Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental To Specified Activities; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to Seabird Research Activities in Central California, 63258-63262 [2020-22099]

Download as PDF 63258 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 195 / Wednesday, October 7, 2020 / Notices required to effectively address the issue, and the latest version along with other meeting materials will be posted on the website as they become available. Although other non-emergency issues not contained in this agenda may come before this group for discussion, in accordance with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act), those issues may not be the subject of formal action during these meeting. Actions will be restricted to those issues specifically listed in this notice and any issues arising after publication of this notice that require emergency action under Section 305(c) of the MagnusonStevens Act, provided that the public has been notified of the Council’s intent to take final action to address the emergency. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Dated: October 2, 2020. Diane M. DeJames-Daly, Acting Deputy Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2020–22154 Filed 10–6–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [RTID 0648–XA522] Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental To Specified Activities; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to Seabird Research Activities in Central California National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice; issuance of an incidental harassment authorization. AGENCY: In accordance with the regulations implementing the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) as amended, notification is hereby given that NMFS has issued an incidental harassment authorization (IHA) to the Point Blue Conservation Science (Point Blue) to incidentally harass, by Level B harassment only, marine mammals during seabird research activities in central California. DATES: This Authorization is effective from October 1, 2020 through September 30, 2021. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Amy Fowler, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, (301) 427–8401. Electronic copies of the original application and supporting documents SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:21 Oct 06, 2020 Jkt 253001 (including NMFS Federal Register notices of the original proposed and final authorizations, and the previous IHA), 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 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 such 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 such takings are set forth. History of Request On January 4, 2018, NMFS received a request from Point Blue for an IHA to take marine mammals incidental to seabird and marine mammal research monitoring taking place at three locations in central California. Point Blue’s request was for take of California sea lions (Zalophus californianus), Pacific harbor seals (Phoca vitulina), northern elephant seals (Mirounga angustirostris), and Steller sea lions (Eumetopias jubatus) by Level B harassment only. NMFS published a notice of a proposed IHA and request for PO 00000 Frm 00014 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 comments in the Federal Register on May 7, 2018 (83 FR 20045). We subsequently published the final notice of our issuance of the IHA on July 5, 2018 (83 FR 31372), making the IHA valid for July 7, 2018 through July 6, 2019. On September 17, 2019, NMFS received an application from Point Blue requesting a letter of authorization (LOA) for take of marine mammals incidental to seabird research activities in central California over the course of five years. We determined the application was adequate and complete on November 26, 2019 and published a notice of receipt of application in the Federal Register on December 4, 2019 (84 FR 66379). On June 17, 2020, NMFS received a request from Point Blue for an IHA to take marine mammals incidental to seabird research and monitoring in central California. Point Blue’s application was determined to be adequate and complete on August 6, 2020. This IHA is effective for a period of one year from the date of issuance (i.e., October 1, 2020 to September 30, 2021), with the LOA expected to be effective from January 1, 2021 to December 31, 2025. Point Blue’s planned activities are identical to those analyzed in the 2018 IHA, as are the mitigation, monitoring, and reporting requirements described in detail in the Federal Register notice of issuance of the 2018 IHA (83 FR 31372; July 5, 2018). The authorized take numbers for Steller sea lions have increased slightly, while the authorized take numbers for California sea lions, harbor seals, and northern elephant seals are identical to those analyzed in the 2018 IHA. Please see the Estimated Take section of this notice for more information. Description of the Activity and Anticipated Impacts Point Blue plans to monitor and census seabird populations, observe seabird nesting habitat, restore nesting burrows, and resupply a field station annually in central California. The planned activities occur on Southeast Farallon Island (SEFI), An˜o Nuevo Island (ANO), and Point Reyes National Seashore (PRNS). Point Blue, along with partners Oikonos Ecosystem Knowledge and PRNS, have been conducting seabird research activities at these locations for over 30 years. This research is conducted under cooperative agreements with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) in consultation with the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. Presence of researchers has the potential to disturb pinnipeds hauled out at SEFI, E:\FR\FM\07OCN1.SGM 07OCN1 63259 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 195 / Wednesday, October 7, 2020 / Notices ANO, and PRNS. The seabird research and monitoring activities planned by Point Blue are identical to those analyzed in the 2018–2019 IHA. NMFS refers the reader to the documents related to the previously issued 2018–2019 IHA for more detailed description of the project activities. These previous documents include the Federal Register notice of the issuance of the 2018–2019 IHA for Point Blue’s seabird research activities (83 FR 31372, July 5, 2018), the Federal Register notice of the proposed IHA (83 FR 20045; May 7, 2018), Point Blue’s application, and all associated references and documents, which are available at https:// www.fisheries.noaa.gov/national/ marine-mammal-protection/incidentaltake-authorizations-research-and-otheractivities. A detailed description of the seabird research and monitoring activities is found in these documents. Detailed Description of the Action A detailed description of the planned seabird research and monitoring activities is found in these previous documents. The location, timing, and nature of the activities, including the types of equipment planned for use, are identical to those described in the previous notices. Description of Marine Mammals A description of the marine mammals in the area of the activities for which take has been authorized, including information on abundance, status, distribution, and hearing, may be found in the Federal Register notice of the proposed IHA for the 2018–2019 authorization (83 FR 20045; May 7, 2018). NMFS has reviewed the monitoring data from the initial IHA, recent draft Stock Assessment Reports, information on relevant Unusual Mortality Events, and other scientific literature. The 2018 Stock Assessment Report notes that the estimated abundance of California sea lions has decreased slightly, however, neither this nor any other new information affects which species or stocks have the potential to be affected or the pertinent