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Notice

Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Seabird Monitoring and Research in Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska, 2014

Action

Notice; Proposed Incidental Harassment Authorization; Request For Comments.

Summary

NMFS has received an application from Glacier Bay National Park (Glacier Bay NP) to take marine mammals, by harassment incidental to conducting seabird research from July through September, 2014. The proposed dates for this action would be July 22, 2014 through September 30, 2014. Per the Marine Mammal Protection Act, we are requesting comments on our proposal to issue an Authorization to the Glacier Bay NP to incidentally take, by Level B harassment only, one species of marine mammals during the specified activity.

 

Table of Contents Back to Top

Tables Back to Top

DATES: Back to Top

NMFS must receive comments and information on or before July 7, 2014.

ADDRESSES: Back to Top

Address comments on the application to Jolie Harrison, Supervisor, Incidental Take Program, Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910. The mailbox address for providing email comments is ITP.Cody@noaa.gov. Please include 0648-XD174 in the subject line. Comments sent via email to ITP.Cody@noaa.gov, including all attachments, must not exceed a 25-megabyte file size. NMFS is not responsible for email comments sent to addresses other than the one provided here.

Instructions: All submitted comments are a part of the public record and NMFS will post them to http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental.htm#applications without change. All Personal Identifying Information (for example, name, address, etc.) voluntarily submitted by the commenter may be publicly accessible. Do not submit confidential business information or otherwise sensitive or protected information.

To obtain an electronic copy of the application containing a list of the references used in this document, write to the previously mentioned address, telephone the contact listed here (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT), or visit the internet at: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental.htm#applications.

We will prepare an environmental assessment (EA) in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act to evaluate the environmental effects related to the scope of our federal action, which is the proposed issuance of an Authorization to Glacier Bay NP for their proposed seabird research activities. This notice presents detailed information on the scope of our federal action under NEPA (i.e., the proposed Authorization including mitigation measures and monitoring) and we will consider comments submitted in response to this notice as we prepare our EA. Information in Glacier Bay NP's application and this notice collectively provide the environmental information related to proposed issuance of the Authorization for public review and comment.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Back to Top

Jeannine Cody, NMFS, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS (301) 427-8401.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Back to Top

Background Back to Top

Section 101(a)(5)(D) of the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, as amended (MMPA; 16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.) directs the Secretary of Commerce to allow, upon request, the incidental, but not intentional, taking of small numbers of marine mammals of a species or population stock, by U.S. citizens who engage in a specified activity (other than commercial fishing) within a specified geographical region if, after NMFS provides a notice of a proposed authorization to the public for review and comment: (1) NMFS makes certain findings; and (2) the taking is limited to harassment.

An Authorization shall be granted for the incidental taking of small numbers of marine mammals if NMFS finds that the taking will have a negligible impact on the species or stock(s), and will not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of the species or stock(s) for subsistence uses (where relevant). The Authorization must also set forth the permissible methods of taking; other means of effecting the least practicable adverse impact on the species or stock and its habitat; and requirements pertaining to the mitigation, monitoring and reporting of such taking. NMFS has defined “negligible impact” in 50 CFR 216.103 as “an impact resulting from the specified activity that cannot be reasonably expected to, and is not reasonably likely to, adversely affect the species or stock through effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival.”

Except with respect to certain activities not pertinent here, the MMPA defines “harassment” as: Any act of pursuit, torment, or annoyance which (i) has the potential to injure a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild [Level A harassment]; or (ii) has the potential to disturb a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild by causing disruption of behavioral patterns, including, but not limited to, migration, breathing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or sheltering [Level B harassment].

Summary of Request Back to Top

On April 7, 2014, NMFS received an application from Glacier Bay NP requesting that we issue an Authorization for the take of marine mammals, incidental to conducting monitoring and research studies on glaucus-winged gulls (Larus glaucescens) within Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve in Alaska. NMFS determined the application complete and adequate on May 1, 2014.

Glacier Bay NP proposes to conduct ground-based and vessel-based surveys to collect data on the number and distribution of nesting gulls within five study sites in Glacier Bay, AK. Glacier Bay NP proposes to complete up to five visits per study site, from July through September, 2014.

The proposed activities are within the vicinity of pinniped haulout sites and the following aspects of the proposed activities are likely to result in the take of marine mammals: Noise generated by motorboat approaches and departures; noise generated by researchers while conducting ground surveys; and human presence during the monitoring and research activities. Thus, we anticipate that take, by Level B harassment only of one species of marine mammal could result from the specified activity. NMFS anticipates that take by Level B Harassment only, of individuals of harbor seals (Phoca vitulina) would result from the specified activity.

Description of the Specified Activity Back to Top

Overview

Glacier Bay NP proposes to identify the onset of gull nesting; conduct mid-season surveys of adult gulls, and locate and document gull nest sites within the following study areas: Boulder, Lone, and Flapjack Islands, and Geikie Rock. Each of these study sites contains harbor seal haulout sites and Glacier Bay NP proposes to visit each site up to five times during the research season.

Glacier Bay NP must conduct the gull monitoring studies to meet the requirements of a 2010 Record of Decision for a Legislative Environmental Impact Statement (NPS 2010) which states that Glacier Bay NP must initiate a monitoring program for the gulls to inform future native egg harvests by the Hoonah Tlingit in Glacier Bay, AK. Glacier Bay NP actively monitors harbor seals at breeding and molting sites to assess population trends over time (e.g., Mathews & Pendleton, 2006; Womble et al., 2010). Glacier Bay NP also coordinates pinniped monitoring programs with National Marine Mammal Laboratory and the Alaska Department of Fish & Game and plans to continue these collaborations and sharing of monitoring data and observations in the future.

Dates and Duration

Glacier Bay NP proposes to conduct the proposed activities from the period of July 22 through September 30, 2014. Glacier Bay NP proposes to conduct a maximum of three ground-based surveys per each study site between July 22 through September 30, 2014 and a maximum of two vessel-based surveys per each study site between July 22 through September 30, 2014.

Thus, the proposed Authorization, if issued, would be effective from July 22, 2014 through September 30, 2014. We refer the reader to the Detailed Description of Activities section later in this notice for more information on the scope of the proposed activities.

Specified Geographic Region

The proposed study sites would occur in the vicinity of the following locations: Boulder (58°33′18.08″ N; 136°1′13.36″ W), Lone (58°43′17.67″ N; 136°17′41.32″ W), and Flapjack (58°35′10.19″ N; 135°58′50.78″ W) Islands, and Geikie Rock (58°41′39.75″ N; 136°18′39.06″ W) in Glacier Bay, Alaska. Glacier Bay NP will also conduct studies at Tlingit Point Islet located at 58°45′16.86″ N; 136°10′41.74″ W; however, there are no reported pinniped haulout sites at that location.

