict a simple isopleth that can be used in 
conjunction with marine mammal density or occurrence to help predict 
takes. We note that because of some of the assumptions included in the 
methods used for these tools, we anticipate that isopleths produced are 
typically going to be overestimates of some degree, which may result in 
some degree of overestimate of Level A harassment take. However, these 
tools offer the best way to predict appropriate

[[Page 35914]]

isopleths when more sophisticated 3D modeling methods are not 
available, and NMFS continues to develop ways to quantitatively refine 
these tools, and will qualitatively address the output where 
appropriate. For stationary sources such as vibratory pile driving and 
pile removal, NMFS User Spreadsheet predicts the distance at which, if 
a marine mammal remained at that distance the whole duration of the 
activity, it would incur PTS.
    A summary of the calculated Level A harassment distances and areas 
is presented in Table 6.
Level B Harassment Distances and Areas
    Level B harassment distances from all pile driving and pile removal 
activities were based on in situ measurements conducted by WSDOT on the 
same or similar piles at Mukilteo Ferry Terminal in the early phases of 
this project. Specifically, the following measurement data were used.
    WSDOT has conducted in situ measurements of the Level B harassment 
zones from vibratory removal of 12-inch diameter timber piles, and 
vibratory driving of 30-inch diameter steel piles at the Mukilteo Ferry 
Terminal. For removal of 12-inch timber piles, the measurement results 
show that underwater noise cannot be detected at a distance of 1.13 km/
0.7 miles (Laughlin 2015). For driving of 30-inch steel piles, the 
sound source verification (SSV) results show that underwater noise 
cannot be detected at a distance of 7.9 km/4.9 miles) (Laughlin 2017).
    No far distance measurement for 24-inch piles has been conducted at 
the Mukilteo project site to establish the Level B harassment zone. For 
24-inch piles, the practical spreading model results in a Level B 
harassment distance of 10 km/6.2 miles for the source level of 166 
dBrms (root-mean-square decibel level). However, given that 
this source level is less than the 174 dBrms source level 
for the 30-inch piles, it is assumed that the size of Level B 
harassment zone for 24-inch pile removal will be the same as for the 
driving of 30-inch piles (7.9 km/4.9 miles).
    The Level B harassment areas were estimated by WSDOT using 
geographic information system (GIS) tools to eliminate land masses and 
other obstacles that block sound propagation.
    A summary of the measured Level B harassment distances (and assumed 
Level B harassment distance for 30-in steel piles) and associated 
areas, and modeled Level A harassment distances, is presented in Table 
6.

                                               Table 6--Level A and Level B Harassment Distances and Areas
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                           Level A harassment distance (m)/area (km\2\)                       Level B
                                                         --------------------------------------------------------------------------------   harassment
                         Source                                                                                                            distance (m)/
                                                           LF cetaceans    MF cetaceans    HF cetaceans       Phocids        Otariids      area (km\2\)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Vibratory removal 12 inch timber pile...................         3.7/0.0         0.3/0.0         5.4/0.0         2.2/0.0         0.2/0.0       1,130/1.2
Vibratory removal 24 inch steel pile....................        12.1/0.0         1.1/0.0        18.0/0.0         7.4/0.0         0.5/0.0        7,900/66
Vibratory drive 30 inch steel pile......................        27.2/0.0         2.4/0.0        40.2/0.0        16.5/0.0         1.2/0.0        7,900/66
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Marine Mammal Occurrence

    In this section we provide the information about the presence, 
density, or group dynamics of marine mammals that will inform the take 
calculations.
    Marine mammal occurrence are based on the U.S. Navy Marine Species 
Density Database (U.S. Navy, 2019) and on WSDOT marine mammal 
monitoring efforts during prior years of construction work at Mukilteo 
Ferry Terminal. A summary of the marine mammal density is provided in 
Table 7.

