Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to Seattle Multimodal Project at Colman Dock in Washington State, 38686-38692 [2021-15539]

Download as PDF 38686 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 138 / Thursday, July 22, 2021 / Notices DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration lotter on DSK11XQN23PROD with NOTICES1 Agency Information Collection Activities; Submission to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for Review and Approval; Comment Request; National Marine Sanctuary Permits The Department of Commerce will submit the following information collection request to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review and clearance in accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, on or after the date of publication of this notice. We invite the general public and other Federal agencies to comment on proposed, and continuing information collections, which helps us assess the impact of our information collection requirements and minimize the public’s reporting burden. Public comments were previously requested via the Federal Register on February 19, 2021 (86 FR 10249) during a 60-day comment period. This notice allows for an additional 30 days for public comments. Agency: National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. Title: National Marine Sanctuary Permits. OMB Control Number: 0648–0141. Form Number(s): None. Type of Request: Regular submission (revision and extension of a current information collection). Number of Respondents: 424. Average Hours per Response: General permits and authorizations, 1 hour and 30 minutes; special use permits, 8 hours; archaeological research permits, 13 hours; baitfish permits, 40 minutes; permit amendments and certifications, 30 minutes; voluntary registrations, 15 minutes; appeals, 24 hours; Tortugas access permits, 15 minutes. Total Annual Burden Hours: 2149.25. Needs and Uses: This request is for revision and extension of a currently approved information collection by the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (ONMS). ONMS manages national marine sanctuaries pursuant to the purposes and policies of the National Marine Sanctuaries Act (NMSA, 16 U.S.C. 1431 et seq.). National marine sanctuary regulations at 15 CFR part 922 list specific activities that are prohibited in national marine sanctuaries. These regulations also state that otherwise prohibited activities may be conducted if a permit is issued by ONMS. For most types of permits, VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:10 Jul 21, 2021 Jkt 253001 persons desiring a permit must submit an application, and anyone obtaining a permit is generally required to submit one or more reports on the activity allowed under the permit. The recordkeeping and reporting requirements at 15 CFR part 922 form the basis for this collection of information. This information is required by ONMS to protect and manage sanctuary resources. The permit application collects information about the proposed activities, the methods proposed to be used, the potential effects to sanctuary resources, and information on the regulatory review criteria at 15 CFR part 922. ONMS uses this information to evaluate whether the proposed activities are consistent with the purposes and policies of the NMSA, the purposes for which the sanctuary was designated, and the implementing regulations at 15 CFR part 922. Changes to this information collection include revisions to the permit application and instructions to improve clarity. The estimated number of permits issued per year also changed from 555 to 424. This is based on an estimated five additional permits from the designation of the Mallows Bay— Potomac River National Marine Sanctuary (84 FR 50736; Sept. 26, 2019), five additional permits from the designation of Wisconsin Shipwreck Coast National Marine Sanctuary (WSCNMS) (86 FR 32737, June 23, 2021); the correction of a mathematical error that increased the total burden hours for baitfish permits; and a reduction of 141 permits per year because ONMS is no longer issuing lionfish removal permits in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Other revisions made to the application and applicant instructions were to improve the quality of information initially collected and to make the permit process more efficient. Affected Public: Individuals; Business or other for-profit organizations; Not-forprofit institutions; State, Local, or Tribal government; Federal government. Frequency: On occasion. Respondent’s Obligation: Required to Obtain or Retain Benefits. Legal Authority: National Marine Sanctuaries Act, 16 U.S.C. 1431 et seq. This information collection request may be viewed at www.reginfo.gov. Follow the instructions to view the Department of Commerce collections currently under review by OMB. Written comments and recommendations for the proposed information collection should be submitted within 30 days of the publication of this notice on the PO 00000 Frm 00012 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 following website www.reginfo.gov/ public/do/PRAMain. Find this particular information collection by selecting ‘‘Currently under 30-day Review—Open for Public Comments’’ or by using the search function and entering either the title of the collection or the OMB Control Number 0648–0141. Sheleen Dumas, Department PRA Clearance Officer, Office of the Chief Information Officer, Commerce Department. [FR Doc. 2021–15560 Filed 7–21–21; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–NK–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [RTID 0648–XB235] Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to Seattle Multimodal Project at Colman Dock in Washington State National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice; issuance of Renewal 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 a Renewal incidental harassment authorization (IHA) to the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) to incidentally harass, by Level B harassment only, marine mammals incidental to construction activities associated with the Seattle Multimodal Project at Colman Dock in Seattle, Washington State. DATES: This Renewal IHA is valid from August 1, 2021 through July 31, 2022. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Amy Fowler, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, (301) 427–8401. Electronic copies of the original application, Renewal request, 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-undermarine-mammal-protection-act. In case of problems accessing these documents, please call the contact listed above. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\22JYN1.SGM 22JYN1 lotter on DSK11XQN23PROD with NOTICES1 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 138 / Thursday, July 22, 2021 / Notices 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 proposed or, if the taking is limited to harassment, a notice of a proposed incidental take authorization is 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 here as ‘‘mitigation measures’’). Monitoring and reporting of such takings are also required. The meaning of key terms such as ‘‘take,’’ ‘‘harassment,’’ and ‘‘negligible impact’’ can be found in section 3 of the MMPA (16 U.S.C. 1362) and the agency’s regulations at 50 CFR 216.103. NMFS’ regulations implementing the MMPA at 50 CFR 216.107(e) indicate that IHAs may be renewed for additional periods of time not to exceed one year for each reauthorization. In the notice of proposed IHA for the initial authorization, NMFS described the circumstances under which we would consider issuing a Renewal for this activity, and requested public comment on a potential Renewal under those circumstances. Specifically, on a caseby-case basis, NMFS may issue a onetime one-year Renewal IHA following notice to the public providing an additional 15 days for public comments when (1) up to another year of identical or nearly identical activities as described in the ‘‘Detailed Description of Specified Activities’’ section of the initial IHA issuance notice is planned or (2) the activities as described in the ‘‘Detailed Description of Specified Activities’’ section of the initial IHA issuance notice would not be completed VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:10 Jul 21, 2021 Jkt 253001 by the time the initial IHA expires and a Renewal would allow for completion of the activities beyond that described in the ‘‘Dates’’ section of the initial IHA issuance, provided all of the following conditions are met: (1) A request for renewal is received no later than 60 days prior to the needed Renewal IHA effective date (recognizing that the Renewal IHA expiration date cannot extend beyond one year from expiration of the initial IHA). (2) The request for renewal must include the following: • An explanation that the activities to be conducted under the requested Renewal IHA are identical to the activities analyzed under the initial IHA, are a subset of the activities, or include changes so minor (e.g., reduction in pile size) that the changes do not affect the previous analyses, mitigation and monitoring requirements, or take estimates (with the exception of reducing the type or amount of take). • A preliminary monitoring report showing the results of the required monitoring to date and an explanation showing that the monitoring results do not indicate impacts of a scale or nature not previously analyzed or authorized. (3) Upon review of the request for Renewal, the status of the affected species or stocks, and any other pertinent information, NMFS determines that there are no more than minor changes in the activities, the mitigation and monitoring measures will remain the same and appropriate, and the findings in the initial IHA remain valid. An additional public comment period of 15 days (for a total of 45 days), with direct notice by email, phone, or postal service to commenters on the initial IHA, is provided to allow for any additional comments on the proposed Renewal. A description of the Renewal process may be found on our website at: www.fisheries.noaa.gov/national/ marine-mammal-protection/incidentalharassment-authorization-renewals. History of Request On September 3, 2020, NMFS issued an IHA to WSDOT to take marine mammals incidental to the fourth year of work associated with the Seattle Multimodal Project at Colman Dock in Seattle, Washington (85 FR 59737; September 23, 2020), effective from September 10, 2020 through September 9, 2021. The initial IHA covered one year of the larger project for which WSDOT obtained prior IHAs (82 FR 31579, July 7, 2017; 83 FR 35226, July 25, 2018; 84 FR 36581, July 29, 2019). On March 18, 2021, NMFS received an PO 00000 Frm 00013 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 38687 application for the Renewal of that initial IHA. As described in the application for Renewal, the activities for which incidental take is requested consist of activities that are covered by the initial authorization but will not be completed prior to its expiration. As required, the applicant also provided a preliminary monitoring report (available at https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/ national/marine-mammal-protection/ incidental-take-authorizationsconstruction-activities) which confirms that the applicant has implemented the required mitigation and monitoring, and which also shows that no impacts of a scale or nature not previously analyzed or authorized have occurred as a result of the activities conducted. The notice of the proposed Renewal incidental harassment authorization was published on June 23, 2021 (86 FR 32895). Description of the Specified Activities and Anticipated Impacts WSDOT has requested incidental take for construction activities related to the Seattle Multimodal Project at Colman Dock in Seattle, Washington State. The activities addressed in this request represent a subset of the activities analyzed in the initial IHA, consisting of vibratory pile removal only, and are identical to the activities described in the initial IHA. Accordingly the authorized take is for the same 11 species authorized in the initial IHA (see Table 4), and the amount of take is reflective of the take estimation methods described in the initial IHA applied to the remaining work described below. The following documents are referenced in this notice and include important supporting information: • Initial 2020 final IHA (85 FR 59737; September 23, 2020); • Initial 2020 proposed IHA (85 FR 40992; July 8, 2020); and • Initial IHA application, references cited, marine mammal monitoring plan, preliminary monitoring report, and previous public comments received (available at https:// www.fisheries.noaa.gov/national/ marine-mammal-protection/incidentaltake-authorizations-constructionactivities). Detailed Description of the Activity A detailed description of the pile installation and removal activities for which take was authorized in the initial IHA may be found in the Federal Register notices of the proposed and final IHA for the initial authorization (85 FR 40992, July 8, 2020; 85 FR 59737, September 23, 2020). Only a subset of the construction activities remain to be E:\FR\FM\22JYN1.SGM 22JYN1 38688 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 138 / Thursday, July 22, 2021 / Notices conducted, and 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. Below and in Table 1 we describe the specific in-water pile driving and pile removal activities that were planned and already occurred under the initial IHA and those that remain to be completed under this renewal IHA: • Vibratory driving followed by impact proofing (driving) of 36-inch steel piles. A total of 73 piles were installed using the vibratory hammer over 9 days, with an average of approximately 8 piles installed per day. Vibratory pile driving and impact proofing occurred on different days; • Vibratory driving and then removal of 24-inch temporary steel piles. A total of 30 piles were planned be installed and later removed, with an average of 8 piles installed/removed per day; • Vibratory removal of 355 14-inch timber piles over 18 days, with approximately 20 piles removed per day; and • Vibratory removal of 30 12-inch steel piles over 3 days, with 10 piles removed per day. All vibratory and impact pile installation was completed. Only vibratory removal of timber and temporary steel piles remains to be completed (Table 1). TABLE 1—SUMMARY OF PLANNED IN-WATER PILE DRIVING Pile size and type 36-inch 36-inch 24-inch 24-inch 14-inch 12-inch Number of piles planned to be completed in initial IHA Method Steel ................................................... Steel ................................................... Steel (temporary) ............................... Steel (temporary) ............................... Timber ................................................ Steel ................................................... Impact drive (proof) ........................................ Vibratory drive ................................................ Vibratory drive ................................................ Vibratory remove ............................................ Vibratory remove ............................................ Vibratory remove ............................................ Number of piles completed under initial IHA * 73 * 73 * 30 * 30 355 30 Number of piles to be completed in IHA renewal 73 73 30 5 316 30 0 0 0 25 39 0 * These are same piles. The total estimated duration of pile driving activities planned in the initial IHA was 47 days. In consideration of the time required to remove each pile using a vibratory hammer and the number of piles that may be removed per day, a total of 8 days of work remain to remove the rest of the timber piles and temporary steel piles (Table 2). Due to NMFS and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) in-water work timing restrictions to protect Endangered Species Act (ESA)-listed salmonids, planned WSDOT in-water construction is limited each year to July 15 through February 15 at this location. For this project, in-water construction is planned to take place between August 1, 2021 and February 15, 2022. This IHA Renewal is effective from August 1, 2021 through July 31, 2022. TABLE 2—ESTIMATED DURATION OF REMAINING IN-WATER VIBRATORY PILE REMOVAL Number of piles remaining Pile size and type 24-inch steel .................................................................................................................... 14-inch timber .................................................................................................................. lotter on DSK11XQN23PROD with NOTICES1 Description of Marine Mammals A description of the marine mammals in the area of the activities for which authorization of take is authorized here, including information on abundance, status, distribution, and hearing, may be found in the Federal Register notice of proposed IHA for the initial authorization (85 FR 40992; July 8, 2020) and the Federal Register notice of proposed IHA for the Year 3 Seattle Multimodal Project at Colman Dock (84 FR 25757; June 4, 2019). 