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e-CFR data is current as of August 6, 2020

Title 50Chapter IISubchapter CPart 218 → Subpart D


Title 50: Wildlife and Fisheries
PART 218—REGULATIONS GOVERNING THE TAKING AND IMPORTING OF MARINE MAMMALS


Subpart D—Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to U.S. Navy Construction Activities at Naval Weapons Station Seal Beach, California


Contents
§218.30   Specified activity and specified geographical region.
§218.31   Effective dates.
§218.32   Permissible methods of taking.
§218.33   Prohibitions.
§218.34   Mitigation requirements.
§218.35   Requirements for monitoring and reporting.
§218.36   Letters of Authorization.
§218.37   Renewals and modifications of Letters of Authorization.
§§218.38-218.39   [Reserved]

Source: 85 FR 10325, Feb. 24, 2020, unless otherwise noted.

Effective Date Note: At 85 FR 10325, Feb. 24, 2020, subpart D was added, effective Mar. 25, 2020, through Mar. 25, 2025.

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§218.30   Specified activity and specified geographical region.

(a) Regulations in this subpart apply only to the U.S. Navy (Navy) and those persons it authorizes or funds to conduct activities on its behalf for the taking of marine mammals that occurs in the areas outlined in paragraph (b) of this section and that occurs incidental to maintenance construction activities.

(b) The taking of marine mammals by the Navy may be authorized in a Letter of Authorization (LOA) only if it occurs within California coastal waters in the vicinity of Naval Weapons Station Seal Beach.

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§218.31   Effective dates.

Regulations in this subpart are effective from March 25, 2020, through March 25, 2025.

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§218.32   Permissible methods of taking.

Under LOAs issued pursuant to §§216.106 of this chapter and 218.36, the Holder of the LOA (hereinafter “Navy”) may incidentally, but not intentionally, take marine mammals within the area described in §218.30(b) by Level B harassment associated with construction activities, provided the activity is in compliance with all terms, conditions, and requirements of the regulations in this subpart and the appropriate LOA.

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§218.33   Prohibitions.

Notwithstanding takings contemplated in §218.32 and authorized by an LOA issued under §§216.106 of this chapter and 218.36, no person in connection with the activities described in §218.30 may:

(a) Violate, or fail to comply with, the terms, conditions, and requirements of this subpart or an LOA issued under §§216.106 of this chapter and 218.36;

(b) Take any marine mammal not specified in such LOAs;

(c) Take any marine mammal specified in such LOAs in any manner other than as specified;

(d) Take a marine mammal specified in such LOAs if NMFS determines such taking results in more than a negligible impact on the species or stocks of such marine mammal; or

(e) Take a marine mammal specified in such LOAs if NMFS determines such taking results in an unmitigable adverse impact on the species or stock of such marine mammal for taking for subsistence uses.

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§218.34   Mitigation requirements.

When conducting the activities identified in §218.30(a), the mitigation measures contained in any LOA issued under §§216.106 of this chapter and 218.36 must be implemented. These mitigation measures shall include but are not limited to:

(a) General conditions. (1) A copy of any issued LOA must be in the possession of the Navy, its designees, and work crew personnel operating under the authority of the issued LOA.

(2) The Navy shall conduct briefings for construction supervisors and crews, the monitoring team, and Navy staff prior to the start of all pile driving activity, and when new personnel join the work, in order to explain responsibilities, communication procedures, the marine mammal monitoring protocol, and operational procedures.

(b) Shutdown zones. (1) For all pile driving activity, the Navy shall implement a minimum shutdown zone of a 10 m radius around the pile. If a marine mammal comes within or approaches the shutdown zone, such operations shall cease.

(2) For all pile driving activity, the Navy shall implement shutdown zones with radial distances as identified in any LOA issued under §§216.106 of this chapter and 218.36. If a marine mammal comes within or approaches the shutdown zone, such operations shall cease.

(3) For all pile driving activity, the Navy shall designate monitoring zones with radial distances as identified in any LOA issued under §§216.106 of this chapter and 218.36.

(c) Shutdown protocols. (1) The Navy shall deploy marine mammal observers as described in §218.35.

(2) For all pile driving activities, a minimum of one observer shall be stationed at the active pile driving rig or in reasonable proximity in order to monitor the shutdown zone.