information in the ‘‘Description of Marine Mammals in the Area of Specified Activities’’ section contained in the supporting documents for the initial IHA. Potential Effects on Marine Mammals and Their Habitat A description of the potential effects of the specified activities on marine mammals and their habitat may be found in the documents supporting the previous IHA, which remains applicable to the issuance of this IHA. There is no new information on potential effects that affects our initial analysis of potential impacts on marine mammals and their habitat. Estimated Take Point Blue has been conducting seabird research activities at SEFI, ANI, and PRNS for over 30 years. Under previous IHAs, Point Blue has documented the numbers of marine mammals taken by Level B harassment at each of the research stations. Take estimates are based on take reported by Point Blue in the last five years (Table 1). Takes recorded in all previous monitoring reports were based on occurrences that are consistent with Levels 2 and 3 of the three-point harassment scale (see Table 3). For all species except California sea lions, Point Blue’s requested annual take was calculated as the maximum annual recorded take for each species over the last five years (2015–2019) or the authorized take from the most recent IHA, whichever was greater. For California sea lions, the authorized take is identical to the authorized take in the most recent authorization, which is less than the highest year. The recorded take of California sea lions has been decreasing over the past five years, which is why the take numbers from the highest year were not used. However, 32,623 takes of California sea lions by Level B harassment are authorized in order to sufficiently account for any unexpected increases in occurrences of California sea lions such as that which occurred between 2014 and 2015, when the recorded takes went up from around 10,000 to 36,000. A detailed description of the methods and inputs used to estimate take for most recent IHA is found in the Federal Register notices of the proposed and final IHAs for the 2018–2019 authorization (83 FR 20045, May 7, 2018; 83 FR 31372, July 5, 2018) but in summary, the take estimates are based on historical data from the previous five monitoring reports (2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018) to generate 95 percent confidence interval maximums (assuming normal distribution) using STATA, a general-purpose statistical computer package. TABLE 1—REPORTED TAKE OBSERVATIONS FROM PREVIOUS IHAS Reported take observations for all activities Species 2014 California sea lion ............................ Northern elephant seal .................... Pacific harbor seal ........................... Steller sea lion ................................. 10,048 145 284 59 In this authorization, the expected number of survey days, and marine mammal occurrence data applicable to this authorization remain unchanged from the previously issued IHA. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:21 Oct 06, 2020 Jkt 253001 2015 36,417 175 292 31 2016 23,173 119 175 32 2017 2018 22,752 202 234 35 17,487 85 229 5 Similarly, the stocks taken, methods of take, and types of take remain unchanged from the previously issued IHA. The only change from the most recent authorization is the authorized PO 00000 Frm 00015 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 2019 10,408 79 82 61 Authorized takes from most recent IHA 32,623 239 304 43 Total authorized annual takes by Level B harassment 32,623 239 304 61 take numbers for Steller sea lions, which increased based on consideration of reported take numbers from past authorizations. E:\FR\FM\07OCN1.SGM 07OCN1 63260 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 195 / Wednesday, October 7, 2020 / Notices TABLE 2—POPULATION ABUNDANCE ESTIMATES, TOTAL AUTHORIZED LEVEL B TAKE, AND PERCENTAGE OF POPULATION THAT MAY BE TAKEN Stock abundance Species Stock California sea lion ........................................... Northern elephant seal ................................... Harbor seal ..................................................... Steller sea lion ................................................ U.S ................................................................. California breeding stock ............................... California ........................................................ Eastern U.S .................................................... Description of Required Mitigation, Monitoring and Reporting Measures The mitigation, monitoring, and reporting measures described here are identical to those included in the notice announcing the issuance of the 2018– 2019 IHA (83 FR 31372; July 5, 2018), and the discussion of the least practicable adverse impact included in that document remains accurate. The following measures are included in this IHA: To reduce the potential for disturbance from acoustic and visual stimuli associated with survey activities Point Blue must implement the following mitigation measures for marine mammals: (1) Slow approach to beaches for boat landings to avoid stampede, provide animals opportunity to enter water, and avoid vessel strikes; (2) Observe a site from a distance, using binoculars if necessary, to detect any marine mammals prior to approach to determine if mitigation is required (i.e., site surveys must not be conducted if fur seals are present; if other pinnipeds are present, researchers must approach with caution, walking slowly, quietly, and close to the ground to avoid surprising any hauled-out individuals and to reduce flushing/stampeding of individuals); (3) Avoid pinnipeds along access ways to sites by locating and taking a different access way. Researchers must keep a safe distance from and not approach any marine mammal while conducting research, unless it is absolutely necessary to flush a marine mammal in order to continue conducting research (i.e., if a site cannot be accessed or sampled due to the presence of pinnipeds); (4) Cease or delay visits if the number of takes that have been authorized are met, if a species for which takes were not authorized is observed (e.g., northern fur seals (Callorhinus ursinus) and Guadalupe fur seals (Arctocephalus townsendi)), or if pups are present; (5) Monitor for offshore predators and do not approach hauled out pinnipeds if great white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) or killer whales (Orcinus orca) are present. If Point Blue and/or its designees see pinniped predators in the area, they must not disturb the pinnipeds until the area is free of predators; (6) Keep voices hushed and bodies low to the ground in the visual presence of pinnipeds; (7) Conduct seabird observations at North Landing on SEFI in an observation blind, shielded from the view of hauled out pinnipeds; (8) Crawl slowly to access seabird nest boxes on ANI if pinnipeds are within view; (9) Coordinate research visits to intertidal areas of SEFI (to reduce potential take) and coordinate research activities for ANI to minimize the number of trips to the island; and (10) Require that beach landings on ANI only occur after any pinnipeds that might be present on the landing beach have entered the water. Point Blue will contribute to the knowledge of pinnipeds in California by noting observations of: (1) Unusual behaviors, numbers, or distributions of 257,606 179,000 30,968 41,638 Total authorized level B take 32,623 239 304 61 Percentage of stock or population 12.7 0.13 0.98 0.14 pinnipeds, such that any potential follow-up research can be conducted by the appropriate personnel; (2) tagbearing pinnipeds or carcasses, allowing transmittal of the information to appropriate agencies and personnel; and (3) rare or unusual species of marine mammals for agency