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Title 50Chapter IISubchapter CPart 217 → Subpart U


Title 50: Wildlife and Fisheries
PART 217—REGULATIONS GOVERNING THE TAKE OF MARINE MAMMALS INCIDENTAL TO SPECIFIED ACTIVITIES


Subpart U—Taking Of Marine Mammals Incidental To The Port of Anchorage Marine Terminal Redevelopment Project


Contents
§217.200   Specified activities and specified geographical region.
§217.201   Effective dates.
§217.202   Permissible methods of taking.
§217.203   Prohibitions.
§217.204   Mitigation.
§217.205   Requirements for monitoring and reporting.
§217.206   Applications for Letters of Authorization.
§217.207   Letters of Authorization.
§217.208   Renewal of Letters of Authorization.
§217.209   Modifications of Letters of Authorization.

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§217.200   Specified activities and specified geographical region.

(a) Regulations in this subpart apply only to the incidental taking of those marine mammals specified in §217.202(b) by the Port of Anchorage and the U.S. Department of Transportation Maritime Administration (MARAD), and those persons it authorizes to engage in construction activities associated with the Port of Anchorage Marine Terminal Redevelopment Project, specifically in-water pile driving, at the Port of Anchorage, Alaska.

(b) [Reserved]

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§217.201   Effective dates.

Regulations in this subpart are effective from July 15, 2009, through July 14, 2014.

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§217.202   Permissible methods of taking.

(a) Under Letters of Authorization issued pursuant to §216.106 of this chapter and §217.207, the Port of Anchorage and MARAD, and persons under their authority, may incidentally, but not intentionally, take marine mammals by harassment, within the area described in §217.200, provided the activity is in compliance with all terms, conditions, and requirements of these regulations and the appropriate Letter of Authorization.

(b) The taking of marine mammals under a Letter of Authorization is limited to the incidental take, by Level B harassment only, of the following species under the activities identified in §217.200(a): Cook Inlet beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas), harbor seals (Phoca vitulina), harbor porpoises (Phocoena phocoena), and killer whales (Orcinus orca).

(c) The taking by injury or death of the species listed in paragraph (b) of this section or the taking by Level B harassment, injury or death of any other marine mammal species is prohibited and may result in the modification, suspension, or revocation of a Letter of Authorization.

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§217.203   Prohibitions.

Notwithstanding takings contemplated in §217.202(b) and authorized by a Letter of Authorization issued under §216.106 of this chapter and §217.207, no person in connection with the activities described in §217.200 may:

(a) Take any marine mammal not specified in §217.202(b);

(b) Take any marine mammal specified in §217.202(b) other than by incidental, unintentional Level B harassment;

(c) Take a marine mammal specified in §217.202(b) if such taking results in more than a negligible impact on the species or stocks of such marine mammal; or

(d) Violate, or fail to comply with, the terms, conditions, and requirements of this subpart or a Letter of Authorization issued under §216.106 of this chapter and §217.207.

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§217.204   Mitigation.

(a) When conducting operations identified in §217.200(a), the mitigation measures contained in the Letter of Authorization, issued under §216.106 of this chapter and §217.207, must be implemented. These mitigation measures are:

(1) Through monitoring described under §217.205, the Holder of a Letter of Authorization will ensure that no marine mammal is subjected to a sound pressure levels of 190 or 180 dB re: 1 microPa or greater for pinnipeds and cetaceans, respectively. If a marine mammal is detected within or approaching a distance 200 m from in-water pile driving or in-water chipping, operations shall be immediately delayed or suspended until the marine mammal moves outside these designated zones or the animal is not detected within 15 minutes of the last sighting.

(2) If a marine mammal is detected within or approaching the Level B harassment zone designated for impact pile driving (350 m) prior to in-water impact pile driving, operations shall not commence until the animal moves outside this zone or it is not detected within 15 minutes of the last sighting.

(3) If a marine mammal is detected within or approaching the Level B harassment zone designated for vibratory pile driving (1,300 m) prior to in-water vibratory pile driving, operations shall not commence until the marine mammal moves outside this zone or it is not detected within 15 minutes of the last sighting.

(4) A start” technique shall be used at the beginning of each day's in-water pile driving activities or if pile driving has ceased for more than one hour to allow any marine mammal that may be in the immediate area to leave before piling driving reaches full energy. For vibratory hammers, the soft start requires the holder of the Letter of Authorization to initiate noise from the hammers for 15 seconds at reduced energy followed by 1-minute waiting period and repeat the procedure two additional times. If an impact hammer is used, the soft start requires an initial set of three strikes from the impact hammer at 40 percent energy, followed by a one minute waiting period, then two subsequent 3 strike sets.

(5) In-water pile driving or chipping shall not occur when conditions restrict clear, visible detection of all waters within the appropriate harassment zones or the 200 m safety zone. Such conditions that can impair sightibility include, but are not limited to, fog and rough sea state.