Detailed Description of Activities

Glacier Bay NP proposes to conduct: (1) Ground-based surveys at a maximum frequency of three visits per site; and (2) vessel-based surveys at a maximum frequency of two visits per site from the period of July 22 through September 30, 2014.

Ground-Based Surveys: These surveys involve two trained observers visiting the largest gull colony on each island to: (1) Obtain information on the numbers of nests, their location, and contents (i.e., eggs or chicks); (2) determine the onset of laying, distribution, abundance, and predation of gull nests and eggs; and (3) record the proximity of other species relative to colony locations.

The observers would access each island using a kayak, a 32.8 to 39.4-foot (ft) (10 to 12 meter (m)) motorboat, or a 12 ft (4 m) inflatable rowing dinghy. The landing craft's transit speed would not exceed 4 knots (4.6 miles per hour (mph). Ground surveys generally last from 30 minutes to up to two hours depending on the size of the island and the number of nesting gulls. Glacier Bay NP will discontinue ground surveys after they detect the first hatchling to minimize disturbance to the gull colonies.

Vessel-Based Surveys: These surveys involve two trained observers observing and counting the number of adult and fledgling gulls from the deck of a motorized vessel which would transit around each island at a distance of approximately 328 ft (100 m) to avoid flushing the birds from the colonies. Vessel-based surveys generally last from 30 minutes to up to two hours depending on the size of the island and the number of nesting gulls.

Description of Marine Mammals in the Area of the Specified Activity

Table 1 in this notice provides the following information: All marine mammal species with possible or confirmed occurrence in the proposed survey areas on land; information on those species' regulatory status under the MMPA and the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.); abundance; occurrence and seasonality in the activity area.

Table 1—General Information on Marine Mammals That Could Potentially Haul Out in the Proposed Study Areas in July Through September, 2014 Back to Top
Species Stock name Regulatory status1 2 Stock/species abundance3 Occurrence and range Season
1MMPA: D = Depleted, S = Strategic, NC = Not Classified.
2ESA: EN = Endangered, T = Threatened, DL = Delisted, NL = Not listed.
32013 NMFS Stock Assessment Report (Allen and Anglis, 2013).
Harbor seal (Phoca vitulina) Glacier Bay/Icy Strait MMPA-NC ESA—NL 5,042 common coastal year-round
Steller sea lion (Eumetopias jubatus) Eastern U.S. MMPA—D, S ESA—NL 63,160-78,198 uncommon coastal year-round
Steller sea lion (Eumetopias jubatus) Western U.S. MMPA—D, S ESA—T 52,200 rare coastal unknown

NMFS refers the public to the Glacier Bay NP's application and the 2013 NMFS Marine Mammal Stock Assessment Report available online at: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/sars/species.htm for further information on the biology and local distribution of these species.

Other Marine Mammals in the Proposed Action Area

Northern sea otters (Enhydra lutris kenyoni) and polar bears (Ursis maritimus) listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act could occur in the proposed area. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service manages these species and we do not consider them further in this notice.

Potential Effects of the Specified Activities on Marine Mammals Back to Top

This section includes a summary and discussion of the ways that the types of stressors associated with the specified activity (e.g., motorboat operations and the presence of researchers) impact marine mammals (via observations or scientific studies). This section may include a discussion of known effects that do not rise to the level of an MMPA take (for example, with visual stimuli, we may include a discussion of studies of animals exhibiting no reaction to sound or exhibiting barely perceptible avoidance behaviors). This discussion may also include reactions that NMFS considers to rise to the level of a take.

NMFS intends to provide a background of potential effects of Glacier Bay NP's activities in this section. This section does not consider the specific manner in which the Glacier Bay NP would carry out the proposed activity, what mitigation measures the Glacier Bay NP would implement, and how either of those would shape the anticipated impacts from this specific activity. The “Estimated Take by Incidental Harassment” section later in this document will include a quantitative analysis of the number of individuals that we expect Glacier Bay NP to take during this activity. The “Negligible Impact Analysis” section will include the analysis of how this specific activity would impact marine mammals. NMFS will consider the content of the following sections: (1) Estimated Take by Incidental Harassment; (3) Proposed Mitigation; and (4) Anticipated Effects on Marine Mammal Habitat, to draw conclusions regarding the likely impacts of this activity on the reproductive success or survivorship of individuals—and from that consideration—the likely impacts of this activity on the affected marine mammal populations or stocks.

Acoustic Impacts

When considering the influence of various kinds of sound on the marine environment, it is necessary to understand that different kinds of marine life are sensitive to different frequencies of sound. Current data indicate that not all marine mammal species have equal hearing capabilities (Richardson et al., 1995; Southall et al., 1997; Wartzok and Ketten, 1999; Au and Hastings, 2008).

Southall et al. (2007) designated “functional hearing groups” for marine mammals based on available behavioral data; audiograms derived from auditory evoked potentials; anatomical modeling; and other data. Southall et al. (2007) also estimated the lower and upper frequencies of functional hearing for each group. However, animals are less sensitive to sounds at the outer edges of their functional hearing range and are more sensitive to a range of frequencies within the middle of their functional hearing range.

The functional groups applicable to this proposed survey and the associated frequencies are:

  • Low frequency cetaceans (13 species of mysticetes): Functional hearing estimates occur between approximately 7 Hertz (Hz) and 30 kHz (extended from 22 kHz based on data indicating that some mysticetes can hear above 22 kHz; Au et al., 2006; Lucifredi and Stein, 2007; Ketten and Mountain, 2009; Tubelli et al., 2012);
  • Mid-frequency cetaceans (32 species of dolphins, six species of larger toothed whales, and 19 species of beaked and bottlenose whales): Functional hearing estimates occur between approximately 150 Hz and 160 kHz;
  • High-frequency cetaceans (eight species of true porpoises, six species of river dolphins, Kogia, the franciscana, and four species of cephalorhynchids): Functional hearing estimates occur between approximately 200 Hz and 180 kHz; and
  • Pinnipeds in water: Phocid (true seals) functional hearing estimates occur between approximately 75 Hz and 100 kHz (Hemila et al., 2006; Mulsow et al., 2011; Reichmuth et al., 2013) and otariid (seals and sea lions) functional hearing estimates occur between approximately 100 Hz to 40 kHz.