follow-up. Required monitoring protocols for Point Blue will include the following: (1) Record of date, time, and location (or closest point of ingress) of each visit to the research site; (2) Composition of the marine mammals sighted, such as species, gender, and life history stage (e.g., adult, sub-adult, pup); (3) Information on the numbers (by species) of marine mammals observed during the activities; (4) Estimated number of marine mammals (by species) that may have been harassed during the activities; (5) Behavioral responses or modifications of behaviors that may be attributed to the specific activities and a description of the specific activities occurring during that time (e.g., pedestrian approach, vessel approach); and (6) Information on the weather, including the tidal state and horizontal visibility. The lead biologist will serve as an observer to record incidental take. For consistency, any reactions by pinnipeds to researchers will be recorded according to a three-point scale shown in Table 3. Note that only observations of disturbance noted in Levels 2 and 3 should be recorded as takes. TABLE 3—LEVELS OF PINNIPED BEHAVIORAL DISTURBANCE Level Type of response Definition 1 ......... Alert .................................. 2 * ....... Movement ........................ 3 * ....... Flush ................................ Seal head orientation or brief movement in response to disturbance, which may include turning head towards the disturbance, craning head and neck while holding the body rigid in a u-shaped position, changing from a lying to a sitting position, or brief movement of less than twice the animal’s body length. Movements in response to the source of disturbance, ranging from short withdrawals at least twice the animal’s body length to longer retreats over the beach, or if already moving a change of direction of greater than 90 degrees. All retreats (flushes) to the water. * Only observations of disturbance Levels 2 and 3 are recorded as takes. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:21 Oct 06, 2020 Jkt 253001 PO 00000 Frm 00016 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 E:\FR\FM\07OCN1.SGM 07OCN1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 195 / Wednesday, October 7, 2020 / Notices This information must be incorporated into a monitoring report for NMFS. The monitoring report will cover the period from January 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020. NMFS requires that Point Blue submit annual monitoring report data on a calendar year schedule, regardless of the current IHA’s initiation or expiration dates. This ensures that data from all consecutive months will be collected and, therefore, can be analyzed to estimate authorized take for future IHA’s regardless of the existing IHA’s issuance date. Point Blue will submit a draft monitoring report for the 2020 activities to NMFS Office of Protected Resources by April 1, 2021. A final report will be prepared and submitted within 30 days following resolution of any comments on the draft report from NMFS. If no comments are received from NMFS, the draft monitoring report will be considered to be the final report. Point Blue must also submit a draft monitoring report covering the period from January 1, 2021 through the date of expiration of this authorization. This report will be due 90 days after the expiration of this authorization. A final report must be prepared and submitted within 30 days following resolution of any comments on the draft report from NMFS. If no comments are received from NMFS, the draft monitoring report will be considered to be the final report. The reports must contain the informational elements described above, at minimum, as well as the raw sightings data. Point Blue must also report observations of unusual pinniped behaviors, numbers, or distributions and tag-bearing carcasses to the NMFS West Coast Regional Office. If at any time the specified activity clearly causes the take of a marine mammal in a manner prohibited by this IHA, such as an injury (Level A harassment), serious injury, or mortality, Point Blue must immediately cease the specified activities and report the incident to the NMFS Office of Protected Resources, and the NMFS West Coast Regional Stranding Coordinator. The report must include the following information: (1) Time and date of the incident; (2) Description of the incident; (3) Environmental conditions (e.g., wind speed and direction, Beaufort sea state, cloud cover, and visibility); (4) Description of all marine mammal observations in the 24 hours preceding the incident; (5) Species identification or description of the animal(s) involved; (6) Fate of the animal(s); and VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:21 Oct 06, 2020 Jkt 253001 (7) Photographs or video footage of the animal(s). Activities must not resume until NMFS is able to review the circumstances of the prohibited take. NMFS will work with Point Blue to determine what measures are necessary to minimize the likelihood of further prohibited take and ensure MMPA compliance. Point Blue may not resume the activities until notified by NMFS. In the event that an injured or dead marine mammal is discovered and it is determined that the cause of the injury or death is unknown and the death is relatively recent (e.g., in less than a moderate state of decomposition), Point Blue must immediately report the incident to the Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, and the West Coast Regional Stranding Coordinator, NMFS. The report must include the same information required in the report on unauthorized take. Activities may continue while NMFS reviews the circumstances of the incident. NMFS will work with Point Blue to determine whether additional mitigation measures or modifications to the activities are appropriate. In the event that an injured or dead marine mammal is discovered and it is determined that the injury or death is not associated with or related to the activities covered by the IHA (e.g., previously wounded animal, carcass with moderate to advanced decomposition, or scavenger damage), Point Blue must report the incident to the Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, and the West Coast Regional Stranding Coordinator, NMFS, within 24 hours of the discovery. Point Blue must provide photographs, video footage, or other documentation of the stranded animal sighting to NMFS. Activities may continue while NMFS reviews the circumstances of the incident. Comments and Responses A notice of NMFS’ proposal to issue an IHA was published in the Federal Register on August 28, 2020 (85 FR 53327). During the 30-day public comment period, the Marine Mammal Commission (Commission) submitted a letter, providing comments as described below. Comment: The Commission recommended issuing the IHA to Point Blue, subject to inclusion of the proposed mitigation, monitoring, and reporting measures and contingent on inclusion of a condition in the final incidental harassment authorization stipulating that the final rule, when issued, will supersede the authorization. PO 00000 Frm 00017 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 63261 Response: NMFS thanks the Commission for their recommendation and has included this stipulation in the final IHA issued to Point Blue. Determinations The seabird research and monitoring activities planned by Point Blue, the method of taking, and the effects of the action are identical to those analyzed in the 2018–2019 IHA, as is the planned frequency of research site visits within the authorization period. The potential effects of Point Blue’s activities are limited to Level B harassment in the form of behavioral disturbance. In analyzing the effects of the activity in the initial IHA, NMFS determined that