 Table 7--Marine Mammal Density in the WSDOT Mukilteo Multimodal Project
                                  Area
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                              Density
                     Marine mammals                          (animals/
                                                              km\2\)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Gray whale..............................................          0.0051
Humpback whale..........................................         0.00014
Minke whale.............................................           0.002
Killer whale (West Coast transient).....................        0.002373
Bottlenose dolphin......................................              NA
Harbor porpoise.........................................           0.792
Dall's porpoise.........................................        0.047976
Harbor seal.............................................            2.21
Northern elephant seal..................................         0.00001
California sea lion.....................................          0.1266
Steller sea lion........................................          0.0368
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Take Calculation and Estimation

    Here we describe how the information provided above is brought 
together to produce a quantitative take estimate.
    For most species, take numbers were calculated using the 
information aggregated in the Navy density database (U.S. Navy, 2019). 
Where a low to high range of densities is given for a species, the more 
conservative high density was used. In these cases, take numbers were 
calculated as:

Total Take = marine mammal density x ensonified area x pile driving 
days

    For species with no density data (e.g., bottlenose dolphin) or 
species with very low density but observations were made at the project 
location which may indicate more animals could be present (e.g., 
humpback whale, West Coast transient killer whale, and northern 
elephant seal), adjustments were made to estimate the take numbers. 
Specific adjustments for calculating take numbers for these species are 
provided below.
     Northern elephant seal--During the Mukilteo project, 
individuals have been observed on 2 occasions. Observations have been 
of single individuals, not groups. It is assumed that one individual 
may be present in the Level

[[Page 35915]]

B harassment zone once a month during the in-water work window (7 
months), or 7 incidents of take.
     Humpback whale--During the Mukilteo project, individuals 
have been observed on 2 occasions. Observations have been of single 
individuals, not groups. It is assumed that one individual may be 
present in the Level B harassment zone once a month during the in-water 
work window (7 months), or 7 incidents of take.
     West Coast transient killer whale--take is based on 
maximum group size observed during the project. Groups of 8 individuals 
have been observed on 2 occasions. It is assumed that one group of 8 
animals may be present in the Level B harassment zone once a month 
during the in-water work window (7 months), or 56 incidents of take.
     Bottlenose dolphin--The bottlenose dolphin estimate is 
based on sightings data from Cascadia Research Collective. Between 
September 2017 and March 2018, a group of up to 7 individuals was 
sighted in South Puget Sound (EPS, 2018). It is assumed that this group 
is still present in the area. Given how rare bottlenose dolphins are in 
the area, it is unlikely they would be present on a daily basis. 
Instead it is assumed that one group size of 7 animals may be present 
in the Level B harassment zone once a month during the in-water work 
window (7 months), or 49 incidents of take.
    A summary of estimated marine mammal takes is listed in Table 8.

  Table 8--Estimated Numbers of Marine Mammals That May Be Exposed to Received Noise Levels That Cause Level B
                                                   Harassment
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                     Estimated
                         Marine mammals                               level B        Abundance      Percentage
                                                                    harassment                          (%)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Gray whale......................................................               9          26,906            0.03
Humpback whale..................................................               7           2,900            0.24
Minke whale.....................................................               3             636            0.47
Killer whale (West Coast transient).............................              56             243           23.05
Bottlenose dolphin..............................................              49            1924            2.55
Harbor porpoise.................................................           1,360          11,233           12.11
Dall's porpoise.................................................              82          25,750            0.32
Harbor seal.....................................................           3,794          11,036            1.97
Northern elephant seal..........................................               7         179,000            0.04
California sea lion.............................................             217         257,606            1.47
Steller sea lion................................................              63          43,201            0.02
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Proposed Mitigation