As mentioned previously in this document, only one marine mammal species would likely occur in the proposed action area. The harbor seal is a member of the Pinnipeds in Water functional hearing group. We consider a species' functional hearing group when we analyze the effects of exposure to sound on marine mammals.

1. Potential Effects of Motorboat Operations and Researcher Presence on Marine Mammals

Acoustic and visual stimuli generated by: (1) Motorboat operations; and (2) the appearance of researchers may have the potential to cause Level B harassment of any pinnipeds hauled out on Boulder, Lone, and Flapjack Islands, and Geikie Rock. The effects of sounds from motorboat operations and the appearance of researchers might include hearing impairment or behavioral disturbance (Southall, et al., 2007).

Hearing Impairment

Marine mammals produce sounds in various important contexts—social interactions, foraging, navigating, and responding to predators. The best available science suggests that pinnipeds have a functional aerial hearing sensitivity between 75 hertz (Hz) and 75 kilohertz (kHz) and can produce a diversity of sounds, though generally from 100 Hz to several tens of kHz (Southall, et al., 2007).

Exposure to high intensity sound for a sufficient duration may result in auditory effects such as a noise-induced threshold shift—an increase in the auditory threshold after exposure to noise (Finneran, Carder, Schlundt, and Ridgway, 2005). Factors that influence the amount of threshold shift include the amplitude, duration, frequency content, temporal pattern, and energy distribution of noise exposure. The magnitude of hearing threshold shift normally decreases over time following cessation of the noise exposure. The amount of threshold shift just after exposure is called the initial threshold shift. If the threshold shift eventually returns to zero (i.e., the threshold returns to the pre-exposure value), it is called temporary threshold shift (Southall et al., 2007).

Pinnipeds have the potential to be disturbed by airborne and underwater noise generated by the small boats equipped with outboard engines (Richardson, Greene, Malme, and Thomson, 1995). However, there is a dearth of information on acoustic effects of motorboats on pinniped hearing and communication and to our knowledge there has been no specific documentation of hearing impairment in free-ranging pinnipeds exposed to small motorboats during realistic field conditions.

Behavioral Disturbance

Marine mammals may behaviorally react to sound when exposed to anthropogenic noise. Disturbance includes a variety of effects, including subtle to conspicuous changes in behavior, movement, and displacement. Reactions to sound, if any, depend on species, state of maturity, experience, current activity, reproductive state, time of day, and many other factors (Richardson et al., 1995; Wartzok et al., 2004; Southall et al., 2007; Weilgart, 2007). These behavioral reactions are often shown as: Changing durations of surfacing and dives, number of blows per surfacing, or moving direction and/or speed; reduced/increased vocal activities; changing/cessation of certain behavioral activities (such as socializing or feeding); visible startle response or aggressive behavior (such as tail/fluke slapping or jaw clapping); avoidance of areas where noise sources are located; and/or flight responses (e.g., pinnipeds flushing into the water from haul-outs or rookeries). If a marine mammal does react briefly to an underwater sound by changing its behavior or moving a small distance, the impacts of the change are unlikely to be significant to the individual, let alone the stock or population. However, if a sound source displaces marine mammals from an important feeding or breeding area for a prolonged period, impacts on individuals and populations could be significant (e.g., Lusseau and Bejder, 2007; Weilgart, 2007).

The biological significance of many of these behavioral disturbances is difficult to predict, especially if the detected disturbances appear minor. However, one could expect the consequences of behavioral modification to be biologically significant if the change affects growth, survival, and/or reproduction. Some of these significant behavioral modifications include:

  • Change in diving/surfacing patterns (such as those thought to be causing beaked whale stranding due to exposure to military mid-frequency tactical sonar);
  • Habitat abandonment due to loss of desirable acoustic environment; and
  • Cessation of feeding or social interaction.

The onset of behavioral disturbance from anthropogenic noise depends on both external factors (characteristics of noise sources and their paths) and the receiving animals (hearing, motivation, experience, demography) and is also difficult to predict (Richardson et al., 1995; Southall et al., 2007). Given the many uncertainties in predicting the quantity and types of impacts of noise on marine mammals, it is common practice to estimate how many mammals would be present within a particular distance of industrial activities and/or exposed to a particular level of industrial sound. In most cases, this approach likely overestimates the numbers of marine mammals that could potentially be affected in some biologically-important manner.

Disturbances resulting from human activity can impact short- and long-term pinniped haul out behavior (Renouf et al., 1981; Schneider and Payne, 1983; Terhune and Almon, 1983; Allen et al., 1984; Stewart, 1984; Suryan and Harvey, 1999; Mortenson et al., 2000; and Kucey and Trites, 2006). Disturbance includes a variety of effects, including subtle to conspicuous changes in behavior, movement, and displacement. Reactions to sound, if any, depend on species, state of maturity, experience, current activity, reproductive state, time of day, and many other factors (Richardson et al., 1995; Wartzok et al., 2004; Southall et al., 2007; Weilgart, 2007). If a sound source displaces marine mammals from an important feeding or breeding area for a prolonged period, impacts on individuals and populations could be significant (e.g., Lusseau and Bejder, 2007; Weilgart, 2007).

Numerous studies have shown that human activity can flush harbor seals off haulout sites (Allen et al., 1984; Calambokidis et al., 1991; Suryan and Harvey, 1999; and Mortenson et al., 2000). The Hawaiian monk seal (Monachus schauinslandi) has been shown to avoid beaches that have been disturbed often by humans (Kenyon, 1972). And in one case, human disturbance appeared to cause Steller sea lions to desert a breeding area at Northeast Point on St. Paul Island, Alaska (Kenyon, 1962).

In cases where vessels actively approached marine mammals (e.g., whale watching or dolphin watching boats), scientists have documented that animals exhibit altered behavior such as increased swimming speed, erratic movement, and active avoidance behavior (Bursk, 1983; Acevedo, 1991; Baker and MacGibbon, 1991; Trites and Bain, 2000; Williams et al., 2002; Constantine et al., 2003), reduced blow interval (Ritcher et al., 2003), disruption of normal social behaviors (Lusseau, 2003; 2006), and the shift of behavioral activities which may increase energetic costs (Constantine et al., 2003; 2004)).

