Taking and Importing Marine Mammals; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to U.S. Navy Training and Testing Activities in the Point Mugu Sea Range Study Area, 55257-55258 [2020-19660]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 173 / Friday, September 4, 2020 / Notices The final agenda will be posted on the MEP Advisory Board website at https:// www.nist.gov/mep/about/advisoryboard.cfm. Individuals and representatives of organizations who would like to offer comments and suggestions related to the MEP Advisory Board’s business are invited to request a place on the agenda. Approximately 15 minutes will be reserved for public comments at the end of the meeting. Speaking times will be assigned on a first-come, first-served basis. The amount of time per speaker will be determined by the number of requests received, but is likely to be no more than three to five minutes each. Requests must be submitted by email to cheryl.gendron@nist.gov and must be received by September 15, 2020 to be considered. The exact time for public comments will be included in the final agenda that will be posted on the MEP Advisory Board website at https:// www.nist.gov/mep/about/advisoryboard.cfm. Questions from the public will not be considered during this period. Speakers who wish to expand upon their oral statements, those who wished to speak but could not be accommodated on the agenda or those who are/were unable to attend the meeting are invited to submit written statements electronically by email to cheryl.gendron@nist.gov. Admittance Instructions: All participants will be attending via webinar. Please contact Ms. Gendron at 301–975–2785 or cheryl.gendron@ nist.gov for detailed instructions on how to join the webinar. All requests must be received by 5 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, Friday, September 18, 2020. Kevin A. Kimball, Chief of Staff. [FR Doc. 2020–19547 Filed 9–3–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–13–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [RTID 0648–XA410] Taking and Importing Marine Mammals; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to U.S. Navy Training and Testing Activities in the Point Mugu Sea Range Study Area National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice; receipt of application for a Letter of Authorization; request for comments and information. jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with NOTICES AGENCY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:42 Sep 03, 2020 Jkt 250001 NMFS has received a request from the U.S. Navy (Navy) for authorization to take marine mammals incidental to training and testing activities conducted in the Point Mugu Sea Range (PMSR) Study Area for a period of seven years, from October, 2021 through October, 2028. Pursuant to regulations implementing the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), NMFS is announcing receipt of the Navy’s request for the development and implementation of regulations governing the incidental taking of marine mammals. NMFS invites the public to provide information, suggestions, and comments on the Navy’s application and request. DATES: Comments and information must be received no later than October 5, 2020. ADDRESSES: Comments on the application should be addressed to Jolie Harrison, Chief, Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service. Physical comments should be sent to 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910 and electronic comments should be sent to ITP.Egger@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. Comments received electronically, including all attachments, must not exceed a 25megabyte file size. Attachments to electronic comments will be accepted in Microsoft Word or Excel or Adobe PDF file formats only. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted to the internet at www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/ permits/incidental/military.htm 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: Stephanie Egger, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, (301) 427–8401. An electronic copy of the Navy’s application may be obtained online at: www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/ incidental/military.htm. In case of problems accessing these documents, please call the contact listed above. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: SUMMARY: Background Sections 101(a)(5)(A) and (D) of the MMPA (16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.) direct the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary) PO 00000 Frm 00006 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 55257 to allow, upon request, the incidental, but not intentional taking of marine mammals by U.S. citizens who engage in a specified activity (other than commercial fishing) within a specified geographic region if certain findings are made and either regulations are issued or, if the taking is limited to harassment, notice of a proposed authorization is provided to the public for review. An authorization for incidental takings shall be granted if NMFS finds that the taking will have a negligible impact on the species or stock(s), will not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of the species or stock(s) for subsistence uses (where relevant), and if the permissible methods of taking and requirements pertaining to the mitigation, monitoring and reporting of such takings are set forth. NMFS has defined ‘‘negligible impact’’ in 50 CFR 216.103 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.’’ The MMPA states that the term ‘‘take’’ means to harass, hunt, capture, kill or attempt to harass, hunt, capture, or kill any marine mammal. Except with respect to certain activities not pertinent here, 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). The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2004 (Pub. L. 108–136) removed the ‘‘small numbers’’ and ‘‘specified geographical region’’ limitations indicated above and amended the definition of ‘‘harassment’’ as it applies to a ‘‘military readiness activity’’ to read as follows (Section 3(18)(B) of the MMPA): (i) Any act that injures or has the significant potential to injure a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild (Level A Harassment); or (ii) Any act that disturbs or is likely to disturb a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild by causing disruption of natural behavioral patterns, including, but not limited to, migration, surfacing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or sheltering, to a point where such behavioral patterns are abandoned or significantly altered E:\FR\FM\04SEN1.SGM 04SEN1 55258 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 173 / Friday, September 4, 2020 / Notices (Level B Harassment). On August 13, 2018, the 2019 NDAA (Pub. L. 115–232) amended