    In order to issue an IHA under Section 101(a)(5)(D) of the MMPA, 
NMFS must set forth the permissible methods of taking pursuant to the 
activity, and other means of effecting the least practicable impact on 
the species or stock and its habitat, paying particular attention to 
rookeries, mating grounds, and areas of similar significance, and on 
the availability of the species or stock for taking for certain 
subsistence uses (latter not applicable for this action). NMFS 
regulations require applicants for incidental take authorizations to 
include information about the availability and feasibility (economic 
and technological) of equipment, methods, and manner of conducting the 
activity or other means of effecting the least practicable adverse 
impact upon the affected species or stocks and their habitat (50 CFR 
216.104(a)(11)).
    In evaluating how mitigation may or may not be appropriate to 
ensure the least practicable adverse impact on species or stocks and 
their habitat, as well as subsistence uses where applicable, we 
carefully consider two primary factors:
    (1) The manner in which, and the degree to which, the successful 
implementation of the measure(s) is expected to reduce impacts to 
marine mammals, marine mammal species or stocks, and their habitat. 
This considers the nature of the potential adverse impact being 
mitigated (likelihood, scope, range). It further considers the 
likelihood that the measure will be effective if implemented 
(probability of accomplishing the mitigating result if implemented as 
planned), the likelihood of effective implementation (probability 
implemented as planned), and;
    (2) The practicability of the measures for applicant 
implementation, which may consider such things as cost, impact on 
operations, and, in the case of a military readiness activity, 
personnel safety, practicality of implementation, and impact on the 
effectiveness of the military readiness activity.

Time Restriction

    Work would occur only during daylight hours, when visual monitoring 
of marine mammals can be conducted. In addition, all in-water 
construction will be limited to the period between August 1, 2020, and 
February 15, 2021.

Establishing and Monitoring Level A, Level B Harassment Zones, and 
Exclusion Zones

    Before the commencement of in-water construction activities, which 
include vibratory pile driving and pile removal, WSDOT shall establish 
Level A harassment zones where received underwater SPLs or 
SELcum (cumulative sound exposure level) could cause PTS.
    WSDOT shall also establish Level B harassment zones where received 
underwater SPLs are higher than 120 dBrms re 1 [micro]Pa for 
continuous noise sources (vibratory pile driving and pile removal).
    WSDOT shall establish a 50 m exclusion zone for all in-water pile 
driving for cetaceans except Southern Resident killer whale and a 20 m 
exclusion zone for all in-water pile driving for pinnipeds. These zones 
encompass all estimated Level A harassment zones.
    WSDOT shall establish exclusion zones for Southern Resident killer 
whale and all marine mammals for which takes are not authorized at the 
Level B harassment distances. Specifically, for vibratory pile removal 
of 12-inch timber piles, a 1.13 km exclusion zone shall be established. 
For vibratory pile removal of 24-inch steel piles and vibratory pile 
driving of 30-inch steel piles, a 7.9 km exclusion zone shall be 
established.
    A summary of exclusion zones is provided in Table 9.

[[Page 35916]]



                             Table 9--Exclusion Zones (m) for Various Marine Mammals
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                     Cetaceans
                           Activities                              except SRKW *     Pinnipeds         SRKW
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Vibratory pile removal, 12-inch timber pile.....................              50              20           1,130
Vibratory pile removal, 24-inch steel pile or vibratory pile                  50              20           7,900
 driving, 30-inch steel pile....................................
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
* SRKW = Southern Resident killer whale.

    NMFS-approved PSOs shall conduct an initial survey of the exclusion 
zones to ensure that no marine mammals are seen within the zones 
beginning 30 minutes before pile driving and pile removal of a pile 
segment begins. If marine mammals are found within the exclusion zone, 
pile driving of the segment would be delayed until they move out of the 
area. If a marine mammal is seen above water and then dives below, the 
contractor would wait 15 minutes. If no marine mammals are seen by the 
observer in that time it can be assumed that the animal has moved 
beyond the exclusion zone.
    If pile driving of a segment ceases for 30 minutes or more and a 
marine mammal is sighted within the designated exclusion zone prior to 
commencement of pile driving, the observer(s) must notify the pile 
driving operator (or other authorized individual) immediately and 
continue to monitor the exclusion zone. Operations may not resume until 
the marine mammal has exited the exclusion zone or 15 minutes have 
elapsed since the last sighting.

