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

Title 50Chapter IISubchapter CPart 219Subpart F → §219.55


Title 50: Wildlife and Fisheries
PART 219—REGULATIONS GOVERNING THE TAKING AND IMPORTING OF MARINE MAMMALS
Subpart F—Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to Alaska Fisheries Science Center Fisheries Research


§219.55   Mitigation requirements.

When conducting the activities identified in §219.51(a), the mitigation measures contained in any LOA issued under §§216.106 of this chapter and 219.57 must be implemented. These mitigation measures shall include but are not limited to:

(a) General conditions. (1) AFSC shall convey relevant mitigation, monitoring, and reporting requirements to the IPHC, as indicated in the following subparts;

(2) AFSC shall take all necessary measures to coordinate and communicate in advance of each specific survey with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Office of Marine and Aviation Operations (OMAO) or other relevant parties on non-NOAA platforms to ensure that all mitigation measures and monitoring requirements described herein, as well as the specific manner of implementation and relevant event-contingent decision-making processes, are clearly understood and agreed upon. AFSC shall convey this requirement to IPHC;

(3) AFSC shall coordinate and conduct briefings at the outset of each survey and as necessary between ship's crew (Commanding Officer/master or designee(s), as appropriate) and scientific party in order to explain responsibilities, communication procedures, marine mammal monitoring protocol, and operational procedures. AFSC shall convey this requirement to IPHC;

(4) AFSC shall coordinate as necessary on a daily basis during survey cruises with OMAO personnel or other relevant personnel on non-NOAA platforms to ensure that requirements, procedures, and decision-making processes are understood and properly implemented. AFSC shall convey this requirement to IPHC;

(5) When deploying any type of sampling gear at sea, AFSC shall at all times monitor for any unusual circumstances that may arise at a sampling site and use best professional judgment to avoid any potential risks to marine mammals during use of all research equipment. AFSC shall convey this requirement to IPHC;

(6) AFSC shall implement handling and/or disentanglement protocols as specified in the guidance that shall be provided to AFSC survey personnel. AFSC shall convey this requirement to IPHC;

(7) AFSC shall not approach within 1 km of locations where marine mammals are aggregated, including pinniped rookeries and haul-outs; and

(8) AFSC shall adhere to a final Communication Plan. In summary and in accordance with the Plan, AFSC shall:

(i) Notify and provide potentially affected Alaska Native subsistence communities with the Communication Plan through a series of mailings, direct contacts, and planned meetings throughout the regions where AFSC fisheries research is expected to occur;

(ii) Meet with potentially affected subsistence communities to discuss planned activities and to resolve potential conflicts regarding any aspects of either the fisheries research operations or the Communication Plan;

(iii) Develop field operations plans as necessary, which shall address how researchers will consult and maintain communication with contacts in the potentially affected subsistence communities when in the field, including a list of local contacts and contact mechanisms, and which shall describe operational procedures and actions planned to avoid or minimize the risk of interactions between AFSC fisheries research and local subsistence activities;

(iv) Schedule post-season informational sessions with subsistence contacts from the study areas to brief them on the outcome of the AFSC fisheries research and to assess performance of the Communication Plan and individual field operations or cruise plans in working to minimize effects to subsistence activities; and

(v) Evaluate overall effectiveness of the Communications Plan in year four of any LOA issued pursuant to §§216.106 of this chapter and 219.57.

(b) Trawl survey protocols. (1) AFSC shall conduct trawl operations as soon as is practicable upon arrival at the sampling station;

(2) AFSC shall initiate marine mammal watches (visual observation) at least 15 minutes prior to beginning of net deployment, but shall also conduct monitoring during any pre-set activities including trackline reconnaissance, CTD casts, and plankton or bongo net hauls. Marine mammal watches shall be conducted by scanning the surrounding waters with the naked eye and rangefinding binoculars (or monocular). During nighttime operations, visual observation shall be conducted using the naked eye and available vessel lighting;

(3) AFSC shall implement the move-on rule mitigation protocol, as described in this paragraph. If one or more marine mammals are observed and are considered at risk of interacting with the vessel or research gear, or appear to be approaching the vessel and are considered at risk of interaction, AFSC shall either remain onsite or move on to another sampling location. If remaining onsite, the set shall be delayed. If the animals depart or appear to no longer be at risk of interacting with the vessel or gear, a further observation period shall be conducted. If no further observations are made or the animals still do not appear to be at risk of interaction, then the set may be made. If the vessel is moved to a different section of the sampling area, the move-on rule mitigation protocol would begin anew. If, after moving on, marine mammals remain at risk of interaction, the AFSC shall move again or skip the station. Marine mammals that are sighted shall be monitored to determine their position and movement in relation to the vessel to determine whether the move-on rule mitigation protocol should be implemented. AFSC may use best professional judgment in making these decisions;