In 1997, Henry and Hammil (2001) conducted a study to measure the impacts of small boats (i.e., kayaks, canoes, motorboats and sailboats) on harbor seal haulout behavior in Métis Bay, Quebec, Canada. During that study, the authors noted that the most frequent disturbances (n=73) were caused by lower speed, lingering kayaks and canoes (33.3 percent) as opposed to motorboats (27.8 percent) conducting high speed passes. The seal's flight reactions could be linked to a surprise factor by kayaks-canoes which approach slowly, quietly and low on water making them look like predators. However, the authors note that once the animals were disturbed, there did not appear to be any significant lingering effect on the recovery of numbers to their pre-disturbance levels. In conclusion, the study showed that boat traffic at current levels has only a temporary effect on the haulout behavior of harbor seals in the Métis Bay area.

In 2004, Johnson and Acevedo-Gutierrez (2007) evaluated the efficacy of buffer zones for watercraft around harbor seal haulout sites on Yellow Island, Washington. The authors estimated the minimum distance between the vessels and the haul-out sites; categorized the vessel types; and evaluated seal responses to the disturbances. During the course of the seven-weekend study, the authors recorded 14 human-related disturbances which were associated with stopped powerboats and kayaks. During these events, hauled out seals became noticeably active and moved into the water. The flushing occurred when stopped kayaks and powerboats were at distances as far as 453 and 1,217 ft (138 and 371 m) respectively. The authors note that the seals were unaffected by passing powerboats, even those approaching as close as 128 ft (39 m), possibly indicating that the animals had become tolerant of the brief presence of the vessels and ignored them. The authors reported that on average, the seals quickly recovered from the disturbances and returned to the haulout site in less than or equal to 60 minutes. Seal numbers did not return to pre-disturbance levels within 180 minutes of the disturbance less than one quarter of the time observed. The study concluded that the return of seal numbers to pre-disturbance levels and the relatively regular seasonal cycle in abundance throughout the area counter the idea that disturbances from powerboats may result in site abandonment (Johnson and Acevedo-Gutierrez, 2007). As a general statement from the available information, pinnipeds exposed to intense (approximately 110 to 120 decibels re: 20 μPa) non-pulse sounds often leave haulout areas and seek refuge temporarily (minutes to a few hours) in the water (Southall et al., 2007).

Anticipated Effects on Marine Mammal Habitat

We do not anticipate that the proposed operations would result in any temporary or permanent effects on the habitats used by the marine mammals in the proposed area, including the food sources they use (i.e., fish and invertebrates). While NMFS anticipates that the specified activity may result in marine mammals avoiding certain areas due to motorboat operations or human presence, this impact to habitat is temporary and reversible. NMFS considered these as behavioral modification. The main impact associated with the proposed activity will be temporarily elevated noise levels and the associated direct effects on marine mammals, previously discussed in this notice. Based on the preceding discussion, NMFS does not anticipate that the proposed activity would have any habitat-related effects that could cause significant or long-term consequences for individual marine mammals or their populations.

Proposed Mitigation Back to Top

In order to issue an incidental take authorization under section 101(a)(5)(D) of the MMPA, NMFS must set forth the permissible methods of taking pursuant to such activity, and other means of effecting the least practicable adverse impact on such species or stock and its habitat, paying particular attention to rookeries, mating grounds, and areas of similar significance, and on the availability of such species or stock for taking for certain subsistence uses (where relevant).

The Glacier Bay NP has reviewed the following source documents and has incorporated a suite of proposed mitigation measures into their project description.

(1) Recommended best practices in Womble et al. (2013); Richardson et al. (1995); Pierson et al. (1998); and Weir and Dolman, (2007).

To reduce the potential for disturbance from acoustic and visual stimuli associated with the activities Glacier Bay NP and/or its designees has proposed to implement the following mitigation measures for marine mammals:

  • Perform pre-survey monitoring before deciding to access a study site;
  • Avoid accessing a site based on a pre-determined threshold of animals present; sites used by pinnipeds for pupping; or sites used by Steller sea lions;
  • Perform controlled and slow ingress to the study site to prevent a stampede and select a pathway of approach to minimize the number of marine mammals harassed;
  • Monitor for offshore predators. Avoid approaching the study site if killer whales (Orcinas orca) are present. If Glacier Bay and/or its designees see predators in the area, they must not disturb the animals until the area is free of predators.
  • Maintain a quiet research atmosphere in the visual presence of pinnipeds.

Pre-Survey Monitoring: Prior to deciding to land onshore to conduct the study, the researchers would use high-powered image stabilizing binoculars from the watercraft to document the number, species, and location of hauled out marine mammals at each island. The vessels would maintain a distance of 328 to 1,640 ft (100 to 500 m) from the shoreline to allow the researchers to conduct pre-survey monitoring.

Site Avoidance: Researchers would decide whether or not to approach the island based on the species present, number of individuals, and the presence of pups. If there are high numbers (greater than 25) of hauled out harbor seals and/or young pups or there are any Steller sea lions present, the researchers will not approach the island and will not conduct gull monitoring research.

Controlled Landings: The researchers would determine whether to approach the island based on the number and type of animals present. If the island has fewer than 25 individuals without pups, he/she would approach the island by motorboat at a speed of approximately 2 to 3 knots (2.3 to 3.4 mph). This would provide enough time for any marine mammals present to slowly enter the water without panic or stampede. The researchers would also select a pathway of approach farthest from the hauled out harbor seals to minimize disturbance.

Minimize Predator Interactions: If marine predators (i.e. killer whales) are present in the vicinity of hauled out marine mammals, the researchers would not approach the study site.

Noise Reduction Protocols: While onshore at study sites, the researchers would remain vigilant for hauled out marine mammals. If marine mammals are present, the researchers would move slowly and use quiet voices to minimize disturbance to the animals present.

Mitigation Conclusions Back to Top

NMFS has carefully evaluated Glacier Bay NP's proposed mitigation measures in the context of ensuring that we prescribe the means of effecting the least practicable impact on the affected marine mammal species and stocks and their habitat. Our evaluation of potential measures included consideration of the following factors in relation to one another:

  • The manner in which, and the degree to which, the successful implementation of the measure is expected to minimize adverse impacts to marine mammals;
  • The proven or likely efficacy of the specific measure to minimize adverse impacts as planned; and
  • The practicability of the measure for applicant implementation.

Any mitigation measure(s) prescribed by NMFS should be able to accomplish, have a reasonable likelihood of accomplishing (based on current science), or contribute to the accomplishment of one or more of the general goals listed here:

1. Avoidance or minimization of injury or death of marine mammals wherever possible (goals 2, 3, and 4 may contribute to this goal).

