Taking and Importing Marine Mammals; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to Geophysical Surveys Related to Oil and Gas Activities in the Gulf of Mexico, 69622-69626 [2021-26601]

Download as PDF 69622 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 233 / Wednesday, December 8, 2021 / Notices Notification to Importers This notice serves as a final reminder to importers of their responsibility under 19 CFR 351.402(f)(2) to file a certificate regarding the reimbursement of antidumping duties prior to liquidation of the relevant entries during this POR. Failure to comply with this requirement could result in Commerce’s presumption that reimbursement of the antidumping duties occurred and the subsequent assessment of doubled antidumping duties. Notification Regarding Administrative Protective Order This notice also serves as a reminder to parties subject to administrative protective order (APO) of their responsibility concerning the return or destruction of proprietary information disclosed under APO in accordance with 19 CFR 351.305. Timely written notification of the return or destruction of APO materials or conversion to judicial protective order is hereby requested. Failure to comply with the regulations and terms of an APO is a violation subject to sanction. Notification to Interested Parties Commerce is issuing and publishing this notice in accordance with sections 751(a)(1) and 777(i)(1) of the Act and 19 CFR 351.221(b)(5). Dated: December 2, 2021. Ryan Majerus, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and Negotiations, performing the non-exclusive functions and duties of the Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance. jspears on DSK121TN23PROD with NOTICES1 Appendix List of Topics Discussed in the Issues and Decision Memorandum I. Summary II. Background III. Scope of the Order IV. Changes to the Preliminary Results V. Discussion of the Issues Comment 1: Whether Commerce Should Base the Weighted-Average Dumping Margins for Saha Thai and Blue Pipe on Adverse Facts Available Comment 2: Whether Saha Thai Created a Fictitious Market Comment 3: Whether Saha Thai Is Affiliated with Certain Companies Comment 4: Whether Commerce Should Require Saha Thai and Blue Pipe to Resubmit Certain Submissions Comment 5: Whether Commerce Must Take Steps to Ensure the Government Can Collect the Duties Owed Comment 6: Whether Commerce Should Reconsider Prior Reviews to Account for Potential Fraud Comment 7: Whether Commerce Should Adjust Saha Thai’s Costs to Account for a Particular Market Situation VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:53 Dec 07, 2021 Jkt 256001 Comment 8: Whether Commerce’s Preliminary Determination for NonExamined Companies Is Contrary to Law Comment 9: Whether Commerce Should Calculate an Individual WeightedAverage Dumping Margin for Thai Premium Pipe Co., Ltd. VI. Recommendation [FR Doc. 2021–26573 Filed 12–7–21; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–DS–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [RTID 0648–XB547] Marine Mammals; File No. 25900 National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice; receipt of application. AGENCY: Notice is hereby given that Echo Pictures Ltd. (Responsible Party: Joe Stevens), St Nicholas House, 31–34 High Street, Bristol, BS1 2AW, United Kingdom has applied in due form for a permit to conduct commercial or educational photography on humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae). DATES: Written, telefaxed, or email comments must be received on or before January 7, 2022. ADDRESSES: These documents are available upon written request via email to NMFS.Pr1Comments@noaa.gov. Written comments on this application should be submitted via email to NMFS.Pr1Comments@noaa.gov. Please include File No. 25900 in the subject line of the email comment. Those individuals requesting a public hearing should submit a written request via email to NMFS.Pr1Comments@ noaa.gov. The request should set forth the specific reasons why a hearing on this application would be appropriate. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jordan Rutland or Carrie Hubard, (301) 427–8401. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The subject permit is requested under the authority of the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, as amended (MMPA; 16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.) and the regulations governing the taking of marine mammals (50 CFR part 216). The applicant proposes to film humpback whales off the coast of Maui, Hawaii to obtain footage for a television series. Up to 1,120 humpback whales may be harassed during filming from vessels, an unmanned aircraft system, and underwater divers. The permit would expire April 30, 2022. SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00012 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 It has come to the agency’s attention that the 2016 interim final humpback approach rule (50 CFR 216.19; 81 FR 62010, September 8, 2016) does not explicitly exempt permits issued under section 104(c)(6) of the MMPA from its prohibitions. It is not the agency’s intent to preclude the issuance of permits or authorizations consistent with the requirements of the MMPA. We interpret the rule to allow issuance of these permits. Consistent with this interpretation, it has been our practice to continue to issue section 104(c)(6) permits that are in compliance with the Act’s requirements and our review procedures, as evidenced by issuance of four such permits since the rule’s effective date. However, to eliminate any potential ambiguity, we intend to revise the rule to explicitly clarify that photography permits issued under section 104(c)(6) of the MMPA are exempt from the prohibitions on approach. In compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), an initial determination has been made that the activity proposed is categorically excluded from the requirement to prepare an environmental assessment or environmental impact statement. Concurrent with the publication of this notice in the Federal Register, NMFS is forwarding copies of the application to the Marine Mammal Commission and its Committee of Scientific Advisors. Dated: December 3, 2021. Julia M. Harrison, Chief, Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2021–26563 Filed 12–7–21; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [RTID 0648–XB617] Taking and Importing Marine Mammals; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to Geophysical Surveys Related to Oil and Gas Activities in the Gulf of Mexico National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice of issuance of Letters of Authorization. AGENCY: In accordance with the Marine Mammal Protection Act SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\08DEN1.SGM 08DEN1 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 233 / Wednesday, December 8, 2021 / Notices jspears on DSK121TN23PROD with NOTICES1 (MMPA), as amended, its implementing regulations, and NMFS’ MMPA Regulations for Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to Geophysical Surveys Related to Oil and Gas Activities in the Gulf of Mexico, notification is hereby given that two Letters of Authorization (LOA) have been issued to Shell Offshore Inc. (Shell) for the take of marine mammals incidental to geophysical survey activity in the Gulf of Mexico. DATES: The LOAs are effective from January 1, 2022, through August 31, 2022. ADDRESSES: The LOAs, LOA requests, and supporting documentation are available online at: www.fisheries.noaa.gov/action/ incidental-take-authorization-oil-andgas-industry-geophysical-surveyactivity-gulf-mexico. In case of problems accessing these documents, please call the contact listed below (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ben Laws, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, (301) 427–8401. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background Sections 101(a)(5)(A) and (D) of the MMPA (16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.) direct the Secretary of Commerce 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 authorization is provided to the public for review. An authorization for incidental takings shall be granted if NMFS finds that the taking will have a negligible impact on the species or stock(s), will not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of the species or stock(s) for subsistence uses (where relevant), and if the permissible methods of taking and requirements pertaining to the mitigation, monitoring and reporting of such takings are set forth. NMFS has defined ‘‘negligible impact’’ in 50 CFR 216.103 as an impact resulting from the specified activity that cannot be reasonably expected to, and is not reasonably likely to, adversely affect the species or stock through effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival. Except with respect to certain activities not pertinent here, the MMPA defines ‘‘harassment’’ as: Any act of pursuit, torment, or annoyance which (i) has the potential to injure a marine VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:53 Dec 07, 2021 Jkt 256001 mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild (Level A harassment); or (ii) has the potential to disturb a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild by causing disruption of behavioral patterns, including, but not limited to, migration, breathing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or sheltering (Level B harassment). On January 19, 2021, we issued a final rule with regulations to govern the unintentional taking of marine mammals incidental to geophysical survey activities conducted by oil and gas industry operators, and those persons authorized to conduct activities on their behalf (collectively ‘‘industry operators’’), in Federal waters of the U.S. Gulf of Mexico (GOM) over the course of 5 years (86 FR 5322; January 19, 2021). The rule was based on our findings that the total taking from the specified activities over the 5-year period will have a negligible impact on the affected species or stock(s) of marine mammals and will not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of those species or stocks for subsistence uses. The rule became effective on April 19, 2021. Our regulations at 50 CFR 217.180 et seq. allow for the issuance of LOAs to industry operators for the incidental take of marine mammals during geophysical survey activities and prescribe the permissible methods of taking and other means of effecting the least practicable adverse impact on marine mammal species or stocks and their habitat (often referred to as mitigation), as well as requirements pertaining to the monitoring and reporting of such taking. Under 50 CFR 217.186(e), issuance of an LOA shall be based on a determination that the level of taking will be consistent with the findings made for the total taking allowable under these regulations and a determination that the amount of take authorized under the LOA is of no more than small numbers. Summary of Request and Analysis Shell plans to conduct two separate geophysical surveys, and submitted an LOA request for each survey. The first survey is a 3D ocean bottom node (OBN) survey of Mississippi Canyon Lease Block 809 and portions of the surrounding approximately 143 lease blocks in the Ursa development area (Ursa survey). The second survey would also be a 3D OBN survey, and would cover Mississippi Canyon Lease Block 890 and Atwater Canyon and portions of the surrounding approximately 36 lease blocks (Europa survey). See Section F of the respective LOA applications for maps of these areas. PO 00000 Frm 00013 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 69623 For both surveys, Shell anticipates using an airgun array consisting of 32 elements, with a total volume of 5,110 cubic inches (in3). Please see Shell’s applications for additional detail. Consistent with the preamble to the final rule, the survey effort proposed by Shell in its LOA requests was used to develop LOA-specific take estimates based on the acoustic exposure modeling results described in the preamble (86 FR 5322, 5398; January 19, 2021). In order to generate the appropriate take number for authorization, the following information was considered: (1) Survey type; (2) location (by modeling zone 1); (3) number of days; and (4) season.2 The acoustic exposure modeling performed in support of the rule provides 24-hour exposure estimates for each species, specific to each modeled survey type in each zone and season. No 3D OBN surveys were included in the modeled survey types, and use of existing proxies (i.e., 2D, 3D NAZ, 3D WAZ, Coil) is generally conservative for use in evaluation of 3D OBN survey effort, largely due to the greater area covered by the modeled proxies. Summary descriptions of these modeled survey geometries are available in the preamble to the proposed rule (83 FR 29212, 29220; June 22, 2018). Coil was selected as the best available proxy survey type for both surveys in this case, because the spatial coverage of the planned surveys is most similar to the coil survey pattern. The planned 3D OBN surveys will each involve a single source vessel sailing along closely spaced survey lines that are 100 m apart and approximately 30 km in length. The path taken by the vessel to cover these lines will mean that consecutive survey lines sailed will be 400 m apart. The coil survey pattern was assumed to cover approximately 144 kilometers squared (km2) per day (compared with approximately 795 km2, 199 km2, and 845 km2 per day for the 2D, 3D NAZ, and 3D WAZ survey patterns, respectively). Among the different parameters of the modeled survey patterns (e.g., area covered, line spacing, number of sources, shot interval, total simulated pulses), NMFS considers area covered per day to be most influential on daily modeled exposures exceeding Level B harassment criteria. Although Shell is not proposing specifically to perform surveys using the coil geometry, its planned 3D OBN surveys 1 For purposes of acoustic exposure modeling, the GOM was divided into seven zones. Zone 1 is not included in the geographic scope of the rule. 2 For purposes of acoustic exposure modeling, seasons include Winter (December–March) and Summer (April–November). E:\FR\FM\08DEN1.SGM 08DEN1 jspears on DSK121TN23PROD with NOTICES1 69624 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 233 / Wednesday, December 8, 2021 / Notices are expected to cover approximately 15.7 km2 per day, meaning that the coil proxy is most representative of the effort planned by Shell in terms of predicted Level B harassment exposures. In addition, all available acoustic exposure modeling results assume use of a 72-element, 8,000 in3 array. Thus, estimated take numbers for this LOA are considered conservative due to differences in both the airgun array (32 elements, 5,110 in3) and the daily survey area planned by Shell (15.7 km2), as compared to those modeled for the rule. The Ursa survey will take place over 61 days, including 45 days of sound source operation. The Europa survey will take place over 122 days, including 20 days of sound source operation. Both surveys will occur within Zone 5. For both surveys, the seasonal distribution of survey days is not known in advance. Therefore, the take estimates for each species are based on the season that produces the greater value. Additionally, for some species, take estimates based solely on the modeling yielded results that are not realistically likely to occur when considered in light of other relevant information available during the rulemaking process regarding marine mammal occurrence in the GOM. Thus, although the modeling conducted for the rule is a natural starting point for estimating take, our rule acknowledged that other information could be considered (see, e.g., 86 FR 5322, 5442 (January 19, 2021), discussing the need to provide flexibility and make efficient use of previous public and agency review of other information and identifying that additional public review is not necessary unless the model or inputs used differ substantively from those that were previously reviewed by NMFS and the public). For this survey, NMFS has other relevant information reviewed during the rulemaking that indicates use of the acoustic exposure modeling to generate a take estimate for certain marine mammal species produces results inconsistent with what is known regarding their occurrence in the GOM. Accordingly, we have adjusted the calculated take estimates for those species as described below. Rice’s whales (formerly known as GOM Bryde’s whales) 3 are generally found within a small area in the northeastern GOM in waters between 100–400 m depth along the continental shelf break (Rosel et al., 2016). Whaling 3 The final rule refers to the GOM Bryde’s whale (Balaenoptera edeni). These whales were subsequently described as a new species, Rice’s whale (Balaenoptera ricei) (Rosel et al., 2021). VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:53 Dec 07, 2021 Jkt 256001 records suggest that Rice’s whales historically had a broader distribution within similar habitat parameters throughout the GOM (Reeves et al., 2011; Rosel and Wilcox, 2014), and a NOAA survey reported observation of a Rice’s whale in the western GOM in 2017 (NMFS, 2018). Habitat-based density modeling identified similar habitat (i.e., approximately 100–400 m water depths along the continental shelf break) as being potential Rice’s whale habitat (Roberts et al., 2016), although a ‘‘core habitat area’’ defined in the northeastern GOM (outside the scope of the rule) contained approximately 92 percent of the predicted abundance of Rice’s whales. See discussion provided at, e.g., 83 FR 29212, 29228, 29280 (June 22, 2018); 86 FR 5322, 5418 (January 19, 2021). Although it is possible that Rice’s whales may occur outside of their core habitat, NMFS expects that any such occurrence would be limited to the narrow band of suitable habitat described above (i.e., 100–400 m). Shell’s planned activities will occur in water depths of approximately 600– 1,800 m and 800–1,400 (Ursa and Europa, respectively) in the central GOM. Thus, NMFS does not expect there to be the reasonable potential for take of Rice’s whale in association with this survey and, accordingly, does not authorize take of Rice’s whale through this LOA. Killer whales are the most rarely encountered species in the GOM, typically in deep waters of the central GOM (Roberts et al., 2015; Maze-Foley and Mullin, 2006). The approach used in the acoustic exposure modeling, in which