Point Blue’s activities would have a negligible impact on the affected species or stocks and that the authorized take numbers of each species or stock were small relative to the relevant stocks (e.g., less than 13 percent for all stocks). The numbers of California sea lions, harbor seals, and northern elephant seals authorized to be taken are identical to those authorized in the 2018–2019 IHA, while the numbers of Steller sea lions authorized to be taken have increased slightly. However, the increased numbers of Steller sea lions result in only minor increased percentage of stock authorized to be taken (e.g., from 0.10 to 0.14 percent of the Eastern U.S. stock of Steller sea lions) and NMFS has determined that the authorized take is still considered small relative to the relevant stock abundances. The mitigation measures and monitoring and reporting requirements as described above are identical to the initial IHA. NMFS has concluded that there is no new information suggesting that our analysis or findings should change from those reached for the initial IHA. This includes consideration of the estimated abundance of the California sea lion stock decreasing slightly and the increased estimated take of Steller sea lions. Based on the information contained here and in the referenced documents, NMFS has determined the following: (1) The required mitigation measures will effect the least practicable impact on marine mammal species or stocks and their habitat; (2) the authorized takes will have a negligible impact on the affected marine mammal species or stocks; (3) the authorized takes represent small numbers of marine mammals relative to the affected stock abundances; and (4) Point Blue’s activities will not have an unmitigable adverse impact on taking for subsistence purposes as no relevant subsistence uses of marine mammals are implicated by this action, and (5) appropriate E:\FR\FM\07OCN1.SGM 07OCN1 63262 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 195 / Wednesday, October 7, 2020 / Notices monitoring and reporting requirements are included. BUREAU OF CONSUMER FINANCIAL PROTECTION Endangered Species Act (ESA) [Docket No. CFPB–2020–0031] 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. No incidental take of ESA-listed species is authorized or expected to result from this activity. Therefore, NMFS has determined that formal consultation under section 7 of the ESA is not required for this action. Agency Information Collection Activities: Submission for OMB Review; Comment Request 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 CE B4 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 determined that the issuance of the IHA qualifies to be categorically excluded from further NEPA review. Authorization As a result of these determinations, NMFS has issued an IHA to Point Blue for the harassment of marine mammals incidental to conducting seabird research and monitoring activities in central California for a period of one year from the date of issuance, provided the previously mentioned mitigation, monitoring, and reporting requirements are incorporated. Dated: October 1, 2020. Donna S. Wieting, Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2020–22099 Filed 10–6–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:21 Oct 06, 2020 Jkt 253001 Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection. ACTION: Notice and request for comment. AGENCY: In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA), the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (Bureau) is proposing a new information collection, titled, ‘‘Request for an Advisory Opinion.’’ DATES: Written comments are encouraged and must be received on or before November 6, 2020 to be assured of consideration. ADDRESSES: Written comments and recommendations for the proposed information collection should be sent within 30 days of publication of this notice to 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. In general, all comments received will become public records, including any personal information provided. Sensitive personal information, such as account numbers or Social Security numbers, should not be included. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Documentation prepared in support of this information collection request is available at www.reginfo.gov (this link becomes active on the day following publication of this notice). Select ‘‘Information Collection Review,’’ under ‘‘Currently under Review,’’ use the dropdown menu ‘‘Select Agency’’ and select ‘‘Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’’ (recent submissions to OMB will be at the top of the list). The same documentation is also available at http://www.regulations.gov. Requests for additional information should be directed to Darrin King, PRA Officer, at (202) 435–9575, or email: CFPB_PRA@ cfpb.gov. If you require this document in an alternative electronic format, please contact CFPB_Accessibility@ cfpb.gov. Please do not submit comments to these email boxes. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Title of Collection: Request for an Advisory Opinion. OMB Control Number: 3170–XXXX. Type of Review: New collection (Request for a new OMB Control Number). SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00018 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 9990 Affected Public: Businesses and other for-profit entities. Estimated Number of Respondents: 100. Estimated Total Annual Burden Hours: 6,000. Abstract: The Bureau is proposing to establish an Advisory Opinion (AO) Program. AOs issued under the program would be interpretive rules under the Administrative Procedure Act that respond to a specific request for clarity on an interpretive question regarding a Bureau-administered regulation or statute. The Federal Register notice inviting public comment on the proposed program lays out the process for submitting a request by an AO. Under the program, parties would be able to request interpretive guidance, in the form of an AO, to resolve regulatory uncertainty. The Bureau would have discretion to decide which AOs to respond to. The Bureau intends to publish AOs as well as a description of the incoming request. The requests for an AO, and thus the information collection, may be submitted by persons, primarily business or other forprofit entities. The information collected will be used by the Bureau to determine whether to pursue the issuance of an AO responsive to the request. Request for Comments: The Bureau issued a 60-day Federal Register notice on June 22, 2020, 85 FR 37394, Docket Number: CFPB–2020–0019. Comments were solicited and continue to be invited on: (a) Whether the collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the Bureau, including whether the information will have practical utility; (b) The accuracy of the Bureau’s estimate of the burden of the collection of information, including the validity of the methods and the assumptions used; (c) Ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (d) Ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on respondents, including through the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology. Comments submitted in response to this notice will be reviewed by OMB as part of its review of this request. All comments will become a matter of public record. Dated: October 2, 2020. Suzan Muslu, Data Governance Manager, Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection. [FR Doc. 2020–22193 Filed 10–6–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4810–AM–P E:\FR\FM\07OCN1.SGM 07OCN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 195 (Wednesday, October 7, 2020)]
[Notices]
[Pages 63258-63262]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-22099]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

