Taking and Importing Marine Mammals; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to Training Operations at the Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point Range Complex, 63102-63103 [2020-22022]

Download as PDF 63102 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 194 / Tuesday, October 6, 2020 / Notices • David Holst: Chief Financial Officer, Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, NOAA • John S. Luce, Jr.: General Counsel, NOAA • David Michaud: Director, Office of Central Processing, National Weather Service, NOAA • Donna Whiting: Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service, NOAA • Deidre Jones: Chief Administrative Officer, Office of the Chief Administrative Officer, NOAA • Michelle Mainelli-McInerney: Director, Office of Dissemination, National Weather Service, NOAA • Christopher Oliver: Assistant Administrator for Marine Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service, NOAA • Juliana Blackwell: Director, Office of National Geodetic Survey, National Ocean Services, NOAA • Gary Matlock: Deputy Assistant Administrator for Services, Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, NOAA Dated: September 30, 2020. Sean Clayton, Director, Office of Human Capital Services, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. [FR Doc. 2020–22002 Filed 10–5–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–12–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [RTID 0648–XA448] Taking and Importing Marine Mammals; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to Training Operations at the Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point Range Complex National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice; receipt of application for Letter of Authorization; request for comments and information. AGENCY: NMFS has received a request from the U.S. Marine Corp (USMC) for authorization to take bottlenose dolphin incidental to training operations at the Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Cherry Point Range Complex over the course of seven years from the date of issuance. Pursuant to regulations implementing the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), NMFS is announcing receipt of the USMC’s request for the development and implementation of regulations khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with NOTICES SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:52 Oct 05, 2020 Jkt 253001 governing the incidental taking of marine mammals. NMFS invites the public to provide information, suggestions, and comments on USMC’s application and request. DATES: Comments and information must be received no later than November 5, 2020. ADDRESSES: Comments on the applications 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. 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 online at https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/permit/ incidental-take-authorizationsundermarine-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. An electronic copy of USMC’s application may be obtained online at: https:// www.fisheries.noaa.gov/permit/ incidental-take-authorizationsundermarine-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 PO 00000 Frm 00025 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 incidental take authorization may be provided to the public for review. Authorization for incidental takings shall be granted if NMFS finds that the taking will have a negligible impact on the species or stock(s) and will not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of the species or stock(s) for taking for subsistence uses (where relevant). Further, NMFS must prescribe the permissible methods of taking and other ‘‘means of effecting the least practicable adverse impact’’ on the affected species or stocks and their habitat, paying particular attention to rookeries, mating grounds, and areas of similar significance, and on the availability of the species or stocks for taking for certain subsistence uses (referred to in shorthand as ‘‘mitigation’’); and requirements pertaining to the mitigation, monitoring and reporting of the takings are set forth. The NDAA (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.’’ The activity for which incidental take of marine mammals is being requested addressed here qualifies as a military readiness activity. The definitions of all applicable MMPA statutory terms cited above are included in the relevant sections below. Summary of Request On August 3, 2020, NMFS received an application from USMC requesting authorization for take of bottlenose dolphin incidental to training operations at the MCAS Cherry Point Range Complex off North Carolina. The requested regulations would be valid for seven years, from May 18, 2021 through May 17, 2028. USMC plans to conduct training activities conducted at the inwater ranges that involve the use of live (explosive) and inert (non-explosive) ordnance, and small boat maneuvers. The proposed action may incidentally expose marine mammals occurring in the vicinity to elevated levels of sound and potential auditory injury in the form of permanent threshold shift, thereby resulting in incidental take, by Level A and Level B harassment. NMFS provided questions and comments to USMC after receiving the initial application regarding the scope of the project and impact analysis. After receiving USMC’s responses, NMFS considered the Letter of Authorization application adequate and complete on September 10, 2020. E:\FR\FM\06OCN1.SGM 06OCN1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 194 / Tuesday, October 6, 2020 / Notices Specified Activities USMC’s proposed training operations involve the use of live (explosive) and inert (non-explosive) ordnance, and small boat maneuvers. These activities would occur at the in-water bombing targets Brant Island (BT–9) and Rattan Bay (BT–11) located in Pamlico Sound, North Carolina (NC). Munitions firing training conducted on the water ranges includes air-tosurface (firing from aircraft to surface water targets) and surface-to-surface (firing from ship or boat to surface targets). The number of sorties that conduct these missions may vary from year to year. The deployment of live ordnance would only