seven modeling zones were defined over the U.S. GOM, necessarily averages fine-scale information about marine mammal distribution over the large area of each modeling zone. NMFS has determined that the approach results in unrealistic projections regarding the likelihood of encountering killer whales. As discussed in the final rule, the density models produced by Roberts et al. (2016) provide the best available scientific information regarding predicted density patterns of cetaceans in the U.S. GOM. The predictions represent the output of models derived from multi-year observations and associated environmental parameters that incorporate corrections for detection bias. However, in the case of killer whales, the model is informed by few data, as indicated by the coefficient of variation associated with the abundance predicted by the model (0.41, the second-highest of any GOM species model; Roberts et al., 2016). The PO 00000 Frm 00014 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 model’s authors noted the expected non-uniform distribution of this rarelyencountered species (as discussed above) and expressed that, due to the limited data available to inform the model, it ‘‘should be viewed cautiously’’ (Roberts et al., 2015). NOAA surveys in the GOM from 1992–2009 reported only 16 sightings of killer whales, with an additional three encounters during more recent survey effort from 2017–18 (Waring et al., 2013; www.boem.gov/gommapps). Two other species were also observed on less than 20 occasions during the 1992–2009 NOAA surveys (Fraser’s dolphin and false killer whale 4). However, observational data collected by protected species observers (PSOs) on industry geophysical survey vessels from 2002–2015 distinguish the killer whale in terms of rarity. During this period, killer whales were encountered on only 10 occasions, whereas the next most rarely encountered species (Fraser’s dolphin) was recorded on 69 occasions (Barkaszi and Kelly, 2019). The false killer whale and pygmy killer whale were the next most rarely encountered species, with 110 records each. The killer whale was the species with the lowest detection frequency during each period over which PSO data were synthesized (2002–2008 and 2009– 2015). This information qualitatively informed our rulemaking process, as discussed at 86 FR 5322, 5334 (January 19, 2021), and similarly informs our analysis here. The rarity of encounter during seismic surveys is not likely to be the product of high bias on the probability of detection. Unlike certain cryptic species with high detection bias, such as Kogia spp. or beaked whales, or deep-diving species with high availability bias, such as beaked whales or sperm whales, killer whales are typically available for detection when present and are easily observed. Roberts et al. (2015) stated that availability is not a major factor affecting detectability of killer whales from shipboard surveys, as they are not a particularly long-diving species. Baird et al. (2005) reported that mean dive durations for 41 fish-eating killer whales for dives greater than or equal to 1 minute in duration was 2.3–2.4 minutes, and Hooker et al. (2012) reported that killer whales spent 78 percent of their time at depths between 0–10 m. Similarly, Kvadsheim et al. (2012) reported data from a study of four killer whales, noting that the whales performed 20 times as many dives to 1– 4 However, note that these species have been observed over a greater range of water depths in the GOM than have killer whales. E:\FR\FM\08DEN1.SGM 08DEN1 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 233 / Wednesday, December 8, 2021 / Notices 30 m depth than to deeper waters, with an average depth during those most common dives of approximately 3 m. In summary, killer whales are the most rarely encountered species in the GOM and typically occur only in particularly deep water. While this information is reflected through the density model informing the acoustic exposure modeling results, there is relatively high uncertainty associated with the model for this species, and the acoustic exposure modeling applies mean distribution data over areas where the species is in fact less likely to occur. NMFS’ determination in reflection of the data discussed above, which informed the final rule, is that use of the generic acoustic exposure modeling results for killer whales would result in high estimated take numbers that are inconsistent with the assumptions made in the rule regarding expected killer whale take (86 FR 5322, 5403; January 19, 2021). In past authorizations, NMFS has often addressed situations involving the low likelihood of encountering a rare species such as killer whales in the GOM through authorization of take of a single group of average size (i.e., representing a single potential encounter). See 83 FR 63268, December 7, 2018. See also 86 FR 29090, May 28, 2021; 85 FR 55645, September 9, 2020. For the reasons expressed above, NMFS determined that a single encounter of killer whales is more likely than the model-generated estimates and has authorized take associated with a single killer whale group encounter (i.e., up to 7 animals) for the Ursa LOA. For the Europa LOA, use of the exposure modeling produces an estimate of 7 killer whale exposures. Given the foregoing, it is unlikely that even one killer whale would be encountered during this 20-day survey, and accordingly no take of killer whales is authorized through the Europa LOA. Based on the results of our analysis, NMFS has determined that the level of taking authorized through the LOAs is consistent with the findings made for the total taking allowable under the regulations. See Tables 1 and 2 in this notice and Table 9 of the rule (86 FR 5322; January 19, 2021). Small Numbers Determinations Under the GOM rule, NMFS may not authorize incidental take of marine mammals in an LOA if it will exceed ‘‘small numbers.’’ In short, when an acceptable estimate of the individual marine mammals taken is available, if the estimated number of individual animals taken is up to, but not greater than, one-third of the best available abundance estimate, NMFS will determine that the numbers of marine mammals taken of a species or stock are small. For more information please see NMFS’ discussion of the MMPA’s small numbers requirement provided in the final rule (86 FR 5322, 5438; January 19, 2021). The take numbers for authorization are determined as described above in the Summary of Request and Analysis section. Subsequently, the total incidents of harassment for each species are multiplied by scalar ratios to produce a derived product that better 69625 reflects the number of individuals likely to be taken within a survey (as compared to the total number of instances of take), accounting for the likelihood that some individual marine mammals may be taken on more than one day (see 86 FR 5322, 5404; January 19, 2021). The output of this scaling, where appropriate, is incorporated into an adjusted total take estimate that is the basis for NMFS’ small numbers determinations, as depicted in Table 1 for Shell’s Ursa survey and in Table 2 for the Europa survey. This product is used by NMFS in making the necessary small numbers determinations, through comparison with the best available abundance estimates (see discussion at 86 FR 5322, 5391; January 19, 2021). For this comparison, NMFS’ approach is to use the maximum theoretical population, determined through review of current stock assessment reports (SAR; www.fisheries.noaa.gov/national/ marine-mammal-protection/marinemammal-stock-assessments) and modelpredicted abundance information (https://seamap.env.duke.edu/models/ Duke/GOM/). For the latter, for taxa where a density surface model could be produced, we use the maximum mean seasonal (i.e., 3-month) abundance prediction for purposes of comparison as a precautionary smoothing of monthto-month fluctuations and in consideration of a corresponding lack of data in the literature regarding seasonal distribution of marine mammals in the GOM. Information supporting the small numbers determinations is provided in Tables 1 and 2. TABLE 1—TAKE ANALYSIS, URSA LOA Authorized take jspears on DSK121TN23PROD with NOTICES1 Species Rice’s whale ..................................................................................................... Sperm whale .................................................................................................... Kogia spp ......................................................................................................... Beaked whales ................................................................................................ Rough-toothed dolphin .................................................................................... Bottlenose dolphin ........................................................................................... Clymene dolphin .............................................................................................. Atlantic spotted dolphin ................................................................................... Pantropical spotted dolphin ............................................................................. Spinner dolphin ................................................................................................ Striped dolphin ................................................................................................. Fraser’s dolphin ............................................................................................... Risso’s dolphin ................................................................................................. Melon-headed whale ....................................................................................... Pygmy killer whale ........................................................................................... False killer whale ............................................................................................. Killer whale ...................................................................................................... Short-finned pilot whale ................................................................................... 