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e-CFR data is current as of July 9, 2020

Title 50Chapter IISubchapter CPart 218Subpart C → §218.24


Title 50: Wildlife and Fisheries
PART 218—REGULATIONS GOVERNING THE TAKING AND IMPORTING OF MARINE MAMMALS
Subpart C—Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to U.S. Navy Marine Structure Maintenance and Pile Replacement in Washington


§218.24   Mitigation requirements.

When conducting the activities identified in §218.20(a), the mitigation measures contained in any LOA issued under §§216.106 of this chapter and 218.26 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; and

(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 218.26. 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 218.26. Anticipated observable zones within the designated monitoring zones shall be identified in annual Marine Mammal Monitoring Plans, subject to approval by NMFS. If any cetacean is observed outside the shutdown zone identified pursuant to paragraphs (b)(1) and (2) of this section, but within the designated monitoring zone, such operations shall cease.

(c) Shutdown protocols. (1) The Navy shall deploy marine mammal observers as indicated in annual Marine Mammal Monitoring Plans, which shall be subject to approval by NMFS, and as described in §218.25.

(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) Prior to the start of pile driving on any day, the Navy shall take measures to ensure that southern resident killer whales are not located within the vicinity of the project area, including, but not limited to, contacting and/or reviewing the latest sightings data from the Orca Network and/or Center for Whale Research, including passive acoustic detections, to determine the location of the nearest marine mammal sightings.

(4) Monitoring shall take place from fifteen minutes prior to initiation of pile driving activity through thirty minutes post-completion of pile driving activity. Pre-activity monitoring shall be conducted for fifteen minutes to ensure that the shutdown zone is clear of marine mammals, and pile driving may commence only if observers have declared the shutdown zone clear of marine mammals during this period. In the event of a delay or shutdown of activity resulting from marine mammals in the shutdown zone, the marine mammals 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 cannot be made unless the observer(s) have good visibility of the shutdown zone during the entire fifteen-minute observation period (i.e., the entire shutdown zone must be visible to the naked eye and unobscured by dark, rain, fog, poor lighting conditions, etc.).

(5) If a marine mammal approaches or enters the shutdown zone, the Navy shall halt all pile driving activities at that location. 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 fifteen minutes have passed without re-detection of the animal.

(6) If a species for which authorization has not been granted, or a species for which authorization has been granted but the authorized takes are met, is observed approaching or within the monitoring zone, the Navy must halt pile driving activities immediately using delay and shutdown procedures. Activities must not resume until the animal has been confirmed to have left the area or the fifteen-minute observation period has elapsed.

(7) 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.

(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.

(e) Sound attenuation. The Navy shall employ a bubble curtain (or other sound attenuation device with proven typical performance of at least 8 decibels effective attenuation) during impact pile driving of steel piles greater than 14 inches diameter in water depths greater than 2 feet, except at Naval Base Kitsap Bremerton and Naval Base Kitsap Keyport. The Navy shall assess the potential for the use of bubble curtains at Keyport on a project-by-project basis. In addition, the Navy shall implement the following performance standards:

(1) The bubble curtain must distribute air bubbles around 100 percent of the piling perimeter for the full depth of the water column.

(2) The lowest bubble ring shall be in contact with the mudline for the full circumference of the ring, and the weights attached to the bottom ring shall ensure 100 percent mudline contact. No parts of the ring or other objects shall prevent full mudline contact.

(3) The Navy shall require that construction contractors train personnel in the proper balancing of air flow to the bubblers, and shall require that construction contractors submit an inspection/performance report for approval by the Navy within 72 hours following the performance test. Corrections to the attenuation device to meet the performance standards shall occur prior to impact driving.

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