Shutdown Measures

    WSDOT shall implement shutdown measures if a marine mammal is 
detected within or entering an exclusion zone listed in Table 9.
    WSDOT shall also implement shutdown measures if southern resident 
killer whales are sighted within the vicinity of the project area and 
are approaching the Level B harassment zone during in-water 
construction activities.
    If a killer whale approaches the Level B harassment zone during 
pile driving or removal, and it is unknown whether it is a Southern 
Resident killer whale or a transient killer whale, it shall be assumed 
to be a Southern Resident killer whale and WSDOT shall implement the 
shutdown measure.
    If a Southern Resident killer whale or an unidentified killer whale 
enters the Level B harassment zone undetected, in-water pile driving or 
pile removal shall be suspended until the whale exits the Level B 
harassment zone, or 15 minutes have elapsed with no sighting of the 
animal, to avoid further Level B harassment.
    Further, WSDOT shall implement shutdown measures if the number of 
authorized takes for any particular species reaches the limit under the 
IHA (if issued) and if such marine mammals are sighted within the 
vicinity of the project area and are approaching the Level B harassment 
zone during in-water construction activities.

Coordination With Local Marine Mammal Research Network

    Prior to the start of pile driving for the day, the Orca Network 
and/or Center for Whale Research will be contacted by WSDOT to find out 
the location of the nearest marine mammal sightings. The Orca Sightings 
Network consists of a list of over 600 (and growing) residents, 
scientists, and government agency personnel in the U.S. and Canada. 
Sightings are called or emailed into the Orca Network and immediately 
distributed to other sighting networks including: The NMFS Northwest 
Fisheries Science Center, the Center for Whale Research, Cascadia 
Research, the Whale Museum Hotline and the British Columbia Sightings 
Network.
    Sightings information collected by the Orca Network includes 
detection by hydrophone. The SeaSound Remote Sensing Network is a 
system of interconnected hydrophones installed in the marine 
environment of Haro Strait (west side of San Juan Island) to study orca 
communication, in-water noise, bottom fish ecology and local climatic 
conditions. A hydrophone at the Port Townsend Marine Science Center 
measures average in-water sound levels and automatically detects 
unusual sounds. These passive acoustic devices allow researchers to 
hear when different marine mammals come into the region. This acoustic 
network, combined with the volunteer (incidental) visual sighting 
network allows researchers to document presence and location of various 
marine mammal species.
    Based on our evaluation of the applicant's proposed measures, as 
well as other measures considered by NMFS, all of which are described 
above, NMFS has preliminarily determined that the proposed mitigation 
measures provide the means 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.

Proposed Monitoring and Reporting

    In order to issue an IHA for an activity, Section 101(a)(5)(D) of 
the MMPA states that NMFS must set forth requirements pertaining to the 
monitoring and reporting of such taking. The MMPA implementing 
regulations at 50 CFR 216.104(a)(13) indicate that requests for 
authorizations must include the suggested means of accomplishing the 
necessary monitoring and reporting that will result in increased 
knowledge of the species and of the level of taking or impacts on 
populations of marine mammals that are expected to be present in the 
proposed action area. Effective reporting is critical both to 
compliance as well as ensuring that the most value is obtained from the 
required monitoring.
    Monitoring and reporting requirements prescribed by NMFS should 
contribute to improved understanding of one or more of the following:
     Occurrence of marine mammal species or stocks in the area 
in which take is anticipated (e.g., presence, abundance, distribution, 
density).
     Nature, scope, or context of likely marine mammal exposure 
to potential stressors/impacts (individual or cumulative, acute or 
chronic), through better understanding of: (1) Action or environment 
(e.g., source characterization, propagation, ambient noise); (2) 
affected species (e.g., life history, dive patterns); (3) co-occurrence 
of marine mammal species with the action; or (4) biological or 
behavioral context of exposure (e.g., age, calving or feeding areas).
     Individual marine mammal responses (behavioral or 
physiological) to acoustic stressors (acute, chronic, or cumulative), 
other stressors, or cumulative impacts from multiple stressors.
     How anticipated responses to stressors impact either: (1) 
Long-term