0 1,184 3 447 5,224 898 4,256 2,528 1,700 11,470 3,073 987 284 743 1,661 391 622 7 480 Scaled take 1 n/a 500.7 159.7 527.6 257.8 1,221.5 725.4 487.9 3,291.9 882.1 283.3 81.5 219.1 489.9 115.3 183.4 n/a 141.7 Abundance 2 51 2,207 4,373 3,768 4,853 176,108 11,895 74,785 102,361 25,114 5,229 1,665 3,764 7,003 2,126 3,204 267 1,981 Percent abundance n/a 22.7 3.7 14.0 5.3 0.7 6.1 0.7 3.2 3.5 5.4 4.9 5.8 7.0 5.4 5.7 2.6 7.2 1 Scalar ratios were applied to ‘‘Authorized Take’’ values as described at 86 FR 5322, 5404 (January 19, 2021) to derive scaled take numbers shown here. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:53 Dec 07, 2021 Jkt 256001 PO 00000 Frm 00015 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 E:\FR\FM\08DEN1.SGM 08DEN1 69626 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 233 / Wednesday, December 8, 2021 / Notices 2 Best abundance estimate. For most taxa, the best abundance estimate for purposes of comparison with take estimates is considered here to be the model-predicted abundance (Roberts et al., 2016). For those taxa where a density surface model predicting abundance by month was produced, the maximum mean seasonal abundance was used. For those taxa where abundance is not predicted by month, only mean annual abundance is available. For the killer whale, the larger estimated SAR abundance estimate is used. 3 Includes 24 takes by Level A harassment and 423 takes by Level B harassment. Scalar ratio is applied to takes by Level B harassment only; small numbers determination made on basis of scaled Level B harassment take plus authorized Level A harassment take. TABLE 2—TAKE ANALYSIS, EUROPA LOA Authorized take Species Rice’s whale ..................................................................................................... Sperm whale .................................................................................................... Kogia spp ......................................................................................................... Beaked whales ................................................................................................ Rough-toothed dolphin .................................................................................... Bottlenose dolphin ........................................................................................... Clymene dolphin .............................................................................................. Atlantic spotted dolphin ................................................................................... Pantropical spotted dolphin ............................................................................. Spinner dolphin ................................................................................................ Striped dolphin ................................................................................................. Fraser’s dolphin ............................................................................................... Risso’s dolphin ................................................................................................. Melon-headed whale ....................................................................................... Pygmy killer whale ........................................................................................... False killer whale ............................................................................................. Killer whale ...................................................................................................... Short-finned pilot whale ................................................................................... 0 526 3 199 2,322 399 1,892 1,123 756 5,098 1,366 439 126 330 738 174 276 0 213 Scaled take 1 n/a 222.5 71.0 234.5 114.6 542.9 322.4 216.9 1,463.1 392.0 125.9 36.2 97.4 217.7 51.2 81.5 n/a 63.0 Abundance 2 51 2,207 4,373 3,768 4,853 176,108 11,895 74,785 102,361 25,114 5,229 1,665 3,764 7,003 2,126 3,204 267 1,981 % abundance n/a 10.1 1.6 6.2 2.4 0.3 2.7 0.3 1.4 1.6 2.4 2.2 2.6 3.1 2.4 2.5 n/a 3.2 1 Scalar ratios were applied to ‘‘Authorized Take’’ values as described at 86 FR 5322, 5404 (January 19, 2021) to derive scaled take numbers shown here. 2 Best abundance estimate. For most taxa, the best abundance estimate for purposes of comparison with take estimates is considered here to be the model-predicted abundance (Roberts et al., 2016). For those taxa where a density surface model predicting abundance by month was produced, the maximum mean seasonal abundance was used. For those taxa where abundance is not predicted by month, only mean annual abundance is available. For the killer whale, the larger estimated SAR abundance estimate is used. 3 Includes 11 takes by Level A harassment and 188 takes by Level B harassment. Scalar ratio is applied to takes by Level B harassment only; small numbers determination made on basis of scaled Level B harassment take plus authorized Level A harassment take. 5 Modeled take of 16 increased to account for potential encounter with group of average size (Maze-Foley and Mullin, 2006). Based on the analysis contained herein of Shell’s proposed survey activity described in its LOA applications and the anticipated take of marine mammals, NMFS finds that small numbers of marine mammals will be taken relative to the affected species or stock sizes and therefore is of no more than small numbers. Authorization jspears on DSK121TN23PROD with NOTICES1 NMFS has determined that the level of taking for these LOA requests is consistent with the findings made for the total taking allowable under the incidental take regulations and that the amount of take authorized under the LOAs is of no more than small numbers. Accordingly, we have issued two LOAs to Shell authorizing the take of marine mammals incidental to its geophysical survey activity, as described above. Dated: December 3, 2021. Kimberly Damon-Randall, Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2021–26601 Filed 12–7–21; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:53 Dec 07, 2021 Jkt 256001 DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [RTID 0648–XB622] Pacific Fishery Management Council; Public Meeting National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice of public meeting. AGENCY: The Pacific Fishery Management Council’s (Pacific Council) will host an online meeting of the Area 2A Pacific halibut governmental management entities that is open to the public. DATES: The online meeting will be held Tuesday, January 4, 2022, from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. Pacific Time, or until business for the day has been completed. ADDRESSES: This meeting will be held online. Specific meeting information, including directions on how to join the meeting and system requirements will be provided in the meeting announcement on the Pacific Council’s SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00016 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 website (see www.pcouncil.org). You may send an email to Mr. Kris Kleinschmidt (kris.kleinschmidt@ noaa.gov) or contact him at (503) 820– 2412 for technical assistance. Council address: Pacific Fishery Management Council, 7700 NE Ambassador Place, Suite 101, Portland, OR 97220–1384. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ms. Robin Ehlke, Staff Officer, Pacific Council; telephone: (503) 820–2410. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The primary purpose of the online meeting is to prepare and develop recommendations for the 2022 International Pacific Halibut Commission’s (IPHC) annual meeting held online from January 24 through January 28, 2022. Recommendations generated from the 2A managers meeting will be communicated to the IPHC by the Pacific Council’s representatives. Attendees may also address other topics relating to Pacific halibut management. Although non-emergency issues not contained in the meeting agenda may be discussed, those issues may not be the subject of formal action during this meeting. Action will be restricted to those issues specifically listed in this E:\FR\FM\08DEN1.SGM 08DEN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 86, Number 233 (Wednesday, December 8, 2021)]
[Notices]
[Pages 69622-69626]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2021-26601]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

