Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to Seattle Multimodal Project at Colman Dock in Washington State, 40992-41006 [2020-14617]

Download as PDF 40992 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 131 / Wednesday, July 8, 2020 / Notices DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Submission to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for Review and Approval; Comment Request; NOAA Fisheries Greater Atlantic Region Gear Identification Requirements The Department of Commerce will submit the following information collection request to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review and clearance in accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, on or after the date of publication of this notice. We invite the general public and other Federal agencies to comment on proposed, and continuing information collections, which helps us assess the impact of our information collection requirements and minimize the public’s reporting burden. Public comments were previously requested via the Federal Register on March 11, 2020, during a 60-day comment period. This notice allows for an additional 30 days for public comments. Agency: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Title: NOAA Fisheries Greater Atlantic Region Gear Identification Requirements. OMB Control Number: 0648–0351. Form Number(s): None. Type of Request: Regular submission [extension of a current information collection]. Number of Respondents: 4,789. Average Hours per Response: 1 minute per string of gear. Total Annual Burden Hours: 16,886. Needs and Uses: The ability to link fishing gear to the vessel owner or operator is crucial for enforcement of regulations under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act and Atlantic Coastal Fisheries Cooperative Management Act. Gear identification is also used to identify ownership of lost or damaged gear, as well as gear involved in civil proceedings. Gear can be lost or damaged as the result of interactions between mobile and fixed gears. Gear identification is an important tool in identifying the parties involved in these conflicts. Proper marking also makes gear more visible to other vessels in the water to aid in navigation and increase safety at sea. Affected Public: Individuals and households; business or other for-profit organizations. Frequency: Annually. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:17 Jul 07, 2020 Jkt 250001 Respondent’s Obligation: Mandatory. Legal Authority: Magnuson Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, Atlantic Coastal Fisheries Cooperative Management Act. This information collection request may be viewed at www.reginfo.gov. Follow the instructions to view the Department of Commerce collections currently under review by OMB. Written comments and recommendations for the proposed information collection should be submitted within 30 days of the publication of this notice on the following website www.reginfo.gov/ public/do/PRAMain. Find this particular information collection by selecting ‘‘Currently under 30-day Review—Open for Public Comments’’ or by using the search function and entering either the title of the collection or the OMB Control Number 0648–0351. Sheleen Dumas, Department PRA Clearance Officer, Office of the Chief Information Officer, Commerce Department. [FR Doc. 2020–14683 Filed 7–7–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [RTID 0648–XA211] Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to Seattle Multimodal Project at Colman Dock 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. AGENCY: NMFS has received a request from the Washington State Department Transportation (WSDOT) for authorization to take marine mammals incidental to Seattle Multimodal Project at Colman Dock in Seattle, 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 SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00031 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 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 August 7, 2020. ADDRESSES: Comments should be addressed to Jolie Harrison, Chief, Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service. Written comments should be submitted via email 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: 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 E:\FR\FM\08JYN1.SGM 08JYN1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 131 / Wednesday, July 8, 2020 / Notices 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 jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with NOTICES 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. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:17 Jul 07, 2020 Jkt 250001 Summary of Request On April 21, 2020, NMFS received a request from WSDOT for an IHA to take marine mammals incidental to the fourth year of work associated with the Seattle Multimodal Project at Colman Dock in Seattle, Washington. The application was deemed adequate and complete on May 13, 2020. WSDOT’s request is for take of a small number of 11 species of marine mammals by Level A and Level B 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 31579, July 7, 2017; 83 FR 35226, July 25, 2018; 84 FR 36581, July 29, 2019). The project will reconfigure the dock while maintaining approximately the same vehicle holding capacity as current conditions. 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 Effects of the Specified Activity on Marine Mammals and their Habitat section. WSDOT’s previous monitoring reports are available online at https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/ permit/incidental-take-authorizationsunder-marine-mammal-protection-act. 40993 • Reconfiguring the dock layout to provide safer and more efficient operations; • Replacing the vehicle transfer span and the overhead loading structures of Slip 3; • Replacing vessel landing aids; • Maintaining a connection to the Marion Street pedestrian overpass; • Moving the current passenger only ferry (POF) slip temporarily to the north to make way for south trestle construction, and then constructing a new POF slip in the south trestle area. • Mitigating for additional 5,400 square feet (ft2) (502 square meters (m2)) of overwater coverage; and • Capping contaminated sediments. The Seattle Multimodal Project at Colman Dock involves in-water impact and vibratory pile driving and vibratory pile removal. Details of the proposed construction activities are provided below. Dates and Duration Description of Proposed Activity Due to NMFS and 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 at this location. 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 47 days (Table 1). Overview Specific Geographic Region The purpose of the Seattle Multimodal Project at Colman Dock is to preserve the transportation function of an aging, deteriorating and seismically deficient facility to continue providing safe and reliable service. The project will also address existing safety concerns related to conflicts between vehicles and pedestrian traffic and operational inefficiencies. Key project elements include: • Replacing and re-configuring the timber trestle portion of the dock; • Replacing the main terminal building; The Seattle Ferry Terminal at Colman Dock, serving State Route 519, is located on the downtown Seattle waterfront, in King County, Washington. The terminal services vessels from the Bainbridge Island and Bremerton routes, and is the most heavily used terminal in the WSF system. The Seattle terminal is located in Section 6, Township 24 North, Range 4 East, and is adjacent to Elliott Bay, a tributary to Puget Sound (Figure 1). Land use in the area is highly urban, and includes business, industrial, the Port of Seattle container loading facility, residential, the Pioneer Square Historic District and local parks. PO 00000 Frm 00032 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 E:\FR\FM\08JYN1.SGM 08JYN1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 131 / Wednesday, July 8, 2020 / Notices jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with NOTICES Detailed Description of Specific Activity Construction activities during the Year 4 Seattle Multimodal Project at Colman Dock include the following components. The project will remove the northern timber trestle and replace a portion of it with a new concrete trestle. The area from Marion Street to the north edge of the property will not be rebuilt and after demolition will become a new area of open water. A section of fill contained behind a bulkhead underneath the northeast section of the dock will be removed. WSDOT will construct a new steel and concrete trestle from Columbia Street northward to Marion Street. The project will maintain the current King County POF functions on site, and address safety concerns related to pedestrian/vehicle conflicts at Yesler Street. A new covered pier, sized to accommodate POF passenger waiting and connected by a new overhead pedestrian bridge to the terminal VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:17 Jul 07, 2020 Jkt 250001 building and the Marion Street Overpass, will be constructed along the south side of Colman Dock. The reconfiguration will increase total permanent overwater coverage (OWC) by about 5,400 ft2 (502 m2, about 1.7 percent more than existing overwater coverage at the site), due to the new walkway from the POF facility to Alaskan Way and new stairways and elevators from the POF to the upper level of the terminal. Removal of at least 5,400 ft2 (502 m2) from Pier 48, a condemned timber structure, will serve as mitigation for the permanent OWC increase. Construction of the reconfigured dock will narrow (reduce) the OWC along the shoreline (at the landward edge) by 180 linear feet (ft) at the north end of the site, while 30 linear ft of new trestle will be constructed