2. A reduction in the numbers of marine mammals (total number or number at biologically important time or location) exposed to motorboat operations or visual presence that we expect to result in the take of marine mammals (this goal may contribute to 1, above, or to reducing harassment takes only).

3. A reduction in the number of times (total number or number at biologically important time or location) individuals exposed to motorboat operations or visual presence that we expect to result in the take of marine mammals (this goal may contribute to 1, above, or to reducing harassment takes only).

4. A reduction in the intensity of exposures (either total number or number at biologically important time or location) to motorboat operations or visual presence that we expect to result in the take of marine mammals (this goal may contribute to a, above, or to reducing the severity of harassment takes only).

5. Avoidance or minimization of adverse effects to marine mammal habitat, paying special attention to the food base, activities that block or limit passage to or from biologically important areas, permanent destruction of habitat, or temporary destruction/disturbance of habitat during a biologically important time.

6. For monitoring directly related to mitigation—an increase in the probability of detecting marine mammals, thus allowing for more effective implementation of the mitigation.

Based on the evaluation of Glacier Bay NP's proposed measures, NMFS has preliminarily determined that the proposed mitigation measures provide the means of effecting the least practicable impact on marine mammal species or stocks and their habitat, paying particular attention to rookeries, mating grounds, and areas of similar significance.

Proposed Monitoring

In order to issue an ITA for an activity, section 101(a)(5)(D) of the MMPA states that NMFS must set forth “requirements pertaining to the monitoring and reporting of such taking.” The MMPA implementing regulations at 50 CFR 216.104(a)(13) indicate that requests for Authorizations must include the suggested means of accomplishing the necessary monitoring and reporting that will result in increased knowledge of the species and of the level of taking or impacts on populations of marine mammals that we expect to be present in the proposed action area.

Glacier Bay NP submitted a marine mammal monitoring plan in section 13 of their Authorization application. NMFS or the Glacier Bay NP may modify or supplement the plan based on comments or new information received from the public during the public comment period.

Monitoring measures prescribed by NMFS should accomplish one or more of the following general goals:

1. An increase in the probability of detecting marine mammals in order to generate more data to contribute to the analyses mentioned later;

2. An increase in our understanding of how many marine mammals would be affected by the research activities and the likelihood of associating those exposures with specific adverse effects, such as behavioral harassment, temporary or permanent threshold shift;

3. An increase in our understanding of how marine mammals respond to acoustic and visual stimuli that we expect to result in take and how those anticipated adverse effects on individuals (in different ways and to varying degrees) may impact the population, species, or stock (specifically through effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival) through any of the following methods:

a. Behavioral observations in the presence of stimuli compared to observations in the absence of stimuli (i.e., we need to be able to accurately predict received level, distance from source, and other pertinent information);

b. Physiological measurements in the presence of stimuli compared to observations in the absence of stimuli (i.e., we need to be able to accurately predict received level, distance from source, and other pertinent information);

c. Distribution and/or abundance comparisons in times or areas with concentrated stimuli versus times or areas without stimuli;

4. An increased knowledge of the affected species; and

5. An increase in our understanding of the effectiveness of certain mitigation and monitoring measures.

As part of its Authorization application, Glacier Bay NP proposes to sponsor marine mammal monitoring during the present project, in order to implement the mitigation measures that require real-time monitoring, and to satisfy the monitoring requirements of the Authorization.

The Glacier Bay NP researchers will monitor the area for pinnipeds during all research activities. Monitoring activities will consist of conducting and recording observations on pinnipeds within the vicinity of the proposed research areas. The monitoring notes would provide dates and location of the researcher's activities and the number and type of species present. The researchers would document the behavioral state of animals present, and any apparent disturbance reactions or lack thereof.

Proposed Reporting

Glacier Bay NP will submit a final monitoring report to us no later than 90 days after the expiration of the Incidental Harassment Authorization, if we issue it. The final report will describe the operations conducted and sightings of marine mammals near the proposed project. The report will provide full documentation of methods, results, and interpretation pertaining to all monitoring. The final report will provide:

1. A summary and table of the dates, times, and weather during all research activities.

2. Species, number, location, and behavior of any marine mammals observed throughout all monitoring activities.

3. An estimate of the number (by species) of marine mammals exposed to acoustic or visual stimuli associated with the research activities.

4. A description of the implementation and effectiveness of the monitoring and mitigation measures of the Authorization and full documentation of methods, results, and interpretation pertaining to all monitoring.

In the unanticipated event that the specified activity clearly causes the take of a marine mammal in a manner prohibited by the authorization, such as an injury (Level A harassment), serious injury, or mortality (e.g., vessel-strike, stampede, etc.), Glacier Bay NP shall immediately cease the specified activities and immediately report the incident to the Incidental Take Program Supervisor, Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, at 301-427-8401 and/or by email to Jolie.Harrison@noaa.gov and ITP.Cody@noaa.gov and the Alaska Regional Stranding Coordinator at (907) 586-7248 (Aleria.Jensen@noaa.gov). The report must include the following information:

  • Time, date, and location (latitude/longitude) of the incident;
  • Description and location of the incident (including water depth, if applicable);
  • Environmental conditions (e.g., wind speed and direction, Beaufort sea state, cloud cover, and visibility);
  • Description of all marine mammal observations in the 24 hours preceding the incident;
  • Species identification or description of the animal(s) involved;
  • Fate of the animal(s); and
  • Photographs or video footage of the animal(s) (if equipment is available).

Glacier Bay NP shall not resume its activities until NMFS is able to review the circumstances of the prohibited take. We will work with Glacier Bay to determine what is necessary to minimize the likelihood of further prohibited take and ensure MMPA compliance. Glacier Bay NP may not resume their activities until notified by us via letter, email, or telephone.

In the event that Glacier Bay NP discovers an injured or dead marine mammal, and the lead researcher determines that the cause of the injury or death is unknown and the death is relatively recent (i.e., in less than a moderate state of decomposition as we describe in the next paragraph), Glacier Bay NP will immediately report the incident to the Incidental Take Program Supervisor, Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, at 301-427-8401 and/or by email to Jolie.Harrison@noaa.gov and ITP.Cody@noaa.gov and the Alaska Regional Stranding Coordinator at (907) 586-7248 (Aleria.Jensen@noaa.gov). The report must include the same information identified in the paragraph above this section. Activities may continue while we review the circumstances of the incident. We will work with Glacier Bay NP to determine whether modifications in the activities are appropriate.