[RTID 0648-XB617]


Taking and Importing Marine Mammals; Taking Marine Mammals 
Incidental to Geophysical Surveys Related to Oil and Gas Activities in 
the Gulf of Mexico

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

ACTION: Notice of issuance of Letters of Authorization.

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SUMMARY: In accordance with the Marine Mammal Protection Act

[[Page 69623]]

(MMPA), as amended, its implementing regulations, and NMFS' MMPA 
Regulations for Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to Geophysical Surveys 
Related to Oil and Gas Activities in the Gulf of Mexico, notification 
is hereby given that two Letters of Authorization (LOA) have been 
issued to Shell Offshore Inc. (Shell) for the take of marine mammals 
incidental to geophysical survey activity in the Gulf of Mexico.

DATES: The LOAs are effective from January 1, 2022, through August 31, 
2022.

ADDRESSES: The LOAs, LOA requests, and supporting documentation are 
available online at: www.fisheries.noaa.gov/action/incidental-take-authorization-oil-and-gas-industry-geophysical-survey-activity-gulf-mexico. In case of problems accessing these documents, please call the 
contact listed below (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ben Laws, Office of Protected 
Resources, NMFS, (301) 427-8401.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    Sections 101(a)(5)(A) and (D) of the MMPA (16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.) 
direct the Secretary of Commerce 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 authorization is 
provided to the public for review.
    An authorization for incidental takings shall be granted if NMFS 
finds that the taking will have a negligible impact on the species or 
stock(s), will not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the 
availability of the species or stock(s) for subsistence uses (where 
relevant), and if the permissible methods of taking and requirements 
pertaining to the mitigation, monitoring and reporting of such takings 
are set forth. NMFS has defined ``negligible impact'' in 50 CFR 216.103 
as an impact resulting from the specified activity that cannot be 
reasonably expected to, and is not reasonably likely to, adversely 
affect the species or stock through effects on annual rates of 
recruitment or survival.
    Except with respect to certain activities not pertinent here, the 
MMPA defines ``harassment'' as: Any act of pursuit, torment, or 
annoyance which (i) has the potential to injure a marine mammal or 
marine mammal stock in the wild (Level A harassment); or (ii) has the 
potential to disturb a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild 
by causing disruption of behavioral patterns, including, but not 
limited to, migration, breathing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or 
sheltering (Level B harassment).
    On January 19, 2021, we issued a final rule with regulations to 
govern the unintentional taking of marine mammals incidental to 
geophysical survey activities conducted by oil and gas industry 
operators, and those persons authorized to conduct activities on their 
behalf (collectively ``industry operators''), in Federal waters of the 
U.S. Gulf of Mexico (GOM) over the course of 5 years (86 FR 5322; 
January 19, 2021). The rule was based on our findings that the total 
taking from the specified activities over the 5-year period will have a 
negligible impact on the affected species or stock(s) of marine mammals 
and will not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of 
those species or stocks for subsistence uses. The rule became effective 
on April 19, 2021.
    Our regulations at 50 CFR 217.180 et seq. allow for the issuance of 
LOAs to industry operators for the incidental take of marine mammals 
during geophysical survey activities and prescribe the permissible 
methods of taking and other means of effecting the least practicable 
adverse impact on marine mammal species or stocks and their habitat 
(often referred to as mitigation), as well as requirements pertaining 
to the monitoring and reporting of such taking. Under 50 CFR 
217.186(e), issuance of an LOA shall be based on a determination that 
the level of taking will be consistent with the findings made for the 
total taking allowable under these regulations and a determination that 
the amount of take authorized under the LOA is of no more than small 
numbers.