along the shoreline at the south end of the site. The net reduction of OWC in the nearshore zone is 150 linear ft. PO 00000 Frm 00033 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 The project includes demolition of the existing terminal building and construction of a new terminal building. The new terminal building will be located along the west edge of the dock, spanning all three slips to handle passenger traffic more efficiently, and will connect to the Marion Street Overpass by an elevated deck. The project includes reconstruction of the vehicle transfer span and the passenger overhead loading (OHL) structures of Slip 3, including new hydraulic systems. The new OHL will be wider than the existing OHL, to accommodate the increased walk-on passenger volumes. Sediment beneath the terminal has been contaminated by the creosotetreated piles and other chemicals discharged to the environment over the years. A cap was installed to cover contaminated sediment on the south half of the site prior to trestle expansion in 1990. WSDOT will place a new E:\FR\FM\08JYN1.SGM 08JYN1 EN08JY20.000</GPH> 40994 40995 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 131 / Wednesday, July 8, 2020 / Notices sediment cap to the north and south of the current cap during construction of the project to contain existing contamination. Specific in-water pile driving and pile removal activities include the follow components: • Vibratory driving followed by impact proofing (driving) of 36-inch steel piles. A total of 73 piles will be installed using the vibratory hammer over 9 days, with an average of • Vibratory removal of 355 14-inch timber piles over 18 days, with approximately 20 piles removed per day. • Vibratory removal of 30 12-inch steel piles over 3 days, with 10 piles removed per day. A summary of the pile driving and pile removal activities for the Year 4 Seattle Multimodal Project at Colman Dock is provided in Table 1. approximately 8 piles installed per day. Vibratory pile driving and impact proofing will occur on different days, and an additional nine days is estimated for impact proofing. • Vibratory driving and then removal of 24-inch temporary steel piles. A total of 30 piles will be installed and later removed, with an average of 8 piles installed/removed per day. Vibratory pile driving and removal will occur on different days. TABLE 1—SUMMARY OF IN-WATER PILE DRIVING DURATIONS Pile size (inch) Pile No. Piles/day Duration (days) Method Pile type Minutes/pile Impact drive (proof) ............ Vibratory drive ..................... Vibratory drive ..................... Vibratory remove ................ Vibratory remove ................ Vibratory remove ................ Steel .................................... Steel .................................... Steel (temporary) ................ Steel (temporary) ................ Timber ................................. Steel .................................... 36 36 24 24 14 12 * 73 * 73 * 30 * 30 355 30 8 8 8 8 20 10 10 20 20 20 15 20 9 9 4 4 18 3 Total ............................. ............................................. ........................ 488 ........................ ........................ 47 * These are same piles. 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 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/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 jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with NOTICES 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 ....................... VerDate Sep<11>2014 Orcinus orca ........................... 17:17 Jul 07, 2020 Jkt 250001 PO 00000 Eastern North Pacific Southern Resident. West coast transient .............. Frm 00034 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Y 75 (NA, 75) ............................. 0 0 N 243 (NA, 243) ......................... 2.4 0 E:\FR\FM\08JYN1.SGM 08JYN1 40996 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 131 / Wednesday, July 8, 2020 / Notices TABLE 2—MARINE MAMMALS WITH POTENTIAL PRESENCE WITHIN THE PROPOSED PROJECT AREA—Continued Common name ESA/ MMPA status; Strategic (Y/N) 1 Stock abundance (CV, Nmin, most recent abundance survey) 2 Annual M/SI 3 PBR Scientific name Stock Bottlenose dolphin ........... Tursiops truncatus .................. California/Oregon/Washington offshore. N 1,924 (0.54, 1,255) ................. 11 1.6 Family Phocoenidae (porpoises): Harbor porpoise ............... Dall’s porpoise .................. Phocoena phocoena .............. P. dalli .................................... Washington inland waters ...... California/Oregon/Washington N N 11,233 (0.37, 8,308) ............... 25,750 (0.45, 17,954) ............. 66 172 7.2 0.3 14,011 2,592 321 113 Order Carnivora—Superfamily Pinnipedia Family Otariidae (eared seals and sea lions): California sea lion ............ Steller sea lion ................. Family Phocidae (earless seals): Harbor seal ....................... Northern elephant seal ..... Zalophus californianus ........... Eumetopias jubatus ................ U.S. ........................................ Eastern U.S. ........................... N N 257,606 (NA, 233,515) ........... 43,201 (NA, 43,201) ............... Phoca vitulina ......................... Washington northern inland waters. California breeding ................. N 4 11,036 .................................. NA 10.6 N 179,000 (NA, 81,368) ............. 4,882 8.8 Mirounga angustirostris .......... 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). Annual serious injury/mortality often cannot be determined precisely and is in some cases presented as a minimum value or range. A CV associated with estimated mortality due to commercial fisheries is presented in some cases. 4 Harbor seal estimate is based on data that are 9 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 (SPKW). Take of SRKW can be avoided by implementing strict monitoring and mitigation measures (see Proposed Mitigation and Proposed Monitoring and Reporting sections below). All species that could potentially occur in the proposed survey areas are included in Table 2 of the IHA application. 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 the Year 3 Seattle Multimodal Project at Colman Dock proposed IHA (84 FR 25757, June 4, 2019). This information remains valid 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) jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with NOTICES 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. * 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). VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:17 Jul 07, 2020 Jkt 250001 PO 00000 Frm 00035 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 E:\FR\FM\08JYN1.SGM 08JYN1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 131 / Wednesday, July 8, 2020 / Notices jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with NOTICES 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. 11 marine mammal species (7 cetacean and 4 pinniped (2 otariid and 2 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, 3 are classified as low-frequency cetaceans (i.e., all mysticete species), 2 are classified as mid-frequency cetaceans (i.e., all delphinid species), and 2 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 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 Seattle Multimodal Project at Colman Dock 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 VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:17 Jul 07, 2020 Jkt 250001 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 (mPa), which corresponds to a sound exposure level of 164.5 dB re: 1 mPa2s after integrating exposure. Because the airgun noise is a broadband impulse, one cannot directly determine the equivalent of SPLrms (root-mean-square sound pressure level) 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 SPLrms, the SPLrms 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 PO 00000 Frm 00036 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 40997 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, chronic exposure to excessive, though not high-intensity, 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 E:\FR\FM\08JYN1.SGM 08JYN1 jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with NOTICES 40998 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 131 / Wednesday, July 8, 2020 / Notices 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 Seattle Multimodal Project at Colman Dock Year 4 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 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 Seattle Multimodal Project at Colman Dock construction activities, both of these noise levels are considered for effects VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:17 Jul 07, 2020 Jkt 250001 analysis because WSDOT plans to use impact pile driving and 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. Marine mammal monitoring report for the 2019 Seattle Multimodal Project at Colman Dock construction activity shows that a total of 190 harbor seals, 225 California sea lions, 9 Steller sea lions, 1 gray whale, 1 humpback whale, and 49 harbor porpoises 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 Seattle Multimodal Project at Colman Dock 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 PO 00000 Frm 00037 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 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 primarily be by Level B harassment, as noise from inwater impact and vibratory pile driving has the potential to result in disruption of behavioral patterns for individual marine mammals. There is also some potential for auditory injury (Level A harassment) to result, primarily for high frequency cetaceans and phocids because predicted auditory injury zones are relatively large. Auditory injury is unlikely to occur