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, and determined that neither this nor any other new information affects which species or stocks have the potential to VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:10 Jul 21, 2021 Jkt 253001 be affected or the pertinent information in the ‘‘Description of the Marine Mammals in the Area of Specified Activities’’ 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 activity on marine mammals and their habitat for the activities for which take is authorized here may be found in the Federal Register notice of proposed IHA for the initial authorization (85 FR 40992; July 8, 2020). NMFS has reviewed the monitoring data from the initial IHA, recent draft Stock Assessment Reports, information on relevant Unusual Mortality Events, other scientific literature, and the public comments, and determined that neither this nor any PO 00000 Frm 00014 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Piles per day 25 39 Minutes per pile 8 10 20 15 Duration (days) 4 4 other new information affects our initial analysis of impacts on marine mammals and their habitat. Estimated Take A detailed description of the methods and inputs used to estimate take for the specified activity are found in the Federal Register notices of proposed IHA (85 FR 40992; July 8, 2020) and final IHA (85 FR 59737; September 23, 2020) for the initial authorization. Specifically, the source levels, corresponding Level A and Level B harassment zones (in m) and ensonified areas (in square kilometers (km2); Table 3), and marine mammal density/ 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 E:\FR\FM\22JYN1.SGM 22JYN1 38689 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 138 / Thursday, July 22, 2021 / Notices the previously issued IHA. The only change from the methods used to estimate take in the initial IHA is the total duration (days) of pile driving activities, which has been reduced from a total of 47 days of activities, occurring over the course of 7 months, in the initial IHA to 8 days of remaining activities estimated to occur within one month. TABLE 3—LEVEL A AND LEVEL B HARASSMENT ZONES AND ENSONIFIED AREAS Level A harassment distance (m)/area (km2) Pile type, size & pile driving method LF cetacean Vibratory drive/removal, 24 inch steel piles ...................................................... Vibratory removal 14 inch timber pile ...... MF cetacean 96.6/0.03 8.0/0.00 HF cetacean 8.6/0.00 0.7/0.00 142.8/0.06 11.8/0.00 Phocid 58.7/0.01 4.8/0.00 Otariid 4.1/0.00 0.3/0.00 Level B harassment distance (m)/ area (km2) 8,690/40.53 2,154/5.47 LF = low-frequency; MF = mid-frequency; HF = high-frequency. Authorized takes are by Level B harassment only, as use of the vibratory hammer has the potential to result in disruption of behavioral patterns for individual marine mammals. The initial IHA authorized take of harbor seals and harbor porpoises by Level A harassment from impact pile driving. However, as described in the initial IHA, based on the nature of the activity remaining in this Renewal (vibratory pile driving) and the anticipated effectiveness of the mitigation measures (i.e., shutdown, see Proposed Mitigation below), Level A harassment is neither anticipated from vibratory pile driving and is not authorized here. As described in the initial IHA, the initial approach for take calculation was to use the information aggregated in the U.S. Navy Marine Species Density Database (U.S. Navy, 2019) with the following equation: Total Take = marine mammal density × ensonified area × pile driving days However, also as described in the initial IHA, adjustments were made to all of these initial estimates based on prior observation of marine mammals in the project area and account for group numbers, and in fact most estimates were based on a predicted number of individuals entering the Level B harassment zone per month, with several estimates also based on a predicted number entering per day. Take estimates for the activities remaining in this renewal IHA were developed using the identical methods as the initial IHA, in consideration of the remaining 8 days of work, and equated to one month where monthly estimates were used. Table 4 indicates the number of each species or stock proposed for authorization. TABLE 4—AUTHORIZED TAKE BY SPECIES AND STOCK Total proposed take Species lotter on DSK11XQN23PROD with NOTICES1 Gray whale ................................... Humpback whale ......................... Minke whale ................................. Killer whale ................................... Bottlenose dolphin ....................... Harbor porpoise ........................... Dall’s porpoise ............................. Harbor seal .................................. Northern elephant seal ................ California sea lion ........................ Steller sea lion ............................. 1 3 1 10 7 100 5 720 1 232 8 Eastern North Pacific ........................................................................ California/Oregon/Washington .......................................................... California/Oregon/Washington .......................................................... West Coast transient ......................................................................... California/Oregon/Washington offshore ............................................ Washington inland waters ................................................................. California/Oregon/Washington .......................................................... Washington northern inland waters .................................................. California breeding ............................................................................ U.S. ................................................................................................... Eastern U.S. ...................................................................................... We have reviewed the preliminary monitoring report submitted by WSDOT and the monitoring results do not indicate impacts of a scale or nature not previously analyzed or authorized and, therefore, these estimates are appropriate. impact pile driving, which will not occur under this IHA. The discussion of the least practicable adverse impact included in that document remains accurate. The following measures are required in this Renewal: Description of Mitigation, Monitoring and Reporting Measures The mitigation, monitoring, and reporting measures included as requirements in this authorization are identical to those included in the Federal Register notice announcing the issuance of the initial IHA (85 FR 59737; September 23, 2020), with the exception of mitigation measures specific to Time Restriction—The applicant stated that work would occur only during daylight hours, when visual monitoring of marine mammals can be conducted. In addition, all in-water construction will be limited to the period between August 1, 2021, and February 15, 2022. Establishing and Monitoring Level A, Level B Harassment Zones, and VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:10 Jul 21, 2021 Jkt 253001 Stock abundance Stock Proposed Mitigation PO 00000 Frm 00015 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 26,960 2,900 636 349 1,924 11,233 25,750 11,036 179,000 257,606 43,201 Percent of stock 0.004 0.103 0.157 2.865 0.364 0.890 0.019 6.524 0.001 0.090 0.019 Exclusion Zones—Before the commencement of in-water construction activities, which include vibratory pile removal, WSDOT must establish Level A harassment zones where received underwater sound pressure levels (SPLs) or cumulative sound exposure levels (SELcum) could cause permanent threshold shift (PTS). WSDOT must also establish Level B harassment zones where received underwater SPLs are higher than 120 decibels root-mean-square (dBrms) re 1 microPascal (mPa) for continuous noise sources (e.g., vibratory pile removal). WSDOT must establish exclusion zones as shown in Table 5 to prevent E:\FR\FM\22JYN1.SGM 22JYN1 38690 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 138 / Thursday, July 22, 2021 / Notices Level A harassment takes of all marine mammal hearing groups. For in-water heavy machinery work other than pile driving (e.g., standard barges, etc.), if a marine mammal comes within 10 m, operations must cease and vessels must reduce speed to the minimum level required to maintain steerage and safe working conditions. This type of work could include the following activities: (1) Movement of the barge to the pile location; or (2) positioning of the pile on the substrate via a crane. WSDOT must establish exclusion zones for Southern Resident killer whales (SRKW) and all marine mammals for which takes are not authorized at the Level B harassment distances. Specifically, for vibratory removal of 24-inch steel piles, an 8.7 km exclusion zone must be established. For vibratory removal of 14-inch timber piles, a 2.2 km exclusion zone must be established. A summary of exclusion zones is provided in Table 5. TABLE 5—EXCLUSION ZONES BY SPECIES AND HEARING GROUP Exclusion distance (m) Pile type and size LF lotter on DSK11XQN23PROD with NOTICES1 24-inch steel ............................................................................................. 