Summary of Request and Analysis

    Shell plans to conduct two separate geophysical surveys, and 
submitted an LOA request for each survey. The first survey is a 3D 
ocean bottom node (OBN) survey of Mississippi Canyon Lease Block 809 
and portions of the surrounding approximately 143 lease blocks in the 
Ursa development area (Ursa survey). The second survey would also be a 
3D OBN survey, and would cover Mississippi Canyon Lease Block 890 and 
Atwater Canyon and portions of the surrounding approximately 36 lease 
blocks (Europa survey). See Section F of the respective LOA 
applications for maps of these areas.
    For both surveys, Shell anticipates using an airgun array 
consisting of 32 elements, with a total volume of 5,110 cubic inches 
(in\3\). Please see Shell's applications for additional detail.
    Consistent with the preamble to the final rule, the survey effort 
proposed by Shell in its LOA requests was used to develop LOA-specific 
take estimates based on the acoustic exposure modeling results 
described in the preamble (86 FR 5322, 5398; January 19, 2021). In 
order to generate the appropriate take number for authorization, the 
following information was considered: (1) Survey type; (2) location (by 
modeling zone \1\); (3) number of days; and (4) season.\2\ The acoustic 
exposure modeling performed in support of the rule provides 24-hour 
exposure estimates for each species, specific to each modeled survey 
type in each zone and season.
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    \1\ For purposes of acoustic exposure modeling, the GOM was 
divided into seven zones. Zone 1 is not included in the geographic 
scope of the rule.
    \2\ For purposes of acoustic exposure modeling, seasons include 
Winter (December-March) and Summer (April-November).
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    No 3D OBN surveys were included in the modeled survey types, and 
use of existing proxies (i.e., 2D, 3D NAZ, 3D WAZ, Coil) is generally 
conservative for use in evaluation of 3D OBN survey effort, largely due 
to the greater area covered by the modeled proxies. Summary 
descriptions of these modeled survey geometries are available in the 
preamble to the proposed rule (83 FR 29212, 29220; June 22, 2018). Coil 
was selected as the best available proxy survey type for both surveys 
in this case, because the spatial coverage of the planned surveys is 
most similar to the coil survey pattern. The planned 3D OBN surveys 
will each involve a single source vessel sailing along closely spaced 
survey lines that are 100 m apart and approximately 30 km in length. 
The path taken by the vessel to cover these lines will mean that 
consecutive survey lines sailed will be 400 m apart. The coil survey 
pattern was assumed to cover approximately 144 kilometers squared 
(km\2\) per day (compared with approximately 795 km\2\, 199 km\2\, and 
845 km\2\ per day for the 2D, 3D NAZ, and 3D WAZ survey patterns, 
respectively). Among the different parameters of the modeled survey 
patterns (e.g., area covered, line spacing, number of sources, shot 
interval, total simulated pulses), NMFS considers area covered per day 
to be most influential on daily modeled exposures exceeding Level B 
harassment criteria. Although Shell is not proposing specifically to 
perform surveys using the coil geometry, its planned 3D OBN surveys

[[Page 69624]]

