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Title 50Chapter IISubchapter CPart 218Subpart J → §218.95


Title 50: Wildlife and Fisheries
PART 218—REGULATIONS GOVERNING THE TAKING AND IMPORTING OF MARINE MAMMALS
Subpart J—Taking and Importing Marine Mammals; U.S. Navy's Mariana Islands Training and Testing (MITT)


§218.95   Requirements for monitoring and reporting.

(a) As outlined in the MITT Study Area Stranding Communication Plan, the Holder of the Authorization must notify NMFS immediately (or as soon as operational security considerations allow) if the specified activity identified in §218.90 is thought to have resulted in the mortality or injury of any marine mammals, or in any take of marine mammals not identified in §218.91.

(b) The Holder of the LOA must conduct all monitoring and required reporting under the LOA, including abiding by the MITT Monitoring Project Description.

(c) General notification of injured or dead marine mammals. Navy personnel shall ensure that NMFS (regional stranding coordinator) is notified immediately (or as soon as operational security considerations allow) if an injured or dead marine mammal is found during or shortly after, and in the vicinity of, an Navy training or testing activity utilizing mid- or high-frequency active sonar, or underwater explosive detonations. The Navy shall provide NMFS with species or description of the animal(s), the condition of the animal(s) (including carcass condition if the animal is dead), location, time of first discovery, observed behaviors (if alive), and photo or video (if available). The Navy shall consult the Stranding Response Plan to obtain more specific reporting requirements for specific circumstances.

(d) Vessel strike. In the event that a Navy vessel strikes a whale, the Navy shall do the following:

(1) Immediately report to NMFS (pursuant to the established Communication Protocol) the:

(i) Species identification if known;

(ii) Location (latitude/longitude) of the animal (or location of the strike if the animal has disappeared);

(iii) Whether the animal is alive or dead (or unknown); and

(iv) The time of the strike.

(2) As soon as feasible, the Navy shall report to or provide to NMFS, the:

(i) Size, length, and description (critical if species is not known) of animal;

(ii) An estimate of the injury status (e.g., dead, injured but alive, injured and moving, blood or tissue observed in the water, status unknown, disappeared, etc.);

(iii) Description of the behavior of the whale during event, immediately after the strike, and following the strike (until the report is made or the animal is no long sighted);

(iv) Vessel class/type and operation status;

(v) Vessel length

(vi) Vessel speed and heading; and

(vii) To the best extent possible, obtain

(3) Within 2 weeks of the strike, provide NMFS:

(i) A detailed description of the specific actions of the vessel in the 30-minute timeframe immediately preceding the strike, during the event, and immediately after the strike (e.g., the speed and changes in speed, the direction and changes in the direction, other maneuvers, sonar use, etc., if not classified); and

(ii) A narrative description of marine mammal sightings during the event and immediately after, and any information as to sightings prior to the strike, if available; and

(iii) Use established Navy shipboard procedures to make a camera available to attempt to capture photographs following a ship strike.

(e) Annual MITT monitoring program report. (1) The Navy shall submit an annual report describing the implementation and results of the MITT Monitoring Program, described in §218.95. Data standards will be consistent to the extent appropriate across range complexes and study areas to allow for comparison in different geographic locations. Although additional information will be gathered, the protected species observers collecting marine mammal data pursuant to the MITT Monitoring Program shall, at a minimum, provide the same marine mammal observation data required in this section.

(2) As an alternative, the Navy may submit a multi-range complex annual monitoring plan report to fulfill this requirement. Such a report would describe progress of knowledge made with respect to monitoring plan study questions across multiple Navy ranges associated with the ICMP. Similar study questions shall be treated together so that progress on each topic shall be summarized across all Navy ranges. The report need not include analyses and content that does not provide direct assessment of cumulative progress on the monitoring plan study questions. The report shall be submitted either 90 days after the calendar year, or 90 days after the conclusion of the monitoring year date to be determined by the Adaptive Management process.

(f) Sonar exercise notification. The Navy shall submit to NMFS (specific contact information to be provided in the LOA) either an electronic (preferably) or verbal report within 15 calendar days after the completion of any major exercise indicating:

(1) Location of the exercise.

(2) Beginning and end dates of the exercise.

(3) Type of exercise.

(g) Annual MITT exercise and testing report. The Navy shall submit preliminary reports detailing the status of authorized sound sources within 21 days after the anniversary of the date of issuance of the LOA. The Navy shall submit a detailed report 3 months after the anniversary of the date of issuance of the LOA. The detailed annual report shall contain information on Major Training Exercises (MTE), Sinking Exercise (SINKEX) events, and a summary of sound sources used, as described below. The analysis in the detailed report will be based on the accumulation of data from the current year's report and data collected from previous reports. The detailed report shall contain information identified in §218.95(e)(1) and (2).

(1) Major Training Exercises/SINKEX:

(i) This section shall contain the reporting requirements for Coordinated and Strike Group exercises and SINKEX. Coordinated and Strike Group Major Training Exercises include:

(A) Joint Multi-Strike Group Exercise (Valiant Shield).