for low- and midfrequency cetaceans and otariids. The proposed mitigation and monitoring measures are expected to minimize the severity of the taking to the extent practicable. As described previously, no mortality is anticipated or proposed to be authorized for this activity. Below we describe how the take is estimated. E:\FR\FM\08JYN1.SGM 08JYN1 40999 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 131 / Wednesday, July 8, 2020 / Notices 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, demography, behavioral context) and can be difficult to predict (Southall et al., 2007, Ellison et al., 2012). Based on what the available science indicates and the practical need to use a threshold based on a factor that is both predictable and measurable for most activities, NMFS uses a generalized acoustic threshold based on received level to estimate the onset of behavioral harassment. NMFS predicts that marine mammals are likely to be behaviorally harassed in a manner we consider Level B harassment when exposed to underwater anthropogenic noise above received levels of 120 dB re 1 mPa (rms) for continuous (e.g., vibratory piledriving, drilling) and above 160 dB re 1 mPa (rms) for non-explosive impulsive (e.g., seismic airguns) or intermittent (e.g., scientific sonar) sources. WSDOT’s Seattle Multimodal Project at Colman Dock Year 4 construction activity includes the use impact pile driving, vibratory pile driving and pile removal, and therefore the 120 dB and 160 dB re 1 mPa (rms) are 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 Seattle Multimodal Project at Colman Dock Year 4 construction activity includes the use of impulsive (impact pile driving) and 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. jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with NOTICES * Dual metric acoustic thresholds for impulsive sounds: Use whichever results in the largest isopleth for calculating PTS onset. If a non-impulsive sound has the potential of exceeding the peak sound pressure level thresholds associated with impulsive sounds, these thresholds should also be considered. Note: Peak sound pressure (Lpk) has a reference value of 1 μPa, and cumulative sound exposure level (LE) has a reference value of 1μPa2s. In this Table, thresholds are abbreviated to reflect American National Standards Institute standards (ANSI 2013). However, peak sound pressure is defined by ANSI as incorporating frequency weighting, which is not the intent for this Technical Guidance. Hence, the subscript ‘‘flat’’ is being included to indicate peak sound pressure should be flat weighted or unweighted within the generalized hearing range. The subscript associated with cumulative sound exposure level thresholds indicates the designated marine mammal auditory weighting function (LF, MF, and HF cetaceans, and PW and OW pinnipeds) and that the recommended accumulation period is 24 hours. The cumulative sound exposure level thresholds could be exceeded in a multitude of ways (i.e., varying exposure levels and durations, duty cycle). When possible, it is valuable for action proponents to indicate the conditions under which these acoustic thresholds will be exceeded. Ensonified Area 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 impact pile driving (proofing) of 36-inch steel piles, vibratory pile driving of 36- and 24-inch steel piles, and vibratory pile removal of 24- and 12-inch steel piles, and 14-inch timber piles. Near source levels (defined VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:17 Jul 07, 2020 Jkt 250001 PO 00000 Frm 00038 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 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. E:\FR\FM\08JYN1.SGM 08JYN1 41000 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 131 / Wednesday, July 8, 2020 / Notices TABLE 5—NEAR SOURCE NOISE LEVELS AT 10-M FROM THE PILE FOR VARIOUS PILE DRIVING AND REMOVAL AT SEATTLE MULTIMODAL PROJECT AT COLMAN DOCK YEAR 4 PROJECT Source level (at 10m) Activity/pile size Impact pile drive (proof) 36 inch steel pile ............... Vibratory drive/remove 36 inch steel pile ................. Vibratory drive 24 inch steel pile .............................. Vibratory removal 14 inch timber pile ...................... Vibratory removal 12 inch steel pile ......................... Level A Harassment Distances and Areas Distances to Level A harassment 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 isopleths when more sophisticated 3D 174 177 174 155 155 dB dB dB dB dB Literature source (SELss) .................................. (SPLrms) ................................ (SPLrms) ................................ (SPLrms) ................................ (SPLrms) ................................ WSDOT WSDOT WSDOT WSDOT Caltrans 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 impact pile driving of 36-inch steel piles and from vibratory pile removal of 12inch steel piles and 14-inch timber piles are calculated using a practical spreading model of the sonar equation EL = SL ¥ 15 log10(R) where EL is the echo level (or received level), which is the sound threshold level at the Colman Year 1 measurement Port Townsend measurement Port Townsend measurement Port Townsend measurement (2015) data for same pile. (2018). (2010). (2010). (2011). Level B harassment (160 dB re 1 mPa for impact pile driving and 120 dB re 1 mPa for vibratory pile driving and pile removal); R is the Level B harassment distance in meters. Level B harassment distance for vibratory pile driving and removal of the 24-inch steel piles, and the vibratory driving of 36-inch piles is based on in situ measurements of vibratory pile driving of 36-inch piles conducted during Year One of the Seattle Multimodal Project at Colman Dock (WSDOT 2018). The results show that underwater pile driving noise cannot be detected at a distance of 8.69 km (WSDOT 2018). 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 areas is presented in Table 6. TABLE 6—LEVEL A AND LEVEL B HARASSMENT DISTANCES AND AREAS Level A harassment distance (m)/area (km2) Pile type, size & pile driving method LF cetacean Impact drive (proof) 36-inch steel pile ...................................... Vibratory drive 36-inch steel pile .............................................. Vibratory drive/removal, 24-inch steel piles .............................. Vibratory removal 14-inch timber pile ....................................... Vibratory removal 12-inch steel pile ......................................... jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with NOTICES 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 Seattle Multimodal Project at Colman Dock. A summary of the marine mammal density is provided in Table 7. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:17 Jul 07, 2020 Jkt 250001 MF cetacean 343.2/0.37 153.1/0.07 96.6/0.03 8.0/0.00 6.5/0.00 12.2/0.00 13.6/0.00 8.6/0.00 0.7/0.00 0.6/0.00 HF cetacean 408.7/0.52 226.4/0.16 142.8/0.06 11.8/0.00 9.6/0.00 TABLE 7—MARINE MAMMAL DENSITY IN THE SEATTLE MULTIMODAL PROJECT AT COLMAN DOCK CONSTRUCTION AREA 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 ................. Frm 00039 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 0.0048 0.00074 0.00045 0.005141 NA 0.75 0.00045 3.91 0 0.2211 Otariid 183.6/0.11 93.1/0.03 58.7/0.01 4.8/0.00 3.9/0.00 13.4/0.00 6.5/0.00 4.1/0.00 0.3/0.00 0.3/0.00 736/1.70 8,690/40.53 8,690/40.53 2,154/5.47 2,154/5.47 TABLE 7—MARINE MAMMAL DENSITY IN THE SEATTLE MULTIMODAL PROJECT AT COLMAN DOCK CONSTRUCTION AREA—Continued Density (animals/km2) Marine mammals PO 00000 Phocid Level B harassment distance (m)/area (km2) Marine mammals Density (animals/km2) Steller sea lion ...................... 0.0478 Take Calculation and Estimation Here we describe how the information provided above is brought together to produce a quantitative take estimate. The fundamental approach for take calculation is to use the information aggregated in the Navy density database E:\FR\FM\08JYN1.SGM 08JYN1 41001 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 131 / Wednesday, July 8, 2020 / Notices (U.S. Navy, 2019) with the following equation: Total Take = marine mammal density × ensonified area × pile driving days Some adjustments were made based on prior observation of marine mammals in the project area and account for group numbers. Specific adjustments for calculating take numbers are provided below. • Humpback whale—During the prior year WSDOT Multimodal Project construction, three individuals have been observed. Given that humpback whales are occasionally present in the area, it is unlikely they would be present on a daily basis. Instead it is assumed that three individuals may be present in the Level B harassment zones once a month during the in-water work window (7 months), or 21 exposures. • Minke whale—During the prior year WSDOT Multimodal Project work, one individual minke whale was observed. 