[Federal Register Volume 83, Number 36 (Thursday, February 22, 2018)]
[Notices]
[Pages 7699-7700]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2018-03578]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

RIN 0648-XG012


Taking and Importing Marine Mammals; Taking Marine Mammals 
Incidental to Gull and Climate Monitoring/Research in Glacier Bay 
National Park, 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.

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SUMMARY: NMFS has received a request from the National Park Service 
(NPS) for authorization to take small numbers of marine mammals 
incidental to glaucous-winged gull and climate monitoring/research in 
Glacier Bay National Park (GLBA NP), Alaska over the course of five 
years from the date of issuance. Pursuant to regulations implementing 
the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), NMFS is announcing receipt of 
the NPS' request for the development and implementation of regulations 
governing the incidental taking of marine mammals. NMFS invites the 
public to provide information, suggestions, and comments on the NPS' 
application and request.

DATES: Comments and information must be received no later than March 
26, 2018.

ADDRESSES: Comments on the applications should be addressed to Jolie 
Harrison, Chief, Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected 
Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service. Physical comments should 
be sent to 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910 and 
electronic comments should be sent to [email protected].
    Instructions: NMFS is not responsible for comments sent by any 
other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the 
end of the comment period. Comments received electronically, including 
all attachments, must not exceed a 25-megabyte file size. Attachments 
to electronic comments will be accepted in Microsoft Word or Excel or 
Adobe PDF file formats only. All comments received are a part of the 
public record and will generally be posted online at https://
www.fisheries.noaa.gov/national/marine-mammal-protection/incidental-
take-authorizations-research-

[[Page 7700]]

and-other-activities without change. All personal identifying 
information (e.g., name, address) voluntarily submitted by the 
commenter may be publicly accessible. Do not submit confidential 
business information or otherwise sensitive or protected information.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jonathan Molineaux, Office of 
Protected Resources, NMFS, (301) 427-8401. An electronic copy of the 
NPS's application may be obtained online at: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/national/marine-mammal-protection/incidental-take-authorizations-research-and-other-activities. In case of problems 
accessing these documents, please call the contact listed above.

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 (as delegated to NMFS) to allow, upon 
request, the incidental, but not intentional, taking of small numbers 
of marine mammals by U.S. citizens who engage in a specified activity 
(other than commercial fishing) within a specified geographical region 
if certain findings are made and either regulations are issued or, if 
the taking is limited to harassment, a notice of a proposed 
authorization is provided to the public for review.
    An incidental take authorization 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.
    The MMPA states that the term ``take'' means to harass, hunt, 
capture, kill or attempt to harass, hunt, capture, or kill any marine 
mammal.
    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).

Summary of Request

    On February 6, 2018, NMFS received an adequate and complete 
application from the NPS requesting authorization for take of marine 
mammals incidental to glaucous-winged gull and climate monitoring 
research activities in GLBA NP, Alaska. The requested regulations would 
be valid for five years, from March 2019 through December 2023. The NPS 
plans to conduct necessary work, including gull and climate monitoring 
to assist in informing future native egg harvests and fill crucial 
climate data gaps. The proposed action may incidentally expose marine 
mammals occurring in the vicinity to either acoustic disturbance from 
motorboat sounds or visual disturbance from the presence of observers, 
thereby resulting in incidental take, by Level B harassment only. 
Therefore, the NPS requests authorization to incidentally take eastern 
pacific harbor seals.

Specified Activities

    The purpose for the monitoring activities are as follows. Gull 
monitoring studies are mandated by a Record of Decision of a 
Legislative Environmental Impact Statement (LEIS) (NPS 2010) which 
states that NPS must initiate a monitoring program for glaucous-winged 
gulls (Larus glaucescens) to inform future native egg harvest by the 
Hoonah Tlingit in Glacier Bay, Alaska. Installation of a new weather 
station on Lone Island is being planned as one of several installations 
intended to fill coverage gaps among existing weather stations in GLBA 
NP (NPS 2015a). These new stations will be operated as the foundation 
of a new long-term climate-monitoring program for GLBA NP. The maximum 
number of days the NPS will conduct annual monitoring activities that 
require a Letter of Authorization will be 24 days during each of the 
five years of work. This consists of four possible yearly climate 
monitoring visits to Lone Island during the months of October to April 
and five possible annual gull monitoring visits each to Boulder Island, 
Geikie Rock, Lone Island and Flapjack Island during the months of May 
to September. Eastern Pacific harbor (Phoca vitulina richardii) seals 
are the only marine mammals expected to be taken by the activities as 
the NPS will maintain a distance of 100 meters from all Steller sea 
lions.

Information Solicited

    Interested persons may submit information, suggestions, and 
comments concerning the NPS' request (see ADDRESSES). NMFS will 
consider all information, suggestions, and comments related to the 
request during the development of proposed regulations governing the 
incidental taking of marine mammals by the NPS, if appropriate.

    Dated: February 15, 2018.
Donna Wieting,
Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries 
Service.
[FR Doc. 2018-03578 Filed 2-21-18; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3510-22-P