[[Page 35917]]

fitness and survival of individual marine mammals; or (2) populations, 
species, or stocks.
     Effects on marine mammal habitat (e.g., marine mammal prey 
species, acoustic habitat, or other important physical components of 
marine mammal habitat).
     Mitigation and monitoring effectiveness.

Proposed Monitoring Measures

    WSDOT shall employ NMFS-approved PSOs to conduct marine mammal 
monitoring for its Mukilteo Multimodal Project. The PSOs will observe 
and collect data on marine mammals in and around the project area for 
30 minutes before, during, and for 30 minutes after all pile removal 
and pile installation work. NMFS-approved PSOs shall meet the following 
requirements:
    1. Independent observers (i.e., not construction personnel) are 
required;
    2. At least one observer must have prior experience working as an 
observer;
    3. Other observers may substitute education (undergraduate degree 
in biological science or related field) or training for experience;
    4. Where a team of three or more observers are required, one 
observer should be designated as lead observer or monitoring 
coordinator. The lead observer must have prior experience working as an 
observer; and
    5. NMFS will require submission and approval of observer Curriculum 
vitaes;
    Monitoring of marine mammals around the construction site shall be 
conducted using high-quality binoculars (e.g., Zeiss, 10 x 42 power). 
Due to the different sizes of Level B harassment distances from 
different pile sizes, several different ZOIs and different monitoring 
protocols corresponding to a specific pile size will be established.
     During 12-inch vibratory timber pile removal, two land-
based PSOs will monitor from the lighthouse and the new ferry terminal 
observation deck.
     During 24- and 30-inch steel vibratory driving/removal, 
four land-based and one ferry-based PSO will monitor the zones.
    Locations of the land-based PSOs and routes of monitoring vessels 
are shown in WSDOT's Marine Mammal Monitoring Plan, which is available 
online at https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/permit/incidental-take-authorizations-under-marine-mammal-protection-act.
    To verify the required monitoring distance, the exclusion zones and 
zones of influence will be determined by using a range finder or hand-
held global positioning system device.