(3) Monitoring shall take place from 30 minutes prior to initiation of pile driving activity through 30 minutes post-completion of pile driving activity. Pre-activity monitoring shall be conducted for 30 minutes to ensure that the shutdown zone is clear of marine mammals, and pile driving may commence when observers have declared the shutdown zone clear of marine mammals. In the event of a delay or shutdown of activity resulting from marine mammals in the shutdown zone, animals shall be allowed to remain in the shutdown zone (i.e., must leave of their own volition) and their behavior shall be monitored and documented. Monitoring shall occur throughout the time required to drive a pile. A determination that the shutdown zone is clear must be made during a period of good visibility (i.e., the entire shutdown zone and surrounding waters must be visible to the naked eye).

(4) If a marine mammal approaches or enters the shutdown zone, all pile driving activities at that location shall be halted. If pile driving is halted or delayed due to the presence of a marine mammal, the activity may not commence or resume until either the animal has voluntarily left and been visually confirmed beyond the shutdown zone or 15 minutes have passed without re-detection of the animal.

(5) During conditions where the entire shutdown zone is not visible (e.g., dark, fog, heavy rain), impact pile driving must be delayed until the PSO is confident marine mammals within the shutdown zone could be detected.

(6) Monitoring shall be conducted by trained observers, who shall have no other assigned tasks during monitoring periods. Trained observers shall be placed at the best vantage point(s) practicable to monitor for marine mammals and implement shutdown or delay procedures when applicable through communication with the equipment operator. The Navy shall adhere to the following additional observer qualifications:

(i) Independent observers (i.e., not construction personnel) are required.

(ii) At least one observer must have prior experience working as an observer.

(iii) Other observers may substitute education (degree in biological science or related field) or training for experience.

(iv) Where a team of three or more observers are required, one observer shall be designated as lead observer or monitoring coordinator. The lead observer must have prior experience working as an observer.

(v) The Navy shall submit observer CVs for approval by NMFS.

(d) Soft start. The Navy shall use soft start techniques for impact pile driving. Soft start for impact drivers requires contractors to provide an initial set of three strikes at reduced energy, followed by a thirty-second waiting period, then two subsequent reduced energy three-strike sets. Soft start shall be implemented at the start of each day's impact pile driving and at any time following cessation of impact pile driving for a period of thirty minutes or longer.

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§218.35   Requirements for monitoring and reporting.

(a) Trained observers shall receive a general environmental awareness briefing conducted by Navy staff. At minimum, training shall include identification of marine mammals that may occur in the project vicinity and relevant mitigation and monitoring requirements. All observers shall have no other construction-related tasks while conducting monitoring.

(b) For shutdown zone monitoring, the Navy shall report on implementation of shutdown or delay procedures, including whether the procedures were not implemented and why (when relevant).

(c) The Navy shall deploy a minimum of one additional observer to aid in monitoring disturbance zones. This observer shall collect sighting data and behavioral responses to pile driving for marine mammal species observed in the region of activity during the period of activity, and shall communicate with the shutdown zone observer as appropriate with regard to the presence of marine mammals. All observers shall be trained in identification and reporting of marine mammal behaviors.

(d) The Navy must submit annual and summary reports.

(1) Navy shall submit an annual summary report to NMFS not later than 90 days following the end of each calendar year. Navy shall provide a final report within 30 days following resolution of comments on the draft report. These reports shall contain, at minimum, the following:

(i) Dates and times (begin and end) of all marine mammal monitoring;

(ii) Construction activities occurring during each daily observation period, including how many and what type of piles were driven or removed and by what method (i.e., impact or vibratory);

(iii) Weather parameters and water conditions during each monitoring period (e.g., wind speed, percent cover, visibility, sea state);

(iv) The number of marine mammals observed, by species, relative to the pile location and if pile driving or removal was occurring at time of sighting;

(v) Age and sex class, if possible, of all marine mammals observed;

(vi) PSO locations during marine mammal monitoring;

(vii) Distances and bearings of each marine mammal observed to the pile being driven or removed for each sighting (if pile driving or removal was occurring at time of sighting);

(viii) Description of any marine mammal behavior patterns during observation, including direction of travel;

(ix) Number of individuals of each species (differentiated by month as appropriate) detected within the monitoring zone, and estimates of number of marine mammals taken, by species (a correction factor may be applied to total take numbers, as appropriate);

(x) Detailed information about any implementation of any mitigation triggered (e.g., shutdowns and delays), a description of specific actions that ensued, and resulting behavior of the animal, if any;

(xi) Description of attempts to distinguish between the number of individual animals taken and the number of incidences of take, such as ability to track groups or individuals; and,

(xii) An extrapolation of the estimated takes by Level B harassment based on the number of observed exposures within the Level B harassment zone and the percentage of the Level B harassment zone that was not visible, when applicable.

