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Incidental Take of Marine Mammals; Taking of Marine Mammals Incidental to Operation of a Low Frequency Sound Source by the North Pacific Acoustic Laboratory

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National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.


Notice of issuance of a letter of authorization.


In accordance with the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), as amended, notification is hereby given that a letter of authorization to take several species of marine mammals incidental to operation of a low frequency sound source by the North Pacific Acoustic Laboratory (NPAL) was issued on January 15, 2002, to the University of California San Diego, Scripps Institution of Oceanography (Scripps).


This letter of authorization is effective from January 15, 2002, through January 1, 2003.


The application and letter is available for review in the Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910.

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Kenneth R. Hollingshead, NMFS, (301) 713-2055, ext 128.

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Section 101(a)(5)(A) of the MMPA (16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.) directs NMFS to allow, on request, the incidental, but not intentional, taking of small numbers of marine mammals by U.S. citizens who engage in a specified activity (other than commercial fishing) within a specified geographical region, if certain findings are made by NMFS and regulations are issued. Under the MMPA, the term "taking" means to harass, hunt, capture, or kill or to attempt to harass, hunt, capture or kill marine mammals.

Permission may be granted for periods up to 5 years if NMFS finds, after notification and opportunity for public comment, that the taking will have a negligible impact on the species or stock(s) of marine mammals and will not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of the species or stock(s) for subsistence uses. In addition, NMFS must prescribe regulations that include permissible methods of taking and other means effecting the least practicable adverse impact on the species and its habitat and on the availability of the species for subsistence uses, paying particular attention to rookeries, mating grounds, and areas of similar significance. The regulations must include requirements pertaining to the monitoring and reporting of such taking. Regulations governing the taking incidental to operation of a low frequency sound source by NPAL, were published on August 17, 2001 (66 FR 43442), and remain in effect until September 17, 2006.

Issuance of the letter of authorization to Scripps is based on findings made in the preamble to the final rule that the total takings by this project would result in only small numbers (as the term is defined in 50 CFR 216.103) of marine mammals being taken. In addition, the resultant incidental harassment would have no more than a negligible impact on the affected marine mammal stocks or habitats and would not have an unmitigable adverse impact on Arctic subsistence uses of marine mammals. NMFS also finds that the applicant will meet the requirements contained in the implementing regulations and Letter of Authorization (LOA), including monitoring and reporting requirements. This LOA will be renewed annually based on a review of the activity, completion of monitoring requirements Start Printed Page 2858and receipt of reports required by the LOA.

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Dated: January 15, 2002.

Wanda Cain,

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

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[FR Doc. 02-1529 Filed 1-18-02; 8:45 am]