the MMPA to allow incidental take regulations for military readiness activities to be issued for up to seven years. jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with NOTICES Summary of Request On March 9, 2020, NMFS received an adequate and complete application from the Navy requesting authorization for the take of marine mammals, by Level A and B harassment, incidental to training, testing, and routine military operations (all categorized as military readiness activities) from the use of atsurface or in-air detonations in the PMSR Study Area as well as missile launch events from San Nicolas Island (SNI). The requested regulations will be valid for seven years, from 2021 through 2028. NMFS has promulgated incidental take regulations pursuant to the MMPA relating to missile launches from SNI, from June 3, 2014 through June 3, 2019 (79 FR 32678; June 6, 2014). The Navy has also been operating under IHAs in 2019 (84 FR 28462; June 19, 2019) and 2020 (85 FR 38863; June 29, 2020) for similar activities. Description of the Specified Activity The PMSR Study Area consists of 93,240 square km (36,000 square miles) and is located adjacent to Los Angeles, Ventura, Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo Counties along the Pacific Coast of Southern California (see Figure 1.1– 1 of the application). The two primary components of the PMSR are the Special Use Airspace and the ocean Operating Areas. The PMSR-controlled sea space parallels the California coast for approximately 225 nautical miles (nmi) and extends approximately 180 nmi seaward (see Figure 1–1 of the application). The following types of training and testing, which are classified as military readiness activities pursuant to section 315(f) of Public Law 101–314 (16 U.S.C 703), are included in the specified activity described in the Navy’s application: Air warfare (air-to-air, surface-to-air), electronic warfare (directed energy—lasers and highpowered microwave systems), and surface warfare (surface-to-surface, airto-surface, and subsurface-to subsurface). The Navy’s application includes proposed mitigation measures for marine mammals that would be implemented during training and testing activities in the PMSR Study Area. Proposed procedural mitigation measures generally include: (1) The use of Lookouts to observe for biological VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:42 Sep 03, 2020 Jkt 250001 resources and communicate the need for mitigation implementation; (2) delay of starts to avoid exposure of marine mammals to explosive blasts more likely to result in injury or more serious behavioral disruption; and (3) limiting the use of missile launches during biologically sensitive times (i.e., during pupping season) to reduce the probability or severity of impacts when they are more likely to contribute to fitness impacts. The Navy also proposes to undertake monitoring and reporting efforts to track compliance with incidental take authorizations and to help investigate the effectiveness of implemented mitigation measures in the PMSR Study Area. This can include Adaptive Management, the Integrated Comprehensive Monitoring Program, the Strategic Planning Process, and annual reports. As an example, under the Integrated Comprehensive Monitoring Program, the monitoring relating to the effects of Navy training and testing activities on protected marine species are designed to increase the understanding of the likely occurrence of marine mammals in the vicinity of the action (i.e., presence, abundance, distribution, and density of species) and to increase the understanding of the nature, scope, or context of the likely exposure of marine mammals to any of the potential stressors associated with the action. Information Solicited Interested persons may submit information, suggestions, and comments concerning the Navy’s request (see ADDRESSES). NMFS will consider all information, suggestions, and comments related to the request during the development of proposed regulations governing the incidental taking of marine mammals by the Navy, if appropriate. NMFS is also soliciting comments on valuable pinniped research needs that could occur on SNI as part of the Navy’s monitoring and reporting requirements. Dated: September 1, 2020. Donna S. Wieting, Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2020–19660 Filed 9–3–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P PO 00000 Frm 00007 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [RTID 0648–XA454] Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (MAFMC); Public Meeting National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice; public meeting. AGENCY: The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council’s Executive Committee will hold a public webinar meeting to develop recommendations regarding the Executive Order on Promoting American Seafood Competitiveness and Economic Growth. DATES: The meeting will be held on Monday, September 21, 2020, beginning at 1:00 p.m. and concluding by 4:00 p.m. For agenda details, see SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION. ADDRESSES: The meeting will be held via webinar. Webinar connection details will be available at https:// www.mafmc.org/council-events/2020/ executive-committee-sept21. Council address: Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, 800 N. State Street, Suite 201, Dover, DE 19901; telephone: (302) 674–2331; www.mafmc.org. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Christopher M. Moore, Ph.D., Executive Director, Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, telephone: (302) 526–5255. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: On May 7, 2020, the President of the United States signed an Executive Order on Promoting American Seafood Competitiveness and Economic Growth. The purpose of this Executive Order is ‘‘to strengthen the American economy; improve the competitiveness of American industry; ensure food security; provide environmentally safe and sustainable seafood; support American workers; ensure coordinated, predictable, and transparent Federal actions; and remove unnecessary regulatory burdens.’’ Section 4 of the Executive Order requires each Regional Fishery Management Council to submit a prioritized list of recommended actions to reduce burdens on domestic fishing and to increase production within sustainable fisheries, including a proposal for initiating each recommended action by May 7, 2021. During this meeting, the Executive Committee will (1) review public input and staff recommendations, (2) identify SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\04SEN1.SGM 04SEN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 173 (Friday, September 4, 2020)]
[Notices]
[Pages 55257-55258]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-19660]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