occur at BT–9; all munitions fired at BT–11 would be inert with the exception of a signal charge in practice bombs. Surface-to-Surface Firing Gunnery exercise is the only category of surface-to-surface activity currently conducted at BT–9 and BT–11. During this exercise, a small boat, typically operated by Special Boat Team personnel, uses a machine gun to attack a surface target that simulates another ship, boat, swimmer, floating mine or near-shore land targets. Boats conducting surface-to-surface firing activities will typically use 7.62 millimeter (mm) or .50 caliber (cal) machine guns; 40 mm grenade machine guns; or G911 concussion hand grenades. This exercise is usually a livefire exercise, but blanks may be used so that the boat crews can practice their ship handing skills. BT–9 is the most common target used for gunnery exercises. A target is not used for the gunnery exercises employing the G911 Concussion grenade, as the goal of this specific training is to learn how to throw the grenade into the water. khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with NOTICES Air-to-Surface Firing There are four categories of air-tosurface activities conducted at the MCAS Cherry Point bombing targets: Mine laying, bombing, gunnery, and rocket exercises. • Mine Laying: These activities involve a fixed-wing aircraft deploying inert mine shapes in an offensive or defensive pattern. Mine laying operations are conducted in the waters around BT–9. Mine laying exercises could include the use of Mark (MK)–62/ 63, MK–76, BDU–45, or Bomb Dummy Unit (BDU)–48 inert training shapes. Each training shape weighs 500/1000, 25, 500, and 10 (lbs.) (227/454, 11, 227, and 4.5 kg), respectively. • Bombing Exercise: During these exercises, fixed-wing aircraft (two-four VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:52 Oct 05, 2020 Jkt 253001 craft) deliver bombs against surface maritime targets with the goal of destroying or disabling enemy ships or boats. These exercises occur during day and night. Air-to-surface bombing exercises employ either unguided or precision-guided munitions. Unguided munitions include MK–76 and BDU–45 inert training bombs, as well as the MK– 80 series of inert bombs (no cluster munitions are authorized). Precisionguided munitions consist of laserguided bombs (inert) and laser-guided training rounds (inert). • Gunnery Exercise: Rotary-wing (and tilt-wing) gunnery exercises involve CH–53, UH–1, CH–46, MV–22, or H–60 rotary-wing aircraft with mounted 7.62 mm or .50 cal machine guns. Each gunner expends approximately 800 rounds of 7.62 mm or 200 rounds of .50 cal ammunition per exercise. Fixedwing gunnery exercises involve two aircraft that begin descent to the target from an altitude of approximately 914 meters (m) (3,000 feet [ft]) while still several miles away. Within a distance of 1,219 m (4,000 ft) from the target, each aircraft fires a burst of approximately 30 rounds before descending to a minimum altitude of 305 m (1,000 ft) and then breaks off and repositions for another strafing run. This continues until each aircraft expends its exercise ordnance allowance of approximately 250 rounds. Typically fixed-wing gunnery exercises involve F/A–18 with Vulcan M61A1/ A2, 20 mm cannon, and AV–8 with GAU–12, 25 mm cannon. • Rocket Exercise: Fixed- and rotarywing aircraft crews launch rockets at surface maritime targets during rocket exercises with the goal of destroying or disabling enemy ships or boats. Rocket exercises may occur day or night. These operations employ 2.75-inch (in) and 5in rockets. A suite of proposed mitigation and monitoring measures for marine mammals that would be applied during specific training activities includes: (1) Establishing and monitoring exclusion zones for marine mammals, (2) conducting range sweeps during the morning of each exercise day prior to range operations, and (3) conducting a cold pass by an aircraft immediately prior to ordnance delivery at the bombing targets. Information Solicited Interested persons may submit information, suggestions, and comments concerning USMC’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 PO 00000 Frm 00026 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 63103 marine mammals by the USMC, if appropriate. Dated: October 1, 2020. Donna Wieting, Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2020–22022 Filed 10–5–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [RTID 0648–XA532] Marine Mammals; File No. 23807; Correction National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice; receipt of application for permit amendment; correction. AGENCY: On September 28, 2020, NMFS published a notice in the Federal Register announcing that NMFS had received an application for an amendment to Permit No. 23807 from Plimsoll Productions Limited, 51–55 Whiteladies Road, Bristol, BS8 2LY, United Kingdom (Responsible Party: Anuschka Schofield). That document did not reflect that filming may also occur up to 3 miles offshore from Colleton County, SC. This document corrects this error. All other information is unchanged. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Erin Markin or Carrie Hubard, (301) 427– 8401. SUMMARY: The notice of receipt for a permit amendment (85 FR 60767; September 28, 2020) did not reflect that filming activities will occur up to 3 miles offshore of Colleton County, SC. In fact, the permit holder has requested to film up to 3 miles offshore from Charleston and Colleton Counties. All other information contained in the document is unchanged. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Correction In the Federal Register of September 28, 2020, in FR Doc. 2020–21334, on page 60767, in the second column, in the second paragraph under the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION heading, the third sentence is corrected to read as follows: In addition, the permit holder is requesting to expand the filming area to up to 3 miles offshore from Charleston and Colleton Counties. E:\FR\FM\06OCN1.SGM 06OCN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 194 (Tuesday, October 6, 2020)]
[Notices]
[Pages 63102-63103]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-22022]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

