[MARMAM] comments on southern California navy training proposed rule

MARMAM Editors marmamed at uvic.ca
Fri Nov 7 10:47:58 PST 2008


NMFS is requesting comments on a proposed rule. A summary below and full 
details at http://www.epa.gov/EPA-IMPACT/2008/October/Day-14/i23618.htm

The deadline for comments is November 13, 2008


[Federal Register: October 14, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 199)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Page 60835-60908]
>From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr14oc08-26]
[[Page 60836]]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
50 CFR Part 216
[Docket No. 0808061069-81171-01]
RIN 0648-AW91

Taking and Importing Marine Mammals; U.S. Navy Training in the
Southern California Range Complex

AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.
ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments.

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SUMMARY: NMFS has received a request from the U.S. Navy (Navy) for
authorization to take marine mammals incidental to training activities
conducted in the Southern California Range Complex (SOCAL), which
extends south and southwest off the southern California coast, for the
period of January 2009 through January 2014. Pursuant to the Marine
Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), NMFS is proposing regulations to govern
that take and requesting information, suggestions, and comments on
these proposed regulations.

DATES: Comments and information must be received no later than November
13, 2008.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by 0648-AW91, by any one
of the following methods:
      Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public comments
via the Federal eRulemaking Portal, http://www.regulations.gov.
      Hand delivery or mailing of paper, disk, or CD-ROM
comments 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.
     Instructions: All comments received are a part of the public record
and will generally be posted to http://www.regulations.gov 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.
     NMFS will accept anonymous comments. Attachments to electronic
comments will be accepted in Microsoft Word, Excel, WordPerfect, or
Adobe PDF file formats only.

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

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Availability

     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 SOCAL was published on
April 4, 2008, and may be viewed at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/
permits/incidental.htm. NMFS is participating in the development of the
Navy's EIS as a cooperating agency under NEPA.

Background

     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) during periods of not more than five consecutive years each 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 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, and if 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.

     The National Defense Authorization Act of 2004 (NDAA) (Pub. L. 108-
136) modified the MMPA by removing the ``small numbers'' and
``specified geographical region'' limitations and amended the
definition of ``harassment'' as it applies to a ``military readiness
activity'' to read as follows (Section 3(18)(B) of the MMPA):

     (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 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 1, 2008, NMFS received an application from the Navy
requesting authorization for the take of individuals of 37 species of
marine mammals incidental to upcoming Navy training activities,
maintenance, and research, development, testing, and evaluation (RDT&E)
activities to be conducted within SOCAL, which extends southwest
approximately 600 nm in the general shape of a 200-nm wide rectangle
(see the Navy's application), over the course of 5 years. These
training activities are military readiness activities under the
provisions of the NDAA. The Navy states, and NMFS concurs, that these
military readiness activities may incidentally take marine mammals
present within SOCAL by exposing them to sound from mid-frequency or
high frequency active sonar (MFAS/HFAS) or underwater detonations. The
Navy requests authorization to take individuals of 37 species of marine
mammals by Level B Harassment. Further, though they do not anticipate
it to occur, the Navy requests authorization to take, by injury or
mortality, up to 10 beaked whales over the course of the 5-yr regulations.

Background of Request

     The Navy's mission is to maintain, train, and equip combat-ready
naval forces capable of winning wars, deterring aggression, and
maintaining freedom of the seas. Title 10, U.S. Code (U.S.C.) 5062
directs the Chief of Naval Operations to train all naval forces for
combat. The Chief of Naval Operations meets that direction, in part, by
conducting at-sea training exercises and ensuring naval forces have
access to ranges, operating areas (OPAREAs) and airspace where they can
develop and maintain skills for wartime missions and conduct research,
development, testing, and evaluation (RDT&E) of naval weapons systems.
     The Navy proposes to implement actions within the SOCAL Range
Complex to:
      Increase training and RDT&E operations from current levels
as necessary to support the Navy-wide training plan, known as the Fleet
Readiness Training Plan (FRTP);




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