[RTID 0648-XA410]


Taking and Importing Marine Mammals; Taking Marine Mammals 
Incidental to U.S. Navy Training and Testing Activities in the Point 
Mugu Sea Range Study Area

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

ACTION: Notice; receipt of application for a Letter of Authorization; 
request for comments and information.

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

SUMMARY: NMFS has received a request from the U.S. Navy (Navy) for 
authorization to take marine mammals incidental to training and testing 
activities conducted in the Point Mugu Sea Range (PMSR) Study Area for 
a period of seven years, from October, 2021 through October, 2028. 
Pursuant to regulations implementing the Marine Mammal Protection Act 
(MMPA), NMFS is announcing receipt of the Navy's request for the 
development and implementation of regulations governing the incidental 
taking of marine mammals. NMFS invites the public to provide 
information, suggestions, and comments on the Navy's application and 
request.

DATES: Comments and information must be received no later than October 
5, 2020.

ADDRESSES: Comments on the application should be addressed to Jolie 
Harrison, Chief, Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected 
Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service. Physical comments should 
be sent to 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910 and 
electronic comments should be sent to [email protected].
    Instructions: NMFS is not responsible for comments sent by any 
other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the 
end of the comment period. Comments received electronically, including 
all attachments, must not exceed a 25-megabyte file size. Attachments 
to electronic comments will be accepted in Microsoft Word or Excel or 
Adobe PDF file formats only. All comments received are a part of the 
public record and will generally be posted to the internet at 
www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental/military.htm 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: Stephanie Egger, Office of Protected 
Resources, NMFS, (301) 427-8401. An electronic copy of the Navy's 
application may be obtained online at: www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental/military.htm. In case of problems accessing these documents, 
please call the contact listed above.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    Sections 101(a)(5)(A) and (D) of the MMPA (16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.) 
direct the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary) to allow, upon request, 
the incidental, but not intentional taking of marine mammals by U.S. 
citizens who engage in a specified activity (other than commercial 
fishing) within a specified geographic region if certain findings are 
made and either regulations are issued or, if the taking is limited to 
harassment, notice of a proposed authorization is provided to the 
public for review.
    An authorization for incidental takings shall be granted if NMFS 
finds that the taking will have a negligible impact on the species or 
stock(s), will not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the 
availability of the species or stock(s) for subsistence uses (where 
relevant), and if the permissible methods of taking and requirements 
pertaining to the mitigation, monitoring and reporting of such takings 
are set forth.
    NMFS has defined ``negligible impact'' in 50 CFR 216.103 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.''
    The MMPA states that the term ``take'' means to harass, hunt, 
capture, kill or attempt to harass, hunt, capture, or kill any marine 
mammal.
    Except with respect to certain activities not pertinent here, 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).
    The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2004 
(Pub. L. 108-136) removed the ``small numbers'' and ``specified 
geographical region'' limitations indicated above and amended the 
definition of ``harassment'' as it applies to a ``military readiness 
activity'' to read as follows (Section 3(18)(B) of the MMPA): (i) Any 
act that injures or has the significant potential to injure a marine 
mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild (Level A Harassment); or (ii) 
Any act that disturbs or is likely to disturb a marine mammal or marine 
mammal stock in the wild by causing disruption of natural behavioral 
patterns, including, but not limited to, migration, surfacing, nursing, 
breeding, feeding, or sheltering, to a point where such behavioral 
patterns are abandoned or significantly altered

[[Page 55258]]

(Level B Harassment). On August 13, 2018, the 2019 NDAA (Pub. L. 115-
232) amended the MMPA to allow incidental take regulations for military 
readiness activities to be issued for up to seven years.

