[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 21 (Thursday, January 31, 2013)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 7049-7135]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-01817]



[[Page 7049]]

Vol. 78

Thursday,

No. 21

January 31, 2013

Part IV





Department of Commerce





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 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration





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50 CFR Part 218





Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; U.S. Navy 
Training and Testing Activities in the Atlantic Fleet Training and 
Testing Study Area; Proposed Rule

Federal Register / Vol. 78 , No. 21 / Thursday, January 31, 2013 / 
Proposed Rules

[[Page 7050]]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 218

[Docket No. 130109022-3022-01]
RIN 0648-BC53


Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; U.S. 
Navy Training and Testing Activities in the Atlantic Fleet Training and 
Testing Study Area

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

ACTION: Notice of proposed rulemaking; request for comments and 
information.

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SUMMARY: NMFS has received a request from the U.S. Navy (Navy) for 
authorization to take marine mammals incidental to the training and 
testing activities conducted in the Atlantic Fleet Training and Testing 
(AFTT) study area from January 2014 through January 2019. Pursuant to 
the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), NMFS is requesting comments on 
its proposal to issue regulations and subsequent Letters of 
Authorization (LOAs) to the Navy to incidentally harass marine mammals.

DATES: Comments and information must be received no later than March 
11, 2013.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by 0648-BC53, by either 
of the following methods:
     Electronic submissions: submit all electronic public 
comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal http://www.regulations.gov
     Hand delivery of mailing of paper, disk, or CD-ROM 
comments should be addressed to P. Michael Payne, Chief, Permits and 
Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine 
Fisheries Service, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910-
3225.
    Instructions: All comments received are a part of the public record 
and will generally be posted to http://www.regulations.gov 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.
    NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter N/A in the required 
fields if you wish to remain anonymous). Attachments to electronic 
comments will be accepted in Microsoft Work, Excel, WordPerfect, or 
Adobe PDF file formats only.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Brian D. Hopper, Office of Protected 
Resources, NMFS, (301) 427-8401.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Availability

    A copy of the Navy's application may be obtained by visiting the 
internet at: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental.htm. The 
Navy's Draft Environmental Impact Statement/Overseas Environmental 
Impact Statement (DEIS/OEIS) for AFTT was made available to the public 
on May 11, 2012 (77 FR 27742). Documents cited in this notice may also 
be viewed, by appointment, during regular business hours, at the 
aforementioned address.

Background

    Sections 101(a)(5)(A) and (D) of the MMPA (16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.) 
direct the Secretary of Commerce 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 either regulations are issued or, if the taking 
is limited to harassment, a notice of a proposed authorization is 
provided to the public for review.
    Authorization for incidental takings shall 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 subsistence uses (where 
relevant), and if the permissible methods of taking and requirements 
pertaining to the mitigation, monitoring, and reporting of such takings 
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) (Pub. L. 108-
136) removed the ``small numbers'' and ``specified geographic region'' 
limitations indicated above and amended the definition of 
``harassment'' as applied to ``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].''

Summary of Request

    On April 13, 2012, NMFS received an application from the Navy 
requesting regulations and two LOAs for the take of 42 species of 
marine mammals incidental to Navy training and testing activities to be 
conducted in the AFTT Study Area over 5 years. The Navy submitted 
addendums on September 24, 2012 and December 21, 2012, and the 
application was considered complete. This proposed rule is based on the 
information contained in the revised LOA applications. The Navy is 
requesting regulations that would establish a process for authorizing 
take, via two separate 5-year LOAs, of marine mammals for training 
activities and for testing activities, each proposed to be conducted 
from 2014 through 2019. The Study Area includes several existing study 
areas, range complexes, and testing ranges (Atlantic Fleet Active Sonar 
Training (AFAST), Northeast, Virginia Capes (VACAPES), Cherry Point 
(CHPT), Jacksonville (JAX), Gulf of Mexico (GOMEX), Naval Surface 
Warfare Center, Panama City, Naval Undersea Warfare Center Newport, 
South Florida Ocean Measurement Facility (SFOMF), and Key West) plus 
pierside locations and areas on the high seas where maintenance, 
training, or testing may occur. The proposed activities are classified 
as military readiness activities. Marine mammals present in the Study 
Area may be exposed to sound from active sonar, underwater detonations, 
and/or pile driving and removal. In addition, incidental takes of 
marine mammals may occur from ship strikes. The Navy requests 
authorization to take individuals of 42 marine mammal species by Level 
B harassment and individuals of 32 marine mammal species by Level A 
harassment. In addition, the Navy requests authorization for take by 
serious injury or mortality individuals of 16 marine mammal species due 
to the use of explosives, and 11 total marine mammals (any species 
except North Atlantic right whale) over the course of the 5-year rule 
due to vessel strike.
    The Navy's application and the AFTT DEIS/OEIS contain proposed 
acoustic criteria and thresholds that would, in some instances, 
represent changes from what NMFS has used to evaluate the

[[Page 7051]]

Navy's proposed activities for past incidental take authorizations. The 
revised thresholds are based on evaluations of recent scientific 
studies; a detailed explanation of how they were derived is provided in 
the AFTT DEIS/OEIS Criteria and Thresholds Technical Report. NMFS is 
currently updating and revising all of its acoustic criteria and 
thresholds. Until that process is complete, NMFS will continue its 
long-standing practice of considering specific modifications to the 
acoustic criteria and thresholds currently employed for incidental take 
authorizations only after providing the public with an opportunity for 
review and comment. NMFS is requesting comments on all aspects of the 
proposed rule, and specifically requests comment on the proposed 
acoustic criteria and thresholds.

Background of Request

    The Navy's mission is to maintain, train, and equip combat-ready 
naval forces capable of winning wars, deterring aggression, and 
maintaining freedom of the seas. Section 5062 of Title 10 of the United 
States Code directs the Chief of Naval Operations to train all military 
forces for combat. The Chief of Naval Operations meets that directive, 
in part, by conducting at-sea training exercises and ensuring naval 
forces have access to ranges, operating areas (OPAREAs) and airspace 
where they can develop and maintain skills for wartime missions and 
conduct research, development, testing, and evaluation (RDT&E) of naval 
systems.
    The Navy proposes to continue conducting training and testing 
activities within the AFTT Study Area, which have been ongoing since 
the 1940s. Recently, most of these activities were analyzed in six 
separate EISs completed between 2009 and 2011; the Atlantic Fleet 
Active Sonar Training (AFAST) EIS/OEIS (U.S. Department of the Navy, 
2009a), the Virginia Capes Range Complex (VACAPES) EIS/OEIS (U.S. 
Department of the Navy, 2009b), the Navy Cherry Point Range Complex 
(CHPT) EIS/OEIS (U.S. Department of the Navy, 2009c), the Jacksonville 
Range Complex (JAX) EIS/OEIS (U.S. Department of the Navy, 2009d), the 
Panama City (PCD) EIS/OEIS (U.S. Department of the Navy, 2009e), and 
the Gulf of Mexico (GOMEX) EIS/OEIS (U.S. Department of the Navy, 
2011). These documents, among others, and their associated MMPA 
regulations and authorizations, describe the baseline of training and 
testing activities currently conducted in the Study Area. The tempo and 
types of training and testing activities have fluctuated due to 
changing requirements; new technologies; the dynamic nature of 
international events; advances in warfighting doctrine and procedures; 
and changes in basing locations for ships, aircraft, and personnel. 
Such developments influence the frequency, duration, intensity, and 
location of required training and testing. The Navy's request covers 
training and testing activities that would occur for a 5-year period 
following the expiration of the current MMPA authorizations for AFAST, 
VACAPES, CHPT, JAX, and GOMEX. The Navy has also prepared a DEIS/OEIS 
analyzing the effects on the human environment of implementing their 
preferred alternative (among others).
    The quantified results of the marine mammal acoustic effects 
analysis presented in the Navy's LOA application differ from the 
quantified results presented in the AFTT DEIS/OEIS. The differences are 
due to three main factors: (1) Changes to tempo or location of certain 
training and testing activities; (2) refinement to the modeling inputs 
for training and testing; and (3) additional post-model analysis of 
acoustic effects to include animal avoidance of repeated sound sources, 
avoidance of areas of activity before use of a sound source or 
explosive by sensitive species, and implementation of mitigation. The 
additional post-model analysis of acoustic effects was performed to 
clarify potential misunderstandings of the numbers presented as 
modeling results in the AFTT DEIS/OEIS. Some comments indicated that 
the readers believed the acoustic effects to marine mammals presented 
in the DEIS/OEIS were representative of the actual expected effects, 
although the AFTT DEIS/OEIS did not account for animal avoidance of an 
area prior to commencing sound-producing activities, animal avoidance 
of repeated explosive noise exposures, and the protections due to 
standard Navy mitigations. The net result of these changes is an 
overall decrease in takes in the Mortality and Level A takes within the 
LOA application compared with the DEIS, a net reduction in Level B 
takes for training, and a net increase in Level B takes for testing. 
The Navy has advised NMFS that all comments received on the proposed 
rule that address: (1) Changes to the tempo or location of certain 
proposed activities; (2) refinement to the modeling inputs for training 
and testing; and (3) additional post-model analysis of acoustic effects 
and implementation of mitigation, will be reviewed and addressed by the 
Navy in its FEIS/OEIS for AFTT.

Description of the Specified Activity

    The Navy requests authorization to take marine mammals incidental 
to conducting training and testing activities. The Navy has determined 
that non-impulsive sources (e.g. sonar), underwater detonations, pile 
driving and removal, and vessel strikes are the stressors most likely 
to result in impacts on marine mammals that could rise to the level of 
harassment. Detailed descriptions of these activities are provided in 
the Navy's Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) and LOA 
application (http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental.htm) and 
summarized here.

Overview of Training Activities

    The Navy routinely trains in the AFTT Study Area in preparation for 
national defense missions. Training activities are categorized into 
eight functional warfare areas (anti-air warfare; amphibious warfare; 
strike warfare; anti-surface warfare; anti-submarine warfare; 
electronic warfare; mine warfare; and naval special warfare). The Navy 
determined that stressors used in the following warfare areas are most 
likely to result in impacts on marine mammals:
     Amphibious warfare (underwater detonations, pile driving 
and removal)
     Anti-surface warfare (underwater detonations)
     Anti-submarine warfare (active sonar, underwater 
detonations)
     Mine warfare (active sonar, underwater detonations)
     Naval special warfare (underwater detonations)
    The Navy's activities in anti-air warfare, strike warfare, and 
electronic warfare do not produce stressors that could result in 
harassment of marine mammals. Therefore, these activities are not 
discussed further.

