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Title 50Chapter IISubchapter CPart 216 → Subpart I


Title 50: Wildlife and Fisheries
PART 216—REGULATIONS GOVERNING THE TAKING AND IMPORTING OF MARINE MAMMALS


Subpart I—General Regulations Governing Small Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities


Contents
§216.101   Purpose.
§216.102   Scope.
§216.103   Definitions.
§216.104   Submission of requests.
§216.105   Specific regulations.
§216.106   Letter of Authorization.
§216.107   Incidental harassment authorization for Arctic waters.
§216.108   Requirements for monitoring and reporting under incidental harassment authorizations for Arctic waters.

Source: 61 FR 15887, Apr. 10, 1996, unless otherwise noted.

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§216.101   Purpose.

The regulations in this subpart implement section 101(a)(5) (A) through (D) of the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, as amended, 16 U.S.C. 1371(a)(5), which provides a mechanism for allowing, 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 geographic region.

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§216.102   Scope.

The taking of small numbers of marine mammals under section 101(a)(5) (A) through (D) of the Marine Mammal Protection Act may be allowed only if the National Marine Fisheries Service:

(a) Finds, based on the best scientific evidence available, that the total taking by the specified activity during the specified time period will have a negligible impact on species or stock of marine mammal(s) and will not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of those species or stocks of marine mammals intended for subsistence uses;

(b) Prescribes either regulations under §216.106, or requirements and conditions contained within an incidental harassment authorization issued under §216.107, setting forth permissible methods of taking and other means of effecting the least practicable adverse impact on the species or stock of marine mammal and its habitat and on the availability of the species or stock of marine mammal for subsistence uses, paying particular attention to rookeries, mating grounds, and areas of similar significance; and

(c) Prescribes either regulations or requirements and conditions contained within an incidental harassment authorization, as appropriate, pertaining to the monitoring and reporting of such taking. The specific regulations governing certain specified activities are contained in subsequent subparts of this part.

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§216.103   Definitions.

In addition to definitions contained in the MMPA, and in §216.3, and unless the context otherwise requires, in subsequent subparts to this part:

Arctic waters means the marine and estuarine waters north of 60° N. lat.

Citizens of the United States and U.S. citizens mean individual U.S. citizens or any corporation or similar entity if it is organized under the laws of the United States or any governmental unit defined in 16 U.S.C. 1362(13). U.S. Federal, state and local government agencies shall also constitute citizens of the United States for purposes of this part.

Incidental harassment, incidental taking and incidental, but not intentional, taking all mean an accidental taking. This does not mean that the taking is unexpected, but rather it includes those takings that are infrequent, unavoidable or accidental. (A complete definition of “take” is contained in §216.3).

Negligible impact is 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.

Small numbers means a portion of a marine mammal species or stock whose taking would have a negligible impact on that species or stock.

Specified activity means any activity, other than commercial fishing, that takes place in a specified geographical region and potentially involves the taking of small numbers of marine mammals.

Specified geographical region means an area within which a specified activity is conducted and that has certain biogeographic characteristics.

Unmitigable adverse impact means an impact resulting from the specified activity:

(1) That is likely to reduce the availability of the species to a level insufficient for a harvest to meet subsistence needs by:

(i) Causing the marine mammals to abandon or avoid hunting areas;

(ii) Directly displacing subsistence users; or

(iii) Placing physical barriers between the marine mammals and the subsistence hunters; and

(2) That cannot be sufficiently mitigated by other measures to increase the availability of marine mammals to allow subsistence needs to be met.

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§216.104   Submission of requests.