In the event that Glacier Bay NP discovers an injured or dead marine mammal, and the lead visual observer determines that the injury or death is not associated with or related to the authorized activities (e.g., previously wounded animal, carcass with moderate to advanced decomposition, or scavenger damage), Glacier Bay will report the incident to the incident to the Incidental Take Program Supervisor, Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, at 301-427-8401 and/or by email to Jolie.Harrison@noaa.gov and ITP.Cody@noaa.gov and the Alaska Regional Stranding Coordinator at (907) 586-7248 (Aleria.Jensen@noaa.gov) within 24 hours of the discovery. Glacier Bay NP researchers will provide photographs or video footage (if available) or other documentation of the stranded animal sighting to us. Glacier Bay NP can continue their research activities.

Estimated Take by Incidental Harassment Back to Top

Except with respect to certain activities not pertinent here, the MMPA defines “harassment” as: Any act of pursuit, torment, or annoyance which (i) has the potential to injure a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild [Level A harassment]; or (ii) has the potential to disturb a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild by causing disruption of behavioral patterns, including, but not limited to, migration, breathing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or sheltering [Level B harassment].

Acoustic (i.e., increased sound) and visual stimuli from the proposed research activities may have the potential to result in the behavioral disturbance of some marine mammals. Thus, NMFS proposes to authorize take by Level B harassment only for the proposed seabird research activities on Boulder, Lone, and Flapjack Islands, and Geikie Rock, Alaska. NMFS proposes to authorize take by Level B harassment based upon the current acoustic exposure criteria shown in Table 2. Our practice has been to apply the 120 dB re: 1 μPa received level threshold for underwater continuous sound levels to determine whether take by Level B harassment occurs. Southall et al. (2007) provides a severity scale for ranking observed behavioral responses of both free-ranging marine mammals and laboratory subjects to various types of anthropogenic sound (see Table 4 in Southall et al.[2007]).

Table 2—NMFS' Current Acoustic Exposure Criteria Back to Top
Criterion Criterion definition Threshold
Level A Harassment (Injury) Permanent Threshold Shift (PTS) (Any level above that which is known to cause TTS) 180 dB re 1 microPa-m (cetaceans)/190 dB re 1 microPa-m (pinnipeds) root mean square (rms).
Level B Harassment Behavioral Disruption (for continuous noises) 120 dB re 1 microPa-m (rms)

Based on pinniped survey counts conducted by Glacier Bay NP (e.g., Mathews & Pendleton, 2006; Womble et al., 2010), NMFS estimates that the research activities could potentially affect by Level B behavioral harassment 400 harbor seals over the course of the Authorization (Table 3). This estimate represents 12.6 percent of the Glacier Bay/Icy Strait stock of harbor seals and accounts for a maximum disturbance of 20 harbor seals each per visit at Boulder, Lone, and Flapjack Islands, and Geikie Rock, Alaska over a maximum level of five visits.

Table 3—Estimates of the Possible Numbers of Marine Mammals Exposed to Acoustic and Visual Stimuli During the Proposed Research Activities on Boulder, Lone, and Flapjack Islands, and Geikie Rock, Alaska, July Through September, 2014 Back to Top
Species Density estimate1 Est. number of individuals exposed Proposed take authorization Percent of species or stock2 Population trend3
1No data = Insufficient data to determine density estimates for Boulder, Lone, and Flapjack Islands, and Geikie Rock.
2Table 1 in this notice lists the stock species abundance estimates that NMFS used to calculate the percentage of species/stock.
3The population trend information is from Allen and Angliss, 2013. No data = Insufficient data to determine population trend.
Harbor seal No data 400 400 12.6 Declining
Steller sea lion No data 0 0 0 Increasing

Harbor seals tend to haul out in small numbers (on average, less than 50 animals) at most sites with the exception of Flapjack Island. Animals on Flapjack Boulder Islands generally haul out on the south side of the Islands and are not located near the research sites located on the northern side of the Islands. Aerial survey maximum counts show that harbor seals sometimes haul out in large numbers at all four locations (see Table 2 in Glacier Bays NP's application), and sometimes individuals and mother/pup pairs occupy different terrestrial locations than the main haulout (J. Womble, personal observation).

Considering the conservation status for the Western stock of the Steller sea lion, the Glacier Bay NP researchers would not conduct ground-based or vessel-based surveys if they observe Steller sea lions before accessing Boulder, Lone, and Flapjack Islands, and Geikie Rock. Thus, NMFS expects no takes to occur for this species during the proposed activities.

The probability of vessel and marine mammal interactions (i.e., motorboat strike) occurring during the proposed research activities is unlikely due to the motorboat's slow operational speed, which is typically 2 to 3 knots (2.3 to 3.4 mph) and the researchers continually scanning the water for marine mammals presence during transit to the islands. Thus, NMFS does not anticipate that take would result from the movement of the motorboat.

There is no evidence that Glacier Bay NP's planned activities could result in injury, serious injury, or mortality within the action area. Moreover, the required mitigation and monitoring measures would minimize further any potential risk for injury, serious injury, or mortality. Thus, we do not propose to authorize any injury, serious injury, or mortality. We expect all potential takes to fall under the category of Level B harassment only.

Encouraging and Coordinating Research Back to Top

Glacier Bay NP actively monitors harbor seals at breeding and molting haul out locations to assess trends over time (e.g., Mathews & Pendleton, 2006; Womble et al. 2010, Womble and Gende, 2013b). This monitoring program involves collaborations with biologists from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, and the National Marine Mammal Laboratory. Glacier Bay NP will continue these collaborations and encourage continued or renewed monitoring of marine mammal species. Additionally, they would report vessel-based counts of marine mammals, branded, or injured animals, and all observed disturbances to the appropriate state and federal agencies.

Analysis and Preliminary Determinations Back to Top

Negligible Impact

Negligible impact is “an impact resulting from the specified activity that cannot be reasonably expected to, and is not reasonably likely to, adversely affect the species or stock through effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival” (50 CFR 216.103). The lack of likely adverse effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival (i.e., population level effects) forms the basis of a negligible impact finding. Thus, an estimate of the number of Level B harassment takes, alone, is not enough information on which to base an impact determination. In addition to considering estimates of the number of marine mammals that might be “taken” through behavioral harassment, NMFS must consider other factors, such as the likely nature of any responses (their intensity, duration, etc.), the context of any responses (critical reproductive time or location, migration, etc.), as well as the number and nature of estimated Level A harassment takes, and the number of estimated mortalities, effects on habitat, and the status of the species.