[RTID 0648-XA522]


Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental To Specified Activities; 
Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to Seabird Research Activities in 
Central California

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

ACTION: Notice; issuance of an incidental harassment authorization.

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SUMMARY: In accordance with the regulations implementing the Marine 
Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) as amended, notification is hereby given 
that NMFS has issued an incidental harassment authorization (IHA) to 
the Point Blue Conservation Science (Point Blue) to incidentally 
harass, by Level B harassment only, marine mammals during seabird 
research activities in central California.

DATES: This Authorization is effective from October 1, 2020 through 
September 30, 2021.

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

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

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

History of Request

    On January 4, 2018, NMFS received a request from Point Blue for an 
IHA to take marine mammals incidental to seabird and marine mammal 
research monitoring taking place at three locations in central 
California. Point Blue's request was for take of California sea lions 
(Zalophus californianus), Pacific harbor seals (Phoca vitulina), 
northern elephant seals (Mirounga angustirostris), and Steller sea 
lions (Eumetopias jubatus) by Level B harassment only. NMFS published a 
notice of a proposed IHA and request for comments in the Federal 
Register on May 7, 2018 (83 FR 20045). We subsequently published the 
final notice of our issuance of the IHA on July 5, 2018 (83 FR 31372), 
making the IHA valid for July 7, 2018 through July 6, 2019.
    On September 17, 2019, NMFS received an application from Point Blue 
requesting a letter of authorization (LOA) for take of marine mammals 
incidental to seabird research activities in central California over 
the course of five years. We determined the application was adequate 
and complete on November 26, 2019 and published a notice of receipt of 
application in the Federal Register on December 4, 2019 (84 FR 66379). 
On June 17, 2020, NMFS received a request from Point Blue for an IHA to 
take marine mammals incidental to seabird research and monitoring in 
central California. Point Blue's application was determined to be 
adequate and complete on August 6, 2020. This IHA is effective for a 
period of one year from the date of issuance (i.e., October 1, 2020 to 
September 30, 2021), with the LOA expected to be effective from January 
1, 2021 to December 31, 2025.
    Point Blue's planned activities are identical to those analyzed in 
the 2018 IHA, as are the mitigation, monitoring, and reporting 
requirements described in detail in the Federal Register notice of 
issuance of the 2018 IHA (83 FR 31372; July 5, 2018). The authorized 
take numbers for Steller sea lions have increased slightly, while the 
authorized take numbers for California sea lions, harbor seals, and 
northern elephant seals are identical to those analyzed in the 2018 
IHA. Please see the Estimated Take section of this notice for more 
information.

Description of the Activity and Anticipated Impacts

    Point Blue plans to monitor and census seabird populations, observe 
seabird nesting habitat, restore nesting burrows, and resupply a field 
station annually in central California. The planned activities occur on 
Southeast Farallon Island (SEFI), A[ntilde]o Nuevo Island (ANO), and 
Point Reyes National Seashore (PRNS). Point Blue, along with partners 
Oikonos Ecosystem Knowledge and PRNS, have been conducting seabird 
research activities at these locations for over 30 years. This research 
is conducted under cooperative agreements with the U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service (USFWS) in consultation with the Gulf of the 
Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. Presence of researchers has the 
potential to disturb pinnipeds hauled out at SEFI,

[[Page 63259]]

ANO, and PRNS. The seabird research and monitoring activities planned 
by Point Blue are identical to those analyzed in the 2018-2019 IHA.
    NMFS refers the reader to the documents related to the previously 
issued 2018-2019 IHA for more detailed description of the project 
activities. These previous documents include the Federal Register 
notice of the issuance of the 2018-2019 IHA for Point Blue's seabird 
research activities (83 FR 31372, July 5, 2018), the Federal Register 
notice of the proposed IHA (83 FR 20045; May 7, 2018), Point Blue's 
application, and all associated references and documents, which are 
available at https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/national/marine-mammal-protection/incidental-take-authorizations-research-and-other-activities. A detailed description of the seabird research and 
monitoring activities is found in these documents.