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 exposures. • West Coast transient killer whale— Level B harassment exposures were calculated to be two. However, two groups of 10 individuals have been observed. It is assumed that one group size of 10 animals may be present in the Level B harassment zones once a month during the in-water work window (7 months), or 70 exposures. • 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 seven 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 seven animals may be present in the Level B harassment zone once a month during the in-water work window (7 months), or 49 exposures. • Northern elephant seal—Estimated northern elephant seals Level B harassment exposures were calculated to be zero. However, one individual of this species was observed in the project area once. Therefore, the take number was adjusted to seven takes based on one animal for the project duration of 7 months. • California sea lion—Estimated California sea lion Level B harassment exposures were calculated to be 104. However, there were 763 observations during project monitoring, with a high of 29 individuals in one day. Conservatively assuming that 29 individuals may be present in the Level B harassment zones during 47 days of pile driving or removal, it is assumed that 1,363 exposures to pile driving noise may occur. • Harbor porpoise—Estimated harbor porpoise Level A harassment exposures were calculated to be five. However, given the relatively larger Level A harassment distance for high-frequency cetaceans, we assume that two incidents of Level A harassment may occur per month for the 7 months work window to yield a total of 14 takes by Level A harassment. • Harbor seal—Estimated harbor seal Level A harassment exposures were calculated to be three. However, WSDOT made a total of 243 harbor seal observations in the 60–184 m Level A zone, with a high of two individuals in one day. This portion of the Level A harassment zone would be beyond the proposed shutdown zone, and this estimated zone would occur on 26 days. Assuming that two individuals may be present once a day for 26 days results in 52 potential Level A harassment takes. 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 A AND LEVEL B HARASSMENT Estimated level A harassment 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 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 VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:17 Jul 07, 2020 Jkt 250001 Estimated level B harassment 0 0 0 0 0 14 0 52 0 0 0 5 21 7 70 49 649 40 3,155 7 1,363 39 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 PO 00000 Frm 00040 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Estimated total harassment 5 21 7 70 49 663 40 3,207 7 1,363 39 Abundance 26,906 2,900 636 243 1,924 11,233 25,750 11,036 179,000 257,606 43,201 Percentage (%) 0.02 0.72 1.10 28.81 2.55 5.90 0.16 21.50 0.02 0.72 0.09 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 E:\FR\FM\08JYN1.SGM 08JYN1 41002 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 131 / Wednesday, July 8, 2020 / Notices 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 The applicant stated that work would occur only during daylight hours, when visual monitoring of marine mammals can be conducted. In addition, all inwater 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 could cause PTS. WSDOT shall also establish Level B harassment zones where received underwater SPLs are higher than 160 dBrms re 1 mPa for impulse noise sources (impact pile driving) and 120 dBrms re 1 mPa for continuous noise sources (vibratory pile driving and pile removal). WSDOT shall establish exclusion zones as shown in Table 9 to prevent Level A harassment takes of all cetaceans and otariids, and to minimize Level A harassment takes of phocids. In addition, a minimum of 10 m exclusion zone must be in place during anytime when in-water construction activity is ongoing. WSDOT shall establish exclusion zones for SRKW and all marine mammals that takes are not authorized at the Level B harassment distances. Specifically, impact pile driving of 36inch steel piles, a 750 m exclusion zone shall be established. For vibratory driving of 24- and 36-inch steel piles and vibratory pile removal of 24-inch steel piles, a 8.7 km exclusion zone shall be established. For vibratory pile removal of 14-inch timber piles and 12inch steel piles, a 2.2 km exclusion zone shall be established. A summary of exclusion zones is provided in Table 9. TABLE 9—EXCLUSION ZONES (M) FOR VARIOUS MARINE MAMMALS Exclusion distance (m) Pile type, size & pile driving method LF Impact drive 36-inch steel pile ................................................................. Vibratory drive 36-inch steel pile ............................................................. Vibratory drive/removal, 24-inch steel piles ............................................. Vibratory remove, 14-inch timber pile or 12-inch steel pile ..................... MF 350 160 100 10 HF 15 15 10 10 Phocid 410 230 150 15 60 60 60 10 Otariid 15 10 10 10 SRKW (m) 750 8,700 8,700 2,200 jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with NOTICES *LF = low-frequency cetacean; MF = mid-frequency cetacean; HF = high-frequency cetacean; PW = phocid; OW = otariids; SRKW = Southern Resident killer whale NMFS-approved PSO 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. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:17 Jul 07, 2020 Jkt 250001 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 SRKW 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 SRKW or a transient killer whale, it shall be assumed to be a SRKW and WSDOT shall implement the shutdown measure. If a SRKW 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 PO 00000 Frm 00041 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 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 E:\FR\FM\08JYN1.SGM 08JYN1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 131 / Wednesday, July 8, 2020 / Notices 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. jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with NOTICES 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). VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:17 Jul 07, 2020 Jkt 250001 • Individual marine mammal responses (behavioral or physiological) to acoustic stressors (acute, chronic, or cumulative), other stressors, or cumulative impacts from multiple stressors. • How anticipated responses to stressors impact either: (1) Long-term fitness and survival of individual marine mammals; or (2) populations, species, or stocks. • Effects on marine mammal habitat (e.g., marine mammal prey species, acoustic habitat, or other important physical components of marine mammal habitat). • Mitigation and monitoring effectiveness. Proposed Monitoring Measures WSDOT shall employ NMFSapproved PSOs to conduct marine mammal monitoring for its Seattle Multimodal Project at Colman Dock. 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 Vitas; 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 ZOIs from different pile sizes, several different ZOIs and different monitoring protocols corresponding to a specific pile size will be established. • During vibratory driving of 36-inch pile or vibratory driving/removal of 24inch piles, four land-based PSOs and one ferry-based PSO will monitor the zone. • During vibratory removal of 12-inch or 14-inch piles, four land-based PSOs will monitor the zone. • During impact driving of 36-nch piles, three land-based PSOs will monitor the zone. Locations of the land-based PSOs and routes of monitoring vessels are shown PO 00000 Frm 00042 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 41003 in WSDOT’s Marine Mammal Monitoring Plan, which is available online at https:// www.fisheries.noaa.gov/permit/ incidental-take-authorizations-undermarine-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 90 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 May 12, 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. 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 E:\FR\FM\08JYN1.SGM 08JYN1 41004 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 131 / Wednesday, July 8, 2020 / Notices jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with NOTICES number of incidences of take, such as ability to track groups or individuals. 12. 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 (OPR) (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 VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:17 Jul 07, 2020 Jkt 250001 number, intensity, and context of estimated takes by evaluating this information relative to population status. Consistent with the 1989 preamble for NMFS’s implementing regulations (54 FR 40338, September 29, 1989), the impacts from other past and ongoing anthropogenic activities are incorporated into this analysis via their impacts on the environmental baseline (e.g., as reflected in the regulatory status of the species, population size and growth rate where known, ongoing sources of human-caused mortality, or ambient noise levels). To avoid repetition, this introductory discussion of our analyses applies to all the species listed in Table 8, given that the anticipated effects of WSDOT’s Seattle Multimodal Project at Colman Dock 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. Although some marine mammals could experience, and are authorized for Level A harassment in the form of PTS if they stay within the Level A harassment zone during the entire pile driving for the day, the degree of injury is expected to be mild and is not likely to affect the reproduction or survival of the individual animals. It is expected that, if hearing impairments occurs, most likely the affected animal would lose a few dB in its hearing sensitivity, which in most cases is not likely to affect its survival and recruitment. Hearing impairment that occur for these individual animals would be limited to the dominant frequency of the noise sources i.e., in the low-frequency region below 2 kHz. Therefore, the degree of PTS is not likely to affect the echolocation performance of the harbor porpoise specie which uses frequencies mostly above 100 kHz. Nevertheless, for all marine mammal species, it is known that in general animals avoid areas where sound levels could cause hearing impairment. Nonetheless, we evaluate the estimated take in this negligible impact analysis. Most 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 PO 00000 Frm 00043 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 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 zone. 