(a) In order for the National Marine Fisheries Service to consider authorizing the taking by U.S. citizens of small numbers of marine mammals incidental to a specified activity (other than commercial fishing), or to make a finding that an incidental take is unlikely to occur, a written request must be submitted to the Assistant Administrator. All requests must include the following information for their activity:

(1) A detailed description of the specific activity or class of activities that can be expected to result in incidental taking of marine mammals;

(2) The date(s) and duration of such activity and the specific geographical region where it will occur;

(3) The species and numbers of marine mammals likely to be found within the activity area;

(4) A description of the status, distribution, and seasonal distribution (when applicable) of the affected species or stocks of marine mammals likely to be affected by such activities;

(5) The type of incidental taking authorization that is being requested (i.e., takes by harassment only; takes by harassment, injury and/or death) and the method of incidental taking;

(6) By age, sex, and reproductive condition (if possible), the number of marine mammals (by species) that may be taken by each type of taking identified in paragraph (a)(5) of this section, and the number of times such takings by each type of taking are likely to occur;

(7) The anticipated impact of the activity upon the species or stock of marine mammal;

(8) The anticipated impact of the activity on the availability of the species or stocks of marine mammals for subsistence uses;

(9) The anticipated impact of the activity upon the habitat of the marine mammal populations, and the likelihood of restoration of the affected habitat;

(10) The anticipated impact of the loss or modification of the habitat on the marine mammal populations involved;

(11) The availability and feasibility (economic and technological) of equipment, methods, and manner of conducting such activity or other means of effecting the least practicable adverse impact upon the affected species or stocks, their habitat, and on their availability for subsistence uses, paying particular attention to rookeries, mating grounds, and areas of similar significance;

(12) Where the proposed activity would take place in or near a traditional Arctic subsistence hunting area and/or may affect the availability of a species or stock of marine mammal for Arctic subsistence uses, the applicant must submit either a plan of cooperation or information that identifies what measures have been taken and/or will be taken to minimize any adverse effects on the availability of marine mammals for subsistence uses. A plan must include the following:

(i) A statement that the applicant has notified and provided the affected subsistence community with a draft plan of cooperation;

(ii) A schedule for meeting with the affected subsistence communities to discuss proposed activities and to resolve potential conflicts regarding any aspects of either the operation or the plan of cooperation;

(iii) A description of what measures the applicant has taken and/or will take to ensure that proposed activities will not interfere with subsistence whaling or sealing; and

(iv) What plans the applicant has to continue to meet with the affected communities, both prior to and while conducting the activity, to resolve conflicts and to notify the communities of any changes in the operation;

(13) The suggested means of accomplishing the necessary monitoring and reporting that will result in increased knowledge of the species, the level of taking or impacts on populations of marine mammals that are expected to be present while conducting activities and suggested means of minimizing burdens by coordinating such reporting requirements with other schemes already applicable to persons conducting such activity. Monitoring plans should include a description of the survey techniques that would be used to determine the movement and activity of marine mammals near the activity site(s) including migration and other habitat uses, such as feeding. Guidelines for developing a site-specific monitoring plan may be obtained by writing to the Director, Office of Protected Resources; and

(14) Suggested means of learning of, encouraging, and coordinating research opportunities, plans, and activities relating to reducing such incidental taking and evaluating its effects.

(b)(1) The Assistant Administrator shall determine the adequacy and completeness of a request and, if determined to be adequate and complete, will begin the public review process by publishing in the Federal Register either:

(i) A proposed incidental harassment authorization; or

(ii) A notice of receipt of a request for the implementation or reimplementation of regulations governing the incidental taking.

(2) Through notice in the Federal Register, newspapers of general circulation, and appropriate electronic media in the coastal areas that may be affected by such activity, NMFS will invite information, suggestions, and comments for a period not to exceed 30 days from the date of publication in the Federal Register. All information and suggestions will be considered by the National Marine Fisheries Service in developing, if appropriate, the most effective regulations governing the issuance of letters of authorization or conditions governing the issuance of an incidental harassment authorization.

(3) Applications that are determined to be incomplete or inappropriate for the type of taking requested, will be returned to the applicant with an explanation of why the application is being returned.

(c) The Assistant Administrator shall evaluate each request to determine, based upon the best available scientific evidence, whether the taking by the specified activity within the specified geographic region will have a negligible impact on the species or stock and, where appropriate, will not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of such species or stock for subsistence uses. If the Assistant Administrator finds that the mitigating measures would render the impact of the specified activity negligible when it would not otherwise satisfy that requirement, the Assistant Administrator may make a finding of negligible impact subject to such mitigating measures being successfully implemented. Any preliminary findings of “negligible impact” and “no unmitigable adverse impact” shall be proposed for public comment along with either the proposed incidental harassment authorization or the proposed regulations for the specific activity.