Amphibious Warfare

    The mission of amphibious warfare is to project military power from 
the sea to the shore through the use of naval firepower and Marine 
Corps landing forces. The Navy uses amphibious warfare to attack a 
threat located on land by a military force embarked on ships. 
Amphibious warfare training ranges from individual, crew, and small 
unit events to large task force exercises. Individual and crew training 
include amphibious vehicles and naval gunfire support training for 
shore assaults, boat raids, airfield or port seizures, and 
reconnaissance. Large-scale amphibious exercises involve ship-to-shore

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maneuver, naval fire support, such as shore bombardment, and air strike 
and close air support training. However, the Navy only analyzed those 
portions of amphibious warfare training that occur at sea, in 
particular, underwater detonations associated with naval gunfire 
support training. The Navy conducts other amphibious warfare support 
activities that could potentially impact marine mammals (such as pile 
driving and removal) in the near shore region from the beach to about 
914 m from shore.

Anti-Surface Warfare

    The mission of anti-surface warfare is to defend against enemy 
ships or boats. When conducting anti-surface warfare, aircraft use 
cannons, air-launched cruise missiles, or other precision munitions 
(guided and unguided); ships use naval guns, and surface-to-surface 
missiles; and submarines use torpedoes or submarine-launched, anti-ship 
cruise missiles. Anti-surface warfare training includes surface-to-
surface gunnery and missile exercises, air-to-surface gunnery and 
missile exercises, and submarine missile or exercise torpedo launch 
events.

Anti-Submarine Warfare

    The mission of anti-submarine warfare is to locate, neutralize, and 
defeat hostile submarine threats to surface forces. Anti-submarine 
warfare is based on the principle of a layered defense of surveillance 
and attack aircraft, ships, and submarines all searching for hostile 
submarines. These forces operate together or independently to gain 
early warning and detection, and to localize, track, target, and attack 
hostile submarine threats. Anti-submarine warfare training addresses 
basic skills such as detection and classification of submarines, 
distinguishing between sounds made by enemy submarines and those of 
friendly submarines, ships, and marine life. More advanced, integrated 
anti-submarine warfare training exercises are conducted in coordinated, 
at-sea training events involving submarines, ships, and aircraft. This 
training integrates the full spectrum of anti-submarine warfare from 
detecting and tracking a submarine to attacking a target using either 
exercise torpedoes or simulated weapons.

Mine Warfare

    The mission of mine warfare is to detect, and avoid or neutralize 
mines to protect Navy ships and submarines and to maintain free access 
to ports and shipping lanes. Mine warfare also includes offensive mine 
laying to gain control or deny the enemy access to sea space. Naval 
mines can be laid by ships, submarines, or aircraft. Mine warfare 
training includes exercises in which ships, aircraft, submarines, 
underwater vehicles, or marine mammal detection systems search for 
mines. Certain personnel train to destroy or disable mines by attaching 
and detonating underwater explosives to simulated mines. Other 
neutralization techniques involve impacting the mine with a bullet-like 
projectile or intentionally triggering the mine to detonate.

Naval Special Warfare

    The mission of naval special warfare is to conduct unconventional 
warfare, direct action, combat terrorism, special reconnaissance, 
information warfare, security assistance, counter-drug operations, and 
recovery of personnel from hostile situations. Naval special warfare 
operations are highly specialized and require continual and intense 
training. Naval special warfare units are required to utilize a 
combination of specialized training, equipment, and tactics, including 
insertion and extraction operations using parachutes, submerged 
vehicles, rubber boats, and helicopters; boat-to-shore and boat-to-boat 
gunnery; underwater demolition training; reconnaissance; and small arms 
training.

Overview of Testing Activities

    The Navy researches, develops, tests, and evaluates new platforms, 
systems, and technologies. Testing activities may occur independently 
of or in conjunction with training activities. Many testing activities 
are conducted similarly to Navy training activities and are also 
categorized under one of the primary mission areas. Other testing 
activities are unique and are described within their specific testing 
categories. The Navy determined that stressors used during the 
following testing activities are most likely to result in impacts on 
marine mammals:
     Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) Testing
     Anti-surface warfare testing (underwater detonations)
     Anti-submarine warfare testing (active sonar, underwater 
detonations)
     Mine warfare testing (active sonar, underwater 
detonations)
     Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) Testing
     New ship construction (active sonar, underwater 
detonations)
     Shock trials (underwater detonations)
     Life cycle activities (active sonar, underwater 
detonations)
     Range Activities (active sonar, underwater detonations)
     Anti-surface warfare/anti-submarine warfare testing 
(active sonar, underwater detonations)
     Mine warfare testing (active sonar, underwater 
detonations)
     Ship protection systems and swimmer defense testing 
(active sonar, airguns)
     Unmanned vehicle testing (active sonar)
     Other testing (active sonar)
     Office of Naval Research (ONR) and Naval Research 
Laboratory (NRL) Testing
     ONR/NRL Research, Development, Test & Evaluation (active 
sonar)
    Other Navy testing activities that do not involve underwater non-
impulse sources or impulse sources that could result in marine mammal 
harassment are not discussed further.

Naval Air Systems Command Testing (NAVAIR)

    NAVAIR events include testing of new aircraft platforms, weapons, 
and systems before delivery to the fleet for training activities. 
NAVAIR also conducts lot acceptance testing of weapons and systems, 
such as sonobuoys. In general, NAVAIR conducts its testing activities 
the same way the fleet conducts its training activities. However, 
NAVAIR testing activities may occur in different locations than 
equivalent fleet training activities and testing of a particular system 
may differ slightly from the way the fleet trains with the same system.

Anti-Surface Warfare Testing

    Anti-surface warfare testing includes air-to-surface gunnery, 
missile, and rocket exercises. Testing is required to ensure the 
equipment is fully functional for defense from surface threats. Testing 
may be conducted on new guns or gun rounds, missiles, rockets, and 
aircraft, and also in support of scientific research to assess new and 
emerging technologies. Testing events are often integrated into 
training activities and in most cases the systems are used in the same 
manner in which they are used for fleet training activities.

Anti-Submarine Warfare Testing

    Anti-submarine warfare testing addresses basic skills such as 
detection and classification of submarines, distinguishing between 
sounds made by enemy submarines and those of friendly submarines, 
ships, and marine life. More advanced, integrated anti-submarine 
warfare testing is conducted in coordinated, at-sea training events 
involving submarines, ships, and

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aircraft. This testing integrates the full spectrum of anti-submarine 
warfare from detecting and tracking a submarine to attacking a target 
using various torpedoes and weapons.

Mine Warfare Testing

    Mine warfare testing includes activities in which aircraft 
detection systems are used to search for and record the location of 
mines for subsequent neutralization. Mine neutralization tests evaluate 
a system's effectiveness at intentionally detonating or otherwise 
disabling the mine. Different mine neutralization systems are designed 
to neutralize mines either at the sea surface or deployed deeper within 
the water column. All components of these systems are tested in the at-
sea environment to ensure they meet mission requirements.

Naval Sea Systems Command Testing (NAVSEA)

    NAVSEA testing activities are aligned with its mission of new ship 
construction, shock trials, life cycle activities, range activities, 
and other weapon systems development and testing.

New Ship Construction Activities

    Ship construction activities include pierside testing of ship 
systems, tests to determine how the ship performs at-sea (sea trials), 
and developmental and operational test and evaluation programs for new 
technologies and systems. Pierside and at-sea testing of systems aboard 
a ship may include sonar, acoustic countermeasures, radars, and radio 
equipment. During sea trials, each new ship propulsion engine is 
operated at full power and subjected to high-speed runs and steering 
tests. At-sea test firing of shipboard weapon systems, including guns, 
torpedoes, and missiles, are also conducted.

Shock Trials

    One ship of each new class (or major upgrade) of combat surface 
ships constructed for the Navy may undergo an at-sea shock trial. A 
shock trial is a series of underwater detonations that send a shock 
wave through the ship's hull to simulate near misses during combat. A 
shock trial allows the Navy to validate the shock hardness of the ship 
and assess the survivability of the hull and ship's systems in a combat 
environment as well as the capability of the ship to protect the crew.

Life Cycle Activities

    Testing activities are conducted throughout the life of a Navy ship 
to verify performance and mission capabilities. Sonar system testing 
occurs pierside during maintenance, repair, and overhaul 
availabilities, and at sea immediately following most major overhaul 
periods. A Combat System Ship Qualification Trial is conducted for new 
ships and for ships that have undergone modification or overhaul of 
their combat systems.
    Radar cross signature testing of surface ships is conducted on new 
vessels and periodically throughout a ship's life to measure how 
detectable the ship is by radar. Electromagnetic measurements of off-
board electromagnetic signatures are also conducted for submarines, 
ships, and surface craft periodically.

Range Activities

    NAVSEA's testing ranges are used to conduct principal testing, 
analysis, and assessment activities for ship and submarine platforms, 
including ordnance, mines, and machinery technology for surface combat 
systems. Naval Surface Warfare Center, Panama City Division Testing 
Range focuses on surface warfare tests that often involve mine 
countermeasures. Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division, Newport 
Testing Range focuses on the undersea aspects of warfare and is, 
therefore, structured to test systems such as torpedoes and unmanned 
underwater vehicles. The South Florida Ocean Measurement Facility 
Testing Range retains a unique capability that focuses on signature 
analysis operations and mine warfare testing events.

Other Weapon Systems Development and Testing

    Numerous test activities and technical evaluations, in support of 
NAVSEA's systems development mission, often occur with fleet activities 
within the Study Area. Tests within this category include, but are not 
limited to, anti-surface, anti-submarine, and mine warfare, using 
torpedoes, sonobuoys, and mine detection and neutralization systems.

