[Federal Register Volume 75, Number 22 (Wednesday, February 3, 2010)]
[Pages 5575-5576]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2010-2286]



National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

RIN 0648-XU14

Taking and Importing Marine Mammals; Navy Training Activities 
Conducted in the Gulf of Alaska

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

ACTION:  Notice; receipt of application for letter of authorization; 
request for comments and information.


SUMMARY:  NMFS has received a request from the U.S. Navy (Navy) for 
authorization to take marine mammals incidental to military readiness 
training activities to be conducted in the Gulf of Alaska (GOA) 
Temporary Maritime Activities Area (TMAA) for the period beginning 
December 2010 and ending December 2015. Pursuant to the implementing 
regulations of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), NMFS is 
announcing our receipt of the Navy's request for the development and 
implementation of regulations governing the incidental taking of marine 
mammals and inviting information, suggestions, and comments on the 
Navy's application and request.

DATES:  Comments and information must be received no later than March 
5, 2010.

ADDRESSES: Comments on the application should be addressed to Michael 
Payne, Chief, Permits, Conservation and Education Division, Office of 
Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service, 1315 East-West 
Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910-3225. The mailbox address for 
providing email comments is [email protected]. NMFS is not 
responsible for e-mail comments sent to addresses other than the one 
provided here. Comments sent via e-mail, including all attachments, 
must not exceed a 10-megabyte file size.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:  Jolie Harrison, Office of Protected 
Resources, NMFS, (301) 713-2289, ext. 166.



    A copy of the Navy's application may be obtained by writing to the 
address specified above (See ADDRESSES), telephoning the contact listed 
above (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT), or visiting the internet 
at: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental.htm. The Navy's 
Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the GOA TMAA was made 
available to the public on December 11, 2009, and may be viewed at 
http://www.gulfofalaskanavyeis.com/. During the initial 45-day public 
comment period, the Navy hosted five public hearings.


    In the case of military readiness activities, sections 101(a)(5)(A) 
and (D) of the MMPA (16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.) direct the Secretary of 
Commerce (Secretary) to allow, upon request, the incidental, but not 
intentional taking of marine mammals by U.S. citizens who engage in a 
specified activity (other than commercial fishing) if certain findings 
are made and regulations are issued or, if the taking is limited to 
harassment, notice of a proposed authorization is provided to the 
public for review.
    Authorization for incidental takings may be granted if NMFS finds 
that the taking will have no more than 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, and that 
the permissible methods of taking and requirements pertaining to the 
mitigation, monitoring and reporting of such taking 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.
    With respect to military readiness activities, the MMPA defines 
``harassment'' as:
    (i) any act that injures or has the significant potential to 
injure a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild [Level A 
Harassment]; or (ii) any act that disturbs or is likely to disturb a 
marine mammal or

[[Page 5576]]

marine mammal stock in the wild by causing disruption of natural 
behavioral patterns, including, but not limited to, migration, 
surfacing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or sheltering, to a point 
where such behavioral patterns are abandoned or significantly 
altered [Level B Harassment].

Summary of Request

    In March 2009, NMFS received an application from the Navy 
requesting authorization to take individuals of 20 species of marine 
mammals (15 cetaceans and 5 pinnipeds) incidental to upcoming training 
activities to be conducted in the GOA TMAA, which is a polygon roughly 
the shape of a 300 nm by 150 nm rectangle oriented northwest to 
southeast in the long direction, over the course of 5 years. NMFS 
subsequently requested additional information, which was provided in 
the form of a revised application in November, 2009. These training 
activities are classified as military readiness activities. The Navy 
states that these training activities may expose some of the marine 
mammals present in the area to sound from various active tactical sonar 
sources or to pressure from underwater detonations. The Navy requests 
authorization to take individuals of 20 species of cetaceans and 
pinnipeds by Level B Harassment. Further, the Navy requests 
authorization to take 3 individual beaked whales (of any of the 
following species: Baird's beaked whale, Cuvier's beaked whale, 
Stejneger's beaked whale) annually by serious injury or mortality.

Specified Activities

    In the application submitted to NMFS, the Navy requests 
authorization to take marine mammals incidental to conducting training 
activities utilizing mid- and high frequency active sonar sources and 
explosive detonations. These sonar and explosive sources will be 
utilized during Anti-submarine Warfare (ASW) Tracking and Torpedo 
Exercises, Extended Echo Ranging, Improved Extended Echo Ranging, and 
Advanced Extended Echo Ranging (EER/IEER/AEER) events, Missile 
Exercises, Gunnery Exercises, Bombing Exercises, and Sinking Exercises. 
Table 1-7 in the application lists the activity types, the equipment 
and platforms involved, and the duration and potential locations of the 
    The training activities will take place during the summer months, 
in the form of one or two major exercises or focused activity periods. 
These exercises or activity periods would each last up to 21 days and 
consist of multiple component training activities. Unlike Navy Training 
activities in other areas, the GOA TMAA is not a Range Complex and as 
such, there are no other or ongoing small scale Navy Training 
activities conducted outside these activity periods.

Information Solicited

    Interested persons may submit information, suggestions, and 
comments concerning the Navy's request (see ADDRESSES). All 
information, suggestions, and comments related to the Navy's GOA TMAA 
request and NMFS' potential development and implementation of 
regulations governing the incidental taking of marine mammals by the 
Navy's GOA TMAA activities will be considered by NMFS in developing, if 
appropriate, the most effective regulations governing the issuance of 
letters of authorization.

    Dated: January 28, 2010.
P. Michael Payne,
Chief, Division of Permits, Conservation, and Education, Director, 
Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2010-2286 Filed 2-2-10; 8:45 am]