(d) If, subsequent to the public review period, the Assistant Administrator finds that the taking by the specified activity would have more than a negligible impact on the species or stock of marine mammal or would have an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of such species or stock for subsistence uses, the Assistant Administrator shall publish in the Federal Register the negative finding along with the basis for denying the request.

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§216.105   Specific regulations.

(a) For all petitions for regulations under this paragraph, applicants must provide the information requested in §216.104(a) on their activity as a whole, which includes, but is not necessarily limited to, an assessment of total impacts by all persons conducting the activity.

(b) For allowed activities that may result in incidental takings of small numbers of marine mammals by harassment, serious injury, death or a combination thereof, specific regulations shall be established for each allowed activity that set forth:

(1) Permissible methods of taking;

(2) Means of effecting the least practicable adverse impact on the species and its habitat and on the availability of the species for subsistence uses; and

(3) Requirements for monitoring and reporting, including requirements for the independent peer-review of proposed monitoring plans where the proposed activity may affect the availability of a species or stock for taking for subsistence uses.

(c) Regulations will be established based on the best available information. As new information is developed, through monitoring, reporting, or research, the regulations may be modified, in whole or in part, after notice and opportunity for public review.

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§216.106   Letter of Authorization.

(a) A Letter of Authorization, which may be issued only to U.S. citizens, is required to conduct activities pursuant to any regulations established under §216.105. Requests for Letters of Authorization shall be submitted to the Director, Office of Protected Resources. The information to be submitted in a request for an authorization will be specified in the appropriate subpart to this part or may be obtained by writing to the above named person.

(b) Issuance of a Letter of Authorization will be based on a determination that the level of taking will be consistent with the findings made for the total taking allowable under the specific regulations.

(c) Letters of Authorization will specify the period of validity and any additional terms and conditions appropriate for the specific request.

(d) Notice of issuance of all Letters of Authorization will be published in the Federal Register within 30 days of issuance.

(e) Letters of Authorization shall be withdrawn or suspended, either on an individual or class basis, as appropriate, if, after notice and opportunity for public comment, the Assistant Administrator determines that:

(1) The regulations prescribed are not being substantially complied with; or

(2) The taking allowed is having, or may have, more than a negligible impact on the species or stock or, where relevant, an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of the species or stock for subsistence uses.

(f) The requirement for notice and opportunity for public review in §216.106(e) shall not apply if the Assistant Administrator determines that an emergency exists that poses a significant risk to the wellbeing of the species or stocks of marine mammals concerned.

(g) A violation of any of the terms and conditions of a Letter of Authorization or of the specific regulations shall subject the Holder and/or any individual who is operating under the authority of the Holder's Letter of Authorization to penalties provided in the MMPA.

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§216.107   Incidental harassment authorization for Arctic waters.

(a) Except for activities that have the potential to result in serious injury or mortality, which must be authorized under §216.105, incidental harassment authorizations may be issued, following a 30-day public review period, to allowed activities that may result in only the incidental harassment of a small number of marine mammals. Each such incidental harassment authorization shall set forth:

(1) Permissible methods of taking by harassment;

(2) Means of effecting the least practicable adverse impact on the species, its habitat, and on the availability of the species for subsistence uses; and

(3) Requirements for monitoring and reporting, including requirements for the independent peer-review of proposed monitoring plans where the proposed activity may affect the availability of a species or stock for taking for subsistence uses.

(b) Issuance of an incidental harassment authorization will be based on a determination that the number of marine mammals taken by harassment will be small, will have a negligible impact on the species or stock of marine mammal(s), and will not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of species or stocks for taking for subsistence uses.

(c) An incidental harassment authorization will be either issued or denied within 45 days after the close of the public review period.

(d) Notice of issuance or denial of an incidental harassment authorization will be published in the Federal Register within 30 days of issuance of a determination.

(e) Incidental harassment authorizations will be valid for a period of time not to exceed 1 year but may be renewed for additional periods of time not to exceed 1 year for each reauthorization.