Office of Naval Research (ONR) and Naval Research Laboratory (NLR) 
Testing

    As the Navy's Science and Technology provider, ONR and NRL provide 
technology solutions for Navy and Marine Corps needs. ONR's mission, 
defined by law, is to plan, foster, and encourage scientific research 
in recognition of its paramount importance as related to the 
maintenance of future naval power, and the preservation of national 
security. Further, ONR manages the Navy's basic, applied, and advanced 
research to foster transition from science and technology to higher 
levels of research, development, test and evaluation. The Ocean 
Battlespace Sensing Department explores science and technology in the 
areas of oceanographic and meteorological observations, modeling, and 
prediction in the battlespace environment; submarine detection and 
classification (anti-submarine warfare); and mine warfare applications 
for detecting and neutralizing mines in both the ocean and littoral 
environments. ONR events include: Research, development, test and 
evaluation activities; surface processes acoustic communications 
experiments; shallow water acoustic propagation experiments; and long 
range acoustic propagation experiments.

Sonar, Ordnance, Targets, and Other Systems

    The Navy uses a variety of sensors, platforms, weapons, and other 
devices to meet its mission. Training and testing with these systems 
may introduce acoustic (sound) energy into the environment. This 
section describes and organizes sonar systems, ordnance, munitions, 
targets, and other systems to facilitate understanding of the 
activities in which these systems are used. Underwater sound is 
described as one of two types for the purposes of the Navy's 
application: Impulsive and non-impulsive. Underwater detonations of 
explosives and other percussive events are impulsive sounds. Sonar and 
similar sound producing systems are categorized as non-impulsive sound 
sources.

Sonar and Other Non-Impulsive Sources

    Modern sonar technology includes a variety of sonar sensor and 
processing systems. The simplest active sonar emits sound waves, or 
``pings,'' sent out in multiple directions and the sound waves then 
reflect off of the target object in multiple directions. The sonar 
source calculates the time it takes for the reflected sound waves to 
return; this calculation determines the distance to the target object. 
More sophisticated active sonar systems emit a ping and then rapidly 
scan or listen to the sound waves in a specific area. This provides 
both distance to the target and directional information. Even more 
advanced sonar systems use multiple receivers to listen to echoes from 
several directions simultaneously and provide efficient detection of 
both direction and distance. The Navy rarely uses active sonar 
continuously throughout activities. When sonar is in use, the pings 
occur at intervals, referred to as a duty cycle, and the signals 
themselves

[[Page 7054]]

are very short in duration. For example, sonar that emits a 1-second 
ping every 10 seconds has a 10 percent duty cycle. The Navy utilizes 
sonar systems and other acoustic sensors in support of a variety of 
mission requirements. Primary uses include the detection of, and 
defense against, submarines (anti-submarine warfare) and mines (mine 
warfare); safe navigation and effective communications; use of unmanned 
undersea vehicles; and oceanographic surveys.

Ordnance and Munitions

    Most ordnance and munitions used during training and testing events 
fall into three basic categories: projectiles (such as gun rounds), 
missiles (including rockets), and bombs. Ordnance can be further 
defined by their net explosive weight, which considers the type and 
quantity of the explosive substance without the packaging, casings, 
bullets, etc. Net explosive weight (NEW) is the trinitrotoluene (TNT) 
equivalent of energetic material, which is the standard measure of 
strength of bombs and other explosives. For example, a 5-inch shell 
fired from a Navy gun is analyzed at about 9.5 pounds (lb) (4.3 kg) of 
NEW. The Navy also uses non-explosive ordnance in place of high 
explosive ordnance in many training and testing events. Non-explosive 
ordnance munitions look and perform similarly to high explosive 
ordnance, but lack the main explosive charge.

Defense Countermeasures

    Naval forces depend on effective defensive countermeasures to 
protect themselves against missile and torpedo attack. Defensive 
countermeasures are devices designed to confuse, distract, and confound 
precision guided munitions. Defensive countermeasures analyzed in this 
LOA application include acoustic countermeasures, which are used by 
surface ships and submarines to defend against torpedo attack. Acoustic 
countermeasures are either released from ships and submarines, or towed 
at a distance behind the ship.

Mine Warfare Systems

    The Navy divides mine warfare systems into two categories: Mine 
detection and mine neutralization. Mine detection systems are used to 
locate, classify, and map suspected mines, on the surface, in the water 
column, or on the sea floor. The Navy analyzed the following mine 
detection systems for potential impacts on marine mammals:
     Towed or hull-mounted mine detection systems. These 
detection systems use acoustic and laser or video sensors to locate and 
classify suspect mines. Fixed and rotary wing platforms, ships, and 
unmanned vehicles are used for towed systems, which can rapidly assess 
large areas.
     Unmanned/remotely operated vehicles. These vehicles use 
acoustic and video or lasers to locate and classify mines and provide 
unique capabilities in nearshore littoral areas, surf zones, ports, and 
channels.

Mine Neutralization Systems

    Mine neutralization systems disrupt, disable, or detonate mines to 
clear ports and shipping lanes, as well as littoral, surf, and beach 
areas in support of naval amphibious operations. The Navy analyzed the 
following mine neutralization systems for potential impacts to marine 
mammals:
     Towed influence mine sweep systems. These systems use 
towed equipment that mimic a particular ship's magnetic and acoustic 
signature triggering the mine and causing it to explode.
     Unmanned/remotely operated mine neutralization systems. 
Surface ships and helicopters operate these systems, which place 
explosive charges near or directly against mines to destroy the mine.
     Airborne projectile-based mine clearance systems. These 
systems neutralize mines by firing a small or medium-caliber non-
explosive, supercavitating projectile from a hovering helicopter.
     Diver emplaced explosive charges. Operating from small 
craft, divers put explosive charges near or on mines to destroy the 
mine or disrupt its ability to function.

Classification of Non-Impulsive and Impulsive Sources Analyzed

    In order to better organize and facilitate the analysis of about 
300 sources of underwater non-impulsive sound or impulsive energy, the 
Navy developed a series of source classifications, or source bins. This 
method of analysis provides the following benefits:
     Allows for new sources to be covered under existing 
authorizations, as long as those sources fall within the parameters of 
a ``bin;''
     Simplifies the data collection and reporting requirements 
anticipated under the MMPA;
     Ensures a conservative approach to all impact analysis 
because all sources in a single bin are modeled as the most powerful 
source (e.g., lowest frequency, highest source level, longest duty 
cycle, or largest net explosive weight within that bin);
     Allows analysis to be conducted more efficiently, without 
compromising the results;
     Provides a framework to support the reallocation of source 
usage (hours/explosives) between different source bins, as long as the 
total number of marine mammal takes remain within the overall analyzed 
and authorized limits. This flexibility is required to support evolving 
Navy training and testing requirements, which are linked to real world 
events.
    A description of each source classification is provided in Tables 
1-3. Non-impulsive sources are grouped into bins based on the 
frequency, source level when warranted, and how the source would be 
used. Impulsive bins are based on the net explosive weight of the 
munitions or explosive devices. The following factors further describe 
how non-impulsive sources are divided:
     Frequency of the non-impulsive source:
    [cir] Low-frequency sources operate below 1 kilohertz (kHz)
    [cir] Mid-frequency sources operate at and above 1 kHz, up to and 
including 10 kHz
    [cir] High-frequency sources operate above 10 kHz, up to and 
including 100 kHz
    [cir] Very high-frequency sources operate above 100 kHz, but below 
200 kHz
     Source level of the non-impulsive source:
    [cir] Greater than 160 decibels (dB), but less than 180 dB
    [cir] Equal to 180 dB and up to 200 dB
    [cir] Greater than 200 dB
    How a sensor is used determines how the sensor's acoustic emissions 
are analyzed. Factors to consider include pulse length (time source is 
``on''); beam pattern (whether sound is emitted as a narrow, focused 
beam, or, as with most explosives, in all directions); and duty cycle 
(how often a transmission occurs in a given time period during an 
event).
    There are also non-impulsive sources with characteristics that are 
not anticipated to result in takes of marine mammals. These sources 
have low source levels, narrow beam widths, downward directed 
transmission, short pulse lengths, frequencies beyond known hearing 
ranges of marine mammals, or some combination of these factors. These 
sources were not modeled by the Navy, but are qualitatively analyzed in 
Table 1-5 of the LOA application and Table 2.3.3 of the AFTT Draft EIS/
OEIS.

[[Page 7055]]