are expected to cover approximately 15.7 km\2\ per day, meaning that 
the coil proxy is most representative of the effort planned by Shell in 
terms of predicted Level B harassment exposures.
    In addition, all available acoustic exposure modeling results 
assume use of a 72-element, 8,000 in\3\ array. Thus, estimated take 
numbers for this LOA are considered conservative due to differences in 
both the airgun array (32 elements, 5,110 in\3\) and the daily survey 
area planned by Shell (15.7 km\2\), as compared to those modeled for 
the rule.
    The Ursa survey will take place over 61 days, including 45 days of 
sound source operation. The Europa survey will take place over 122 
days, including 20 days of sound source operation. Both surveys will 
occur within Zone 5. For both surveys, the seasonal distribution of 
survey days is not known in advance. Therefore, the take estimates for 
each species are based on the season that produces the greater value.
    Additionally, for some species, take estimates based solely on the 
modeling yielded results that are not realistically likely to occur 
when considered in light of other relevant information available during 
the rulemaking process regarding marine mammal occurrence in the GOM. 
Thus, although the modeling conducted for the rule is a natural 
starting point for estimating take, our rule acknowledged that other 
information could be considered (see, e.g., 86 FR 5322, 5442 (January 
19, 2021), discussing the need to provide flexibility and make 
efficient use of previous public and agency review of other information 
and identifying that additional public review is not necessary unless 
the model or inputs used differ substantively from those that were 
previously reviewed by NMFS and the public). For this survey, NMFS has 
other relevant information reviewed during the rulemaking that 
indicates use of the acoustic exposure modeling to generate a take 
estimate for certain marine mammal species produces results 
inconsistent with what is known regarding their occurrence in the GOM. 
Accordingly, we have adjusted the calculated take estimates for those 
species as described below.
    Rice's whales (formerly known as GOM Bryde's whales) \3\ are 
generally found within a small area in the northeastern GOM in waters 
between 100-400 m depth along the continental shelf break (Rosel et 
al., 2016). Whaling records suggest that Rice's whales historically had 
a broader distribution within similar habitat parameters throughout the 
GOM (Reeves et al., 2011; Rosel and Wilcox, 2014), and a NOAA survey 
reported observation of a Rice's whale in the western GOM in 2017 
(NMFS, 2018). Habitat-based density modeling identified similar habitat 
(i.e., approximately 100-400 m water depths along the continental shelf 
break) as being potential Rice's whale habitat (Roberts et al., 2016), 
although a ``core habitat area'' defined in the northeastern GOM 
(outside the scope of the rule) contained approximately 92 percent of 
the predicted abundance of Rice's whales. See discussion provided at, 
e.g., 83 FR 29212, 29228, 29280 (June 22, 2018); 86 FR 5322, 5418 
(January 19, 2021).
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    \3\ The final rule refers to the GOM Bryde's whale (Balaenoptera 
edeni). These whales were subsequently described as a new species, 
Rice's whale (Balaenoptera ricei) (Rosel et al., 2021).
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    Although it is possible that Rice's whales may occur outside of 
their core habitat, NMFS expects that any such occurrence would be 
limited to the narrow band of suitable habitat described above (i.e., 
100-400 m). Shell's planned activities will occur in water depths of 
approximately 600-1,800 m and 800-1,400 (Ursa and Europa, respectively) 
in the central GOM. Thus, NMFS does not expect there to be the 
reasonable potential for take of Rice's whale in association with this 
survey and, accordingly, does not authorize take of Rice's whale 
through this LOA.
    Killer whales are the most rarely encountered species in the GOM, 
typically in deep waters of the central GOM (Roberts et al., 2015; 
Maze-Foley and Mullin, 2006). The approach used in the acoustic 
exposure modeling, in which seven modeling zones were defined over the 
U.S. GOM, necessarily averages fine-scale information about marine 
mammal distribution over the large area of each modeling zone. NMFS has 
determined that the approach results in unrealistic projections 
regarding the likelihood of encountering killer whales.
    As discussed in the final rule, the density models produced by 
Roberts et al. (2016) provide the best available scientific information 
regarding predicted density patterns of cetaceans in the U.S. GOM. The 
predictions represent the output of models derived from multi-year 
observations and associated environmental parameters that incorporate 
corrections for detection bias. However, in the case of killer whales, 
the model is informed by few data, as indicated by the coefficient of 
variation associated with the abundance predicted by the model (0.41, 
the second-highest of any GOM species model; Roberts et al., 2016). The 
model's authors noted the expected non-uniform distribution of this 
rarely-encountered species (as discussed above) and expressed that, due 
to the limited data available to inform the model, it ``should be 
viewed cautiously'' (Roberts et al., 2015).
    NOAA surveys in the GOM from 1992-2009 reported only 16 sightings 
of killer whales, with an additional three encounters during more 
recent survey effort from 2017-18 (Waring et al., 2013; www.boem.gov/gommapps). Two other species were also observed on less than 20 
occasions during the 1992-2009 NOAA surveys (Fraser's dolphin and false 
killer whale \4\). However, observational data collected by protected 
species observers (PSOs) on industry geophysical survey vessels from 
2002-2015 distinguish the killer whale in terms of rarity. During this 
period, killer whales were encountered on only 10 occasions, whereas 
the next most rarely encountered species (Fraser's dolphin) was 
recorded on 69 occasions (Barkaszi and Kelly, 2019). The false killer 
whale and pygmy killer whale were the next most rarely encountered 
species, with 110 records each. The killer whale was the species with 
the lowest detection frequency during each period over which PSO data 
were synthesized (2002-2008 and 2009-2015). This information 
qualitatively informed our rulemaking process, as discussed at 86 FR 
5322, 5334 (January 19, 2021), and similarly informs our analysis here.
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    \4\ However, note that these species have been observed over a 
greater range of water depths in the GOM than have killer whales.
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    The rarity of encounter during seismic surveys is not likely to be 
the product of high bias on the probability of detection. Unlike 
certain cryptic species with high detection bias, such as Kogia spp. or 
beaked whales, or deep-diving species with high availability bias, such 
as beaked whales or sperm whales, killer whales are typically available 
for detection when present and are easily observed. Roberts et al. 
(2015) stated that availability is not a major factor affecting 
detectability of killer whales from shipboard surveys, as they are not 
a particularly long-diving species. Baird et al. (2005) reported that 
mean dive durations for 41 fish-eating killer whales for dives greater 
than or equal to 1 minute in duration was 2.3-2.4 minutes, and Hooker 
et al. (2012) reported that killer whales spent 78 percent of their 
time at depths between 0-10 m. Similarly, Kvadsheim et al. (2012) 
reported data from a study of four killer whales, noting that the 
whales performed 20 times as many dives to 1-

[[Page 69625]]

30 m depth than to deeper waters, with an average depth during those 
most common dives of approximately 3 m.
    In summary, killer whales are the most rarely encountered species 
in the GOM and typically occur only in particularly deep water. While 
this information is reflected through the density model informing the 
acoustic exposure modeling results, there is relatively high 
uncertainty associated with the model for this species, and the 
acoustic exposure modeling applies mean distribution data over areas 
where the species is in fact less likely to occur. NMFS' determination 
in reflection of the data discussed above, which informed the final 
rule, is that use of the generic acoustic exposure modeling results for 
killer whales would result in high estimated take numbers that are 
inconsistent with the assumptions made in the rule regarding expected 
killer whale take (86 FR 5322, 5403; January 19, 2021).
    In past authorizations, NMFS has often addressed situations 
involving the low likelihood of encountering a rare species such as 
killer whales in the GOM through authorization of take of a single 
group of average size (i.e., representing a single potential 
encounter). See 83 FR 63268, December 7, 2018. See also 86 FR 29090, 
May 28, 2021; 85 FR 55645, September 9, 2020. For the reasons expressed 
above, NMFS determined that a single encounter of killer whales is more 
likely than the model-generated estimates and has authorized take 
associated with a single killer whale group encounter (i.e., up to 7 
animals) for the Ursa LOA.
    For the Europa LOA, use of the exposure modeling produces an 
estimate of 7 killer whale exposures. Given the foregoing, it is 
unlikely that even one killer whale would be encountered during this 
20-day survey, and accordingly no take of killer whales is authorized 
through the Europa LOA.
    Based on the results of our analysis, NMFS has determined that the 
level of taking authorized through the LOAs is consistent with the 
findings made for the total taking allowable under the regulations. See 
Tables 1 and 2 in this notice and Table 9 of the rule (86 FR 5322; 
January 19, 2021).