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 of Specified Activities on Marine Mammals and their Habitat section. There is no other ESA designated critical habitat in the vicinity of the Seattle Multimodal Project at Colman Dock construction 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 Seattle Multimodal Project at Colman Dock 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 E:\FR\FM\08JYN1.SGM 08JYN1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 131 / Wednesday, July 8, 2020 / Notices species or stock through effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival: • Injury—a few individuals of harbor seal and harbor porpoise could experience Level A harassment in the form of mild PTS; • Behavioral disturbance—eleven species/stocks of marine mammals could experience behavioral disturbance and TTS from the WSDOT’s Seattle Multimodal Project at Colman Dock 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. jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with NOTICES 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. 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 30 percent of the population for all marine mammals (Table 8). 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 VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:17 Jul 07, 2020 Jkt 250001 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 Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA: 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) requires that each Federal agency insure that any action it authorizes, funds, or carries out is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any endangered or threatened species or result in the destruction or adverse modification of designated critical habitat. To ensure ESA compliance for the issuance of IHAs, NMFS consults internally, in this case with the West Coast Regional 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 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 Seattle Multimodal Project at Colman Dock, Seattle, Washington, dated October 1, 2018, 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 West Coast Region has confirmed the Incidental Take Statement (ITS) issued in 2017 is applicable for the 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 Seattle Multimodal Project at Colman Dock Year 4 construction in the Seattle, 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-undermarine-mammal-protection-act. PO 00000 Frm 00044 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 41005 Request for Public Comments We request comment on our analyses, the proposed authorization, and any other aspect of this Notice of Proposed IHA for the proposed Seattle Multimodal Project at Colman Dock Year 4 construction. 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 Marine Mammals in the Area of Specified Activities section of this notice is planned or (2) the activities as described in the Description of Marine Mammals in the Area of 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, E:\FR\FM\08JYN1.SGM 08JYN1 41006 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 131 / Wednesday, July 8, 2020 / Notices and the findings in the initial IHA remain valid. Dated: June 30, 2020. Donna S. Wieting, Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2020–14617 Filed 7–7–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Telecommunications and Information Administration Establishment of the Communications Supply Chain Risk Information Partnership National Telecommunications and Information Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce. ACTION: Notice. AGENCY: The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announces the establishment of the Communications Supply Chain Risk Information Partnership (C–SCRIP) in support of the requirements of Section 8 of the Secure and Trusted Communications Network Act of 2019 (Act). The Act directs NTIA, in cooperation with other designated federal agencies, to establish a program to share supply chain security risk information with trusted providers of advanced communications service and suppliers of communications equipment or services. DATES: Applicable on July 8, 2020. ADDRESSES: C–SCRIP, National Telecommunications and Information Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20230. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Megan Doscher, National Telecommunications and Information Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW, Room 4725, Washington, DC 20230; telephone (202) 482–2503; mdoscher@ntia.gov. Please direct media inquiries to NTIA’s Office of Public Affairs, (202) 482–7002, or at press@ ntia.gov. SUMMARY: Section 8 of the Secure and Trusted Communications Network Act of 2019 (Act) directs NTIA, in cooperation with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), to establish a program to share ‘‘supply chain security risk’’ jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with NOTICES SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:17 Jul 07, 2020 Jkt 250001 information with trusted providers of ‘‘advanced communications service’’ and suppliers of communications equipment or services.1 Through this Notice, NTIA is announcing the establishment of the Communications Supply Chain Risk Information Partnership (C–SCRIP), a partnership to share supply chain security risk information with trusted communications providers and suppliers. NTIA is collaborating with the ODNI, DHS, FBI, and FCC to establish the program. This program is aimed primarily at trusted small and rural communications providers and equipment suppliers, with the goal of improving their access to risk information about key elements in their supply chain.2 C–SCRIP will allow for regularly scheduled informational briefings, with a goal of providing more targeted information for C–SCRIP participants as the program matures over time. NTIA will aim to ensure that the risk information identified for sharing under the program is relevant and accessible, and will work with its government partners to enable the granting of security clearances under established guidelines when necessary. NTIA is using a phased approach to establish the C–SCRIP program, in cooperation with its government partners. In Phase 1, NTIA establishes the program and develops the required report to Congress on NTIA’s plan to work with its interagency partners on: (1) Declassifying material to help share information on supply chain risks with trusted providers; and (2) expediting and expanding the provision of security clearances for representatives of trusted providers.3 During Phase 1, NTIA will coordinate closely with its federal partners to take advantage of the existing processes and procedures in place for the processing of security clearances and the declassification of threat intelligence and to develop a strategic implementation plan for the C– SCRIP program to establish primary goals and operating principles for the partnership. The strategic implementation plan is intended to harmonize the C–SCRIP program with other government programs to ensure cohesion and to avoid overlap. In Phase 2, NTIA will operationalize the program, informed by public comments, and will establish the methods and means to initiate and 1 Secure and Trusted Communications Network Act of 2019, Public Law 116–124, § 8, 134 Stat. 158, 168 (2020) (codified at 47 U.S.C. 1607). 2 See id. § 8(a)(2)(A), (B). 3 See id. § 8(a)(2)(C). PO 00000 Frm 00045 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 sustain the partnership community of providers and suppliers that are eligible under the Act to receive supply chain security risk information.4 Phase 2 will be driven by the strategic implementation plan. In particular, NTIA expects to establish partnership guidelines during Phase 2, as driven by the Act’s requirements. NTIA will also initiate ad hoc briefings to trusted providers during Phase 2 on an asneeded basis. In Phase 3, NTIA will refine its methods and means for generating and sharing information with the C–SCRIP partnership community to best secure U.S. communications networks against supply chain threats. NTIA also expects to formalize its process and schedule for briefings and alerts during this phase, and to establish mechanisms for ongoing coordination and communication. During Phase 4, NTIA will evaluate the initiation period of the program and make recommendations for adjustments or enhancements to advance the goal of diminishing supply chain risk among program participants. Dated: July 2, 2020. Douglas Kinkoph, Associate Administrator, Office of Telecommunications and Information Applications, performing the non-exclusive functions and duties of the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information. [FR Doc. 2020–14725 Filed 7–7–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–60–P DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE Department of the Army Board of Visitors, United States Military Academy Department of the Army, DoD. Notice of open Federal advisory committee virtual meeting. AGENCY: ACTION: The Department of the Army is publishing this notice to announce the Federal Advisory Committee Microsoft Office 365 Teams virtual meeting of the U.S. Military Academy Board of Visitors (Board). This meeting is open to the public. For additional information about the Board, please visit the committee’s website at https:// SUMMARY: 4 See NTIA, Notice; request for public comments, Promoting the Sharing of Supply Chain Security Risk Information Between Government and Communications Providers and Suppliers, 85 FR 35919 (June 12, 2020), available at https:// www.ntia.doc.gov/federal-register-notice/2020/ request-comments-promoting-sharing-supply-chainsecurity-risk. E:\FR\FM\08JYN1.SGM 08JYN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 131 (Wednesday, July 8, 2020)]
[Notices]
[Pages 40992-41006]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-14617]