   Table 1--Explosive (Impulsive) Training and Testing Source Classes
                                Analyzed
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                       Representative      Net Explosive
           Source class                   munitions        weight (lbs)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
E1................................  Medium-caliber              0.1-0.25
                                     projectiles.
E2................................  Medium-caliber              0.26-0.5
                                     projectiles.
E3................................  Large-caliber               >0.5-2.5
                                     projectiles.
E4................................  Improved Extended           >2.5-5.0
                                     Echo Ranging
                                     Sonobuoy.
E5................................  5 in. projectiles...           >5-10
E6................................  15 lb. shaped charge          >10-20
E7................................  40 lb. demo block/            >20-60
                                     shaped charge.
E8................................  250 lb. bomb........         >60-100
E9................................  500 lb. bomb........        >100-250
E10...............................  1,000 lb. bomb......        >250-500
E11...............................  650 lb. mine........        >500-650
E12...............................  2,000 lb. bomb......      >650-1,000
E13...............................  1,200 lb. HBX charge    >1,000-1,740
E14...............................  2,500 lb HBX charge.    >1,740-3,625
E15...............................  5,000 lb HBX charge.    >3,625-7,250
------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Table 2--Active Acoustic (Non-Impulsive) Source Classes Analyzed
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                      Source
      Source class category           class            Description
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Low-Frequency (LF): Sources that           LF3  Low-frequency sources
 produce low-frequency (less than                greater than 200 dB.
 1 kHz) signals.
                                           LF4  Low-frequency sources
                                                 equal to 180 dB and up
                                                 to 200 dB.
                                           LF5  Low-frequency sources
                                                 greater than 160 dB,
                                                 but less than 180 dB.
Mid-Frequency (MF): Tactical and           MF1  Hull-mounted surface
 non-tactical sources that                       ship sonar (e.g., AN/
 produce mid-frequency (1 to 10                  SQS[dash]53C and AN/SQS-
 kHz) signals.                                   60).
                                          MF1K  Kingfisher mode
                                                 associated with MF1
                                                 sonar.
                                           MF2  Hull-mounted surface
                                                 ship sonar (e.g., AN/
                                                 SQS-56).
                                          MF2K  Kingfisher mode
                                                 associated with MF2
                                                 sonar.
                                           MF3  Hull-mounted submarine
                                                 sonar (e.g., AN/BQQ-
                                                 10).
                                           MF4  Helicopter-deployed
                                                 dipping sonar (e.g., AN/
                                                 AQS-22 and AN/AQS-13).
                                           MF5  Active acoustic
                                                 sonobuoys (e.g.,
                                                 DICASS).
                                           MF6  Active sound underwater
                                                 signal devices (e.g.,
                                                 MK-84).
                                           MF8  Active sources (greater
                                                 than 200 dB) not
                                                 otherwise binned.
                                           MF9  Active sources (equal to
                                                 180 dB and up to 200
                                                 dB) not otherwise
                                                 binned.
                                          MF10  Active sources (greater
                                                 than 160 dB, but less
                                                 than 180 dB) not
                                                 otherwise binned.
                                          MF11  Hull-mounted surface
                                                 ship sonar with an
                                                 active duty cycle
                                                 greater than 80%.
                                          MF12  Towed array surface ship
                                                 sonar with an active
                                                 duty cycle greater than
                                                 80%
High-Frequency (HF): Tactical and          HF1  Hull-mounted submarine
 non-tactical sources that                       sonar (e.g., AN/BQQ-
 produce high-frequency (greater                 10).
 than 10 kHz but less than 180
 kHz) signals.
                                           HF2  High-Frequency Marine
                                                 Mammal Monitoring
                                                 System.
                                           HF3  Other hull-mounted
                                                 submarine sonar
                                                 (classified).
                                           HF4  Mine detection and
                                                 classification sonar
                                                 (e.g., Airborne Towed
                                                 Minehunting Sonar
                                                 System).
                                           HF5  Active sources (greater
                                                 than 200 dB) not
                                                 otherwise binned.
                                           HF6  Active sources (equal to
                                                 180 dB and up to 200
                                                 dB) not otherwise
                                                 binned.
                                           HF7  Active sources (greater
                                                 than 160 dB, but less
                                                 than 180 dB) not
                                                 otherwise binned.
                                           HF8  Hull-mounted surface
                                                 ship sonar (e.g., AN/
                                                 SQS[dash]61).
Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW):             ASW1  Mid-frequency Deep Water
 Tactical sources such as active                 Active Distributed
 sonobuoys and acoustic                          System (DWADS).
 countermeasures systems used
 during the conduct of anti-
 submarine warfare training and
 testing activities.
                                          ASW2  Mid-frequency
                                                 Multistatic Active
                                                 Coherent sonobuoy
                                                 (e.g., AN/SSQ-125)--
                                                 Sources that are
                                                 analyzed by item.
                                          ASW2  Mid-frequency
                                                 Multistatic Active
                                                 Coherent sonobuoy
                                                 (e.g., AN/SSQ-125)--
                                                 Sources that are
                                                 analyzed by hours.
                                          ASW3  Mid-frequency towed
                                                 active acoustic
                                                 countermeasure systems
                                                 (e.g., AN/SLQ-25).
                                          ASW4  Mid-frequency expendable
                                                 active acoustic device
                                                 countermeasures (e.g.,
                                                 MK-3).

[[Page 7056]]

 
Torpedoes (TORP): Source classes         TORP1  Lightweight torpedo
 associated with the active                      (e.g., MK-46, MK-54, or
 acoustic signals produced by                    Anti-Torpedo Torpedo).
 torpedoes.
                                         TORP2  Heavyweight torpedo
                                                 (e.g., MK-48).
Doppler Sonars (DS): Sonars that           DS1  Low-frequency Doppler
 use the Doppler effect to aid in                sonar (e.g., Webb
 navigation or collect                           Tomography Source).
 oceanographic information.
Forward Looking Sonar (FLS):         FLS2-FLS3  High-frequency sources
 Forward or upward looking object                with short pulse
 avoidance sonars.                               lengths, narrow beam
                                                 widths, and focused
                                                 beam patterns used for
                                                 navigation and safety
                                                 of ships.
Acoustic Modems (M): Systems used           M3  Mid-frequency acoustic
 to transmit data acoustically                   modems (greater than
 through the water.                              190 dB).
Swimmer Detection Sonars (SD):         SD1-SD2  High-frequency sources
 Systems used to detect divers                   with short pulse
 and submerged swimmers.                         lengths, used for
                                                 detection of swimmers
                                                 and other objects for
                                                 the purposes of port
                                                 security.
Synthetic Aperture Sonars (SAS):          SAS1  MF SAS systems.
 Sonars in which active acoustic          SAS2  HF SAS systems.
 signals are post-processed to            SAS3  VHF SAS systems.
 form high-resolution images of
 the seafloor.
------------------------------------------------------------------------


 Table 3--Explosive Source Classes Analyzed for Non-Annual Training and
                           Testing Activities
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                          Net explosive
          Source class               Representative         weight \1\
                                        munitions             (lbs)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
E1.............................  Medium-caliber                 0.1-0.25
                                  projectiles.
E2.............................  Medium-caliber                 0.26-0.5
                                  projectiles.
E4.............................  Improved Extended Echo            2.6-5
                                  Ranging Sonobuoy.
E16............................  10,000 lb. HBX charge.     7,251-14,500
E17............................  40,000 lb. HBX charge.    14,501-58,000
------------------------------------------------------------------------


Table 4--Active Acoustic (Non-Impulsive) Sources Analyzed for Non-Annual
                          Training and Testing
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                      Source
      Source class category           class            Description
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Low-Frequency (LF): Sources that           LF5  Low-frequency sources
 produce low-frequency (less than                greater than 160 dB,
 1 kHz) signals.                                 but less than 180 dB.
Mid-Frequency (MF): Tactical and           MF9  Active sources (equal to
 non-tactical sources that                       180 dB and up to 200
 produce mid-frequency (1 to 10                  dB) not otherwise
 kHz) signals.                                   binned.
High-Frequency (HF): Tactical and          HF4  Mine detection and
 non-tactical sources that                       classification sonar
 produce high-frequency (greater                 (e.g., AN/AQS-20).
 than 10 kHz but less than 180
 kHz) signals.
                                           HF5  Active sources (greater
                                                 than 200 dB) not
                                                 otherwise binned.
                                           HF6  Active sources (equal to
                                                 180 dB and up to 200
                                                 dB) not otherwise
                                                 binned.
                                           HF7  Active sources (greater
                                                 than 160 dB, but less
                                                 than 180 dB) not
                                                 otherwise binned.
Forward Looking Sonar (FLS):         FLS2-FLS3  High-frequency sources
 Forward or upward looking object                with short pulse
 avoidance sonars.                               lengths, narrow beam
                                                 widths, and focused
                                                 beam patterns used for
                                                 navigation and safety
                                                 of ships.
Sonars (SAS): Sonars in which             SAS2  HF SAS systems.
 active acoustic signals are post-
 processed to form high-
 resolution images of the
 seafloor.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Proposed Action

    The Navy proposes to continue conducting training and testing 
activities within the AFTT Study Area. The Navy has been conducting 
similar military readiness training and testing activities in the AFTT 
Study Area since the 1940s. Recently, these activities were analyzed in 
separate EISs completed between 2009 and 2011. These documents, among 
others, and their associated MMPA regulations and authorizations, 
describe the baseline of training and testing activities currently 
conducted in the AFTT Study Area.
    To meet all future training and testing requirements, the Navy has 
prepared the AFTT DEIS/OEIS to analyze changes to these activities due 
to fluctuations in the tempo and types of training and testing 
activities due to changing requirements; the introduction of new 
technologies; the dynamic nature of

[[Page 7057]]

international events; advances in warfighting doctrine and procedures; 
and changes in basing locations for ships, aircraft, and personnel 
(force structure changes). Such developments have influenced the 
frequency, duration, intensity, and location of required training and 
testing. In addition, the Study Area has expanded beyond the areas 
included in previous NMFS authorizations. The expansion of the Study 
Area does not represent an increase in areas where the Navy will train 
and test, but is merely an expansion of the area to be included in the 
proposed incidental take authorization.

Training

    The Navy proposes to conduct training activities in the AFTT Study 
Area as described in Table 5 of this proposed rule. Detailed 
information about each proposed activity (stressor, training event, 
description, sound source, duration, and geographic location) can be 
found in Appendix A of the AFTT DEIS/OEIS. The Navy's proposed action 
is an adjustment to existing baseline training activities to 
accommodate the following:
     Force structure changes including the relocation of ships, 
aircraft, and personnel to meet Navy needs. As forces are moved within 
the existing Navy structure, training needs will necessarily change as 
the location of forces change.
     Development and introduction of new ships, aircraft, and 
new weapons systems;
     Current training activities that were not addressed in 
previous documents.