14-inch timber .......................................................................................... NMFS-approved protected species observers (PSOs) must conduct an initial survey of the exclusion zones to ensure that no marine mammals are seen within the zones beginning 30 minutes before removal of a pile segment begins. If marine mammals are found within the exclusion zone, pile driving of the segment must be delayed until they move out of the area. If a marine mammal is seen above water and then dives below, the contractor must wait 15 minutes. If no marine mammals are seen by the observer in that time it can be assumed that the animal has moved beyond the exclusion zone. If pile driving of a segment ceases for 30 minutes or more and a marine mammal is sighted within the designated exclusion zone prior to commencement of pile removal, the observer(s) must notify the pile driving operator (or other authorized individual) immediately and continue to monitor the exclusion zone. Operations may not resume until the marine mammal has exited the exclusion zone or 15 minutes have elapsed since the last sighting. Shutdown Measures—WSDOT must implement shutdown measures if a marine mammal is detected within or entering an exclusion zone listed in Table 5. WSDOT must also implement shutdown measures if SRKW are sighted within the vicinity of the project area and are approaching the Level B harassment zone during in-water construction activities. If a killer whale approaches the Level B harassment zone during pile driving or removal, and it is unknown whether it is a SRKW or a transient killer whale, it must be assumed to be a SRKW and WSDOT must implement the shutdown measure. If a SRKW or an unidentified killer whale enters the Level B harassment VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:10 Jul 21, 2021 Jkt 253001 MF 100 10 HF 10 10 zone undetected, in-water pile driving or pile removal must be suspended until the whale exits the Level B harassment zone, or 15 minutes have elapsed with no sighting of the animal, to avoid further Level B harassment. Further, WSDOT must implement shutdown measures if the number of authorized takes for any particular species reaches the limit under the IHA and if such marine mammals are sighted within the vicinity of the project area and are approaching the Level B harassment zone during in-water construction activities. Coordination with Local Marine Mammal Research Network—Prior to the start of pile driving for the day, WSDOT must contact the Orca Network and/or Center for Whale Research to find out the location of the nearest marine mammal sightings. The Local Marine Mammal Research Network consists of a list of over 600 (and growing) residents, scientists, and government agency personnel in the United States and Canada. Sightings are called or emailed into the Orca Network and immediately distributed to other sighting networks including: The NMFS Northwest Fisheries Science Center, the Center for Whale Research, Cascadia Research, the Whale Museum Hotline and the British Columbia Sightings Network. Sightings information collected by the Orca Network includes detection by hydrophone. The SeaSound Remote Sensing Network is a system of interconnected hydrophones installed in the marine environment of Haro Strait (west side of San Juan Island) to study orca communication, in-water noise, bottom fish ecology and local climatic conditions. A hydrophone at the Port Townsend Marine Science Center measures average in-water sound levels and automatically detects unusual sounds. These passive acoustic PO 00000 Frm 00016 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Phocid 150 15 60 10 Otariid 10 10 SRKW 8,700 2,200 devices allow researchers to hear when different marine mammals come into the region. This acoustic network, combined with the volunteer (incidental) visual sighting network allows researchers to document presence and location of various marine mammal species. Proposed Monitoring and Reporting Monitoring Measures—WSDOT must employ NMFS-approved PSOs to conduct marine mammal monitoring for its Seattle Multimodal Project at Colman Dock. The PSOs must observe and collect data on marine mammals in and around the project area for 30 minutes before, during, and for 30 minutes after all pile removal and pile installation work. NMFS-approved PSOs must meet the following requirements: 1. Independent observers (i.e., not construction personnel) are required; 2. At least one observer must have prior experience working as an observer; 3. Other observers may substitute education (undergraduate degree in biological science or related field) or training for experience; 4. Where a team of three or more observers are required, one observer should be designated as lead observer or monitoring coordinator. The lead observer must have prior experience working as an observer; and 5. NMFS will require submission and approval of observer Curriculum Vitas. Monitoring of marine mammals around the construction site must be conducted using high-quality binoculars (e.g., Zeiss, 10 × 42 power). Due to the different sizes of zones of influence (ZOIs) from different pile sizes, several different ZOIs and different monitoring protocols corresponding to a specific pile size will be established. During vibratory removal of 24-inch steel piles, four land-based PSOs and one ferrybased PSO must monitor the zone. During vibratory removal of 14-inch E:\FR\FM\22JYN1.SGM 22JYN1 lotter on DSK11XQN23PROD with NOTICES1 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 138 / Thursday, July 22, 2021 / Notices timber piles, four land-based PSOs must monitor the zone. Locations of the landbased PSOs and routes of monitoring vessels are shown in WSDOT’s Marine Mammal Monitoring Plan, which is available online at https:// www.fisheries.noaa.gov/permit/ incidental-take-authorizations-undermarine-mammal-protection-act. To verify the required monitoring distance, the exclusion zones and zones of influence must be determined by using a range finder or hand-held global positioning system device. Reporting Measures—WSDOT is required to submit a draft report on all marine mammal monitoring conducted under the IHA (if issued) within 90 calendar days of the completion of the project. A final report must be prepared and submitted within 30 days following resolution of comments on the draft report from NMFS. The marine mammal report must contain the informational elements described in the Marine Mammal Monitoring Plan for the initial IHA, dated May 12, 2020, including, but not limited to: 1. Dates and times (begin and end) of all marine mammal monitoring; 2. Construction activities occurring during each daily observation period, including how many and what type of piles were driven or removed; 3. Weather parameters and water conditions during each monitoring period (e.g., wind speed, percent cover, visibility, sea state); 4. The number of marine mammals observed, by species, relative to the pile location and if pile driving or removal was occurring at time of sighting; 5. Age and sex class, if possible, of all marine mammals observed; 6. PSO locations during marine mammal monitoring; 7. Distances and bearings of each marine mammal observed to the pile being driven or removed for each sighting (if pile driving or removal was occurring at time of sighting); 8. Description of any marine mammal behavior patterns during observation, including direction of travel and estimated time spent within the Level B harassment zones while the source was active; 9. Number of individuals of each species (differentiated by month as appropriate) detected within the monitoring zone; 10. Detailed information about any implementation of any mitigation triggered (e.g., shutdowns and delays), a description of specific actions that ensued, and resulting behavior of the animal, if any; VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:10 Jul 21, 2021 Jkt 253001 11. Description of attempts to distinguish between the number of individual animals taken and the number of incidences of take, such as ability to track groups or individuals; and 12. Submit all PSO datasheets and/or raw sighting data (in a separate file from the Final Report referenced immediately above). In the event that personnel involved in the construction activities discover an injured or dead marine mammal, WSDOT must report the incident to the Office of Protected Resources (OPR) (301–427–8401), NMFS and to the West Coast Region (WCR) regional stranding coordinator (1–866–767–6114) as soon as feasible. If the death or injury was clearly caused by the specified activity, WSDOT must immediately cease the specified activities until NMFS is able to review the circumstances of the incident and determine what, if any, additional measures are appropriate to ensure compliance with the terms of the IHA. WSDOT must not resume their activities until notified by NMFS. The report must include the following information: 1. Time, date, and location (latitude/ longitude) of the first discovery (and updated location information if known and applicable); 2. Species identification (if known) or description of the animal(s) involved; 3. Condition of the animal(s) (including carcass condition if the animal is dead); 4. Observed behaviors of the animal(s), if alive; 5. If available, photographs or video footage of the animal(s); and 6. General circumstances under which the animal was discovered. Comments and Responses A notice of NMFS’ proposal to issue a Renewal IHA to WSDOT was published in the Federal Register on June 23, 2021 (86 FR 32895). That notice either described, or referenced descriptions of, WSDOT’s activity, the marine mammal species that may be affected by the activity, the anticipated effects on marine mammals and their habitat, estimated amount and manner of take, and proposed mitigation, monitoring and reporting measures. NMFS received no public comments. Determinations The construction activities planned by WSDOT are a subset of, and identical to, those analyzed in the initial IHA, and the method of taking and the effects of the action are identical to the initial IHA (though the amount of proposed authorized take is notably lower). The PO 00000 Frm 00017 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 38691 potential effects of WSDOT’s activities are limited to Level B harassment in the form of behavioral disturbance. In analyzing the effects of the activities in the 2020 IHA, NMFS determined that WSDOT’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 one-third of all stocks). 