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Notice

Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; U.S. Navy Joint Logistics Over-the-Shore Training Activities in Virginia and North Carolina

Document Details

Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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AGENCY:

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

ACTION:

Notice of issuance of a Letter of Authorization.

SUMMARY:

In accordance with the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), as amended, and implementing regulations, notification is hereby given that a Letter of Authorization (LOA) has been issued to the U.S. Navy (NAVY) to take marine mammals, by harassment, incidental to the Joint Logistics Over-the-Shore (JLOTS) training activities conducted in nearshore waters at the Joint Expeditionary Base (JEB) Little Creek-Fort Story in Virginia and at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, from June 2, 2015 through June 1, 2020.

DATES:

Effective from June 2, 2015, through June 1, 2020.

ADDRESSES:

The LOA and supporting documentation may be obtained by writing to Jolie Harrison, Supervisor, Incidental Take Program, Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910, calling the contact listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT, or visiting the Internet at: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/​pr/​permits/​incidental.htm. Documents cited in this notice may also be viewed, by appointment, during regular business hours at the above address.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Shane Guan, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, (301) 427-8401.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

Section 101(a)(5)(A) of the MMPA (16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.) directs the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary) to allow, upon 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 and regulations are issued. Under the MMPA, the term “take” means to harass, hunt, capture, or kill or to attempt to harass, hunt, capture, or kill any marine mammal.

Authorization for incidental takings may be granted if NMFS finds that the taking will have a negligible impact on the species or stock(s), will not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of the species or stock(s) for certain subsistence uses, and that the permissible methods of taking and requirements pertaining to the mitigation, monitoring and reporting of such taking are set forth. 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.”

The National Defense Authorization Act of 2004 (NDAA) (Public Law 108-136) removed the “small numbers” and “specified geographical region” limitations and amended the definition of “harassment” as it applies to a “military readiness activity” to read as follows (Section 3(18)(B) of the MMPA): “(i) any act that injures or has the significant potential to injure a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild [Level A Harassment]; or (ii) any act that disturbs or is likely to disturb a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild by causing disruption of natural behavioral patterns, including, but not limited to, migration, surfacing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or sheltering, to a point where such behavioral patterns are abandoned or significantly altered [Level B Harassment].” Because the Navy's activities constitute military readiness activities, they are not subject to the small numbers or specified geographic region limitations.

Regulations governing the take of five species of marine mammals, by Level B harassment, incidental to the JLOTS training activities were effective on June 2, 2015. These regulations are effective from June 2, 2015, through June 1, 2020. The species which are authorized for taking by Level B harassment are: Bottlenose and Atlantic spotted dolphins. For detailed information on this action, please refer to the final rule published on June 2, 2015. These regulations include mitigation, monitoring, and reporting requirements for the incidental take of marine mammals during the specified activities.

This LOA is effective from June 2, 2015, through June 1, 2020, and authorizes the incidental take of the five marine mammal species listed above that may result from launches, aircraft and helicopter operations, and harbor activities related to vehicles from VAFB, California.

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Dated: June 2, 2015.

Donna S. Wieting,

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

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[FR Doc. 2015-13891 Filed 6-5-15; 8:45 am]

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