Summary of Request

    On March 9, 2020, NMFS received an adequate and complete 
application from the Navy requesting authorization for the take of 
marine mammals, by Level A and B harassment, incidental to training, 
testing, and routine military operations (all categorized as military 
readiness activities) from the use of at-surface or in-air detonations 
in the PMSR Study Area as well as missile launch events from San 
Nicolas Island (SNI). The requested regulations will be valid for seven 
years, from 2021 through 2028.
    NMFS has promulgated incidental take regulations pursuant to the 
MMPA relating to missile launches from SNI, from June 3, 2014 through 
June 3, 2019 (79 FR 32678; June 6, 2014). The Navy has also been 
operating under IHAs in 2019 (84 FR 28462; June 19, 2019) and 2020 (85 
FR 38863; June 29, 2020) for similar activities.

Description of the Specified Activity

    The PMSR Study Area consists of 93,240 square km (36,000 square 
miles) and is located adjacent to Los Angeles, Ventura, Santa Barbara, 
and San Luis Obispo Counties along the Pacific Coast of Southern 
California (see Figure 1.1-1 of the application). The two primary 
components of the PMSR are the Special Use Airspace and the ocean 
Operating Areas. The PMSR-controlled sea space parallels the California 
coast for approximately 225 nautical miles (nmi) and extends 
approximately 180 nmi seaward (see Figure 1-1 of the application).
    The following types of training and testing, which are classified 
as military readiness activities pursuant to section 315(f) of Public 
Law 101-314 (16 U.S.C 703), are included in the specified activity 
described in the Navy's application: Air warfare (air-to-air, surface-
to-air), electronic warfare (directed energy--lasers and high-powered 
microwave systems), and surface warfare (surface-to-surface, air-to-
surface, and subsurface-to subsurface).
    The Navy's application includes proposed mitigation measures for 
marine mammals that would be implemented during training and testing 
activities in the PMSR Study Area. Proposed procedural mitigation 
measures generally include: (1) The use of Lookouts to observe for 
biological resources and communicate the need for mitigation 
implementation; (2) delay of starts to avoid exposure of marine mammals 
to explosive blasts more likely to result in injury or more serious 
behavioral disruption; and (3) limiting the use of missile launches 
during biologically sensitive times (i.e., during pupping season) to 
reduce the probability or severity of impacts when they are more likely 
to contribute to fitness impacts.
    The Navy also proposes to undertake monitoring and reporting 
efforts to track compliance with incidental take authorizations and to 
help investigate the effectiveness of implemented mitigation measures 
in the PMSR Study Area. This can include Adaptive Management, the 
Integrated Comprehensive Monitoring Program, the Strategic Planning 
Process, and annual reports. As an example, under the Integrated 
Comprehensive Monitoring Program, the monitoring relating to the 
effects of Navy training and testing activities on protected marine 
species are designed to increase the understanding of the likely 
occurrence of marine mammals in the vicinity of the action (i.e., 
presence, abundance, distribution, and density of species) and to 
increase the understanding of the nature, scope, or context of the 
likely exposure of marine mammals to any of the potential stressors 
associated with the action.

Information Solicited

    Interested persons may submit information, suggestions, and 
comments concerning the Navy's request (see ADDRESSES). NMFS will 
consider all information, suggestions, and comments related to the 
request during the development of proposed regulations governing the 
incidental taking of marine mammals by the Navy, if appropriate. NMFS 
is also soliciting comments on valuable pinniped research needs that 
could occur on SNI as part of the Navy's monitoring and reporting 
requirements.

    Dated: September 1, 2020.
Donna S. Wieting,
Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries 
Service.
[FR Doc. 2020-19660 Filed 9-3-20; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P