Proposed Reporting Measures

    WSDOT is required to submit a draft report on all marine mammal 
monitoring conducted under the IHA (if issued) within ninety calendar 
days of the completion of the project. A final report shall be prepared 
and submitted within 30 days following resolution of comments on the 
draft report from NMFS.
    The marine mammal report must contain the informational elements 
described in the Marine Mammal Monitoring Plan, dated February 18, 
2020, including, but not limited to:
    1. Dates and times (begin and end) of all marine mammal monitoring.
    2. Construction activities occurring during each daily observation 
period, including how many and what type of piles were driven or 
removed.
    3. Weather parameters and water conditions during each monitoring 
period (e.g., wind speed, percent cover, visibility, sea state).
    4. The number of marine mammals observed, by species, relative to 
the pile location and if pile driving or removal was occurring at time 
of sighting.
    5. Age and sex class, if possible, of all marine mammals observed.
    6. PSO locations during marine mammal monitoring.
    7. Distances and bearings of each marine mammal observed to the 
pile being driven or removed for each sighting (if pile driving or 
removal was occurring at time of sighting).
    8. Description of any marine mammal behavior patterns during 
observation, including direction of travel and estimated time spent 
within the Level B harassment zones while the source was active.
    9. Number of individuals of each species (differentiated by month 
as appropriate) detected within the monitoring zone, and estimates of 
number of marine mammals taken, by species (a correction factor may be 
applied to total take numbers, as appropriate).
    10. Detailed information about any implementation of any mitigation 
triggered (e.g., shutdowns and delays), a description of specific 
actions that ensued, and resulting behavior of the animal, if any.
    11. Description of attempts to distinguish between the number of 
individual animals taken and the number of incidences of take, such as 
ability to track groups or individuals.
    12. An extrapolation of the estimated takes by Level B harassment 
based on the number of observed exposures within the Level B harassment 
zone and the percentage of the Level B harassment zone that was not 
visible.
    13. Submit all PSO datasheets and/or raw sighting data (in a 
separate file from the Final Report referenced immediately above).
    In the event that personnel involved in the construction activities 
discover an injured or dead marine mammal, WSDOT shall report the 
incident to the Office of Protected Resources (301-427-8401), NMFS and 
to the West Coast Region (WCR) regional stranding coordinator (1-866-
767-6114) as soon as feasible. If the death or injury was clearly 
caused by the specified activity, WSDOT must immediately cease the 
specified activities until NMFS is able to review the circumstances of 
the incident and determine what, if any, additional measures are 
appropriate to ensure compliance with the terms of the IHA. WSDOT must 
not resume their activities until notified by NMFS.
    The report must include the following information:
    1. Time, date, and location (latitude/longitude) of the first 
discovery (and updated location information if known and applicable);
    2. Species identification (if known) or description of the 
animal(s) involved;
    3. Condition of the animal(s) (including carcass condition if the 
animal is dead);
    4. Observed behaviors of the animal(s), if alive;
    5. If available, photographs or video footage of the animal(s); and
    6. General circumstances under which the animal was discovered.

Negligible Impact Analysis and Determination

    NMFS has defined negligible impact as an impact resulting from the 
specified activity that cannot be reasonably expected to, and is not 
reasonably likely to, adversely affect the species or stock through 
effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival (50 CFR 216.103). A 
negligible impact finding is based on the lack of likely adverse 
effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival (i.e., population-
level effects). An estimate of the number of takes alone is not enough 
information on which to base an impact determination. In addition to 
considering estimates of the number of marine mammals that might be 
``taken'' through harassment, NMFS considers other factors, such as the 
likely nature of any responses (e.g., intensity, duration), the context 
of any responses (e.g., critical reproductive time or location, 
migration), as well as effects on habitat, and the likely effectiveness 
of the mitigation. We also assess the number, intensity, and context of 
estimated takes by evaluating this

[[Page 35918]]

