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e-CFR data is current as of August 12, 2020

Title 50Chapter IISubchapter CPart 218Subpart F → §218.55

Title 50: Wildlife and Fisheries
Subpart F—Taking of Marine Mammals Incidental to the U.S. Air Force 86 Fighter Weapons Squadron Conducting Long Range Strike Weapons System Evaluation Program at the Pacific Missile Range Facility at Kauai, Hawaii

§218.55   Requirements for monitoring and reporting.

(a) Holders of LOAs issued pursuant to §218.56 for activities described in §218.50(a) are required to cooperate with NMFS, and any other Federal, state, or local agency with authority to monitor the impacts of the activity on marine mammals. Unless specified otherwise in the LOA, the Holder of the LOA must notify the Pacific Islands Region Stranding Coordinator, NMFS, by email, at least 72 hours prior to LRS WSEP missions.

(b) All marine mammal monitoring will be carried out in compliance with the 86 FWS Marine Mammal Mitigation and Monitoring Plan, dated August 2017.

(c) Aerial Surveys: The 86 FWS will conduct pre-, during, and post-training surveys each mission day.

(1) The marine mammal survey monitoring area will extend no less than approximately 8 mi (13 kilometers (km)) from the designated impact site.

(2) Surveys will utilize military aircraft equipped with advanced targeting sensor pods (e.g., SNIPER pods) at altitudes and speeds ideal for detecting marine mammals using such equipment; aircraft will fly transect lines covering the entire eight mi monitoring area. A helicopter-based survey may substitute the military aircraft survey platform and use of sensor pods only if a sensor pod is not be available.

(3) A pre-mission marine mammal survey will commence no later than 30 minutes prior to beginning training activities.

(4) Aircraft personnel will also observe for marine mammals during training (e.g., on approach to weapon launch location).

(5) Aircraft personnel will conduct a post-mission survey for marine mammals immediately following the end of training each mission day. A helicopter may be used in lieu of mission aircraft only if sensor pod is not available.

(d) Range Camera Surveys: 86 FWS personnel will use the Makaha Ridge range cameras to monitor for marine mammals within the weapon impact area at least 30 minutes prior to, during, and immediately after training activities.

(e) Helicopter surveys: If military aircraft equipped with a sensor pod cannot be used for marine mammal surveys, the 86 FWS may substitute a helicopter as the survey platform. The helicopter will fly at an approximately 200 feet altitude and will cover the 8 mi monitoring area. If adverse weather conditions preclude the ability for aircraft to safely operate, missions would either be delayed until the weather clears or cancelled for the day.

(f) Acoustic Monitoring:

(1) The 86 FWS will comply with all acoustic monitoring as described in the 86 FWS Mitigation and Monitoring Plan.

(2) Acoustic data from the PRMF hydrophones will be collected and stored by the 86 FWS. Data will be analyzed to better understand the effects of LRS WSEP missions. The results of the analysis will accompany any subsequent LOA request or, if no request is made, no later than 90 after expiration of the LOA.

(g) The 86 FWS will contact the Pacific Islands Region stranding coordinator, NMFS, by email, at least 72 hours prior to mission onset and one business day after completion of missions to declare that missions are complete.

(h) The Holder of the LOA is required to:

(1) Submit a draft report to NMFS OPR on all monitoring conducted under the LOA within 90 days of the completion of marine mammal monitoring or accompanying a subsequent application for regulations. A final report shall be prepared and submitted within 30 days following resolution of comments on the draft report from NMFS. This report must contain the informational elements described in the Monitoring Plan, and shall also include:

(i) Date and time of each LRS WSEP mission;

(ii) A complete description of the pre-exercise, exercise, and post-exercise activities related to mitigating and monitoring the effects of LRS WSEP missions on marine mammals; and;

(iii) Results of the monitoring program, including numbers by species/stock of any marine mammals noted injured or killed as a result of the LRS WSEP mission and number of marine mammals (by species if possible) that may have been harassed due to presence within the designated harassment zones.

(iv) The draft report will be subject to review and comment by NMFS. Any recommendations made by NMFS must be addressed in the final report prior to acceptance by NMFS. The draft report will be considered the final report for this activity under the LOA if NMFS has not provided comments and recommendations within 90 days of receipt of the draft report.

(2) Report injured or dead marine mammals:

(i) In the unanticipated event that the specified activity clearly causes the take of a marine mammal in a manner prohibited by the LOA, such as an injury for species not authorized (Level A harassment), serious injury, or mortality, the 86 FWS shall immediately cease the specified activities and immediately report the incident to Pacific Islands Regional Stranding Coordinator (888-256-9840), NMFS followed by a report submitted to NMFS Office of Protected Resources and the Pacific Islands Regional Office within 24 hours. The report must include the following information:

(A) Time and date of the incident;

(B) Description of the incident;

(C) Environmental conditions (e.g., wind speed and direction, Beaufort sea state, cloud cover, and visibility);

(D) Description of all marine mammal observations in the 24 hours preceding the incident;

(E) Species identification or description of the animal(s) involved;

(F) Fate of the animal(s); and

(G) Photographs or video footage of the animal(s).

(ii) Activities shall not resume until NMFS is able to review the circumstances of the prohibited take. NMFS will work with 86 FWS to determine what measures are necessary to minimize the likelihood of further prohibited take and ensure MMPA compliance. The 86 FWS may not resume their activities until notified by NMFS.

(iii) In the event that 86 FWS discovers an injured or dead marine mammal, and the lead observer determines that the cause of the injury or death is unknown and the death is relatively recent (e.g., in less than a moderate state of decomposition), 86 FWS shall immediately report the incident to the Pacific Islands Regional Stranding Coordinator, followed by a report to NMFS Office of Protected Resources and the Pacific Island Regional Office within 24 hours of the discovery. The report must include the same information identified in paragraph (h)(2)(i) of this section. Activities may continue while NMFS reviews the circumstances of the incident. NMFS will work with 86 FWS to determine whether additional mitigation measures or modifications to the activities are appropriate.

(iv) In the event that 86 FWS discovers an injured or dead marine mammal, and the lead observer determines that the injury or death is not associated with or related to the activities authorized in the LOA (e.g., previously wounded animal, carcass with moderate to advanced decomposition, scavenger damage), 86 FWS shall report the incident to the Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, and the Pacific Islands Regional Stranding Coordinator, NMFS, within 24 hours of the discovery. The 86 FWS shall provide photographs or video footage or other documentation of the stranded animal sighting to NMFS.

(3) Additional Conditions:

(i) The Holder of the LOA must inform the Director, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, (301-427-8400) or designee (301-427-8401) prior to the initiation of any changes to the monitoring plan for a specified mission activity.

(ii) A copy of the LOA must be in the possession of the safety officer on duty each mission day.

(iii) The LOA may be modified, suspended or withdrawn if the holder fails to abide by the conditions prescribed herein, or if NMFS determines the authorized taking is having more than a negligible impact on the species or stock of affected marine mammals.

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