                               Table 5--Training Activities Within the Study Area
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                               Number of  events
            Stressor                Training event        Description        Source class          per  year
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                          Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Non-Impulsive...................  Tracking Exercise/  Submarine crews     ASW4; MF3; HF1;     102
                                   Torpedo Exercise--  search, track,      TORP2.
                                   Submarine           and detect
                                   (TRACKEX/TORPEX--   submarines.
                                   Sub).               Exercise
                                                       torpedoes may be
                                                       used during this
                                                       event.
Non-Impulsive...................  Tracking Exercise/  Surface ship crews  ASW1,3,4;           764
                                   Torpedo Exercise--  search, track and   MF1,2,3,4,5,11,12
                                   Surface (TRACKEX/   detect              ; HF1; TORP1.
                                   TORPEX--Surface).   submarines.
                                                       Exercise
                                                       torpedoes may be
                                                       used during this
                                                       event.
Non-Impulsive...................  Tracking Exercise/  Helicopter crews    ASW4; MF4,5; TORP1  432
                                   Torpedo Exercise--  search, detect
                                   Helicopter          and track
                                   (TRACKEX/TORPEX--   submarines.
                                   Helo).              Recoverable air
                                                       launched
                                                       torpedoes may be
                                                       employed against
                                                       submarine targets.
Non-Impulsive...................  Tracking Exercise/  Maritime patrol     MF5; TORP1........  752
                                   Torpedo Exercise--  aircraft crews
                                   Maritime Patrol     search, detect,
                                   Aircraft (TRACKEX/  and track
                                   TORPEX--MPA).       submarines.
                                                       Recoverable air
                                                       launched
                                                       torpedoes may be
                                                       employed against
                                                       submarine targets.
Non-Impulsive...................  Tracking Exercise-- Maritime patrol     ASW2..............  160
                                   Maritime Patrol     aircraft crews
                                   Aircraft Extended   search, detect,
                                   Echo Ranging        and track
                                   Sonobuoy            submarines with
                                   (TRACKEX--MPA       extended echo
                                   sonobuoy).          ranging
                                                       sonobuoys.
                                                       Recoverable air
                                                       launched
                                                       torpedoes may be
                                                       employed against
                                                       submarine targets.
Non-Impulsive...................  Anti-Submarine      Multiple ships,     ASW3,4; HF1;        4
                                   Warfare Tactical    aircraft and        MF1,2,3,4,5.
                                   Development         submarines
                                   Exercise.           coordinate their
                                                       efforts to
                                                       search, detect
                                                       and track
                                                       submarines with
                                                       the use of all
                                                       sensors. Anti-
                                                       Submarine Warfare
                                                       Tactical
                                                       Development
                                                       Exercise is a
                                                       dedicated ASW
                                                       event.
Non-Impulsive...................  Integrated Anti-    Multiple ships,     ASW 3,4; HF1;       5
                                   Submarine Warfare   aircraft, and       MF1,2,3,4,5.
                                   Course (IAC).       submarines
                                                       coordinate the
                                                       use of their
                                                       sensors,
                                                       including
                                                       sonobuoys, to
                                                       search, detect
                                                       and track threat
                                                       submarines. IAC
                                                       is an
                                                       intermediate
                                                       level training
                                                       event and can
                                                       occur in
                                                       conjunction with
                                                       other major
                                                       exercises.
Non-Impulsive...................  Group Sail........  Multiple ships and  ASW 2,3; HF1;       20
                                                       helicopters         MF1,2,3,4,5.
                                                       integrate the use
                                                       of sensors,
                                                       including
                                                       sonobuoys, to
                                                       search, detect
                                                       and track a
                                                       threat submarine.
                                                       Group sails are
                                                       not dedicated ASW
                                                       events and
                                                       involve multiple
                                                       warfare areas.
Non-Impulsive...................  ASW for Composite   Anti-Submarine      ASW 2,3,4; HF1;     5
                                   Training Unit       Warfare             MF1,2,3,4,5,12.
                                   Exercise            activities
                                   (COMPTUEX).         conducted during
                                                       a COMPTUEX.
Non-Impulsive...................  ASW for Joint Task  Anti-Submarine      ASW2,3,4; HF1;      4
                                   Force Exercise      Warfare             MF1,2,3,4,5,12.
                                   (JTFEX)/            activities
                                   Sustainment         conducted during
                                   Exercise            a JTFEX/SUSTAINEX.
                                   (SUSTAINEX).
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                               Mine Warfare (MIW)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Non-Impulsive...................  Mine                Littoral combat     HF4...............  116
                                   Countermeasures     ship crews detect
                                   Exercise (MCM)--    and avoid mines
                                   Ship Sonar.         while navigating
                                                       restricted areas
                                                       or channels using
                                                       active sonar.
Non-Impulsive...................  Mine                Ship crews and      HF4...............  2,538
                                   Countermeasures--   helicopter
                                   Mine Detection.     aircrews detect
                                                       mines using towed
                                                       and laser mine
                                                       detection systems
                                                       (e.g., AN/AQS-20,
                                                       ALMDS).

[[Page 7058]]

 
Non-Impulsive...................  Coordinated Unit    Helicopters         HF4...............  8
                                   Level Helicopter    aircrew members
                                   Airborne Mine       train as a
                                   Countermeasure      squadron in the
                                   Exercises.          use of airborne
                                                       mine
                                                       countermeasures,
                                                       such as towed
                                                       mine detection
                                                       and
                                                       neutralization
                                                       systems.
Non-Impulsive...................  Civilian Port       Maritime security   HF4...............  1 event every
                                   Defense.            operations for                          other year.
                                                       military and
                                                       civilian ports
                                                       and harbors.
                                                       Marine mammal
                                                       systems may be
                                                       used during the
                                                       exercise.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                            Other Training Activities
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Non-Impulsive...................  Submarine           Submarine crews     HF1; MF3..........  282
                                   Navigational (SUB   locate underwater
                                   NAV).               objects and ships
                                                       while transiting
                                                       in and out of
                                                       port.
Non-Impulsive...................  Submarine           Submarine crews     HF1...............  24
                                   Navigation Under    train to operate
                                   Ice Certification.  under ice. During
                                                       training and
                                                       certification
                                                       other submarines
                                                       and ships
                                                       simulate ice.
Non-Impulsive...................  Surface Ship        Surface ship crews  MF1K; MF2K........  144
                                   Object Detection.   locate underwater
                                                       objects that may
                                                       impede transit in
                                                       and out of port.
Non-Impulsive...................  Surface Ship Sonar  Pierside and at-    MF1,2.............  824
                                   Maintenance.        sea maintenance
                                                       of sonar systems.
Non-Impulsive...................  Submarine Sonar     Pierside and at-    MF3...............  220
                                   Maintenance.        sea maintenance
                                                       of sonar systems.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                            Amphibious Warfare (AMW)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Impulsive.......................  Naval Surface Fire  Surface ship crews  E5................  50
                                   Support Exercise--  use large-caliber
                                   At Sea (FIREX [At   guns to support
                                   Sea]).              forces ashore;
                                                       however, the land
                                                       target is
                                                       simulated at sea.
                                                       Rounds impact the
                                                       water and are
                                                       scored by passive
                                                       acoustic
                                                       hydrophones
                                                       located at or
                                                       near the target
                                                       area.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                           Anti-Surface Warfare (ASUW)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Impulsive.......................  Maritime Security   Helicopter and      E2................  12
                                   Operations (MSO)--  surface ship
                                   Anti-swimmer        crews conduct a
                                   Grenades.           suite of Maritime
                                                       Security
                                                       Operations (e.g.,
                                                       Visit, Board,
                                                       Search, and
                                                       Seizure; Maritime
                                                       Interdiction
                                                       Operations; Force
                                                       Protection; and
                                                       Anti-Piracy
                                                       Operation).
Impulsive.......................  Gunnery Exercise    Ship crews engage   E1; E2............  827
                                   (Surface-to-        surface targets
                                   Surface) (Ship)--   with ship's
                                   Medium-Caliber      medium-caliber
                                   (GUNEX [S-S]--      guns.
                                   Ship).
Impulsive.......................  Gunnery Exercise    Ship crews engage   E3; E5............  294
                                   (Surface-to-        surface targets
                                   Surface) (Ship)--   with ship's large-
                                   Large-Caliber       caliber guns.
                                   (GUNEX [S-S]--
                                   Ship).
Impulsive.......................  Gunnery Exercise    Small boat crews    E1; E2............  434
                                   (Surface-to-        engage surface
                                   Surface) (Boat)     targets with
                                   (GUNEX [S-S]--      small and medium-
                                   Boat).              caliber guns.
Impulsive.......................  Missile Exercise    Surface ship crews  E10...............  20
                                   (Surface-to-        defend against
                                   Surface)            threat missiles
                                   (MISSILEX [S-S]).   and other surface
                                                       ships with
                                                       missiles.
Impulsive.......................  Gunnery Exercise    Fixed-wing and      E1; E2............  715
                                   (Air-to-Surface)    helicopter
                                   (GUNEX [A-S]).      aircrews,
                                                       including
                                                       embarked
                                                       personnel, use
                                                       small and medium-
                                                       caliber guns to
                                                       engage surface
                                                       targets.
Impulsive.......................  Missile Exercise    Fixed-wing and      E5................  210
                                   (Air-to-Surface)--  helicopter
                                   Rocket (MISSILEX    aircrews fire
                                   [A-S]).             both precision-
                                                       guided missiles
                                                       and unguided
                                                       rockets against
                                                       surface targets.
Impulsive.......................  Missile Exercise    Fixed-wing and      E6; E8............  248
                                   (Air-to-Surface)    helicopter
                                   (MISSILEX [A-S]).   aircrews fire
                                                       both precision-
                                                       guided missiles
                                                       and unguided
                                                       rockets against
                                                       surface targets.
Impulsive.......................  Bombing Exercise    Fixed-wing          E8; E9; E10; E12..  930
                                   (Air-to-Surface)    aircrews deliver
                                   (BOMBEX [A-S]).     bombs against
                                                       surface targets.
Impulsive.......................  Sinking Exercise    Aircraft, ship,     E3; E5; E8; E9;     1
                                   (SINKEX).           and submarine       E10;E11;E12.
                                                       crews deliver
                                                       ordnance on a
                                                       seaborne target,
                                                       usually a
                                                       deactivated ship,
                                                       which is
                                                       deliberately sunk
                                                       using multiple
                                                       weapon systems.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

[[Page 7059]]