(4) AFSC shall maintain visual monitoring effort during the entire period of time that trawl gear is in the water (i.e., throughout gear deployment, fishing, and retrieval). If marine mammals are sighted before the gear is fully removed from the water, AFSC shall take the most appropriate action to avoid marine mammal interaction. AFSC may use best professional judgment in making this decision;

(5) If trawling operations have been suspended because of the presence of marine mammals, AFSC may resume trawl operations when practicable only when the animals are believed to have departed the area. AFSC may use best professional judgment in making this determination;

(6) AFSC shall implement standard survey protocols to minimize potential for marine mammal interactions, including maximum tow durations at target depth and maximum tow distance, and shall carefully empty the trawl as quickly as possible upon retrieval; and

(7) Whenever surface trawl nets are used in southeast Alaska, AFSC must install and use acoustic deterrent devices, with two pairs of the devices installed near the net opening. AFSC must ensure that the devices are operating properly before deploying the net.

(c) Longline survey protocols. (1) AFSC shall deploy longline gear as soon as is practicable upon arrival at the sampling station. AFSC shall convey this requirement to IPHC;

(2) AFSC shall initiate marine mammal watches (visual observation) no less than 30 minutes (or for the duration of transit between set locations, if shorter than 30 minutes) prior to both deployment and retrieval of longline gear. Marine mammal watches shall be conducted by scanning the surrounding waters with the naked eye and rangefinding binoculars (or monocular). During nighttime operations, visual observation shall be conducted using the naked eye and available vessel lighting. AFSC shall convey this requirement to IPHC;

(3) AFSC shall implement the move-on rule mitigation protocol, as described in this paragraph. If one or more marine mammals are observed in the vicinity of the planned location before gear deployment, and are considered at risk of interacting with the vessel or research gear, or appear to be approaching the vessel and are considered at risk of interaction, AFSC shall either remain onsite or move on to another sampling location. If remaining onsite, the set shall be delayed. If the animals depart or appear to no longer be at risk of interacting with the vessel or gear, a further observation period shall be conducted. If no further observations are made or the animals still do not appear to be at risk of interaction, then the set may be made. If the vessel is moved to a different section of the sampling area, the move-on rule mitigation protocol would begin anew. If, after moving on, marine mammals remain at risk of interaction, the AFSC shall move again or skip the station. Marine mammals that are sighted shall be monitored to determine their position and movement in relation to the vessel to determine whether the move-on rule mitigation protocol should be implemented. AFSC may use best professional judgment in making these decisions. AFSC shall convey this requirement to IPHC;

(4) AFSC shall maintain visual monitoring effort during the entire period of gear deployment and retrieval. If marine mammals are sighted before the gear is fully deployed or retrieved, AFSC shall take the most appropriate action to avoid marine mammal interaction. AFSC may use best professional judgment in making this decision. AFSC shall convey this requirement to IPHC; and

(5) If deployment or retrieval operations have been suspended because of the presence of marine mammals, AFSC may resume such operations when practicable only when the animals are believed to have departed the area. AFSC may use best professional judgment in making this decision. AFSC shall convey this requirement to IPHC.

(d) Gillnet survey protocols. (1) AFSC shall conduct gillnet operations as soon as is practicable upon arrival at the sampling station;

(2) AFSC shall conduct marine mammal watches (visual observation) prior to beginning of net deployment. Marine mammal watches shall be conducted by scanning the surrounding waters with the naked eye and rangefinding binoculars (or monocular);

(3) AFSC shall implement the move-on rule mitigation protocol. If one or more marine mammals are observed in the vicinity of the planned location before gear deployment, and are considered at risk of interacting with research gear, AFSC shall either remain onsite or move on to another sampling location. If remaining onsite, the set shall be delayed. If the animals depart or appear to no longer be at risk of interacting with the gear, a further observation period shall be conducted. If no further observations are made or the animals still do not appear to be at risk of interaction, then the set may be made. If the vessel is moved to a different area, the move-on rule mitigation protocol would begin anew. If, after moving on, marine mammals remain at risk of interaction, the AFSC shall move again or skip the station. Marine mammals that are sighted shall be monitored to determine their position and movement in relation to the vessel to determine whether the move-on rule mitigation protocol should be implemented. AFSC may use best professional judgment in making these decisions;

(4) AFSC shall maintain visual monitoring effort during the entire period of time that gillnet gear is in the water (i.e., throughout gear deployment, fishing, and retrieval). If marine mammals are sighted before the gear is fully removed from the water, and appear to be at risk of interaction with the gear, AFSC shall pull the gear immediately. AFSC may use best professional judgment in making this decision;

(5) If gillnet operations have been suspended because of the presence of marine mammals, AFSC may resume gillnet operations when practicable only when the animals are believed to have departed the area. AFSC may use best professional judgment in making this determination; and

(6) AFSC must install and use acoustic deterrent devices whenever gillnets are used. AFSC must ensure that the devices are operating properly before deploying the net.

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