Small Numbers Determinations

    Under the GOM rule, NMFS may not authorize incidental take of 
marine mammals in an LOA if it will exceed ``small numbers.'' In short, 
when an acceptable estimate of the individual marine mammals taken is 
available, if the estimated number of individual animals taken is up 
to, but not greater than, one-third of the best available abundance 
estimate, NMFS will determine that the numbers of marine mammals taken 
of a species or stock are small. For more information please see NMFS' 
discussion of the MMPA's small numbers requirement provided in the 
final rule (86 FR 5322, 5438; January 19, 2021).
    The take numbers for authorization are determined as described 
above in the Summary of Request and Analysis section. Subsequently, the 
total incidents of harassment for each species are multiplied by scalar 
ratios to produce a derived product that better reflects the number of 
individuals likely to be taken within a survey (as compared to the 
total number of instances of take), accounting for the likelihood that 
some individual marine mammals may be taken on more than one day (see 
86 FR 5322, 5404; January 19, 2021). The output of this scaling, where 
appropriate, is incorporated into an adjusted total take estimate that 
is the basis for NMFS' small numbers determinations, as depicted in 
Table 1 for Shell's Ursa survey and in Table 2 for the Europa survey.
    This product is used by NMFS in making the necessary small numbers 
determinations, through comparison with the best available abundance 
estimates (see discussion at 86 FR 5322, 5391; January 19, 2021). For 
this comparison, NMFS' approach is to use the maximum theoretical 
population, determined through review of current stock assessment 
reports (SAR; www.fisheries.noaa.gov/national/marine-mammal-protection/marine-mammal-stock-assessments) and model-predicted abundance 
information (https://seamap.env.duke.edu/models/Duke/GOM/). For the 
latter, for taxa where a density surface model could be produced, we 
use the maximum mean seasonal (i.e., 3-month) abundance prediction for 
purposes of comparison as a precautionary smoothing of month-to-month 
fluctuations and in consideration of a corresponding lack of data in 
the literature regarding seasonal distribution of marine mammals in the 
GOM. Information supporting the small numbers determinations is 
provided in Tables 1 and 2.

                                        Table 1--Take Analysis, Ursa LOA
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                    Authorized      Scaled take                       Percent
                     Species                           take             \1\        Abundance \2\     abundance
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Rice's whale....................................               0             n/a              51             n/a
Sperm whale.....................................           1,184           500.7           2,207            22.7
Kogia spp.......................................         \3\ 447           159.7           4,373             3.7
Beaked whales...................................           5,224           527.6           3,768            14.0
Rough-toothed dolphin...........................             898           257.8           4,853             5.3
Bottlenose dolphin..............................           4,256         1,221.5         176,108             0.7
Clymene dolphin.................................           2,528           725.4          11,895             6.1
Atlantic spotted dolphin........................           1,700           487.9          74,785             0.7
Pantropical spotted dolphin.....................          11,470         3,291.9         102,361             3.2
Spinner dolphin.................................           3,073           882.1          25,114             3.5
Striped dolphin.................................             987           283.3           5,229             5.4
Fraser's dolphin................................             284            81.5           1,665             4.9
Risso's dolphin.................................             743           219.1           3,764             5.8
Melon-headed whale..............................           1,661           489.9           7,003             7.0
Pygmy killer whale..............................             391           115.3           2,126             5.4
False killer whale..............................             622           183.4           3,204             5.7
Killer whale....................................               7             n/a             267             2.6
Short-finned pilot whale........................             480           141.7           1,981             7.2
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\1\ Scalar ratios were applied to ``Authorized Take'' values as described at 86 FR 5322, 5404 (January 19, 2021)
  to derive scaled take numbers shown here.

[[Page 69626]]

 
\2\ Best abundance estimate. For most taxa, the best abundance estimate for purposes of comparison with take
  estimates is considered here to be the model-predicted abundance (Roberts et al., 2016). For those taxa where
  a density surface model predicting abundance by month was produced, the maximum mean seasonal abundance was
  used. For those taxa where abundance is not predicted by month, only mean annual abundance is available. For
  the killer whale, the larger estimated SAR abundance estimate is used.
\3\ Includes 24 takes by Level A harassment and 423 takes by Level B harassment. Scalar ratio is applied to
  takes by Level B harassment only; small numbers determination made on basis of scaled Level B harassment take
  plus authorized Level A harassment take.


                                       Table 2--Take Analysis, Europa LOA
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                                                    Authorized      Scaled take
                     Species                           take             \1\        Abundance \2\    % abundance
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Rice's whale....................................               0             n/a              51             n/a
Sperm whale.....................................             526           222.5           2,207            10.1
Kogia spp.......................................         \3\ 199            71.0           4,373             1.6
Beaked whales...................................           2,322           234.5           3,768             6.2
Rough-toothed dolphin...........................             399           114.6           4,853             2.4
Bottlenose dolphin..............................           1,892           542.9         176,108             0.3
Clymene dolphin.................................           1,123           322.4          11,895             2.7
Atlantic spotted dolphin........................             756           216.9          74,785             0.3
Pantropical spotted dolphin.....................           5,098         1,463.1         102,361             1.4
Spinner dolphin.................................           1,366           392.0          25,114             1.6
Striped dolphin.................................             439           125.9           5,229             2.4
Fraser's dolphin................................             126            36.2           1,665             2.2
Risso's dolphin.................................             330            97.4           3,764             2.6
Melon-headed whale..............................             738           217.7           7,003             3.1
Pygmy killer whale..............................             174            51.2           2,126             2.4
False killer whale..............................             276            81.5           3,204             2.5
Killer whale....................................               0             n/a             267             n/a
Short-finned pilot whale........................             213            63.0           1,981             3.2
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Scalar ratios were applied to ``Authorized Take'' values as described at 86 FR 5322, 5404 (January 19, 2021)
  to derive scaled take numbers shown here.
\2\ Best abundance estimate. For most taxa, the best abundance estimate for purposes of comparison with take
  estimates is considered here to be the model-predicted abundance (Roberts et al., 2016). For those taxa where
  a density surface model predicting abundance by month was produced, the maximum mean seasonal abundance was
  used. For those taxa where abundance is not predicted by month, only mean annual abundance is available. For
  the killer whale, the larger estimated SAR abundance estimate is used.
\3\ Includes 11 takes by Level A harassment and 188 takes by Level B harassment. Scalar ratio is applied to
  takes by Level B harassment only; small numbers determination made on basis of scaled Level B harassment take
  plus authorized Level A harassment take.
\5\ Modeled take of 16 increased to account for potential encounter with group of average size (Maze-Foley and
  Mullin, 2006).

    Based on the analysis contained herein of Shell's proposed survey 
activity described in its LOA applications and the anticipated take of 
marine mammals, NMFS finds that small numbers of marine mammals will be 
taken relative to the affected species or stock sizes and therefore is 
of no more than small numbers.

Authorization

    NMFS has determined that the level of taking for these LOA requests 
is consistent with the findings made for the total taking allowable 
under the incidental take regulations and that the amount of take 
authorized under the LOAs is of no more than small numbers. 
Accordingly, we have issued two LOAs to Shell authorizing the take of 
marine mammals incidental to its geophysical survey activity, as 
described above.

    Dated: December 3, 2021.
Kimberly Damon-Randall,
Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries 
Service.
[FR Doc. 2021-26601 Filed 12-7-21; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P