 
                                          Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Impulsive.......................  Tracking Exercise-- Maritime patrol     E4................  160
                                   Maritime Patrol     aircraft crews
                                   Aircraft Extended   search, detect,
                                   Echo Ranging        and track
                                   Sonobuoy            submarines with
                                   (TRACKEX--MPA       extended echo
                                   sonobuoy).          ranging
                                                       sonobuoys.
                                                       Recoverable air
                                                       launched
                                                       torpedoes may be
                                                       employed against
                                                       submarine
                                                       targets..
Impulsive.......................  Group Sail........  Multiple ships and  E4................  20
                                                       helicopters
                                                       integrate the use
                                                       of sensors,
                                                       including
                                                       sonobuoys, to
                                                       search, detect
                                                       and track a
                                                       threat submarine.
                                                       Group sails are
                                                       not dedicated ASW
                                                       events and
                                                       involve multiple
                                                       warfare areas.
Impulsive.......................  ASW for Composite   Anti-Submarine      E4................  4
                                   Training Unit       Warfare
                                   Exercise            activities
                                   (COMPTUEX).         conducted during
                                                       a COMPTUEX.
Impulsive.......................  ASW for Joint Task  Anti-Submarine      E4................  4
                                   Force Exercise      Warfare
                                   (JTFEX)/            activities
                                   Sustainment         conducted during
                                   Exercise            a JTFEX/SUSTAINEX.
                                   (SUSTAINEX).
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                               Mine Warfare (MIW)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Impulsive.......................  Explosive Ordnance  Personnel disable   E1; E4; E5; E6;     618
                                   Disposal (EOD)/     threat mines.       E7; E8.
                                   Mine                Explosive charges
                                   Neutralization.     may be used.
Impulsive.......................  Mine                Ship crews and      E4................  508
                                   Countermeasures--   helicopter
                                   Mine                aircrews disable
                                   Neutralization--R   mines using
                                   emotely Operated    remotely operated
                                   Vehicles.           underwater
                                                       vehicles.
Impulsive.......................  Civilian Port       Maritime security   E2; E4............  1 event every
                                   Defense.            operations for                          other year.
                                                       military and
                                                       civilian ports
                                                       and harbors.
                                                       Marine mammal
                                                       systems may be
                                                       used during the
                                                       exercise.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                          Pile Driving and Pile Removal
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Impulsive.......................  Elevated Causeway   A temporary pier    ..................  1
                                   System (ELCAS).     is constructed
                                                       off the beach.
                                                       Supporting
                                                       pilings are
                                                       driven into the
                                                       sand and then
                                                       later removed.
                                                       The Elevated
                                                       Causeway System
                                                       is a portion of a
                                                       larger activity
                                                       Joint Logistics
                                                       Over the Shore
                                                       (JLOTS) which is
                                                       covered under
                                                       separate
                                                       documentation.
                                                       Construction
                                                       would involve
                                                       intermittent
                                                       impact pile
                                                       driving of 24-
                                                       inch, uncapped,
                                                       steel pipe piles
                                                       over
                                                       approximately 2
                                                       weeks. Crews work
                                                       24 hours a day
                                                       and can drive
                                                       approximately 8
                                                       piles in that
                                                       period. Each pile
                                                       takes about 10
                                                       minutes to drive.
                                                       When training
                                                       events that use
                                                       the elevated
                                                       causeway system
                                                       are complete, the
                                                       piles would be
                                                       removed using
                                                       vibratory methods
                                                       over
                                                       approximately 6
                                                       days. Crews can
                                                       remove about 14
                                                       piles per 24-hour
                                                       period, each
                                                       taking about 6
                                                       minutes to remove.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Testing

    The Navy's proposed testing activities are described in Tables 6 
and 7. Detailed information about each proposed activity (stressor, 
testing event, description, sound source, duration, and geographic 
location) can be found in Appendix A of the AFTT DEIS/OEIS. NMFS used 
the detailed information in Appendix A of the AFTT DEIS/OEIS to analyze 
the potential impacts on marine mammals; however, the Navy's proposed 
action is summarized in the Tables based on the type of sound source.

[[Page 7060]]



                   Table 6--Naval Air Systems Command Testing Activities Within the Study Area
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                     Number of
             Stressor                 Testing event            Description         Source class     events per
                                                                                                       year
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                          Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Non-Impulsive....................  Anti-Submarine       This event is similar to           TORP1             242
                                    Warfare Torpedo      the training event
                                    Test.                Torpedo Exercise. The
                                                         test evaluates anti-
                                                         submarine warfare
                                                         systems onboard rotary
                                                         wing and fixed wing
                                                         aircraft and the
                                                         ability to search for,
                                                         detect, classify,
                                                         localize, and track a
                                                         submarine or similar
                                                         target.
Non-Impulsive....................  Kilo Dip...........  A kilo dip is the                    MF4              43
                                                         operational term used
                                                         to describe a
                                                         functional check of a
                                                         helicopter deployed
                                                         dipping sonar system.
                                                         The sonar system is
                                                         briefly activated to
                                                         ensure all systems are
                                                         functional. A kilo dip
                                                         is simply a precursor
                                                         to more comprehensive
                                                         testing.
Non-Impulsive....................  Sonobuoy Lot         Sonobuoys are deployed       ASW2; MF5,6              39
                                    Acceptance Test.     from surface vessels
                                                         and aircraft to verify
                                                         the integrity and
                                                         performance of a lot,
                                                         or group, of sonobuoys
                                                         in advance of delivery
                                                         to the Fleet for
                                                         operational use.
Non-Impulsive....................  ASW Tracking Test--  This event is similar to           MF4,5             428
                                    Helicopter.          the training event anti-
                                                         submarine warfare
                                                         Tracking Exercise--
                                                         Helicopter. The test
                                                         evaluates the sensors
                                                         and systems used to
                                                         detect and track
                                                         submarines and to
                                                         ensure that helicopter
                                                         systems used to deploy
                                                         the tracking systems
                                                         perform to
                                                         specifications.
Non-Impulsive....................  ASW Tracking Test--  This event is similar to     ASW2; MF5,6              75
                                    Maritime Patrol      the training event anti-
                                    Aircraft.            submarine warfare
                                                         Tracking Exercise--
                                                         Maritime Patrol
                                                         Aircraft. The test
                                                         evaluates the sensors
                                                         and systems used by
                                                         maritime patrol
                                                         aircraft to detect and
                                                         track submarines and to
                                                         ensure that aircraft
                                                         systems used to deploy
                                                         the tracking systems
                                                         perform to
                                                         specifications and meet
                                                         operational
                                                         requirements.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                               Mine Warfare (MIW)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Non-Impulsive....................  Airborne Towed       Tests of the Airborne                HF4             155
                                    Minehunting Sonar    Towed Minehunting Sonar
                                    System Test.         System to evaluate the
                                                         search capabilities of
                                                         this towed, mine
                                                         hunting, detection, and
                                                         classification system.
                                                         The sonar on the
                                                         Airborne Towed
                                                         Minehunting Sonar
                                                         System identifies mine-
                                                         like objects in the
                                                         deeper parts of the
                                                         water column.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                           Anti-Surface Warfare (ASUW)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Impulsive........................  Air to Surface       This event is similar to         E6; E10             239
                                    Missile Test.        the training event
                                                         Missile Exercise Air to
                                                         Surface. Test may
                                                         involve both fixed wing
                                                         and rotary wing
                                                         aircraft launching
                                                         missiles at surface
                                                         maritime targets to
                                                         evaluate the weapons
                                                         system or as part of
                                                         another systems
                                                         integration test.
Impulsive........................  Air to Surface       This event is similar to              E1             165
                                    Gunnery Test.        the training event
                                                         Gunnery Exercise Air to
                                                         Surface. Strike fighter
                                                         and helicopter aircrews
                                                         evaluate new or
                                                         enhanced aircraft guns
                                                         against surface
                                                         maritime targets to
                                                         test that the gun, gun
                                                         ammunition, or
                                                         associated systems meet
                                                         required specifications
                                                         or to train aircrew in
                                                         the operation of a new
                                                         or enhanced weapons
                                                         system.
Impulsive........................  Rocket Test........  Rocket testing evaluates              E5             332
                                                         the integration,
                                                         accuracy, performance,
                                                         and safe separation of
                                                         laser-guided and
                                                         unguided 2.75-in
                                                         rockets fired from a
                                                         hovering or forward
                                                         flying helicopter or
                                                         from a fixed wing
                                                         strike aircraft.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

[[Page 7061]]

 
                                          Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Impulsive........................  Sonobuoy Lot         Sonobuoys are deployed            E3; E4              39
                                    Acceptance Test.     from surface vessels
                                                         and aircraft to verify
                                                         the integrity and
                                                         performance of a lot,
                                                         or group, of sonobuoys
                                                         in advance of delivery
                                                         to the Fleet for
                                                         operational use.
Impulsive........................  ASW Tracking Test--  This event is similar to              E3             428
                                    Helicopter.          the training event anti-
                                                         submarine warfare
                                                         Tracking Exercise--
                                                         Helicopter. The test
                                                         evaluates the sensors
                                                         and systems used to
                                                         detect and track
                                                         submarines and to
                                                         ensure that helicopter
                                                         systems used to deploy
                                                         the tracking systems
                                                         perform to
                                                         specifications.
Impulsive........................  ASW Tracking Test--  This event is similar to          E3; E4              75
                                    Maritime Patrol      the training event anti-
                                    Aircraft.            submarine warfare
                                                         Tracking Exercise--
                                                         Maritime Patrol
                                                         Aircraft. The test
                                                         evaluates the sensors
                                                         and systems used by
                                                         maritime patrol
                                                         aircraft to detect and
                                                         track submarines and to
                                                         ensure that aircraft
                                                         systems used to deploy
                                                         the tracking systems
                                                         perform to
                                                         specifications and meet
                                                         operational
                                                         requirements.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                               Mine Warfare (MIW)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Impulsive........................  Airborne Mine        Airborne mine                    E4; E11             165
                                    Neutralization       neutralization tests
                                    System Test.         evaluate the system's
                                                         ability to detect and
                                                         destroy mines. The
                                                         Airborne Mine
                                                         Neutralization System
                                                         Test uses up to four
                                                         unmanned underwater
                                                         vehicles equipped with
                                                         HF sonar, video
                                                         cameras, and explosive
                                                         neutralizers.
Impulsive........................  Airborne Projectile- An MH-60S helicopter                 E11             237
                                    based Mine           uses a laser-based
                                    Clearance System.    detection system to
                                                         search for mines and to
                                                         fix mine locations for
                                                         neutralization with an
                                                         airborne projectile-
                                                         based mine clearance
                                                         system. The system
                                                         neutralizes mines by
                                                         firing a small or
                                                         medium-caliber inert,
                                                         supercavitating
                                                         projectile from a
                                                         hovering helicopter.
Impulsive........................  Airborne Towed       Tests of the Airborne                E11              72
                                    Minesweeping Test.   Towed Minesweeping
                                                         System would be
                                                         conducted by a MH-60S
                                                         helicopter to evaluate
                                                         the functionality of
                                                         the system and the MH-
                                                         60S at sea. The system
                                                         is towed from a forward
                                                         flying helicopter and
                                                         works by emitting an
                                                         electromagnetic field
                                                         and mechanically
                                                         generated underwater
                                                         sound to simulate the
                                                         presence of a ship. The
                                                         sound and
                                                         electromagnetic
                                                         signature cause nearby
                                                         mines to explode.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


                   Table 7--Naval Sea Systems Command Testing Activities Within the Study Area
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                    Number of
            Stressor                 Testing event          Description         Source class     events per year
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                              New Ship Construction
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Non-Impulsive...................  Surface Combatant    Tests ship's sonar    MF1,9,10; MF1K....  12.
                                   Sea Trials--         systems pierside to
                                   Pierside Sonar       ensure proper
                                   Testing.             operation.
Non-Impulsive...................  Surface Combatant    Ships demonstrate     ASW3; MF 1,9,10;    10.
                                   Sea Trials--Anti-    capability of         MF1K.
                                   Submarine Warfare    countermeasure
                                   Testing.             systems and
                                                        underwater
                                                        surveillance and
                                                        communications
                                                        systems.
Non-Impulsive...................  Submarine Sea        Tests ship's sonar    M3; HF1; MF3,10...  6
                                   Trials--Pierside     systems pierside to
                                   Sonar Testing.       ensure proper
                                                        operation.
Non-Impulsive...................  Submarine Sea        Submarines            M3; HF1; MF3,10...  12.
                                   Trials--Anti-        demonstrate
                                   Submarine Warfare    capability of
                                   Testing.             underwater
                                                        surveillance and
                                                        communications
                                                        systems.

