[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 193 (Thursday, October 4, 2012)]
[Pages 60678-60679]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-24539]



National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

RIN 0648-BC52

Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; U.S. 
Navy Training and Testing Activities in the Hawaii-Southern California 
Training and Testing Study Area

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 the training and 
testing activities conducted in the Hawaii-Southern California Training 
and Testing (HSTT) study area from January 2014 through January 2019. 
Pursuant to 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 November 
5, 2012.

ADDRESSES: Comments on the application should be addressed to Michael 
Payne, Chief, Permits and Conservation 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 email 
comments sent to addresses other than the one provided here. Comments 
sent via email, including all attachments, must not exceed a 10-
megabyte file size.
    Instructions: All comments received are a part of the public record 
and will generally be posted to http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental.htm without change. All Personal Identifying Information 
(for example, name, address, etc.) voluntarily submitted by the 
commenter may be publicly accessible. Do not submit Confidential 
Business Information or otherwise sensitive or protected information.
    A copy of the Navy's application may be obtained by visiting the 
internet at: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental.htm. The 
Navy's Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for HSTT was made 
available to the public on May 11, 2012 (77 FR 27743). Documents cited 
in this notice may also be viewed, by appointment, during regular 
business hours, at the aforementioned address.

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



    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 United States citizens who engage in a specified activity 
(other than commercial fishing) within a specific 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.
    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

[[Page 60679]]

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 
    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 stock in the wild [Level A 
Harassment]; or (ii) any act that disturbs or is likely to disturb a 
marine mammal or 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

    On April 13, 2012, NMFS received an application from the Navy 
requesting two letters of authorization (LOAs) for the take of 39 
species of marine mammals incidental to Navy training and testing 
activities to be conducted in the HSTT Study Area over 5 years. The 
Navy is requesting a 5-year LOA for training activities and a 5-year 
LOA for testing activities, each proposed to be conducted from 2014 
through 2019. The Study Area includes three existing range complexes: 
the Southern California (SOCAL) Range Complex, Hawaii Range Complex 
(HRC), and Silver Strand Training Complex (SSTC) (see page 2 of the 
Navy's application for a map). In addition, the Study Area includes 
Navy pierside locations and areas on the high seas where maintenance, 
training, or testing may occur. These activities are classified as 
military readiness activities. The Navy states that these activities 
may expose some of the marine mammals present within the Study Area to 
sound from active sonar, underwater detonations, and pile driving and 
removal. In addition, incidental takes of marine mammals may occur from 
ship strikes. The Navy is requesting authorization to take 39 marine 
mammal species by Level B harassment and 30 marine mammal species by 
serious injury or mortality.

Description of the Specified Activity

    In the application submitted to NMFS, the Navy requests 
authorization to take marine mammals incidental to conducting the 
following training and testing activities: amphibious warfare; anti-
surface warfare; anti-submarine warfare; mine warfare; naval special 
warfare; Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) testing; Naval Sea Systems 
Command (NAVSEA) testing; Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command 
(SPAWAR) testing; and Office of Naval Research (ONR) and Naval Research 
Laboratory (NRL) testing. Detailed descriptions of these activities, 
including duration, location, and equipment involved, are provided in 
the Navy's application. The Navy has also prepared a Draft 
Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) analyzing the effects on the 
human environment of implementing their preferred alternative (among 

Information Solicited

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

    Dated: September 27, 2012.
Helen M. Golde,
Acting Deputy Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2012-24539 Filed 10-3-12; 8:45 am]