information relative to population status. Consistent with the 1989 
preamble for NMFS's implementing regulations (54 FR 40338; September 
29, 1989), the impacts from other past and ongoing anthropogenic 
activities are incorporated into this analysis via their impacts on the 
environmental baseline (e.g., as reflected in the regulatory status of 
the species, population size and growth rate where known, ongoing 
sources of human-caused mortality, or ambient noise levels).
    To avoid repetition, this introductory discussion of our analyses 
applies to all the species listed in Table 9, given that the 
anticipated effects of WSDOT's Mukilteo Multimodal Project activities 
involving pile driving and pile removal on marine mammals are expected 
to be relatively similar in nature. There is no information about the 
nature or severity of the impacts, or the size, status, or structure of 
any species or stock that would lead to a different analysis by species 
for this activity, or else species-specific factors would be identified 
and analyzed.
    Marine mammal takes that are anticipated and proposed to be 
authorized are expected to be limited to short-term Level B harassment 
(behavioral and TTS) only. Marine mammals present in the vicinity of 
the action area and taken by Level B harassment would most likely show 
overt brief disturbance (startle reaction) and avoidance of the area 
from elevated noise levels during pile driving and pile removal and the 
implosion noise. These behavioral distances are not expected to affect 
marine mammals' growth, survival, and reproduction due to the limited 
geographic area that would be affected in comparison to the much larger 
habitat for marine mammals in the Puget Sound. A few marine mammals 
could experience TTS if they occur within the Level B TTS ZOI. However, 
as discussed earlier in this document, TTS is a temporary loss of 
hearing sensitivity when exposed to loud sound, and the hearing 
threshold is expected to recover completely within minutes to hours. 
Therefore, it is not considered an injury.
    Portions of the SRKW range is within the proposed action area. In 
addition, the entire Puget Sound is designated as the SRKW critical 
habitat under the ESA. However, WSDOT would be required to implement 
strict mitigation measures to suspend pile driving or pile removal 
activities when this stock is detected in the vicinity of the project 
area. We anticipate that take of SRKW would be avoided. There are no 
other known important areas for other marine mammals, such as feeding 
or pupping, areas.
    The project also is not expected to have significant adverse 
effects on affected marine mammals' habitat, as analyzed in detail in 
the Potential Effects on Marine Mammal Habitat subsection. There is no 
other ESA designated critical habitat in the vicinity of the Mukilteo 
Multimodal Project area. The project activities would not permanently 
modify existing marine mammal habitat. The activities may kill some 
fish and cause other fish to leave the area temporarily, thus impacting 
marine mammals' foraging opportunities in a limited portion of the 
foraging range. However, because of the short duration of the 
activities and the relatively small area of the habitat that may be 
affected, the impacts to marine mammal habitat are not expected to 
cause significant or long-term negative consequences. Therefore, given 
the consideration of potential impacts to marine mammal prey species 
and their physical environment, WSDOT's proposed construction activity 
at the Mukilteo Ferry Terminal would not adversely affect marine mammal 
habitat.
    In summary and as described above, the following factors primarily 
support our preliminary determination that the impacts resulting from 
this activity are not expected to adversely affect the species or stock 
through effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival:
     Injury--no marine mammal would be taken by Level A 
harassment in the form of either physical injury or PTS;
     Behavioral disturbance--11 species/stocks of marine 
mammals would experience behavioral disturbance and TTS from the 
WSDOT's Mukilteo Ferry Terminal construction. However, as discussed 
earlier, the area to be affected is small and the duration of the 
project is short. In addition, the nature of the take would involve 
mild behavioral modification; and
     Although portion of the SWKR critical habitat is within 
the project area, strict mitigation measures such as implementing 
shutdown measures and suspending pile driving are expected to avoid 
take of SRKW, and impacts to prey species and the habitat itself are 
expected to be minimal. No other important habitat for marine mammals 
exist in the vicinity of the project area.
    Based on the analysis contained herein of the likely effects of the 
specified activity on marine mammals and their habitat, and taking into 
consideration the implementation of the proposed monitoring and 
mitigation measures, NMFS preliminarily finds that the total marine 
mammal take from the proposed activity will have a negligible impact on 
all affected marine mammal species or stocks.

Small Numbers

    As noted above, only small numbers of incidental take may be 
authorized under Sections 101(a)(5)(A) and (D) of the MMPA for 
specified activities other than military readiness activities. The MMPA 
does not define small numbers and so, in practice, where estimated 
numbers are available, NMFS compares the number of individuals taken to 
the most appropriate estimation of abundance of the relevant species or 
stock in our determination of whether an authorization is limited to 
small numbers of marine mammals. When the predicted number of 
individuals to be taken is fewer than one third of the species or stock 
abundance, the take is considered to be of small numbers. Additionally, 
other qualitative factors may be considered in the analysis, such as 
the temporal or spatial scale of the activities.
    The estimated takes are below 24 percent of the population for all 
marine mammals (Table 7).
    Based on the analysis contained herein of the proposed activity 
(including the proposed mitigation and monitoring measures) and the 
anticipated take of marine mammals, NMFS preliminarily finds that small 
numbers of marine mammals will be taken relative to the population size 
of the affected species or stocks.