[RTID 0648-XA448]


Taking and Importing Marine Mammals; Taking Marine Mammals 
Incidental to Training Operations at the Marine Corps Air Station 
Cherry Point Range Complex

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

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

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

SUMMARY: NMFS has received a request from the U.S. Marine Corp (USMC) 
for authorization to take bottlenose dolphin incidental to training 
operations at the Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Cherry Point Range 
Complex over the course of seven years from the date of issuance. 
Pursuant to regulations implementing the Marine Mammal Protection Act 
(MMPA), NMFS is announcing receipt of the USMC'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 USMC's application and 
request.

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

ADDRESSES: Comments on the applications 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. 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 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. An electronic copy of USMC's 
application 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 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 NDAA (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.'' The activity for which incidental take of marine 
mammals is being requested addressed here qualifies as a military 
readiness activity. The definitions of all applicable MMPA statutory 
terms cited above are included in the relevant sections below.

Summary of Request

    On August 3, 2020, NMFS received an application from USMC 
requesting authorization for take of bottlenose dolphin incidental to 
training operations at the MCAS Cherry Point Range Complex off North 
Carolina. The requested regulations would be valid for seven years, 
from May 18, 2021 through May 17, 2028. USMC plans to conduct training 
activities conducted at the in-water ranges that involve the use of 
live (explosive) and inert (non-explosive) ordnance, and small boat 
maneuvers. The proposed action may incidentally expose marine mammals 
occurring in the vicinity to elevated levels of sound and potential 
auditory injury in the form of permanent threshold shift, thereby 
resulting in incidental take, by Level A and Level B harassment. NMFS 
provided questions and comments to USMC after receiving the initial 
application regarding the scope of the project and impact analysis. 
After receiving USMC's responses, NMFS considered the Letter of 
Authorization application adequate and complete on September 10, 2020.

[[Page 63103]]

Specified Activities

    USMC's proposed training operations involve the use of live 
(explosive) and inert (non-explosive) ordnance, and small boat 
maneuvers. These activities would occur at the in-water bombing targets 
Brant Island (BT-9) and Rattan Bay (BT-11) located in Pamlico Sound, 
North Carolina (NC).
    Munitions firing training conducted on the water ranges includes 
air-to-surface (firing from aircraft to surface water targets) and 
surface-to-surface (firing from ship or boat to surface targets). The 
number of sorties that conduct these missions may vary from year to 
year. The deployment of live ordnance would only occur at BT-9; all 
munitions fired at BT-11 would be inert with the exception of a signal 
charge in practice bombs.