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. Based on the information and analysis 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; (4) WSDOT’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 monitoring and reporting requirements are included. 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 evaluate our proposed action (i.e., the issuance of an IHA Renewal) and alternatives with respect to potential impacts on the human environment. This action is consistent with categories of activities identified in Categorical Exclusion B4 of the Companion Manual for NAO 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 proposed action qualifies to be categorically excluded from further NEPA review. Endangered Species Act Section 7(a)(2) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA: 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) requires that each Federal agency insure that any action it authorizes, funds, or carries out is not likely to jeopardize the continued E:\FR\FM\22JYN1.SGM 22JYN1 38692 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 138 / Thursday, July 22, 2021 / Notices existence of any endangered or threatened species or result in the destruction or adverse modification of designated critical habitat. To ensure ESA compliance for the issuance of IHAs, NMFS consults internally, in this case with the West Coast Region Protected Resources Division, whenever we propose to authorize take for endangered or threatened species. The only species listed under the ESA with the potential to be present in the action area are the Mexico Distinct Population Segment (DPS) and Central America DPS of humpback whales. The effects of this Federal action were adequately analyzed in NMFS’ Biological Opinion for the Seattle Multimodal Project at Colman Dock, Seattle, Washington, dated October 1, 2018, which concluded that issuance of an IHA would not jeopardize the continued existence of any endangered or threatened species or destroy or adversely modify any designated critical habitat. Renewal NMFS has issued a Renewal IHA to WSDOT for the take of marine mammals incidental to conducting the Seattle Multimodal Project at Colman Dock Year 4 in Washington State, between August 1, 2021 and July 31, 2022. Dated: July 16, 2021. Catherine Marzin, Acting Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2021–15539 Filed 7–21–21; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE Department of Defense MedicareEligible Retiree Health Care Board of Actuaries; Notice of Federal Advisory Committee Meeting Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, U.S. Department of Defense (DoD). ACTION: Notice of open Federal Advisory Committee meeting. AGENCY: DoD is publishing this notice to announce that the following Federal Advisory Committee meeting of the Department of Defense MedicareEligible Retiree Health Care Board of Actuaries, hereafter, ‘‘Board’’ will take place. lotter on DSK11XQN23PROD with NOTICES1 SUMMARY: Open to the public Friday, August 6, 2021, from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. ADDRESSES: THIS MEETING WILL BE HELD VIRTUALLY. For information on accessing the meeting, please contact DATES: VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:10 Jul 21, 2021 Jkt 253001 Kathleen Ludwig, (703) 438–0223 or Kathleen.A.Ludwig.civ@mail.mil before July 30, 2021 at 12:00 p.m. EDT. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Inger Pettygrove, (703) 225–8803 (Voice), inger.m.pettygrove.civ@mail.mil (Email). Mailing address is Defense Human Resources Activity, DoD Office of the Actuary, 4800 Mark Center Drive, STE 03E25, Alexandria, VA 22350– 8000. Website: https:// actuary.defense.gov/. The most up-todate changes to the meeting agenda can be found on the website. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This meeting is being held under the provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) of 1972 (5 U.S.C., Appendix, as amended), the Government in the Sunshine Act of 1976 (5 U.S.C. 552b, as amended), and 41 CFR 102–3.140 and 102–3.150. Purpose of the Meeting: The purpose of the meeting is to execute the provisions of 10 U.S.C. chapter 56 (10 U.S.C. 1114 et. seq). The Board shall review DoD actuarial methods and assumptions to be used in the valuation of benefits under DoD retiree health care programs for Medicare-eligible beneficiaries. Agenda: Discussion includes (1) Approved actuarial assumptions and methods needed for calculating: The September 30, 2020, unfunded liability payment (UFL)*, the FY 2023 per capita full-time and part-time normal cost amounts*, and the October 1, 2021, Treasury UFL amortization payment*; (2) Approve per capita full-time and part-time normal cost amounts for the October 1, 2021 (FY 2022) normal cost payments*; (3) Trust Fund investment experience update; (4) Medicare-Eligible Retiree Health Care Fund Update; (5) September 30, 2019, Actuarial Valuation Results; and (6) September 30, 2020, Actuarial Valuation Proposals. For * items, Board approval is required. Registered participants may obtain the most recent public agenda and other documentation by emailing the points of contact in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section or on the Board’s website. Meeting Accessibility: Pursuant to FACA and 41 CFR 102–3.140, this meeting is open to the public. Written Statements: In accordance with Section 10(a)(3) of the FACA and 41 CFR 102–3.105(j) and 102–3.140, interested persons may submit a written statement for consideration at any time, but should be received at least 10 business days prior to the meeting date so that the comments may be made available to the Board for their consideration prior to the meeting. PO 00000 Frm 00018 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Written statements should be submitted via email to Kathleen Ludwig at Kathleen.A.Ludwig.civ@mail.mil, by July 30, 2021, in either Adobe or Microsoft Word format. Please note that since the Board operates under the provisions of the FACA, as amended, all submitted comments and public presentations will be treated as public documents and will be made available for public inspection, including, but not limited to, being posted on the board website. Dated: July 16, 2021. Aaron T. Siegel, Alternate OSD Federal Register Liaison Officer, Department of Defense. [FR Doc. 2021–15562 Filed 7–21–21; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 5001–06–P DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE [Docket ID: DoD–2021–OS–0049] Privacy Act of 1974; System of Records Department of Defense (DoD). Notice of a new system of AGENCY: ACTION: records. In accordance with the Privacy Act of 1974, the DoD is establishing a new Department-wide system of records titled, ‘‘Defense Reasonable Accommodation and Assistive Technology Records,’’ DoD 0007. This system of records covers the DoD’s maintenance of records about DoD civilian personnel and other individuals requesting or receiving reasonable accommodations or personal assistance services, and wounded, ill and injured Service Members on Active Duty requesting or receiving assistive technology solutions, hereafter referred to collectively as disability accommodation(s). The data includes information concerning the type(s) of accommodation requested and provided; nature of a requestor’s condition; manner in which an accommodation, personal assistance service, or assistive technology solution assists a requestor; and acquisition or modification of equipment or assistive technology solutions, to include electronic devices. Additionally, the DoD is issuing a direct final rulemaking to exempt this system of records from certain provisions of the Privacy Act, elsewhere in today’s issue of the Federal Register. DATES: This new system of records is effective upon publication; however, comments on the Routine Uses will be accepted on or before August 23, 2021. SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\22JYN1.SGM 22JYN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 86, Number 138 (Thursday, July 22, 2021)]
[Notices]
[Pages 38686-38692]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2021-15539]