(f) An incidental harassment authorization shall be modified, withdrawn, or suspended if, after notice and opportunity for public comment, the Assistant Administrator determines that:

(1) The conditions and requirements prescribed in the authorization are not being substantially complied with; or

(2) The authorized taking, either individually or in combination with other authorizations, is having, or may have, more than a negligible impact on the species or stock or, where relevant, an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of the species or stock for subsistence uses.

(g) The requirement for notice and opportunity for public review in paragraph (f) of this section shall not apply if the Assistant Administrator determines that an emergency exists that poses a significant risk to the well-being of the species or stocks of marine mammals concerned.

(h) A violation of any of the terms and conditions of an incidental harassment authorization shall subject the holder and/or any individual who is operating under the authority of the holder's incidental harassment authorization to penalties provided in the MMPA.

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§216.108   Requirements for monitoring and reporting under incidental harassment authorizations for Arctic waters.

(a) Holders of an incidental harassment authorization in Arctic waters and their employees, agents, and designees must cooperate with the National Marine Fisheries Service and other designated Federal, state, or local agencies to monitor the impacts of their activity on marine mammals. Unless stated otherwise within an incidental harassment authorization, the holder of an incidental harassment authorization effective in Arctic waters must notify the Alaska Regional Director, National Marine Fisheries Service, of any activities that may involve a take by incidental harassment in Arctic waters at least 14 calendar days prior to commencement of the activity.

(b) Holders of incidental harassment authorizations effective in Arctic waters may be required by their authorization to designate at least one qualified biological observer or another appropriately experienced individual to observe and record the effects of activities on marine mammals. The number of observers required for monitoring the impact of the activity on marine mammals will be specified in the incidental harassment authorization. If observers are required as a condition of the authorization, the observer(s) must be approved in advance by the National Marine Fisheries Service.

(c) The monitoring program must, if appropriate, document the effects (including acoustical) on marine mammals and document or estimate the actual level of take. The requirements for monitoring plans, as specified in the incidental harassment authorization, may vary depending on the activity, the location, and the time.

(d) Where the proposed activity may affect the availability of a species or stock of marine mammal for taking for subsistence purposes, proposed monitoring plans or other research proposals must be independently peer-reviewed prior to issuance of an incidental harassment authorization under this subpart. In order to complete the peer-review process within the time frames mandated by the MMPA for an incidental harassment authorization, a proposed monitoring plan submitted under this paragraph must be submitted to the Assistant Administrator no later than the date of submission of the application for an incidental harassment authorization. Upon receipt of a complete monitoring plan, and at its discretion, the National Marine Fisheries Service will either submit the plan to members of a peer review panel for review or within 60 days of receipt of the proposed monitoring plan, schedule a workshop to review the plan. The applicant must submit a final monitoring plan to the Assistant Administrator prior to the issuance of an incidental harassment authorization.

(e) At its discretion, the National Marine Fisheries Service may place an observer aboard vessels, platforms, aircraft, etc., to monitor the impact of activities on marine mammals.

(f)(1) As specified in the incidental harassment authorization, the holder of an incidental harassment authorization for Arctic waters must submit reports to the Assistant Administrator within 90 days of completion of any individual components of the activity (if any), within 90 days of completion of the activity, but no later than 120 days prior to expiration of the incidental harassment authorization, whichever is earlier. This report must include the following information:

(i) Dates and type(s) of activity;

(ii) Dates and location(s) of any activities related to monitoring the effects on marine mammals; and

(iii) Results of the monitoring activities, including an estimate of the actual level and type of take, species name and numbers of each species observed, direction of movement of species, and any observed changes or modifications in behavior.

(2) Monitoring reports will be reviewed by the Assistant Administrator and, if determined to be incomplete or inaccurate, will be returned to the holder of the authorization with an explanation of why the report is being returned. If the authorization holder disagrees with the findings of the Assistant Administrator, the holder may request an independent peer review of the report. Failure to submit a complete and accurate report may result in a delay in processing future authorization requests.

(g) Results of any behavioral, feeding, or population studies, that are conducted supplemental to the monitoring program, should be made available to the National Marine Fisheries Service before applying for an incidental harassment authorization for the following year.

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