Detailed Description of the Action

    A detailed description of the planned seabird research and 
monitoring activities is found in these previous documents. The 
location, timing, and nature of the activities, including the types of 
equipment planned for use, are identical to those described in the 
previous notices.

Description of Marine Mammals

    A description of the marine mammals in the area of the activities 
for which take has been authorized, including information on abundance, 
status, distribution, and hearing, may be found in the Federal Register 
notice of the proposed IHA for the 2018-2019 authorization (83 FR 
20045; May 7, 2018). NMFS has reviewed the monitoring data from the 
initial IHA, recent draft Stock Assessment Reports, information on 
relevant Unusual Mortality Events, and other scientific literature. The 
2018 Stock Assessment Report notes that the estimated abundance of 
California sea lions has decreased slightly, however, neither this nor 
any other new information affects which species or stocks have the 
potential to be affected or the pertinent information in the 
``Description of Marine Mammals in the Area of Specified Activities'' 
section contained in the supporting documents for the initial IHA.

Potential Effects on Marine Mammals and Their Habitat

    A description of the potential effects of the specified activities 
on marine mammals and their habitat may be found in the documents 
supporting the previous IHA, which remains applicable to the issuance 
of this IHA. There is no new information on potential effects that 
affects our initial analysis of potential impacts on marine mammals and 
their habitat.

Estimated Take

    Point Blue has been conducting seabird research activities at SEFI, 
ANI, and PRNS for over 30 years. Under previous IHAs, Point Blue has 
documented the numbers of marine mammals taken by Level B harassment at 
each of the research stations. Take estimates are based on take 
reported by Point Blue in the last five years (Table 1). Takes recorded 
in all previous monitoring reports were based on occurrences that are 
consistent with Levels 2 and 3 of the three-point harassment scale (see 
Table 3). For all species except California sea lions, Point Blue's 
requested annual take was calculated as the maximum annual recorded 
take for each species over the last five years (2015-2019) or the 
authorized take from the most recent IHA, whichever was greater. For 
California sea lions, the authorized take is identical to the 
authorized take in the most recent authorization, which is less than 
the highest year. The recorded take of California sea lions has been 
decreasing over the past five years, which is why the take numbers from 
the highest year were not used. However, 32,623 takes of California sea 
lions by Level B harassment are authorized in order to sufficiently 
account for any unexpected increases in occurrences of California sea 
lions such as that which occurred between 2014 and 2015, when the 
recorded takes went up from around 10,000 to 36,000.
    A detailed description of the methods and inputs used to estimate 
take for most recent IHA is found in the Federal Register notices of 
the proposed and final IHAs for the 2018-2019 authorization (83 FR 
20045, May 7, 2018; 83 FR 31372, July 5, 2018) but in summary, the take 
estimates are based on historical data from the previous five 
monitoring reports (2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018) to generate 95 
percent confidence interval maximums (assuming normal distribution) 
using STATA, a general-purpose statistical computer package.

                                                 Table 1--Reported Take Observations From Previous IHAs
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                  Reported take observations for all activities                                Total
                                                       ------------------------------------------------------------------   Authorized      authorized
                        Species                                                                                             takes from     annual takes
                                                           2014       2015       2016       2017       2018       2019      most recent     by Level B
                                                                                                                                IHA         harassment
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
California sea lion...................................     10,048     36,417     23,173     22,752     17,487     10,408          32,623          32,623
Northern elephant seal................................        145        175        119        202         85         79             239             239
Pacific harbor seal...................................        284        292        175        234        229         82             304             304
Steller sea lion......................................         59         31         32         35          5         61              43              61
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    In this authorization, the expected number of survey days, and 
marine mammal occurrence data applicable to this authorization remain 
unchanged from the previously issued IHA. Similarly, the stocks taken, 
methods of take, and types of take remain unchanged from the previously 
issued IHA. The only change from the most recent authorization is the 
authorized take numbers for Steller sea lions, which increased based on 
consideration of reported take numbers from past authorizations.

[[Page 63260]]



Table 2--Population Abundance Estimates, Total Authorized Level B Take, and Percentage of Population That May Be
                                                      Taken
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                       Total      Percentage  of
              Species                           Stock                  Stock        authorized       stock or
                                                                     abundance     level B take     population
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
California sea lion................  U.S........................         257,606          32,623            12.7
Northern elephant seal.............  California breeding stock..         179,000             239            0.13
Harbor seal........................  California.................          30,968             304            0.98
Steller sea lion...................  Eastern U.S................          41,638              61            0.14
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Description of Required Mitigation, Monitoring and Reporting Measures