(2) Navy shall submit a comprehensive summary report to NMFS not later than ninety days following the conclusion of marine mammal monitoring efforts described in this subpart.

(e) Reporting of injured or dead marine mammals: In the event that personnel involved in the survey activities discover an injured or dead marine mammal, the LOA-holder must report the incident to the Office of Protected Resources (OPR), NMFS and to the West Coast Regional Stranding Network as soon as feasible. The report must include the following information:

(1) Time, date, and location (latitude/longitude) of the first discovery (and updated location information if known and applicable);

(2) Species identification (if known) or description of the animal(s) involved;

(3) Condition of the animal(s) (including carcass condition if the animal is dead);

(4) Observed behaviors of the animal(s), if alive;

(5) If available, photographs or video footage of the animal(s); and

(6) General circumstances under which the animal was discovered.

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§218.36   Letters of Authorization.

(a) To incidentally take marine mammals pursuant to these regulations, the Navy must apply for and obtain an LOA.

(b) An LOA, unless suspended or revoked, may be effective for a period of time not to exceed the expiration date of these regulations.

(c) If an LOA expires prior to the expiration date of these regulations, the Navy may apply for and obtain a renewal of the LOA.

(d) In the event of projected changes to the activity or to mitigation and monitoring measures required by an LOA, the Navy must apply for and obtain a modification of the LOA as described in §218.37.

(e) The LOA shall set forth:

(1) Permissible methods of incidental taking;

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

(3) Requirements for monitoring and reporting.

(f) Issuance of the LOA shall be based on a determination that the level of taking will be consistent with the findings made for the total taking allowable under these regulations.

(g) Notice of issuance or denial of an LOA shall be published in the Federal Register within thirty days of a determination.

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§218.37   Renewals and modifications of Letters of Authorization.

(a) An LOA issued under §§216.106 of this chapter and 218.36 for the activity identified in §218.30(a) shall be renewed or modified upon request by the applicant, provided that:

(1) The proposed specified activity and mitigation, monitoring, and reporting measures, as well as the anticipated impacts, are the same as those described and analyzed for these regulations (excluding changes made pursuant to the adaptive management provision in paragraph (c)(1) of this section), and

(2) NMFS determines that the mitigation, monitoring, and reporting measures required by the previous LOA under these regulations were implemented.

(b) For LOA modification or renewal requests by the applicant that include changes to the activity or the mitigation, monitoring, or reporting (excluding changes made pursuant to the adaptive management provision in paragraph (c)(1) of this section) that do not change the findings made for the regulations or result in no more than a minor change in the total estimated number of takes (or distribution by species or years), NMFS may publish a notice of proposed LOA in the Federal Register, including the associated analysis of the change, and solicit public comment before issuing the LOA.

(c) An LOA issued under §§216.106 of this chapter and 218.36 for the activity identified in §218.30(a) may be modified by NMFS under the following circumstances:

(1) Adaptive management—NMFS may modify (including augment) the existing mitigation, monitoring, or reporting measures (after consulting with the Navy regarding the practicability of the modifications) if doing so creates a reasonable likelihood of more effectively accomplishing the goals of the mitigation and monitoring set forth in the preamble for these regulations.

(i) Possible sources of data that could contribute to the decision to modify the mitigation, monitoring, or reporting measures in an LOA:

(A) Results from the Navy's monitoring from the previous year(s).

(B) Results from other marine mammal and/or sound research or studies.

(C) Any information that reveals marine mammals may have been taken in a manner, extent or number not authorized by these regulations or subsequent LOAs.

(ii) If, through adaptive management, the modifications to the mitigation, monitoring, or reporting measures are substantial, NMFS will publish a notice of proposed LOA in the Federal Register and solicit public comment.

(2) Emergencies. If NMFS determines that an emergency exists that poses a significant risk to the well-being of the species or stocks of marine mammals specified in LOAs issued pursuant to §§216.106 of this chapter and 218.36, an LOA may be modified without prior notice or opportunity for public comment. Notice would be published in the Federal Register within thirty days of the action.

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§§218.38-218.39   [Reserved]

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