(B) Joint Expeditionary Exercise

(ii) Exercise information for each MTE:

(A) Exercise designator.

(B) Date that exercise began and ended.

(C) Location (operating area).

(D) Number of items or hours (per the LOA) of each sound source bin (impulsive and non-impulsive) used in the exercise.

(E) Number and types of vessels, aircraft, etc., participating in exercise.

(F) Individual marine mammal sighting information for each sighting when mitigation occurred during each MTE:

(1) Date/time/location of sighting.

(2) Species (if not possible, indication of whale/dolphin).

(3) Number of individuals.

(4) Initial detection sensor.

(5) Indication of specific type of platform the observation was made from (including, for example, what type of surface vessel or testing platform).

(6) Length of time observers maintained visual contact with marine mammal(s).

(7) Sea state.

(8) Visibility.

(9) Sound source in use at the time of sighting.

(10) Indication of whether animal is <200 yd, 200 to 500 yd, 500 to 1,000 yd, 1,000 to 2,000 yd, or >2,000 yd from sound source.

(11) Mitigation Implementation—Whether operation of sonar sensor was delayed, or sonar was powered or shut down, and how long the delay was; or whether navigation was changed or delayed.

(12) If source in use is a hull-mounted sonar, relative bearing of animal from ship, and estimation of animal's motion relative to ship (opening, closing, parallel).

(13) Observed behavior—Watchstanders shall report, in plain language and without trying to categorize in any way, the observed behavior of the animal(s) (such as animal closing to bow ride, paralleling course/speed, floating on surface and not swimming, etc.) and if any calves present.

(iii) An evaluation (based on data gathered during all of the MTEs) of the effectiveness of mitigation measures designed to minimize the received level to which marine mammals may be exposed. This evaluation shall identify the specific observations that support any conclusions the Navy reaches about the effectiveness of the mitigation.

(iv) Exercise information for each SINKEX:

(A) List of the vessels and aircraft involved in the SINKEX.

(B) Location (operating area).

(C) Chronological list of events with times, including time of sunrise and sunset, start and stop time of all marine species surveys that occur before, during, and after the SINKEX, and ordnance used.

(D) Visibility and/or weather conditions, wind speed, cloud cover, etc. throughout exercise if it changes.

(E) Aircraft used in the surveys, flight altitude, and flight speed and the area covered by each of the surveys, given in coordinates, map, or square miles.

(F) Passive acoustic monitoring details (number of sonobuoys, area, detections of biologic activity, etc.).

(G) Individual marine mammal sighting info for each sighting that required mitigation to be implemented:

(1) Date/time/location of sighting.

(2) Species (if not possible, indication of whale/dolphin).

(3) Number of individuals.

(4) Initial detection sensor.

(5) Indication of specific type of platform the observation was made from (including, for example, what type of surface vessel or platform).

(6) Length of time observers maintained visual contact with marine mammal(s).

(7) Sea state.

(8) Visibility.

(9) Indication of whether animal is <200 yd, 200-500 yd, 500-1,000 yd, 1,000-2,000 yd, or >2,000 yd from the target.

(10) Mitigation implementation—Whether the SINKEX was stopped or delayed and length of delay.

(11) Observed behavior—Watchstanders shall report, in plain language and without trying to categorize in any way, the observed behavior of the animals (such as animal closing to bow ride, paralleling course/speed, floating on surface and not swimming, etc.), and if any calves present.

(H) List of the ordnance used throughout the SINKEX and net explosive weight (NEW) of each weapon and the combined NEW.

(2) Summary of sources used. (i) This section shall include the following information summarized from the authorized sound sources used in all training and testing events:

(A) Total annual or quantity (per the LOA) of each bin of sonar or other non-impulsive source;

(B) Total annual expended/detonated rounds (missiles, bombs, etc.) for each explosive bin; and

(C) Improved Extended Echo-Ranging System (IEER)/sonobuoy summary, including:

(1) Total expended/detonated rounds (buoys).

(2) Total number of self-scuttled IEER rounds.

(3) Geographic information presentation. The reports shall present an annual (and seasonal, where practical) depiction of training exercises and testing bin usage geographically across the Study Area.

(h) Five-year close-out exercise and testing report.—This report will be included as part of the 2020 annual exercise or testing report. This report will provide the annual totals for each sound source bin with a comparison to the annual allowance and the 5-year total for each sound source bin with a comparison to the 5-year allowance. Additionally, if there were any changes to the sound source allowance, this report will include a discussion of why the change was made and include the analysis to support how the change did or did not result in a change in the FEIS and final rule determinations. The report will be submitted 3 months after the expiration of the rule. NMFS will submit comments on the draft close-out report, if any, within 3 months of receipt. The report will be considered final after the Navy has addressed NMFS' comments, or 3 months after the submittal of the draft if NMFS does not provide comments.

[80 FR 46163, Aug. 3, 2015, as amended at 80 FR 73622, Nov. 24, 2015]

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