    The mitigation, monitoring, and reporting measures described here 
are identical to those included in the notice announcing the issuance 
of the 2018-2019 IHA (83 FR 31372; July 5, 2018), and the discussion of 
the least practicable adverse impact included in that document remains 
accurate. The following measures are included in this IHA:
    To reduce the potential for disturbance from acoustic and visual 
stimuli associated with survey activities Point Blue must implement the 
following mitigation measures for marine mammals:
    (1) Slow approach to beaches for boat landings to avoid stampede, 
provide animals opportunity to enter water, and avoid vessel strikes;
    (2) Observe a site from a distance, using binoculars if necessary, 
to detect any marine mammals prior to approach to determine if 
mitigation is required (i.e., site surveys must not be conducted if fur 
seals are present; if other pinnipeds are present, researchers must 
approach with caution, walking slowly, quietly, and close to the ground 
to avoid surprising any hauled-out individuals and to reduce flushing/
stampeding of individuals);
    (3) Avoid pinnipeds along access ways to sites by locating and 
taking a different access way. Researchers must keep a safe distance 
from and not approach any marine mammal while conducting research, 
unless it is absolutely necessary to flush a marine mammal in order to 
continue conducting research (i.e., if a site cannot be accessed or 
sampled due to the presence of pinnipeds);
    (4) Cease or delay visits if the number of takes that have been 
authorized are met, if a species for which takes were not authorized is 
observed (e.g., northern fur seals (Callorhinus ursinus) and Guadalupe 
fur seals (Arctocephalus townsendi)), or if pups are present;
    (5) Monitor for offshore predators and do not approach hauled out 
pinnipeds if great white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) or killer 
whales (Orcinus orca) are present. If Point Blue and/or its designees 
see pinniped predators in the area, they must not disturb the pinnipeds 
until the area is free of predators;
    (6) Keep voices hushed and bodies low to the ground in the visual 
presence of pinnipeds;
    (7) Conduct seabird observations at North Landing on SEFI in an 
observation blind, shielded from the view of hauled out pinnipeds;
    (8) Crawl slowly to access seabird nest boxes on ANI if pinnipeds 
are within view;
    (9) Coordinate research visits to intertidal areas of SEFI (to 
reduce potential take) and coordinate research activities for ANI to 
minimize the number of trips to the island; and
    (10) Require that beach landings on ANI only occur after any 
pinnipeds that might be present on the landing beach have entered the 
water.
    Point Blue will contribute to the knowledge of pinnipeds in 
California by noting observations of: (1) Unusual behaviors, numbers, 
or distributions of pinnipeds, such that any potential follow-up 
research can be conducted by the appropriate personnel; (2) tag-bearing 
pinnipeds or carcasses, allowing transmittal of the information to 
appropriate agencies and personnel; and (3) rare or unusual species of 
marine mammals for agency follow-up.
    Required monitoring protocols for Point Blue will include the 
following:
    (1) Record of date, time, and location (or closest point of 
ingress) of each visit to the research site;
    (2) Composition of the marine mammals sighted, such as species, 
gender, and life history stage (e.g., adult, sub-adult, pup);
    (3) Information on the numbers (by species) of marine mammals 
observed during the activities;
    (4) Estimated number of marine mammals (by species) that may have 
been harassed during the activities;
    (5) Behavioral responses or modifications of behaviors that may be 
attributed to the specific activities and a description of the specific 
activities occurring during that time (e.g., pedestrian approach, 
vessel approach); and
    (6) Information on the weather, including the tidal state and 
horizontal visibility.
    The lead biologist will serve as an observer to record incidental 
take. For consistency, any reactions by pinnipeds to researchers will 
be recorded according to a three-point scale shown in Table 3. Note 
that only observations of disturbance noted in Levels 2 and 3 should be 
recorded as takes.

           Table 3--Levels of Pinniped Behavioral Disturbance
------------------------------------------------------------------------
   Level     Type of response                  Definition
------------------------------------------------------------------------
1.........  Alert............  Seal head orientation or brief movement
                                in response to disturbance, which may
                                include turning head towards the
                                disturbance, craning head and neck while
                                holding the body rigid in a u-shaped
                                position, changing from a lying to a
                                sitting position, or brief movement of
                                less than twice the animal's body
                                length.
2 *.......  Movement.........  Movements in response to the source of
                                disturbance, ranging from short
                                withdrawals at least twice the animal's
                                body length to longer retreats over the
                                beach, or if already moving a change of
                                direction of greater than 90 degrees.
3 *.......  Flush............  All retreats (flushes) to the water.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
* Only observations of disturbance Levels 2 and 3 are recorded as takes.


[[Page 63261]]