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

DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

[RTID 0648-XB235]


Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; 
Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to Seattle Multimodal Project at 
Colman Dock in Washington State

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

ACTION: Notice; issuance of Renewal incidental harassment 
authorization.

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

SUMMARY: In accordance with the regulations implementing the Marine 
Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), as amended, notification is hereby given 
that NMFS has issued a Renewal incidental harassment authorization 
(IHA) to the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) to 
incidentally harass, by Level B harassment only, marine mammals 
incidental to construction activities associated with the Seattle 
Multimodal Project at Colman Dock in Seattle, Washington State.

DATES: This Renewal IHA is valid from August 1, 2021 through July 31, 
2022.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Amy Fowler, Office of Protected 
Resources, NMFS, (301) 427-8401. Electronic copies of the original 
application, Renewal request, 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:

[[Page 38687]]

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 proposed or, if the taking is limited to harassment, a notice of a 
proposed incidental take authorization is 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 here as ``mitigation 
measures''). Monitoring and reporting of such takings are also 
required. The meaning of key terms such as ``take,'' ``harassment,'' 
and ``negligible impact'' can be found in section 3 of the MMPA (16 
U.S.C. 1362) and the agency's regulations at 50 CFR 216.103.
    NMFS' regulations implementing the MMPA at 50 CFR 216.107(e) 
indicate that IHAs may be renewed for additional periods of time not to 
exceed one year for each reauthorization. In the notice of proposed IHA 
for the initial authorization, NMFS described the circumstances under 
which we would consider issuing a Renewal for this activity, and 
requested public comment on a potential Renewal under those 
circumstances. Specifically, on a case-by-case basis, NMFS may issue a 
one-time one-year Renewal IHA following notice to the public providing 
an additional 15 days for public comments when (1) up to another year 
of identical or nearly identical activities as described in the 
``Detailed Description of Specified Activities'' section of the initial 
IHA issuance notice is planned or (2) the activities as described in 
the ``Detailed Description of Specified Activities'' section of the 
initial IHA issuance notice would not be completed by the time the 
initial IHA expires and a Renewal would allow for completion of the 
activities beyond that described in the ``Dates'' section of the 
initial IHA issuance, provided all of the following conditions are met:
    (1) A request for renewal is received no later than 60 days prior 
to the needed Renewal IHA effective date (recognizing that the Renewal 
IHA expiration date cannot extend beyond one year from expiration of 
the initial IHA).
    (2) The request for renewal must include the following:
     An explanation that the activities to be conducted under 
the requested Renewal IHA are identical to the activities analyzed 
under the initial IHA, are a subset of the activities, or include 
changes so minor (e.g., reduction in pile size) that the changes do not 
affect the previous analyses, mitigation and monitoring requirements, 
or take estimates (with the exception of reducing the type or amount of 
take).
     A preliminary monitoring report showing the results of the 
required monitoring to date and an explanation showing that the 
monitoring results do not indicate impacts of a scale or nature not 
previously analyzed or authorized.
    (3) Upon review of the request for Renewal, the status of the 
affected species or stocks, and any other pertinent information, NMFS 
determines that there are no more than minor changes in the activities, 
the mitigation and monitoring measures will remain the same and 
appropriate, and the findings in the initial IHA remain valid.
    An additional public comment period of 15 days (for a total of 45 
days), with direct notice by email, phone, or postal service to 
commenters on the initial IHA, is provided to allow for any additional 
comments on the proposed Renewal. A description of the Renewal process 
may be found on our website at: www.fisheries.noaa.gov/national/marine-mammal-protection/incidental-harassment-authorization-renewals.

History of Request

    On September 3, 2020, NMFS issued an IHA to WSDOT to take marine 
mammals incidental to the fourth year of work associated with the 
Seattle Multimodal Project at Colman Dock in Seattle, Washington (85 FR 
59737; September 23, 2020), effective from September 10, 2020 through 
September 9, 2021. The initial IHA covered one year of the larger 
project for which WSDOT obtained prior IHAs (82 FR 31579, July 7, 2017; 
83 FR 35226, July 25, 2018; 84 FR 36581, July 29, 2019). On March 18, 
2021, NMFS received an application for the Renewal of that initial IHA. 
As described in the application for Renewal, the activities for which 
incidental take is requested consist of activities that are covered by 
the initial authorization but will not be completed prior to its 
expiration. As required, the applicant also provided a preliminary 
monitoring report (available at https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/national/marine-mammal-protection/incidental-take-authorizations-construction-activities) which confirms that the applicant has 
implemented the required mitigation and monitoring, and which also 
shows that no impacts of a scale or nature not previously analyzed or 
authorized have occurred as a result of the activities conducted. The 
notice of the proposed Renewal incidental harassment authorization was 
published on June 23, 2021 (86 FR 32895).

Description of the Specified Activities and Anticipated Impacts

    WSDOT has requested incidental take for construction activities 
related to the Seattle Multimodal Project at Colman Dock in Seattle, 
Washington State. The activities addressed in this request represent a 
subset of the activities analyzed in the initial IHA, consisting of 
vibratory pile removal only, and are identical to the activities 
described in the initial IHA.
    Accordingly the authorized take is for the same 11 species 
authorized in the initial IHA (see Table 4), and the amount of take is 
reflective of the take estimation methods described in the initial IHA 
applied to the remaining work described below.
    The following documents are referenced in this notice and include 
important supporting information:
     Initial 2020 final IHA (85 FR 59737; September 23, 2020);
     Initial 2020 proposed IHA (85 FR 40992; July 8, 2020); and
     Initial IHA application, references cited, marine mammal 
monitoring plan, preliminary monitoring report, and previous public 
comments received (available at https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/national/marine-mammal-protection/incidental-take-authorizations-construction-activities).

Detailed Description of the Activity

    A detailed description of the pile installation and removal 
activities for which take was authorized in the initial IHA may be 
found in the Federal Register notices of the proposed and final IHA for 
the initial authorization (85 FR 40992, July 8, 2020; 85 FR 59737, 
September 23, 2020). Only a subset of the construction activities 
remain to be

[[Page 38688]]

conducted, and 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.
    Below and in Table 1 we describe the specific in-water pile driving 
and pile removal activities that were planned and already occurred 
under the initial IHA and those that remain to be completed under this 
renewal IHA:
     Vibratory driving followed by impact proofing (driving) of 
36-inch steel piles. A total of 73 piles were installed using the 
vibratory hammer over 9 days, with an average of approximately 8 piles 
installed per day. Vibratory pile driving and impact proofing occurred 
on different days;
     Vibratory driving and then removal of 24-inch temporary 
steel piles. A total of 30 piles were planned be installed and later 
removed, with an average of 8 piles installed/removed per day;
     Vibratory removal of 355 14-inch timber piles over 18 
days, with approximately 20 piles removed per day; and
     Vibratory removal of 30 12-inch steel piles over 3 days, 
with 10 piles removed per day.
    All vibratory and impact pile installation was completed. Only 
vibratory removal of timber and temporary steel piles remains to be 
completed (Table 1).

                                Table 1--Summary of Planned In-Water Pile Driving
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                     Number of       Number of
                                                                   piles planned       piles         Number of
          Pile size and type                     Method                to be         completed      piles to be
                                                                   completed in    under initial   completed in
                                                                    initial IHA         IHA         IHA renewal
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
36-inch Steel.........................  Impact drive (proof)....            * 73              73               0
36-inch Steel.........................  Vibratory drive.........            * 73              73               0
24-inch Steel (temporary).............  Vibratory drive.........            * 30              30               0
24-inch Steel (temporary).............  Vibratory remove........            * 30               5              25
14-inch Timber........................  Vibratory remove........             355             316              39
12-inch Steel.........................  Vibratory remove........              30              30               0
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
* These are same piles.

    The total estimated duration of pile driving activities planned in 
the initial IHA was 47 days. In consideration of the time required to 
remove each pile using a vibratory hammer and the number of piles that 
may be removed per day, a total of 8 days of work remain to remove the 
rest of the timber piles and temporary steel piles (Table 2).
    Due to NMFS and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) in-water 
work timing restrictions to protect Endangered Species Act (ESA)-listed 
salmonids, planned WSDOT in-water construction is limited each year to 
July 15 through February 15 at this location. For this project, in-
water construction is planned to take place between August 1, 2021 and 
February 15, 2022. This IHA Renewal is effective from August 1, 2021 
through July 31, 2022.