Surface-to-Surface Firing

    Gunnery exercise is the only category of surface-to-surface 
activity currently conducted at BT-9 and BT-11. During this exercise, a 
small boat, typically operated by Special Boat Team personnel, uses a 
machine gun to attack a surface target that simulates another ship, 
boat, swimmer, floating mine or near-shore land targets. Boats 
conducting surface-to-surface firing activities will typically use 7.62 
millimeter (mm) or .50 caliber (cal) machine guns; 40 mm grenade 
machine guns; or G911 concussion hand grenades. This exercise is 
usually a live-fire exercise, but blanks may be used so that the boat 
crews can practice their ship handing skills. BT-9 is the most common 
target used for gunnery exercises. A target is not used for the gunnery 
exercises employing the G911 Concussion grenade, as the goal of this 
specific training is to learn how to throw the grenade into the water.

Air-to-Surface Firing

    There are four categories of air-to-surface activities conducted at 
the MCAS Cherry Point bombing targets: Mine laying, bombing, gunnery, 
and rocket exercises.
     Mine Laying: These activities involve a fixed-wing 
aircraft deploying inert mine shapes in an offensive or defensive 
pattern. Mine laying operations are conducted in the waters around BT-
9. Mine laying exercises could include the use of Mark (MK)-62/63, MK-
76, BDU-45, or Bomb Dummy Unit (BDU)-48 inert training shapes. Each 
training shape weighs 500/1000, 25, 500, and 10 (lbs.) (227/454, 11, 
227, and 4.5 kg), respectively.
     Bombing Exercise: During these exercises, fixed-wing 
aircraft (two-four craft) deliver bombs against surface maritime 
targets with the goal of destroying or disabling enemy ships or boats. 
These exercises occur during day and night. Air-to-surface bombing 
exercises employ either unguided or precision-guided munitions. 
Unguided munitions include MK-76 and BDU-45 inert training bombs, as 
well as the MK-80 series of inert bombs (no cluster munitions are 
authorized). Precision-guided munitions consist of laser-guided bombs 
(inert) and laser-guided training rounds (inert).
     Gunnery Exercise: Rotary-wing (and tilt-wing) gunnery 
exercises involve CH-53, UH-1, CH-46, MV-22, or H-60 rotary-wing 
aircraft with mounted 7.62 mm or .50 cal machine guns. Each gunner 
expends approximately 800 rounds of 7.62 mm or 200 rounds of .50 cal 
ammunition per exercise. Fixed-wing gunnery exercises involve two 
aircraft that begin descent to the target from an altitude of 
approximately 914 meters (m) (3,000 feet [ft]) while still several 
miles away. Within a distance of 1,219 m (4,000 ft) from the target, 
each aircraft fires a burst of approximately 30 rounds before 
descending to a minimum altitude of 305 m (1,000 ft) and then breaks 
off and repositions for another strafing run. This continues until each 
aircraft expends its exercise ordnance allowance of approximately 250 
rounds. Typically fixed-wing gunnery exercises involve F/A-18 with 
Vulcan M61A1/A2, 20 mm cannon, and AV-8 with GAU-12, 25 mm cannon.
     Rocket Exercise: Fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft crews 
launch rockets at surface maritime targets during rocket exercises with 
the goal of destroying or disabling enemy ships or boats. Rocket 
exercises may occur day or night. These operations employ 2.75-inch 
(in) and 5-in rockets.
    A suite of proposed mitigation and monitoring measures for marine 
mammals that would be applied during specific training activities 
includes: (1) Establishing and monitoring exclusion zones for marine 
mammals, (2) conducting range sweeps during the morning of each 
exercise day prior to range operations, and (3) conducting a cold pass 
by an aircraft immediately prior to ordnance delivery at the bombing 
targets.

Information Solicited

    Interested persons may submit information, suggestions, and 
comments concerning USMC'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 USMC, if appropriate.

    Dated: October 1, 2020.
Donna Wieting,
Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries 
Service.
[FR Doc. 2020-22022 Filed 10-5-20; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P