In making a negligible impact determination, NMFS considers:

  • The number of anticipated injuries, serious injuries, or mortalities;
  • The number, nature, and intensity, and duration of Level B harassment; and
  • The context in which the takes occur (e.g., impacts to areas of significance, impacts to local populations, and cumulative impacts when taking into account successive/contemporaneous actions when added to baseline data);
  • The status of stock or species of marine mammals (i.e., depleted, not depleted, decreasing, increasing, stable, impact relative to the size of the population);
  • Impacts on habitat affecting rates of recruitment/survival; and
  • The effectiveness of monitoring and mitigation measures to reduce the number or severity of incidental take.

For reasons stated previously in this document and based on the following factors, Glacier Bay NP's specified activities are not likely to cause long-term behavioral disturbance, permanent threshold shift, or other non-auditory injury, serious injury, or death. These reasons include:

1. The effects of the research activities would be limited to short-term startle responses and localized behavioral changes due to the short and sporadic duration of the research activities. Minor and brief responses, such as short-duration startle or alert reactions, are not likely to constitute disruption of behavioral patterns, such as migration, nursing, breeding, feeding, or sheltering.

2. The availability of alternate areas for pinnipeds to avoid the resultant acoustic and visual disturbances from the research operations. Anecdotal reports from previous Glacier Bay NP activities have shown that the pinnipeds returned to the various sites and did not permanently abandon haul-out sites after Glacier Bay NP conducted their research activities.

3. There is no potential for large-scale movements leading to injury, serious injury, or mortality because the researchers would delay ingress into the landing areas only after the pinnipeds have slowly entered the water.

4. Glacier Bay NP limiting access to Boulder, Lone, and Flapjack Islands, and Geikie Rock if more than 25 animals are present or if Steller sea lions are present in the research areas.

NMFS does not anticipate that any injuries, serious injuries, or mortalities would occur as a result of Glacier Bay's proposed activities, and NMFS does not propose to authorize injury, serious injury, or mortality at this time.

Due to the nature, degree, and context of Level B (behavioral) harassment anticipated and described (see “Potential Effects on Marine Mammals” section in this notice), we do not expect the activity to impact rates of recruitment or survival for any affected species or stock. In addition, the research activities would not take place in areas of significance for marine mammal feeding, resting, breeding, or calving and would not adversely impact marine mammal habitat.

NMFS preliminary finds that Glacier Bay NP's proposed activities will have a negligible impact on the affected species or stocks based on the analysis contained in this notice of the likely effects of the specified activity on marine mammals and their habitat, and taking into consideration the implementation of the mitigation and monitoring measures.

Small Numbers

As mentioned previously, NMFS estimates that Glacier Bay NP's activities could potentially affect, by Level B harassment only, one species of marine mammal under our jurisdiction. For harbor seals, this estimate is small (12.6 percent) relative to the population size and we have provided the percentage of the harbor seal's regional population estimate that the activities may take by Level B harassment in Table 3 in this notice.

Based on the analysis contained in this notice of the likely effects of the specified activity on marine mammals and their habitat, and taking into consideration the implementation of the mitigation and monitoring measures, NMFS preliminarily finds that Glacier Bay NP's proposed activities would take small numbers of marine mammals relative to the populations of the affected species or stocks.

Impact on Availability of Affected Species or Stock for Taking for Subsistence Uses

There are no relevant subsistence uses of marine mammals implicated by this action. Glacier Bay National Park prohibits subsistence harvest of harbor seals within the Park (Catton, 1995).

Endangered Species Act (ESA) Back to Top

NMFS does not expect that Glacier Bay NP's proposed research activities would affect any species listed under the ESA. Therefore, NMFS has determined that a section 7 consultation under the ESA is not required.

National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Back to Top

To meet our NEPA requirements for the issuance of an Authorization to Glacier Bay NP, we intend to prepare an Environmental Assessment (EA) titled, “Environmental Assessment for the Issuance of an Incidental Harassment Authorization to Take Marine Mammals by Harassment Incidental to Conducting Seabird Research in Glacier Bay Alaska.” Prior to making a final decision on the issuance of an Authorization, we would decide whether or not to issue a Finding of No Significant Impact. NMFS will review all comments submitted in response to this notice to complete the NEPA process prior to making a final decision on the Authorization request.

Proposed Authorization Back to Top

As a result of these preliminary determinations, NMFS proposes issuing an Incidental Harassment Authorization to Glacier Bay National Park for conducting seabird research July 22, 2014 through September 30, 2014, provided they incorporate the previously mentioned mitigation, monitoring, and reporting requirements.

Draft Proposed Authorization Back to Top

This section contains the draft text for the proposed Authorization. NMFS proposes to include this language in the Authorization if issued.

Proposed Authorization Language

Glacier Bay National Park, P.O. Box 140, Gustavus, Alaska 99826 and/or its designees (holders of the Authorization) are hereby authorized under section 101(a)(5)(D) of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (16 U.S.C. 1371(a)(5)(D)) to harass small numbers of marine mammals incidental to conducting monitoring and research studies on glaucus-winged gulls (Larus glaucescens) within Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve in Alaska.

1. This Authorization is valid from July 22 through September 30, 2014.

2. This Authorization is valid only for research activities that would occur in the following specified geographic areas: Boulder (58°33′18.08″ N; 136°1′13.36″ W); Lone (58°43′17.67″ N; 136° 17′41.32″ W), and Flapjack (58°35′10.19″ N; 135°58′50.78″ W) Islands, and Geikie Rock (58°41′39.75″ N; 136°18′39.06″ W); and Tlingit Point Islet (58°45′16.86″ N; 136°10′41.74″ W) in Glacier Bay, Alaska.

3. Species Authorized and Level of Takes

a. The taking, by Level B harassment only, is limited to the following species: 400 Pacific harbor seals (Phoca vitulina).

b. The taking by injury (Level A harassment), serious injury or death of any of the species listed in Condition 3(a) or the taking of any kind of any other species of marine mammal is prohibited and may result in the modification, suspension or revocation of this Authorization.

c. The taking of any marine mammal in a manner prohibited under this Authorization must be reported immediately to the Chief, Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, at (301) 427-8401.

4. General Conditions

A copy of this Authorization must be in the possession of Glacier Bay National Park, its designees, and field crew personnel (including research collaborators) operating under the authority of this Authorization at all times.