                    Table 2--Estimated Duration of Remaining In-Water Vibratory Pile Removal
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                               Number of
                     Pile size and type                          piles      Piles per   Minutes per    Duration
                                                               remaining       day          pile        (days)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
24-inch steel...............................................           25            8           20            4
14-inch timber..............................................           39           10           15            4
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Description of Marine Mammals

    A description of the marine mammals in the area of the activities 
for which authorization of take is authorized here, including 
information on abundance, status, distribution, and hearing, may be 
found in the Federal Register notice of proposed IHA for the initial 
authorization (85 FR 40992; July 8, 2020) and the Federal Register 
notice of proposed IHA for the Year 3 Seattle Multimodal Project at 
Colman Dock (84 FR 25757; June 4, 2019). 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, and determined that 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 the 
Marine Mammals in the Area of Specified Activities'' 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 activity on 
marine mammals and their habitat for the activities for which take is 
authorized here may be found in the Federal Register notice of proposed 
IHA for the initial authorization (85 FR 40992; July 8, 2020). NMFS has 
reviewed the monitoring data from the initial IHA, recent draft Stock 
Assessment Reports, information on relevant Unusual Mortality Events, 
other scientific literature, and the public comments, and determined 
that neither this nor any other new information affects our initial 
analysis of impacts on marine mammals and their habitat.

Estimated Take

    A detailed description of the methods and inputs used to estimate 
take for the specified activity are found in the Federal Register 
notices of proposed IHA (85 FR 40992; July 8, 2020) and final IHA (85 
FR 59737; September 23, 2020) for the initial authorization. 
Specifically, the source levels, corresponding Level A and Level B 
harassment zones (in m) and ensonified areas (in square kilometers 
(km\2\); Table 3), and marine mammal density/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

[[Page 38689]]

the previously issued IHA. The only change from the methods used to 
estimate take in the initial IHA is the total duration (days) of pile 
driving activities, which has been reduced from a total of 47 days of 
activities, occurring over the course of 7 months, in the initial IHA 
to 8 days of remaining activities estimated to occur within one month.

                                           Table 3--Level A and Level B Harassment Zones and Ensonified Areas
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                           Level A harassment distance (m)/area (km\2\)                       Level B
                                                         --------------------------------------------------------------------------------   harassment
          Pile type, size & pile driving method                                                                                            distance (m)/
                                                            LF cetacean     MF cetacean     HF cetacean       Phocid          Otariid      area (km\2\)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Vibratory drive/removal, 24 inch steel piles............       96.6/0.03        8.6/0.00      142.8/0.06       58.7/0.01        4.1/0.00     8,690/40.53
Vibratory removal 14 inch timber pile...................        8.0/0.00        0.7/0.00       11.8/0.00        4.8/0.00        0.3/0.00      2,154/5.47
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
LF = low-frequency; MF = mid-frequency; HF = high-frequency.

    Authorized takes are by Level B harassment only, as use of the 
vibratory hammer has the potential to result in disruption of 
behavioral patterns for individual marine mammals. The initial IHA 
authorized take of harbor seals and harbor porpoises by Level A 
harassment from impact pile driving. However, as described in the 
initial IHA, based on the nature of the activity remaining in this 
Renewal (vibratory pile driving) and the anticipated effectiveness of 
the mitigation measures (i.e., shutdown, see Proposed Mitigation 
below), Level A harassment is neither anticipated from vibratory pile 
driving and is not authorized here.
    As described in the initial IHA, the initial approach for take 
calculation was to use the information aggregated in the U.S. Navy 
Marine Species Density Database (U.S. Navy, 2019) with the following 
equation:

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

    However, also as described in the initial IHA, adjustments were 
made to all of these initial estimates based on prior observation of 
marine mammals in the project area and account for group numbers, and 
in fact most estimates were based on a predicted number of individuals 
entering the Level B harassment zone per month, with several estimates 
also based on a predicted number entering per day. Take estimates for 
the activities remaining in this renewal IHA were developed using the 
identical methods as the initial IHA, in consideration of the remaining 
8 days of work, and equated to one month where monthly estimates were 
used. Table 4 indicates the number of each species or stock proposed 
for authorization.

                                  Table 4--Authorized Take by Species and Stock
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                             Total
                 Species                    proposed                Stock                  Stock      Percent of
                                              take                                       abundance      stock
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Gray whale...............................          1  Eastern North Pacific...........       26,960        0.004
Humpback whale...........................          3  California/Oregon/Washington....        2,900        0.103
Minke whale..............................          1  California/Oregon/Washington....          636        0.157
Killer whale.............................         10  West Coast transient............          349        2.865
Bottlenose dolphin.......................          7  California/Oregon/Washington            1,924        0.364
                                                       offshore.
Harbor porpoise..........................        100  Washington inland waters........       11,233        0.890
Dall's porpoise..........................          5  California/Oregon/Washington....       25,750        0.019
Harbor seal..............................        720  Washington northern inland             11,036        6.524
                                                       waters.
Northern elephant seal...................          1  California breeding.............      179,000        0.001
California sea lion......................        232  U.S.............................      257,606        0.090
Steller sea lion.........................          8  Eastern U.S.....................       43,201        0.019
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    We have reviewed the preliminary monitoring report submitted by 
WSDOT and the monitoring results do not indicate impacts of a scale or 
nature not previously analyzed or authorized and, therefore, these 
estimates are appropriate.

Description of Mitigation, Monitoring and Reporting Measures

    The mitigation, monitoring, and reporting measures included as 
requirements in this authorization are identical to those included in 
the Federal Register notice announcing the issuance of the initial IHA 
(85 FR 59737; September 23, 2020), with the exception of mitigation 
measures specific to impact pile driving, which will not occur under 
this IHA. The discussion of the least practicable adverse impact 
included in that document remains accurate. The following measures are 
required in this Renewal:
Proposed Mitigation
    Time Restriction--The applicant stated that work would occur only 
during daylight hours, when visual monitoring of marine mammals can be 
conducted. In addition, all in-water construction will be limited to 
the period between August 1, 2021, and February 15, 2022.
    Establishing and Monitoring Level A, Level B Harassment Zones, and 
Exclusion Zones--Before the commencement of in-water construction 
activities, which include vibratory pile removal, WSDOT must establish 
Level A harassment zones where received underwater sound pressure 
levels (SPLs) or cumulative sound exposure levels (SELcum) 
could cause permanent threshold shift (PTS).
    WSDOT must also establish Level B harassment zones where received 
underwater SPLs are higher than 120 decibels root-mean-square 
(dBrms) re 1 microPascal ([micro]Pa) for continuous noise 
sources (e.g., vibratory pile removal).
    WSDOT must establish exclusion zones as shown in Table 5 to prevent

[[Page 38690]]

Level A harassment takes of all marine mammal hearing groups.
    For in-water heavy machinery work other than pile driving (e.g., 
standard barges, etc.), if a marine mammal comes within 10 m, 
operations must cease and vessels must reduce speed to the minimum 
level required to maintain steerage and safe working conditions. This 
type of work could include the following activities: (1) Movement of 
the barge to the pile location; or (2) positioning of the pile on the 
substrate via a crane.
    WSDOT must establish exclusion zones for Southern Resident killer 
whales (SRKW) and all marine mammals for which takes are not authorized 
at the Level B harassment distances. Specifically, for vibratory 
removal of 24-inch steel piles, an 8.7 km exclusion zone must be 
established. For vibratory removal of 14-inch timber piles, a 2.2 km 
exclusion zone must be established.
    A summary of exclusion zones is provided in Table 5.