    This information must be incorporated into a monitoring report for 
NMFS. The monitoring report will cover the period from January 1, 2020 
through December 31, 2020. NMFS requires that Point Blue submit annual 
monitoring report data on a calendar year schedule, regardless of the 
current IHA's initiation or expiration dates. This ensures that data 
from all consecutive months will be collected and, therefore, can be 
analyzed to estimate authorized take for future IHA's regardless of the 
existing IHA's issuance date. Point Blue will submit a draft monitoring 
report for the 2020 activities to NMFS Office of Protected Resources by 
April 1, 2021. A final report will be prepared and submitted within 30 
days following resolution of any comments on the draft report from 
NMFS. If no comments are received from NMFS, the draft monitoring 
report will be considered to be the final report.
    Point Blue must also submit a draft monitoring report covering the 
period from January 1, 2021 through the date of expiration of this 
authorization. This report will be due 90 days after the expiration of 
this authorization. A final report must be prepared and submitted 
within 30 days following resolution of any comments on the draft report 
from NMFS. If no comments are received from NMFS, the draft monitoring 
report will be considered to be the final report. The reports must 
contain the informational elements described above, at minimum, as well 
as the raw sightings data.
    Point Blue must also report observations of unusual pinniped 
behaviors, numbers, or distributions and tag-bearing carcasses to the 
NMFS West Coast Regional Office.
    If at any time the specified activity clearly causes the take of a 
marine mammal in a manner prohibited by this IHA, such as an injury 
(Level A harassment), serious injury, or mortality, Point Blue must 
immediately cease the specified activities and report the incident to 
the NMFS Office of Protected Resources, and the NMFS West Coast 
Regional Stranding Coordinator. The report must include the following 
information:
    (1) Time and date of the incident;
    (2) Description of the incident;
    (3) Environmental conditions (e.g., wind speed and direction, 
Beaufort sea state, cloud cover, and visibility);
    (4) Description of all marine mammal observations in the 24 hours 
preceding the incident;
    (5) Species identification or description of the animal(s) 
involved;
    (6) Fate of the animal(s); and
    (7) Photographs or video footage of the animal(s).
    Activities must not resume until NMFS is able to review the 
circumstances of the prohibited take. NMFS will work with Point Blue to 
determine what measures are necessary to minimize the likelihood of 
further prohibited take and ensure MMPA compliance. Point Blue may not 
resume the activities until notified by NMFS.
    In the event that an injured or dead marine mammal is discovered 
and it is determined that the cause of the injury or death is unknown 
and the death is relatively recent (e.g., in less than a moderate state 
of decomposition), Point Blue must immediately report the incident to 
the Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, and the West Coast Regional 
Stranding Coordinator, NMFS. The report must include the same 
information required in the report on unauthorized take. Activities may 
continue while NMFS reviews the circumstances of the incident. NMFS 
will work with Point Blue to determine whether additional mitigation 
measures or modifications to the activities are appropriate.
    In the event that an injured or dead marine mammal is discovered 
and it is determined that the injury or death is not associated with or 
related to the activities covered by the IHA (e.g., previously wounded 
animal, carcass with moderate to advanced decomposition, or scavenger 
damage), Point Blue must report the incident to the Office of Protected 
Resources, NMFS, and the West Coast Regional Stranding Coordinator, 
NMFS, within 24 hours of the discovery. Point Blue must provide 
photographs, video footage, or other documentation of the stranded 
animal sighting to NMFS. Activities may continue while NMFS reviews the 
circumstances of the incident.

Comments and Responses

    A notice of NMFS' proposal to issue an IHA was published in the 
Federal Register on August 28, 2020 (85 FR 53327). During the 30-day 
public comment period, the Marine Mammal Commission (Commission) 
submitted a letter, providing comments as described below.
    Comment: The Commission recommended issuing the IHA to Point Blue, 
subject to inclusion of the proposed mitigation, monitoring, and 
reporting measures and contingent on inclusion of a condition in the 
final incidental harassment authorization stipulating that the final 
rule, when issued, will supersede the authorization.
    Response: NMFS thanks the Commission for their recommendation and 
has included this stipulation in the final IHA issued to Point Blue.

Determinations

    The seabird research and monitoring activities planned by Point 
Blue, the method of taking, and the effects of the action are identical 
to those analyzed in the 2018-2019 IHA, as is the planned frequency of 
research site visits within the authorization period. The potential 
effects of Point Blue's activities are limited to Level B harassment in 
the form of behavioral disturbance. In analyzing the effects of the 
activity in the initial IHA, NMFS determined that Point Blue's 
activities would have a negligible impact on the affected species or 
stocks and that the authorized take numbers of each species or stock 
were small relative to the relevant stocks (e.g., less than 13 percent 
for all stocks). The numbers of California sea lions, harbor seals, and 
northern elephant seals authorized to be taken are identical to those 
authorized in the 2018-2019 IHA, while the numbers of Steller sea lions 
authorized to be taken have increased slightly. However, the increased 
numbers of Steller sea lions result in only minor increased percentage 
of stock authorized to be taken (e.g., from 0.10 to 0.14 percent of the 
Eastern U.S. stock of Steller sea lions) and NMFS has determined that 
the authorized take is still considered small relative to the relevant 
stock abundances. The mitigation measures and monitoring and reporting 
requirements as described above are identical to the initial IHA.
    NMFS has concluded that there is no new information suggesting that 
our analysis or findings should change from those reached for the 
initial IHA. This includes consideration of the estimated abundance of 
the California sea lion stock decreasing slightly and the increased 
estimated take of Steller sea lions. Based on the information contained 
here and in the referenced documents, NMFS has determined the 
following: (1) The required mitigation measures will effect the least 
practicable impact on marine mammal species or stocks and their 
habitat; (2) the authorized takes will have a negligible impact on the 
affected marine mammal species or stocks; (3) the authorized takes 
represent small numbers of marine mammals relative to the affected 
stock abundances; and (4) Point Blue's activities will not have an 
unmitigable adverse impact on taking for subsistence purposes as no 
relevant subsistence uses of marine mammals are implicated by this 
action, and (5) appropriate

[[Page 63262]]

monitoring and reporting requirements are included.

Endangered Species Act (ESA)

    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. No incidental take of ESA-listed species is 
authorized or expected to result from this activity. Therefore, NMFS 
has determined that formal consultation under section 7 of the ESA is 
not required for this action.

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 CE B4 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 determined 
that the issuance of the IHA qualifies to be categorically excluded 
from further NEPA review.

Authorization

    As a result of these determinations, NMFS has issued an IHA to 
Point Blue for the harassment of marine mammals incidental to 
conducting seabird research and monitoring activities in central 
California for a period of one year from the date of issuance, provided 
the previously mentioned mitigation, monitoring, and reporting 
requirements are incorporated.

    Dated: October 1, 2020.
Donna S. Wieting,
Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries 
Service.
[FR Doc. 2020-22099 Filed 10-6-20; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P