5. Mitigation Measures

In order to ensure the least practicable impact on the species listed in condition 3(a), the Holder of this Authorization is required to:

a. Conduct pre-survey monitoring before deciding to access a study site. Prior to deciding to land onshore of Boulder, Lone, or Flapjack Island or Geikie Rock, the Holder of this Authorization will use high-powered image stabilizing binoculars to document the number, species, and location of hauled out marine mammals at each island. The vessels will maintain a distance of 328 to 1,640 ft (100 to 500 m) from the shoreline.

i. If the Holder of the Authorization determines that there are greater than or equal to 25 harbor seals hauled out on the shoreline, the holder will not access the island and will not conduct the study at that time.

ii. If the Holder of the Authorization determines that Steller sea lions (Eumetopias jubatus) are present at the study site, the holder will not access the island and will not conduct the study at that time.

iii. If the Holder of the Authorization determines that there are greater than or equal to 25 harbor seal pups hauled out on the shoreline, the holder will not access the island and will not conduct the study at that time.

b. Minimize the potential for disturbance (to the lowest level practicable near known pinniped haul outs by boat travel and pedestrian approach during research activities) by: (1) performing controlled and slow ingress to the study site to prevent a stampede; and (2) selecting a pathway of approach farthest from the hauled out harbor seals to minimize disturbance.

c. Monitor for offshore predators. Avoid approaching the study site if killer whales (Orcinas orca) are present. If the Holder of this Authorization observes predators in the area, they must not disturb the animals until the area is free of predators.

d. Maintain a quiet research atmosphere in the visual presence of pinnipeds.

6. Monitoring

The holder of this Authorization is required to:

a. Record the date, time, and location (or closest point of ingress) of each visit to the research site.

b. Collect the following information for each visit:

i. composition of the marine mammals sighted, such as species, gender and life history stage (e.g., adult, sub-adult, pup);

ii. information on the numbers (by species) of marine mammals observed during the activities;

iii. the estimated number of marine mammals (by species) that may have been harassed during the activities;

iv. any behavioral responses or modifications of behaviors that may be attributed to the specific activities and a description of the specific activities occurring during that time (e.g., pedestrian approach, vessel approach); and

v. information on the weather, including the tidal state and horizontal visibility.

c. Observers will record marine mammal behavior patterns observed before, during, and after the activities; in the following manner:

i. Flushing into the water;

ii. stampeding into water;

iii. moving more than 1 meter (m), but not in the water; becoming alert and moving, but did not move more than 1 meter; or

v. changing the direction of current movement.

d. If applicable, note observations of marked or tag-bearing pinnipeds or carcasses, as well as any rare or unusual species of marine mammal.

e. If applicable, note the presence of any offshore predators (date, time, number, species).

7. Reporting

The holder of this Authorization is required to:

a. Draft Report: Submit a draft final report to the Chief, Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, Headquarters, NMFS within 90 days after the expiration of the Authorization. The report will include the information gathered pursuant to the monitoring requirements listed in Condition 6, along with an executive summary.

b. The Draft Report shall be subject to review and comment by NMFS. Any recommendations made by NMFS must be addressed in the Final Report prior to submission to NMFS. If we decide that the draft final report needs no comments, the draft final report will be considered to be the final report.

c. Final Report: Submit a final report to the Chief, Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, Headquarters, NMFS within 30 days after receiving comments from us on the draft final report.

8. Reporting Prohibited Take

In the unanticipated event that the specified activity clearly causes the take of a marine mammal in a manner prohibited by the authorization, such as an injury (Level A harassment), serious injury, or mortality (e.g., vessel-strike, stampede, etc.), Glacier Bay National Park shall immediately cease the specified activities and immediately report the incident to the Incidental Take Program Supervisor, Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, at 301-427-8401 and/or by email to Jolie.Harrison@noaa.gov and ITP.Cody@noaa.gov and the Alaska Regional Stranding Coordinator at (907) 586-7248 (Aleria.Jensen@noaa.gov). The report must include the following information:

  • Time, date, and location (latitude/longitude) of the incident;
  • Description and location of the incident (including water depth, if applicable);
  • Environmental conditions (e.g., wind speed and direction, Beaufort sea state, cloud cover, and visibility);
  • Description of all marine mammal observations in the 24 hours preceding the incident;
  • Species identification or description of the animal(s) involved;
  • Fate of the animal(s); and
  • Photographs or video footage of the animal(s) (if equipment is available).

Glacier Bay National Park shall not resume its activities until NMFS is able to review the circumstances of the prohibited take. We will work with Glacier Bay National Park to determine what is necessary to minimize the likelihood of further prohibited take and ensure MMPA compliance. Glacier Bay National Park may not resume their activities until notified by us via letter, email, or telephone.

9. Reporting an Injured or Dead Marine Mammal With an Unknown Cause of Death

In the event that Glacier Bay National Park discovers an injured or dead marine mammal, and the lead researcher determines that the cause of the injury or death is unknown and the death is relatively recent (i.e., in less than a moderate state of decomposition as we describe in the next paragraph), Glacier Bay National Park will immediately report the incident to the Incidental Take Program Supervisor, Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, at 301-427-8401 and/or by email to Jolie.Harrison@noaa.gov and ITP.Cody@noaa.gov and the Alaska Regional Stranding Coordinator at (907) 586-7248 (Aleria.Jensen@noaa.gov). The report must include the same information identified in the paragraph above this section. Activities may continue while we review the circumstances of the incident. NMFS will work with Glacier Bay National Park to determine whether modifications in the activities are appropriate.

10. Reporting an Injured or Dead Marine Mammal not Related to Glacier Bay National Park's Activities

In the event that Glacier Bay National Park discovers an injured or dead marine mammal, and the lead visual observer determines that the injury or death is not associated with or related to the authorized activities (e.g., previously wounded animal, carcass with moderate to advanced decomposition, or scavenger damage), Glacier Bay will report the incident to the Incidental Take Program Supervisor, Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, at 301-427-8401 and/or by email to Jolie.Harrison@noaa.gov and ITP.Cody@noaa.gov and the Alaska Regional Stranding Coordinator at (907) 586-7248 (Aleria.Jensen@noaa.gov) within 24 hours of the discovery. Glacier Bay NP researchers will provide photographs or video footage (if available) or other documentation of the stranded animal sighting to us. Glacier Bay National Park can continue their research activities.

Request for Public Comments Back to Top

NMFS requests comments on our analysis, the draft authorization, and any other aspect of the Notice of proposed Authorization for Glacier Bay National Park's activities. Please include any supporting data or literature citations with your comments to help inform our final decision on Glacier Bay National Park's request for an application.

Dated: May 29, 2014.

Perry F. Gayaldo,

Deputy Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service.

[FR Doc. 2014-12904 Filed 6-3-14; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 3510-22-P

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