                              Table 5--Exclusion Zones by Species and Hearing Group
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                     Exclusion distance (m)
              Pile type and size               -----------------------------------------------------------------
                                                    LF         MF         HF       Phocid    Otariid      SRKW
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
24-inch steel.................................        100         10        150         60         10      8,700
14-inch timber................................         10         10         15         10         10      2,200
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    NMFS-approved protected species observers (PSOs) must conduct an 
initial survey of the exclusion zones to ensure that no marine mammals 
are seen within the zones beginning 30 minutes before removal of a pile 
segment begins. If marine mammals are found within the exclusion zone, 
pile driving of the segment must be delayed until they move out of the 
area. If a marine mammal is seen above water and then dives below, the 
contractor must wait 15 minutes. If no marine mammals are seen by the 
observer in that time it can be assumed that the animal has moved 
beyond the exclusion zone.
    If pile driving of a segment ceases for 30 minutes or more and a 
marine mammal is sighted within the designated exclusion zone prior to 
commencement of pile removal, the observer(s) must notify the pile 
driving operator (or other authorized individual) immediately and 
continue to monitor the exclusion zone. Operations may not resume until 
the marine mammal has exited the exclusion zone or 15 minutes have 
elapsed since the last sighting.
    Shutdown Measures--WSDOT must implement shutdown measures if a 
marine mammal is detected within or entering an exclusion zone listed 
in Table 5.
    WSDOT must also implement shutdown measures if SRKW are sighted 
within the vicinity of the project area and are approaching the Level B 
harassment zone during in-water construction activities.
    If a killer whale approaches the Level B harassment zone during 
pile driving or removal, and it is unknown whether it is a SRKW or a 
transient killer whale, it must be assumed to be a SRKW and WSDOT must 
implement the shutdown measure.
    If a SRKW or an unidentified killer whale enters the Level B 
harassment zone undetected, in-water pile driving or pile removal must 
be suspended until the whale exits the Level B harassment zone, or 15 
minutes have elapsed with no sighting of the animal, to avoid further 
Level B harassment.
    Further, WSDOT must implement shutdown measures if the number of 
authorized takes for any particular species reaches the limit under the 
IHA and if such marine mammals are sighted within the vicinity of the 
project area and are approaching the Level B harassment zone during in-
water construction activities.
    Coordination with Local Marine Mammal Research Network--Prior to 
the start of pile driving for the day, WSDOT must contact the Orca 
Network and/or Center for Whale Research to find out the location of 
the nearest marine mammal sightings. The Local Marine Mammal Research 
Network consists of a list of over 600 (and growing) residents, 
scientists, and government agency personnel in the United States and 
Canada. Sightings are called or emailed into the Orca Network and 
immediately distributed to other sighting networks including: The NMFS 
Northwest Fisheries Science Center, the Center for Whale Research, 
Cascadia Research, the Whale Museum Hotline and the British Columbia 
Sightings Network.
    Sightings information collected by the Orca Network includes 
detection by hydrophone. The SeaSound Remote Sensing Network is a 
system of interconnected hydrophones installed in the marine 
environment of Haro Strait (west side of San Juan Island) to study orca 
communication, in-water noise, bottom fish ecology and local climatic 
conditions. A hydrophone at the Port Townsend Marine Science Center 
measures average in-water sound levels and automatically detects 
unusual sounds. These passive acoustic devices allow researchers to 
hear when different marine mammals come into the region. This acoustic 
network, combined with the volunteer (incidental) visual sighting 
network allows researchers to document presence and location of various 
marine mammal species.
Proposed Monitoring and Reporting
    Monitoring Measures--WSDOT must employ NMFS-approved PSOs to 
conduct marine mammal monitoring for its Seattle Multimodal Project at 
Colman Dock. The PSOs must observe and collect data on marine mammals 
in and around the project area for 30 minutes before, during, and for 
30 minutes after all pile removal and pile installation work. NMFS-
approved PSOs must meet the following requirements:
    1. Independent observers (i.e., not construction personnel) are 
required;
    2. At least one observer must have prior experience working as an 
observer;
    3. Other observers may substitute education (undergraduate degree 
in biological science or related field) or training for experience;
    4. Where a team of three or more observers are required, one 
observer should be designated as lead observer or monitoring 
coordinator. The lead observer must have prior experience working as an 
observer; and
    5. NMFS will require submission and approval of observer Curriculum 
Vitas.
    Monitoring of marine mammals around the construction site must be 
conducted using high-quality binoculars (e.g., Zeiss, 10 x 42 power). 
Due to the different sizes of zones of influence (ZOIs) from different 
pile sizes, several different ZOIs and different monitoring protocols 
corresponding to a specific pile size will be established. During 
vibratory removal of 24-inch steel piles, four land-based PSOs and one 
ferry-based PSO must monitor the zone. During vibratory removal of 14-
inch

[[Page 38691]]

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

Comments and Responses

    A notice of NMFS' proposal to issue a Renewal IHA to WSDOT was 
published in the Federal Register on June 23, 2021 (86 FR 32895). That 
notice either described, or referenced descriptions of, WSDOT's 
activity, the marine mammal species that may be affected by the 
activity, the anticipated effects on marine mammals and their habitat, 
estimated amount and manner of take, and proposed mitigation, 
monitoring and reporting measures. NMFS received no public comments.

Determinations

    The construction activities planned by WSDOT are a subset of, and 
identical to, those analyzed in the initial IHA, and the method of 
taking and the effects of the action are identical to the initial IHA 
(though the amount of proposed authorized take is notably lower). The 
potential effects of WSDOT's activities are limited to Level B 
harassment in the form of behavioral disturbance. In analyzing the 
effects of the activities in the 2020 IHA, NMFS determined that WSDOT'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 one-third 
of all stocks). 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. Based on the information and analysis 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; 
(4) WSDOT'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 
monitoring and reporting requirements are included.

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 evaluate our proposed action (i.e., the issuance of 
an IHA Renewal) and alternatives with respect to potential impacts on 
the human environment. This action is consistent with categories of 
activities identified in Categorical Exclusion B4 of the Companion 
Manual for NAO 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 proposed action qualifies to 
be categorically excluded from further NEPA review.

Endangered Species Act

    Section 7(a)(2) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA: 16 
U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) requires that each Federal agency insure that any 
action it authorizes, funds, or carries out is not likely to jeopardize 
the continued

[[Page 38692]]

existence of any endangered or threatened species or result in the 
destruction or adverse modification of designated critical habitat. To 
ensure ESA compliance for the issuance of IHAs, NMFS consults 
internally, in this case with the West Coast Region Protected Resources 
Division, whenever we propose to authorize take for endangered or 
threatened species.
    The only species listed under the ESA with the potential to be 
present in the action area are the Mexico Distinct Population Segment 
(DPS) and Central America DPS of humpback whales. The effects of this 
Federal action were adequately analyzed in NMFS' Biological Opinion for 
the Seattle Multimodal Project at Colman Dock, Seattle, Washington, 
dated October 1, 2018, which concluded that issuance of an IHA would 
not jeopardize the continued existence of any endangered or threatened 
species or destroy or adversely modify any designated critical habitat.

Renewal

    NMFS has issued a Renewal IHA to WSDOT for the take of marine 
mammals incidental to conducting the Seattle Multimodal Project at 
Colman Dock Year 4 in Washington State, between August 1, 2021 and July 
31, 2022.

    Dated: July 16, 2021.
Catherine Marzin,
Acting Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2021-15539 Filed 7-21-21; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P