Unmitigable Adverse Impact Analysis and Determination

    There are no relevant subsistence uses of the affected marine 
mammal stocks or species implicated by this action. Therefore, NMFS has 
determined that the total taking of affected species or stocks would 
not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of such 
species or stocks for taking for subsistence purposes.

Endangered Species Act

    Section 7(a)(2) of the ESA of 1973 (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) 
requires that each Federal agency insure that any action it authorizes, 
funds, or carries out is not likely to jeopardize the continued 
existence of any endangered or threatened species or result in the 
destruction or adverse modification of designated critical habitat. To 
ensure ESA compliance for the issuance of IHAs, NMFS consults 
internally, in this case with the WCR Protected Resources Division 
Office, whenever we propose to authorize take for endangered or 
threatened species.
    The only species listed under the ESA with the potential to be 
present in the

[[Page 35919]]

action area is the Mexico Distinct Population Segment (DPS) of humpback 
whales. The effects of this proposed Federal action were adequately 
analyzed in NMFS' Biological Opinion for the Mukilteo Multimodal 
Project, Snohomish, Washington, dated August 1, 2017, which concluded 
that issuance of an IHA would not jeopardize the continued existence of 
any endangered or threatened species or destroy or adversely modify any 
designated critical habitat. NMFS WCR has confirmed the Incidental Take 
Statement (ITS) issued in 2017 is applicable for this IHA. That ITS 
authorizes the take of seven humpback whales from the Mexico DPS.

Proposed Authorization

    As a result of these preliminary determinations, NMFS proposes to 
issue an IHA to WSDOT for conducting Mukilteo Multimodal Project Year 4 
construction in the State of Washington between August 1, 2020, through 
July 31, 2021, provided the previously mentioned mitigation, 
monitoring, and reporting requirements are incorporated. A draft of the 
proposed IHA can be found at https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/permit/incidental-take-authorizations-under-marine-mammal-protection-act.

Request for Public Comments

    We request comment on our analyses, the proposed authorization, and 
any other aspect of this notice of proposed IHA for WSDOT's Mukilteo 
Multimodal construction project. We also request at this time comment 
on the potential Renewal of this proposed IHA as described in the 
paragraph below. Please include with your comments any supporting data 
or literature citations to help inform decisions on the request for 
this IHA or a subsequent Renewal IHA.
    On a case-by-case basis, NMFS may issue a one-time one-year Renewal 
IHA following notice to the public providing an additional 15 days for 
public comments when (1) up to another year of identical or nearly 
identical, or nearly identical, activities as described in the 
Description of Specific Activity section of this notice is planned or 
(2) the activities as described in the Specified Activities section of 
this notice would not be completed by the time the IHA expires and a 
Renewal would allow for completion of the activities beyond that 
described in the Dates and Duration section of this notice, provided 
all of the following conditions are met:
     A request for renewal is received no later than 60 days 
prior to the needed Renewal IHA effective date (recognizing that the 
Renewal IHA expiration date cannot extend beyond one year from 
expiration of the initial IHA).
     The request for renewal must include the following:
    (1) An explanation that the activities to be conducted under the 
requested Renewal IHA are identical to the activities analyzed under 
the initial IHA, are a subset of the activities, or include changes so 
minor (e.g., reduction in pile size) that the changes do not affect the 
previous analyses, mitigation and monitoring requirements, or take 
estimates (with the exception of reducing the type or amount of take).
    (2) A preliminary monitoring report showing the results of the 
required monitoring to date and an explanation showing that the 
monitoring results do not indicate impacts of a scale or nature not 
previously analyzed or authorized.
     Upon review of the request for Renewal, the status of the 
affected species or stocks, and any other pertinent information, NMFS 
determines that there are no more than minor changes in the activities, 
the mitigation and monitoring measures will remain the same and 
appropriate, and the findings in the initial IHA remain valid.

    Dated: June 9, 2020.
Donna S. Wieting,
Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries 
Service.
[FR Doc. 2020-12753 Filed 6-11-20; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3510-22-P