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

DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

[RTID 0648-XA211]


Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; 
Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to Seattle Multimodal Project at 
Colman Dock 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 Transportation (WSDOT) for authorization to take marine 
mammals incidental to Seattle Multimodal Project at Colman Dock in 
Seattle, 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 August 
7, 2020.

ADDRESSES: Comments should be addressed to Jolie Harrison, Chief, 
Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, 
National Marine Fisheries Service. Written comments should be submitted 
via email 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

[[Page 40993]]

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 April 21, 2020, NMFS received a request from WSDOT for an IHA to 
take marine mammals incidental to the fourth year of work associated 
with the Seattle Multimodal Project at Colman Dock in Seattle, 
Washington. The application was deemed adequate and complete on May 13, 
2020. WSDOT's request is for take of a small number of 11 species of 
marine mammals by Level A and Level B 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 31579, July 7, 2017; 83 FR 
35226, July 25, 2018; 84 FR 36581, July 29, 2019). The project will 
reconfigure the dock while maintaining approximately the same vehicle 
holding capacity as current conditions. 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 Effects of the Specified Activity on Marine Mammals and 
their Habitat section. WSDOT's previous monitoring reports are 
available online at https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/permit/incidental-take-authorizations-under-marine-mammal-protection-act.

Description of Proposed Activity

Overview

    The purpose of the Seattle Multimodal Project at Colman Dock is to 
preserve the transportation function of an aging, deteriorating and 
seismically deficient facility to continue providing safe and reliable 
service. The project will also address existing safety concerns related 
to conflicts between vehicles and pedestrian traffic and operational 
inefficiencies.
    Key project elements include:
     Replacing and re-configuring the timber trestle portion of 
the dock;
     Replacing the main terminal building;
     Reconfiguring the dock layout to provide safer and more 
efficient operations;
     Replacing the vehicle transfer span and the overhead 
loading structures of Slip 3;
     Replacing vessel landing aids;
     Maintaining a connection to the Marion Street pedestrian 
overpass;
     Moving the current passenger only ferry (POF) slip 
temporarily to the north to make way for south trestle construction, 
and then constructing a new POF slip in the south trestle area.
     Mitigating for additional 5,400 square feet (ft\2\) (502 
square meters (m\2\)) of overwater coverage; and
     Capping contaminated sediments.
    The Seattle Multimodal Project at Colman Dock involves in-water 
impact and vibratory pile driving and vibratory pile removal. Details 
of the proposed construction activities are provided below.

Dates and Duration

    Due to NMFS and 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 at this location. 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 47 days (Table 1).

Specific Geographic Region

    The Seattle Ferry Terminal at Colman Dock, serving State Route 519, 
is located on the downtown Seattle waterfront, in King County, 
Washington. The terminal services vessels from the Bainbridge Island 
and Bremerton routes, and is the most heavily used terminal in the WSF 
system. The Seattle terminal is located in Section 6, Township 24 
North, Range 4 East, and is adjacent to Elliott Bay, a tributary to 
Puget Sound (Figure 1). Land use in the area is highly urban, and 
includes business, industrial, the Port of Seattle container loading 
facility, residential, the Pioneer Square Historic District and local 
parks.

[[Page 40994]]

[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TN08JY20.000

Detailed Description of Specific Activity

    Construction activities during the Year 4 Seattle Multimodal 
Project at Colman Dock include the following components.
    The project will remove the northern timber trestle and replace a 
portion of it with a new concrete trestle. The area from Marion Street 
to the north edge of the property will not be rebuilt and after 
demolition will become a new area of open water. A section of fill 
contained behind a bulkhead underneath the northeast section of the 
dock will be removed. WSDOT will construct a new steel and concrete 
trestle from Columbia Street northward to Marion Street.
    The project will maintain the current King County POF functions on 
site, and address safety concerns related to pedestrian/vehicle 
conflicts at Yesler Street. A new covered pier, sized to accommodate 
POF passenger waiting and connected by a new overhead pedestrian bridge 
to the terminal building and the Marion Street Overpass, will be 
constructed along the south side of Colman Dock.
    The reconfiguration will increase total permanent overwater 
coverage (OWC) by about 5,400 ft\2\ (502 m\2\, about 1.7 percent more 
than existing overwater coverage at the site), due to the new walkway 
from the POF facility to Alaskan Way and new stairways and elevators 
from the POF to the upper level of the terminal. Removal of at least 
5,400 ft\2\ (502 m\2\) from Pier 48, a condemned timber structure, will 
serve as mitigation for the permanent OWC increase.
    Construction of the reconfigured dock will narrow (reduce) the OWC 
along the shoreline (at the landward edge) by 180 linear feet (ft) at 
the north end of the site, while 30 linear ft of new trestle will be 
constructed along the shoreline at the south end of the site. The net 
reduction of OWC in the nearshore zone is 150 linear ft.
    The project includes demolition of the existing terminal building 
and construction of a new terminal building. The new terminal building 
will be located along the west edge of the dock, spanning all three 
slips to handle passenger traffic more efficiently, and will connect to 
the Marion Street Overpass by an elevated deck.
    The project includes reconstruction of the vehicle transfer span 
and the passenger overhead loading (OHL) structures of Slip 3, 
including new hydraulic systems. The new OHL will be wider than the 
existing OHL, to accommodate the increased walk-on passenger volumes.
    Sediment beneath the terminal has been contaminated by the 
creosote-treated piles and other chemicals discharged to the 
environment over the years. A cap was installed to cover contaminated 
sediment on the south half of the site prior to trestle expansion in 
1990. WSDOT will place a new

[[Page 40995]]

sediment cap to the north and south of the current cap during 
construction of the project to contain existing contamination.
    Specific in-water pile driving and pile removal activities include 
the follow components:
     Vibratory driving followed by impact proofing (driving) of 
36-inch steel piles. A total of 73 piles will be installed using the 
vibratory hammer over 9 days, with an average of approximately 8 piles 
installed per day. Vibratory pile driving and impact proofing will 
occur on different days, and an additional nine days is estimated for 
impact proofing.
     Vibratory driving and then removal of 24-inch temporary 
steel piles. A total of 30 piles will be installed and later removed, 
with an average of 8 piles installed/removed per day. Vibratory pile 
driving and removal will occur on different days.
     Vibratory removal of 355 14-inch timber piles over 18 
days, with approximately 20 piles removed per day.
     Vibratory removal of 30 12-inch steel piles over 3 days, 
with 10 piles removed per day.
    A summary of the pile driving and pile removal activities for the 
Year 4 Seattle Multimodal Project at Colman Dock is provided in Table 
1.

                                                   Table 1--Summary of In-Water Pile Driving Durations
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                             Pile size                                                       Duration
                  Method                              Pile type               (inch)         Pile No.        Piles/day     Minutes/pile       (days)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Impact drive (proof)......................  Steel.......................              36            * 73               8              10               9
Vibratory drive...........................  Steel.......................              36            * 73               8              20               9
Vibratory drive...........................  Steel (temporary)...........              24            * 30               8              20               4
Vibratory remove..........................  Steel (temporary)...........              24            * 30               8              20               4
Vibratory remove..........................  Timber......................              14             355              20              15              18
Vibratory remove..........................  Steel.......................              12              30              10              20               3
                                                                         -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total.................................  ............................  ..............             488  ..............  ..............              47
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
* These are same piles.

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

[[Page 40996]]

 
    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                   \4\ 11,036............         NA       10.6
                                                                inland waters.
    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). Annual serious injury/mortality often cannot be determined precisely and is in some cases presented as a minimum
  value or range. A CV associated with estimated mortality due to commercial fisheries is presented in some cases.
\4\ Harbor seal estimate is based on data that are 9 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 (SPKW). Take of SRKW can be avoided by implementing strict 
monitoring and mitigation measures (see Proposed Mitigation and 
Proposed Monitoring and Reporting sections below). All species that 
could potentially occur in the proposed survey areas are included in 
Table 2 of the IHA application.
    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 the Year 3 Seattle Multimodal 
Project at Colman Dock proposed IHA (84 FR 25757, June 4, 2019). This 
information remains valid 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)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                    Generalized hearing
                  Hearing group                           range *
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Low-frequency (LF) cetaceans (baleen whales)....  7 Hz to 35 kHz.
Mid-frequency (MF) cetaceans (dolphins, toothed   150 Hz to 160 kHz.
 whales, beaked whales, bottlenose whales).
High-frequency (HF) cetaceans (true porpoises,    275 Hz to 160 kHz.
 Kogia, river dolphins, cephalorhynchid,
 Lagenorhynchus cruciger & L. australis).
Phocid pinnipeds (PW) (underwater) (true seals).  50 Hz to 86 kHz.
Otariid pinnipeds (OW) (underwater) (sea lions    60 Hz to 39 kHz.
 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).