[[Page 7062]]

 
Non-Impulsive...................  Anti-submarine       Ships and their       ASW1,3; MF4,5,12;   24.
                                   Warfare Mission      supporting            TORP1.
                                   Package Testing.     platforms (e.g.,
                                                        helicopters,
                                                        unmanned aerial
                                                        vehicles) detect,
                                                        localize, and
                                                        prosecute
                                                        submarines.
Non-Impulsive...................  Mine Countermeasure  Ships conduct mine    HF4...............  8.
                                   Mission Package      countermeasure
                                   Testing.             operations.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                              Life Cycle Activities
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Non-Impulsive...................  Surface Ship Sonar   Pierside and at-sea   ASW3; MF1, 9,10;    16.
                                   Testing/             testing of ship       MF1K.
                                   Maintenance.         systems occurs
                                                        periodically
                                                        following major
                                                        maintenance periods
                                                        and for routine
                                                        maintenance.
Non-Impulsive...................  Submarine Sonar      Pierside and at-sea   HF1,3; M3; MF3....  28.
                                   Testing/             testing of
                                   Maintenance.         submarine systems
                                                        occurs periodically
                                                        following major
                                                        maintenance periods
                                                        and for routine
                                                        maintenance.
Non-Impulsive...................  Combat System Ship   All combat systems    MF1...............  12.
                                   Qualification        are tested to
                                   Trial (CSSQT)--In-   ensure they are
                                   port Maintenance     functioning in a
                                   Period.              technically
                                                        acceptable manner
                                                        and are
                                                        operationally ready
                                                        to support at-sea
                                                        CSSQT events.
Non-Impulsive...................  Combat System Ship   Tests ships ability   HF4; MF1,2,4,5;     9.
                                   Qualification        to track and defend   TORP1.
                                   Trial (CSSQT)--      against undersea
                                   Undersea Warfare     targets.
                                   (USW).
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                             NAVSEA Range Activities
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                          Naval Surface Warfare Center, Panama City Division (NSWC PCD)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Non-Impulsive...................  Unmanned Underwater  Testing and           HF5,6,7; LF5;       1 per 5 year
                                   Vehicles             demonstrations of     FLS2; MF9; SAS2.    period.
                                   Demonstration.       multiple Unmanned
                                                        Underwater Vehicles
                                                        and associated
                                                        acoustic, optical,
                                                        and magnetic
                                                        systems.
Non-Impulsive...................  Mine Detection and   Air, surface, and     HF1,4; MF1K; SAS2.  81.
                                   Classification       subsurface vessels
                                   Testing.             detect and classify
                                                        mines and mine-like
                                                        objects.
Non-Impulsive...................  Stationary Source    Stationary equipment  LF4; MF8; SD1,2...  11.
                                   Testing.             (including swimmer
                                                        defense systems) is
                                                        deployed to
                                                        determine
                                                        functionality.
Non-Impulsive...................  Special Warfare      Testing of            MF9...............  110.
                                   Testing.             submersibles
                                                        capable of
                                                        inserting and
                                                        extracting
                                                        personnel and/or
                                                        payloads into
                                                        denied areas from
                                                        strategic distances.
Non-Impulsive...................  Unmanned Underwater  Unmanned Underwater   FLS2; HF 5,6,7;     88.
                                   Vehicle Testing.     Vehicles are          LF5; MF9; SAS2.
                                                        deployed to
                                                        evaluate
                                                        hydrodynamic
                                                        parameters, to full
                                                        mission, multiple
                                                        vehicle
                                                        functionality
                                                        assessments.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                          Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division, Newport (NUWCDIVNPT)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Non-Impulsive...................  Torpedo Testing....  Non-explosive         TORP1; TORP2......  30.
                                                        torpedoes are
                                                        launched to record
                                                        operational data.
                                                        All torpedoes are
                                                        recovered.
Non-Impulsive...................  Towed Equipment      Surface vessel or     LF4; MF9; SAS1....  33.
                                   Testing.             Unmanned Underwater
                                                        Vehicle deploys
                                                        equipment to
                                                        determine
                                                        functionality of
                                                        towed systems.
Non-Impulsive...................  Unmanned Underwater  Unmanned Underwater   HF6,7; LF5; MF10;   123.
                                   Vehicle Testing.     Vehicles are          SAS2.
                                                        deployed to
                                                        evaluate
                                                        hydrodynamic
                                                        parameters, to full
                                                        mission, multiple
                                                        vehicle
                                                        functionality
                                                        assessments.
Non-Impulsive...................  Semi-Stationary      Semi-stationary       ASW3,4; HF 5,6; LF  154.
                                   Equipment Testing.   equipment (e.g.,      4,5; MF9,10.
                                                        hydrophones) is
                                                        deployed to
                                                        determine
                                                        functionality.
Non-Impulsive...................  Unmanned Underwater  Testing and           FLS2; HF5,6,7;      1 per 5 year
                                   Vehicle              demonstrations of     LF5; MF9; SAS2.     period.
                                   Demonstrations.      multiple Unmanned
                                                        Underwater Vehicles
                                                        and associated
                                                        acoustic, optical,
                                                        and magnetic
                                                        systems.

[[Page 7063]]

 
Non-Impulsive...................  Pierside Integrated  Swimmer defense       LF4; MF8; SD1.....  6.
                                   Swimmer Defense      testing ensures
                                   Testing.             that systems can
                                                        effectively detect,
                                                        characterize,
                                                        verify, and defend
                                                        against swimmer/
                                                        diver threats in
                                                        harbor environments.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                South Florida Ocean Measurement Facility (SFOMF)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Non-Impulsive...................  Signature Analysis   Testing of            ASW2; HF1,6; LF4;   18.
                                   Activities.          electromagnetic,      M3; MF9.
                                                        acoustic, optical,
                                                        and radar signature
                                                        measurements of
                                                        surface ship and
                                                        submarine.
Non-Impulsive...................  Mine Testing.......  Air, surface, and     HF4...............  33.
                                                        sub-surface systems
                                                        detect, counter,
                                                        and neutralize
                                                        ocean-deployed
                                                        mines.
Non-Impulsive...................  Surface Testing....  Various surface       FLS2; HF5,6,7;      33.
                                                        vessels, moored       LF5; MF9; SAS2.
                                                        equipment and
                                                        materials are
                                                        testing to evaluate
                                                        performance in the
                                                        marine environment.
Non-Impulsive...................  Unmanned Underwater  Testing and           FLS2; HF5,6,7;      1 per 5 year
                                   Vehicles             demonstrations of     LF5; MF9; SAS2.     period.
                                   Demonstrations.      multiple Unmanned
                                                        Underwater Vehicles
                                                        and associated
                                                        acoustic, optical,
                                                        and magnetic
                                                        systems.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                           Additional Activities at Locations Outside of NAVSEA Ranges
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                        Anti-Surface Warfare (ASUW)/Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Testing
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Non-Impulsive...................  Torpedo (Non-        Air, surface, or      ASW3,4; HF1; M3;    26.
                                   explosive) Testing.  submarine crews       MF1,3,4,5;
                                                        employ inert          TORP1,2.
                                                        torpedoes against
                                                        submarines or
                                                        surface vessels.
                                                        All torpedoes are
                                                        recovered.
Non-Impulsive...................  Torpedo (Explosive)  Air, surface, or      TORP1; TORP2......  2.
                                   Testing.             submarine crews
                                                        employ explosive
                                                        torpedoes against
                                                        artificial targets
                                                        or deactivated
                                                        ships.
Non-Impulsive...................  Countermeasure       Towed sonar arrays    ASW3; HF5; TORP     3.
                                   Testing.             and anti-torpedo      1,2.
                                                        torpedo systems are
                                                        employed to detect
                                                        and neutralize
                                                        incoming weapons.
Non-Impulsive...................  Pierside Sonar       Pierside testing to   ASW3; HF1,3; M3;    23.
                                   Testing.             ensure systems are    MF1,3.
                                                        fully functional in
                                                        a controlled
                                                        pierside
                                                        environment prior
                                                        to at-sea test
                                                        activities.
Non-Impulsive...................  At-sea Sonar         At-sea testing to     ASW4; HF1; M3; MF3  15.
                                   Testing.             ensure systems are
                                                        fully functional in
                                                        an open ocean
                                                        environment.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                           Mine Warfare (MIW) Testing
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Non-Impulsive...................  Mine Detection and   Air, surface, and     HF4...............  66.
                                   Classification       subsurface vessels
                                   Testing.             detect and classify
                                                        mines and mine-like
                                                        objects.
Non-Impulsive...................  Mine Countermeasure/ Air, surface, and     HF4; M3...........  14.
                                   Neutralization       subsurface vessels
                                   Testing.             neutralize threat
                                                        mines that would
                                                        otherwise restrict
                                                        passage through an
                                                        area.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                            Shipboard Protection Systems and Swimmer Defense Testing
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Non-Impulsive...................  Pierside Integrated  Swimmer defense       LF4; MF8; SD1.....  3.
                                   Swimmer Defense      testing ensures
                                   Testing.             that systems can
                                                        effectively detect,
                                                        characterize,
                                                        verify, and defend
                                                        against swimmer/
                                                        diver threats in
                                                        harbor environments.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                            Unmanned Vehicle Testing
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Non-Impulsive...................  Unmanned Vehicle     Vehicle development   MF9; SAS2.........  111.
                                   Development and      involves the
                                   Payload Testing.     production and
                                                        upgrade of new
                                                        unmanned platforms
                                                        on which to attach
                                                        various payloads
                                                        used for different
                                                        purposes.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