(6) In-water piles will be driven with a vibratory hammer to the maximum extent possible (i.e., until a desired depth is achieved or to refusal) prior to using an impact hammer.

(7) In-water impact pile driving shall not occur during the period from two hours before low tide until two hours after low tide.

(8) The following measures apply to all in-water pile driving, except during the “stabbing” phase, and all in-water chipping associated with demolition of the existing dock:

(i) No in-water pile driving (impact or vibratory) or chipping shall occur if any marine mammal is located within 200m of the hammer in any direction. If any marine mammal is sighted within or approaching this 200m safety zone, pile-driving or chipping must be suspended until the animal has moved outside the 200m safety zone or the animal is not resighted within 15 minutes.

(ii) If a group of more than 5 beluga whales is sighted within the Level B harassment isopleths, in-water pile driving shall be suspended. If the group is not re-sighted within 15 minutes, pile driving may resume.

(iii) If a beluga whale calf or group with a calf is sighted within or approaching a harassment zone, in-water pile driving shall cease and shall not be resumed until the calf or group is confirmed to be outside of the harassment zone and moving along a trajectory away from such zone. If the calf or group with a calf is not re-sighted within 15 minutes, pile driving may resume.

(9) If maximum authorized take is reached or exceeded for a particular species, any marine mammal of that species entering into the harassment or safety isopleths will trigger mandatory in-water pile driving shut down.

(10) For Port of Anchorage operated in-water heavy machinery work other than pile driving or chipping (i.e., dredging, dump scowles, tug boats used to move barges, barge mounted hydraulic excavators, or clamshell equipment used to place or remove material), if a marine mammal comes within 50 m, those operations will cease and vessels will reduce to the slowest speed practicable while still maintaining control of the vessel and safe working conditions.

(11) In the event the Port of Anchorage conducts out-of-water blasting, detonation of charges will be delayed if a marine mammal is detected anywhere within a visible distance from the detonation site.

(12) Additional mitigation measures as contained in a Letter of Authorization.

(b) [Reserved]

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§217.205   Requirements for monitoring and reporting.

(a) The Holder of a Letter of Authorization issued pursuant to §216.106 of this chapter and §217.207, for activities described in §217.200(a) is 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 Letter of Authorization, the Holder of the Letter of Authorization must notify the Administrator, Alaska Region, NMFS, by letter, e-mail, or telephone, at least 2 weeks prior to commencement of seasonal activities and dock demolition possibly involving the taking of marine mammals. If the activity identified in §217.200(a) is thought to have resulted in the mortality or injury of any marine mammals or in any take of marine mammals not identified in §217.202(b), the Holder of the Letter of Authorization must notify the Director, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, or designee, by e-mail or telephone (301-713-2289), within 24 hours of the discovery of the injured or dead animal.

(b) The Holder of a Letters of Authorization must designate qualified, on-site marine mammal observers (MMOs), approved in advance by NMFS, as specified in the Letter of Authorization, to:

(1) Conduct visual marine mammal monitoring at the Port of Anchorage beginning 30 minutes prior to and during all in-water pile driving or chipping and out-of-water blasting.

(2) Record the following information on NMFS-approved marine mammal sighting sheets whenever a marine mammal is detected:

(i) Date and time of initial sighting to end of sighting, tidal stage, and weather conditions (including Beaufort Sea State);

(ii) Species, number, group composition, initial and closest distance to pile driving hammer, and behavior (e.g., activity, group cohesiveness, direction and speed of travel, etc.) of animals throughout duration of sighting;

(iii) Any discrete behavioral reactions to in-water work;

(iv) The number (by species) of marine mammals that have been taken;

(v) Pile driving, chipping, or out of water blasting activities occurring at the time of sighting and if and why shut down was or was not implemented.

(3) Employ a scientific marine mammal monitoring team separate from the on-site MMOs to characterize beluga whale abundance, movements, behavior, and habitat use around the Port of Anchorage and observe, analyze, and document potential changes in behavior in response to in-water construction work. This monitoring team is not required to be present during all in-water pile driving operations but will continue monitoring one-year post in-water construction. The on-site MMOs and this marine mammal monitoring team shall remain in contact to alert each other to marine mammal presence when both teams are working.

(c) The Holder of a Letter of Authorization must conduct additional monitoring as required under an annual Letter of Authorization.

(d) The Holder of a Letter of Authorization shall submit a monthly report to NMFS' Headquarters Permits, Education and Conservation Division and the Alaska Region, Anchorage for all months in-water pile driving or chipping takes place. This report must contain the information listed in paragraph (b)(2) of this section.

(e) An annual report must be submitted at the time of application for renewal of a Letter of Authorization. This report will summarize all in-water construction activities and marine mammal monitoring from January 1- December 31, annually, and any discernable short or long term impacts from the Marine Terminal Expansion Project.