[[Page 40997]]

    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. 
11 marine mammal species (7 cetacean and 4 pinniped (2 otariid and 2 
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, 3 are classified as low-frequency 
cetaceans (i.e., all mysticete species), 2 are classified as mid-
frequency cetaceans (i.e., all delphinid species), and 2 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 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 Seattle Multimodal Project at Colman Dock 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 SPLrms (root-mean-
square sound pressure level) 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 SPLrms, the SPLrms 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, chronic exposure to excessive, though not high-
intensity, 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

[[Page 40998]]

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 Seattle Multimodal Project at Colman Dock Year 4 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 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 
Seattle Multimodal Project at Colman Dock construction activities, both 
of these noise levels are considered for effects analysis because WSDOT 
plans to use impact pile driving and 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. Marine mammal monitoring report for the 2019 
Seattle Multimodal Project at Colman Dock construction activity shows 
that a total of 190 harbor seals, 225 California sea lions, 9 Steller 
sea lions, 1 gray whale, 1 humpback whale, and 49 harbor porpoises 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 Seattle Multimodal Project at Colman Dock 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 primarily be by Level B harassment, as noise 
from in-water impact and vibratory pile driving has the potential to 
result in disruption of behavioral patterns for individual marine 
mammals. There is also some potential for auditory injury (Level A 
harassment) to result, primarily for high frequency cetaceans and 
phocids because predicted auditory injury zones are relatively large. 
Auditory injury is unlikely to occur for low- and mid-frequency 
cetaceans and otariids. The proposed mitigation and monitoring measures 
are expected to minimize the severity of the taking to the extent 
practicable.
    As described previously, no mortality is anticipated or proposed to 
be authorized for this activity. Below we describe how the take is 
estimated.

[[Page 40999]]

    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, 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 Seattle Multimodal Project at Colman Dock Year 4 
construction activity includes the use impact pile driving, vibratory 
pile driving and pile removal, and therefore the 120 dB and 160 dB re 1 
[mu]Pa (rms) are 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 Seattle Multimodal Project at 
Colman Dock Year 4 construction activity includes the use of impulsive 
(impact pile driving) and 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 [mu]Pa, and cumulative sound exposure level (LE) has
  a reference value of 1[mu]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 impact pile driving (proofing) of 36-inch 
steel piles, vibratory pile driving of 36- and 24-inch steel piles, and 
vibratory pile removal of 24- and 12-inch steel piles, and 14-inch 
timber 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.

[[Page 41000]]



Table 5--Near Source Noise Levels at 10-m From the Pile for Various Pile
 Driving and Removal at Seattle Multimodal Project at Colman Dock Year 4
                                 Project
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                 Source level (at
      Activity/pile size               10m)          Literature source
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Impact pile drive (proof) 36    174 dB (SELss)...  WSDOT Colman Year 1
 inch steel pile.                                   measurement (2018).
Vibratory drive/remove 36 inch  177 dB (SPLrms)..  WSDOT Port Townsend
 steel pile.                                        measurement (2010).
Vibratory drive 24 inch steel   174 dB (SPLrms)..  WSDOT Port Townsend
 pile.                                              measurement (2010).
Vibratory removal 14 inch       155 dB (SPLrms)..  WSDOT Port Townsend
 timber pile.                                       measurement (2011).
Vibratory removal 12 inch       155 dB (SPLrms)..  Caltrans (2015) data
 steel pile.                                        for same pile.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Level A Harassment Distances and Areas
    Distances to Level A harassment 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 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 impact pile driving of 36-inch 
steel piles and from vibratory pile removal of 12-inch steel piles and 
14-inch timber piles are calculated using a practical spreading model 
of the sonar equation

EL = SL - 15 log10(R)

where EL is the echo level (or received level), which is the sound 
threshold level at the Level B harassment (160 dB re 1 [mu]Pa for 
impact pile driving and 120 dB re 1 [mu]Pa for vibratory pile 
driving and pile removal); R is the Level B harassment distance in 
meters.

    Level B harassment distance for vibratory pile driving and removal 
of the 24-inch steel piles, and the vibratory driving of 36-inch piles 
is based on in situ measurements of vibratory pile driving of 36-inch 
piles conducted during Year One of the Seattle Multimodal Project at 
Colman Dock (WSDOT 2018). The results show that underwater pile driving 
noise cannot be detected at a distance of 8.69 km (WSDOT 2018).
    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 areas 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
          Pile type, size & pile driving method                                                                                           distance  (m)/
                                                            LF cetacean     MF cetacean     HF cetacean       Phocid          Otariid      area (km\2\)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Impact drive (proof) 36-inch steel pile.................      343.2/0.37       12.2/0.00      408.7/0.52      183.6/0.11       13.4/0.00        736/1.70
Vibratory drive 36-inch steel pile......................      153.1/0.07       13.6/0.00      226.4/0.16       93.1/0.03        6.5/0.00     8,690/40.53
Vibratory drive/removal, 24-inch steel piles............       96.6/0.03        8.6/0.00      142.8/0.06       58.7/0.01        4.1/0.00     8,690/40.53
Vibratory removal 14-inch timber pile...................        8.0/0.00        0.7/0.00       11.8/0.00        4.8/0.00        0.3/0.00      2,154/5.47
Vibratory removal 12-inch steel pile....................        6.5/0.00        0.6/0.00        9.6/0.00        3.9/0.00        0.3/0.00      2,154/5.47
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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 Seattle 
Multimodal Project at Colman Dock. A summary of the marine mammal 
density is provided in Table 7.

   Table 7--Marine Mammal Density in the Seattle Multimodal Project at
                      Colman Dock Construction Area
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                              Density
                     Marine mammals                          (animals/
                                                              km\2\)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Gray whale..............................................          0.0048
Humpback whale..........................................         0.00074
Minke whale.............................................         0.00045
Killer whale (West Coast transient).....................        0.005141
Bottlenose dolphin......................................              NA
Harbor porpoise.........................................            0.75
Dall's porpoise.........................................         0.00045
Harbor seal.............................................            3.91
Northern elephant seal..................................               0
California sea lion.....................................          0.2211
Steller sea lion........................................          0.0478
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Take Calculation and Estimation

    Here we describe how the information provided above is brought 
together to produce a quantitative take estimate.
    The fundamental approach for take calculation is to use the 
information aggregated in the Navy density database

[[Page 41001]]

(U.S. Navy, 2019) with the following equation:

Total Take = marine mammal density x ensonified area x pile driving 
days
    Some adjustments were made based on prior observation of marine 
mammals in the project area and account for group numbers. Specific 
adjustments for calculating take numbers are provided below.
     Humpback whale--During the prior year WSDOT Multimodal 
Project construction, three individuals have been observed. Given that 
humpback whales are occasionally present in the area, it is unlikely 
they would be present on a daily basis. Instead it is assumed that 
three individuals may be present in the Level B harassment zones once a 
month during the in-water work window (7 months), or 21 exposures.
     Minke whale--During the prior year WSDOT Multimodal 
Project work, one individual minke whale was observed. 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 exposures.
     West Coast transient killer whale--Level B harassment 
exposures were calculated to be two. However, two groups of 10 
individuals have been observed. It is assumed that one group size of 10 
animals may be present in the Level B harassment zones once a month 
during the in-water work window (7 months), or 70 exposures.
     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 seven 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 seven animals may be 
present in the Level B harassment zone once a month during the in-water 
work window (7 months), or 49 exposures.
     Northern elephant seal--Estimated northern elephant seals 
Level B harassment exposures were calculated to be zero. However, one 
individual of this species was observed in the project area once. 
Therefore, the take number was adjusted to seven takes based on one 
animal for the project duration of 7 months.
     California sea lion--Estimated California sea lion Level B 
harassment exposures were calculated to be 104. However, there were 763 
observations during project monitoring, with a high of 29 individuals 
in one day. Conservatively assuming that 29 individuals may be present 
in the Level B harassment zones during 47 days of pile driving or 
removal, it is assumed that 1,363 exposures to pile driving noise may 
occur.
     Harbor porpoise--Estimated harbor porpoise Level A 
harassment exposures were calculated to be five. However, given the 
relatively larger Level A harassment distance for high-frequency 
cetaceans, we assume that two incidents of Level A harassment may occur 
per month for the 7 months work window to yield a total of 14 takes by 
Level A harassment.
     Harbor seal--Estimated harbor seal Level A harassment 
exposures were calculated to be three. However, WSDOT made a total of 
243 harbor seal observations in the 60-184 m Level A zone, with a high 
of two individuals in one day. This portion of the Level A harassment 
zone would be beyond the proposed shutdown zone, and this estimated 
zone would occur on 26 days. Assuming that two individuals may be 
present once a day for 26 days results in 52 potential Level A 
harassment takes.
    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 A and
                                               Level B Harassment
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                     Estimated       Estimated       Estimated
         Marine mammals               level A         level B          total         Abundance    Percentage (%)
                                    harassment      harassment      harassment
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Gray whale......................               0               5               5          26,906            0.02
Humpback whale..................               0              21              21           2,900            0.72
Minke whale.....................               0               7               7             636            1.10
Killer whale (West Coast                       0              70              70             243           28.81
 transient).....................
Bottlenose dolphin..............               0              49              49           1,924            2.55
Harbor porpoise.................              14             649             663          11,233            5.90
Dall's porpoise.................               0              40              40          25,750            0.16
Harbor seal.....................              52           3,155           3,207          11,036           21.50
Northern elephant seal..........               0               7               7         179,000            0.02
California sea lion.............               0           1,363           1,363         257,606            0.72
Steller sea lion................               0              39              39          43,201            0.09
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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

[[Page 41002]]

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

    The applicant stated that 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 could cause PTS.
    WSDOT shall also establish Level B harassment zones where received 
underwater SPLs are higher than 160 dBrms re 1 [micro]Pa for 
impulse noise sources (impact pile driving) and 120 dBrms re 
1 [micro]Pa for continuous noise sources (vibratory pile driving and 
pile removal).
    WSDOT shall establish exclusion zones as shown in Table 9 to 
prevent Level A harassment takes of all cetaceans and otariids, and to 
minimize Level A harassment takes of phocids. In addition, a minimum of 
10 m exclusion zone must be in place during anytime when in-water 
construction activity is ongoing.
    WSDOT shall establish exclusion zones for SRKW and all marine 
mammals that takes are not authorized at the Level B harassment 
distances. Specifically, impact pile driving of 36-inch steel piles, a 
750 m exclusion zone shall be established. For vibratory driving of 24- 
and 36-inch steel piles and vibratory pile removal of 24-inch steel 
piles, a 8.7 km exclusion zone shall be established. For vibratory pile 
removal of 14-inch timber piles and 12-inch steel piles, a 2.2 km 
exclusion zone shall be established.
    A summary of exclusion zones is provided in Table 9.

                             Table 9--Exclusion Zones (m) for Various Marine Mammals
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                Exclusion distance (m)
     Pile type, size & pile driving method     -------------------------------------------------------  SRKW (m)
                                                    LF         MF         HF       Phocid    Otariid
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Impact drive 36-inch steel pile...............        350         15        410         60         15        750
Vibratory drive 36-inch steel pile............        160         15        230         60         10      8,700
Vibratory drive/removal, 24-inch steel piles..        100         10        150         60         10      8,700
Vibratory remove, 14-inch timber pile or 12-           10         10         15         10         10      2,200
 inch steel pile..............................
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 *LF = low-frequency cetacean; MF = mid-frequency cetacean; HF = high-frequency cetacean; PW = phocid; OW =
  otariids; SRKW = Southern Resident killer whale

    NMFS-approved PSO 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 SRKW 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 SRKW or a 
transient killer whale, it shall be assumed to be a SRKW and WSDOT 
shall implement the shutdown measure.
    If a SRKW 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

[[Page 41003]]

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 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 Seattle Multimodal Project at Colman Dock. 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 
Vitas;
    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 ZOIs from different pile sizes, several 
different ZOIs and different monitoring protocols corresponding to a 
specific pile size will be established.
     During vibratory driving of 36-inch pile or vibratory 
driving/removal of 24-inch piles, four land-based PSOs and one ferry-
based PSO will monitor the zone.
     During vibratory removal of 12-inch or 14-inch piles, four 
land-based PSOs will monitor the zone.
     During impact driving of 36-nch piles, three land-based 
PSOs will monitor the zone.
    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 90 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 May 12, 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.
    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

[[Page 41004]]

number of incidences of take, such as ability to track groups or 
individuals.
    12. 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 (OPR) (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 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 8, given that the 
anticipated effects of WSDOT's Seattle Multimodal Project at Colman 
Dock 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.
    Although some marine mammals could experience, and are authorized 
for Level A harassment in the form of PTS if they stay within the Level 
A harassment zone during the entire pile driving for the day, the 
degree of injury is expected to be mild and is not likely to affect the 
reproduction or survival of the individual animals. It is expected 
that, if hearing impairments occurs, most likely the affected animal 
would lose a few dB in its hearing sensitivity, which in most cases is 
not likely to affect its survival and recruitment. Hearing impairment 
that occur for these individual animals would be limited to the 
dominant frequency of the noise sources i.e., in the low-frequency 
region below 2 kHz. Therefore, the degree of PTS is not likely to 
affect the echolocation performance of the harbor porpoise specie which 
uses frequencies mostly above 100 kHz. Nevertheless, for all marine 
mammal species, it is known that in general animals avoid areas where 
sound levels could cause hearing impairment. Nonetheless, we evaluate 
the estimated take in this negligible impact analysis.
    Most 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 zone. 
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 of Specified Activities on Marine Mammals and 
their Habitat section. There is no other ESA designated critical 
habitat in the vicinity of the Seattle Multimodal Project at Colman 
Dock construction 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 Seattle Multimodal Project at Colman Dock 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

[[Page 41005]]

species or stock through effects on annual rates of recruitment or 
survival:
     Injury--a few individuals of harbor seal and harbor 
porpoise could experience Level A harassment in the form of mild PTS;
     Behavioral disturbance--eleven species/stocks of marine 
mammals could experience behavioral disturbance and TTS from the 
WSDOT's Seattle Multimodal Project at Colman Dock 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. 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 30 percent of the population for all 
marine mammals (Table 8).
    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 Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA: 16 
U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) requires that each Federal agency insure that any 
action it authorizes, funds, or carries out is not likely to jeopardize 
the continued existence of any endangered or threatened species or 
result in the destruction or adverse modification of designated 
critical habitat. To ensure ESA compliance for the issuance of IHAs, 
NMFS consults internally, in this case with the West Coast Regional 
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 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 Seattle 
Multimodal Project at Colman Dock, Seattle, Washington, dated October 
1, 2018, 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 West 
Coast Region has confirmed the Incidental Take Statement (ITS) issued 
in 2017 is applicable for the 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 Seattle Multimodal Project at 
Colman Dock Year 4 construction in the Seattle, 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 the proposed 
Seattle Multimodal Project at Colman Dock Year 4 construction. 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 Marine Mammals in the Area of Specified Activities 
section of this notice is planned or (2) the activities as described in 
the Description of Marine Mammals in the Area of 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,

[[Page 41006]]

and the findings in the initial IHA remain valid.

    Dated: June 30, 2020.
Donna S. Wieting,
Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries 
Service.
[FR Doc. 2020-14617 Filed 7-7-20; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P