(f) A final report must be submitted to NMFS upon application for a subsequent incidental take authorization or, if no future authorization is requested, no later than 90 days post expiration of these regulations. This report will:

(1) Summarize the activities undertaken and the results reported in all previous reports;

(2) Assess the impacts to marine mammals from the port expansion project; and

(3) Assess the cumulative impacts on marine mammals.

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§217.206   Applications for Letters of Authorization.

(a) To incidentally take marine mammals pursuant to these regulations, the U.S. citizen (as defined by §216.103 of this chapter) conducting the activity identified in §217.200(a) (the Port of Anchorage and MARAD) must apply for and obtain either an initial Letter of Authorization in accordance with §217.207 or a renewal under §217.208.

(b) The application must be submitted to NMFS at least 60 days before the expiration of the initial or current Letter of Authorization.

(c) Applications for a Letter of Authorization and for renewals of Letters of Authorization must include the following:

(1) Name of the U.S. citizen requesting the authorization,

(2) The date(s), duration, and the specified geographic region where the activities specified in §217.200 will occur; and

(3) The most current population estimate of Cook Inlet beluga whales and the estimated percentage of marine mammal populations potentially affected for the 12-month period of effectiveness of the Letter of Authorization;

(4) A summary of take levels, monitoring efforts and findings at the Port of Anchorage to date.

(d) The National Marine Fisheries Service will review an application for a Letter of Authorization in accordance with this section and, if adequate and complete, issue a Letter of Authorization.

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§217.207   Letters of Authorization.

(a) A Letter of Authorization, unless suspended or revoked, will be valid for a period of time not to exceed the period of validity of this subpart, but must be renewed annually subject to annual renewal conditions in §217.208.

(b) Each Letter of Authorization will set forth:

(1) Permissible methods of incidental taking; and

(2) Requirements for mitigation, monitoring and reporting, including, but not limited to, means of effecting the least practicable adverse impact on the species, its habitat, and on the availability of the species for subsistence uses.

(c) Issuance of a Letter of Authorization will be based on the determination that the number of marine mammals taken during the period the Letter of Authorization is valid will be small, that the total taking of marine mammals by the activities specified in §217.200(a) will have no more than a negligible impact on the species or stock of affected marine mammal(s), and that the total taking will not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of species or stocks of marine mammals for subsistence uses.

(d) Notice of issuance or denial of an application for a Letter of Authorization will be published in the Federal Register within 30 days of a determination.

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§217.208   Renewal of Letters of Authorization.

(a) A Letter of Authorization issued under §216.106 of this chapter and §217.207 for the activity identified in §217.200(a) will be renewed annually upon:

(1) Notification to NMFS that the activity described in the application submitted under §217.206 will be undertaken and that there will not be a substantial modification to the described work, mitigation or monitoring undertaken during the upcoming 12 months;

(2) Timely receipt of the monitoring reports required under §217.205(d) and (e), and the Letter of Authorization issued under §217.207, which has been reviewed and accepted by NMFS; and

(3) A determination by NMFS that the mitigation, monitoring and reporting measures required under §§217.204 and 217.205 and the Letter of Authorization issued under §216.106 of this chapter and §217.207, were undertaken and will be undertaken during the upcoming annual period of validity of a renewed Letter of Authorization; and

(4) A determination by NMFS that the number of marine mammals taken during the period of the Letter of Authorization will be small, that the total taking of marine mammals by the activities specified in §217.200(a) will have no more than a negligible impact on the species or stock of affected marine mammal(s), and that the total taking will not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of species or stocks of marine mammals for subsistence uses.

(b) If a request for a renewal of a Letter of Authorization issued under §216.106 of this chapter and this section indicates that a substantial modification to the described work, mitigation or monitoring undertaken during the upcoming season will occur, NMFS will provide the public a period of 30 days for review and comment on the request.

(c) Notice of issuance or denial of a renewal of a Letter of Authorization will be published in the Federal Register within 30 days of a determination.

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§217.209   Modifications of Letters of Authorization.

(a) Except as provided in paragraph (b) of this section, no substantive modification (including withdrawal or suspension) to the Letter of Authorization by NMFS, issued pursuant to §216.106 of this chapter and §217.207 and subject to the provisions of this subpart, shall be made until after notification and an opportunity for public comment has been provided. For purposes of this paragraph, a renewal of a Letter of Authorization under §217.208, without modification (except for the period of validity), is not considered a substantive modification.

(b) If the Assistant Administrator determines that an emergency exists that poses a significant risk to the well-being of the species or stocks of marine mammals specified in §217.202(b), a Letter of Authorization issued pursuant to §216.106 of this chapter and §217.207 may be substantively modified without prior notification and an opportunity for public comment. Notification will be published in the Federal Register within 30 days subsequent to the action.

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