[[Page 7064]]

 
                                            Other Testing Activities
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Non-Impulsive...................  Special Warfare      Special warfare       HF1; M3; MF9......  4.
                                   Testing.             includes testing of
                                                        submersibles
                                                        capable of
                                                        inserting and
                                                        extracting
                                                        personnel and/or
                                                        payloads into
                                                        denied areas from
                                                        strategic distances.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                        Ship Construction and Maintenance
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                              New Ship Construction
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Impulsive.......................  Aircraft Carrier     Medium-caliber gun    E1................  410.
                                   Sea Trials--Gun      systems are tested
                                   Testing--Medium-     using non-explosive
                                   Caliber.             and explosive
                                                        rounds.
Impulsive.......................  Surface Warfare      Ships defense         E1................  5.
                                   Mission Package--    against surface
                                   Gun Testing-         targets with medium-
                                   Medium Caliber.      caliber guns.
Impulsive.......................  Surface Warfare      Ships defense         E3................  5.
                                   Mission Package--    against surface
                                   Gun Testing- Large   targets with large-
                                   Caliber.             caliber guns.
Impulsive.......................  Surface Warfare      Ships defense         E6................  15.
                                   Mission Package--    against surface
                                   Missile/Rocket       targets with medium
                                   Testing.             range missiles or
                                                        rockets.
Impulsive.......................  Mine Countermeasure  Ships conduct mine    E4................  8.
                                   Mission Package      countermeasure
                                   Testing.             operations..
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                Ship Shock Trials
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Impulsive.......................  Aircraft Carrier     Explosives are        E17...............  1 per 5 year
                                   Full Ship Shock      detonated                                 period.
                                   Trial.               underwater against
                                                        surface ships.
Impulsive.......................  DDG 1000 Zumwalt     Explosives are        E16...............  1 per 5 year
                                   Class Destroyer      detonated                                 period.
                                   Full Ship Shock      underwater against
                                   Trial.               surface ships.
Impulsive.......................  Littoral Combat      Explosives are        E16...............  2 per 5 year
                                   Ship Full Ship       detonated                                 period.
                                   Shock Trial.         underwater against
                                                        surface ships.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                             NAVSEA Range Activities
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                          Naval Surface Warfare Center, Panama City Division (NSWC PCD)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Impulsive.......................  Mine Countermeasure/ Air, surface, and     E4................  15.
                                   Neutralization       subsurface vessels
                                   Testing.             neutralize threat
                                                        mines and mine-like
                                                        objects.
Impulsive.......................  Ordnance Testing...  Airborne and surface  E5; E14...........  37.
                                                        crews defend
                                                        against surface
                                                        targets with small-
                                                        , medium-, and
                                                        large-caliber guns,
                                                        as well as line
                                                        charge testing.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                           Additional Activities at Locations Outside of NAVSEA Ranges
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                        Anti-Surface Warfare (ASUW)/Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Testing
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Impulsive.......................  Torpedo (Explosive)  Air, surface, or      E8; E11...........  2.
                                   Testing.             submarine crews
                                                        employ explosive
                                                        torpedoes against
                                                        artificial targets
                                                        or deactivated
                                                        ships.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                           Mine Warfare (MIW) Testing
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Impulsive.......................  Mine Countermeasure/ Air, surface, and     E4; E8............  14.
                                   Neutralization       subsurface vessels
                                   Testing.             neutralize threat
                                                        mines that would
                                                        otherwise restrict
                                                        passage through an
                                                        area.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                            Other Testing Activities
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Impulsive.......................  At-Sea Explosives    Explosives are        E5................  4.
                                   Testing.             detonated at sea.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


[[Page 7065]]

Vessels

    Vessels used as part of the proposed action include ships, 
submarines, Unmanned Undersea Vehicles (UUVs), and boats ranging in 
size from small, 16 ft (5 m) Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats to 1,092-ft 
(333 m) long aircraft carriers. Representative Navy vessel types, 
lengths, and speeds used in both training and testing activities are 
shown in Table 5 of this proposed rule. While these speeds are 
representative, some vessels operate outside of these speeds due to 
unique training, testing, or safety requirements for a given event. 
Examples include increased speeds needed for flight operations, full 
speed runs to test engineering equipment, time critical positioning 
needs, etc. Examples of decreased speeds include speeds less than 5 
knots or completely stopped for launching small boats, certain tactical 
maneuvers, target launch or retrievals, UUVs, etc.
    The number of Navy vessels in the Study Area varies based on 
training and testing schedules. These activities could be widely 
dispersed throughout the Study Area, but would be more concentrated 
near naval ports, piers, and range areas. Activities involving vessel 
movements occur intermittently and are variable in duration, ranging 
from a few hours up to 2 weeks. Navy vessel traffic would especially be 
concentrated near Naval Station Norfolk in Norfolk, VA and Naval 
Station Mayport in Jacksonville, FL. Surface and sub-surface vessel 
operations in the Study Area may result in marine mammal strikes.

 Table 8--Typical Navy Boat and Vessel Types With Length Greater Than 18
                 Meters Used Within the AFTT Study Area
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                      Example(s)
                                  (specifications in
                                meters (m) for length,       Typical
     Vessel Type  (>18 m)        metric tons (mt) for    operating speed
                                  mass, and knots for        (knots)
                                        speed)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Aircraft Carrier..............  Aircraft Carrier (CVN)  10 to 15.
                                length: 333 m beam: 41
                                 m draft: 12 m
                                 displacement: 81,284
                                 mt max. speed: 30+
                                 knots.
Surface Combatants............  Cruiser (CG)..........  10 to 15.
                                length: 173 m beam: 17
                                 m draft: 10 m
                                 displacement: 9,754
                                 mt max. speed: 30+
                                 knots.
                                Destroyer (DDG).
                                length: 155 m beam: 18
                                 m draft: 9 m
                                 displacement: 9,648
                                 mt max. speed: 30+
                                 knots.
                                Frigate (FFG).
                                length: 136 m beam: 14
                                 m draft: 7 m
                                 displacement: 4,166
                                 mt max. speed: 30+
                                 knots.
                                Littoral Combat Ship
                                 (LCS).
                                length: 115 m beam: 18
                                 m draft: 4 m
                                 displacement: 3,000
                                 mt max. speed: 40+
                                 knots.
Amphibious Warfare Ships......  Amphibious Assault      10 to 15.
                                 Ship (LHA, LHD).
                                length: 253 m beam: 32
                                 m draft: 8 m
                                 displacement: 42,442
                                 mt max. speed:
                                 20+knots.
                                Amphibious Transport
                                 Dock (LPD).
                                length: 208 m beam: 32
                                 m draft: 7 m
                                 displacement: 25,997
                                 mt max. speed:
                                 20+knots.
                                Dock Landing Ship
                                 (LSD).
                                length: 186 m beam: 26
                                 m draft: 6 m
                                 displacement: 16,976
                                 mt max. speed:
                                 20+knots.
Mine Warship Ship.............  Mine Countermeasures    5 to 8.
                                 Ship (MCM).
                                length: 68 m beam: 12
                                 m draft: 4 m
                                 displacement: 1,333
                                 max. speed: 14 knots.
Submarines....................  Attack Submarine (SSN)  8 to 13.
                                length: 115 m beam: 12
                                 m draft: 9 m
                                 displacement: 12,353
                                 mt max. speed:
                                 20+knots.
                                Guided Missile
                                 Submarine (SSGN).
                                length: 171 m beam: 13
                                 m draft: 12 m
                                 displacement: 19,000
                                 mt max. speed:
                                 20+knots.
Combat Logistics Force Ships..  Fast Combat Support     8 to 12.
                                 Ship (T-AOE).
                                length: 230 m beam: 33
                                 m draft: 12 m
                                 displacement: 49,583
                                 max. speed: 25 knots.
                                Dry Cargo/Ammunition
                                 Ship (T-AKE).
                                length: 210 m beam: 32
                                 m draft: 9 m
                                 displacement: 41,658
                                 mt max speed: 20
                                 knots.
                                Fleet Replenishment
                                 Oilers (T-AO).
                                length: 206 m beam: 30
                                 m draft: 11 m
                                 displacement: 42,674
                                 mt max. speed: 20
                                 knots.
                                Fleet Ocean Tugs (T-
                                 ATF).
                                length: 69 m beam: 13
                                 m draft: 5 m
                                 displacement: 2,297
                                 max. speed: 14 knots.
Support Craft/Other...........  Landing Craft, Utility  3 to 5.
                                 (LCU).
                                length: 41m beam: 9 m
                                 draft: 2 m
                                 displacement: 381 mt
                                 max. speed: 11 knots.
                                Landing Craft,
                                 Mechanized (LCM).
                                length: 23 m beam: 6 m
                                 draft: 1 m
                                 displacement: 107 mt
                                 max. speed: 11 knots.

[[Page 7066]]

 
Support Craft/Other             MK V Special            Variable.
 Specialized High Speed.         Operations Craft.
                                length: 25 m beam: 5 m
                                 displacement: 52 mt
                                 max. speed: 50 knots.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Duration and Location

    Training and testing activities would be conducted in the AFTT 
Study Area throughout the year from January 2014 to January 2019. The 
AFTT Study Area is in the western Atlantic Ocean and encompasses the 
east coast of North America and the Gulf of Mexico. The Study Area has 
expanded slightly beyond the areas included in previous Navy 
authorizations. However, this expansion is not an increase in the 
Navy's training and testing area, but merely an increase in the area to 
be analyzed under an incidental take authorization in support of the 
AFTT EIS/OEIS. The Study Area includes several existing study areas, 
range complexes, and testing ranges: The Atlantic Fleet Active Sonar 
Training (AFAST) Study Area; Northeast Range Complexes; Naval Undersea 
Warfare Center Division, Newport (NUWCDIVNPT) Testing Range; Virginia 
Capes (VACAPES) Range Complex; Cherry Point (CHPT) Range Complex; 
Jacksonville (JAX) Range Complex; Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) 
Carderock Division, South Florida Ocean Measurement Facility (SFOMF) 
Testing Range; Key West Range Complex; Gulf of Mexico (GOMEX); and 
Naval Surface Warfare Center, Panama City Division (NSWC PCD) Testing 
Range. In addition, the Study Area includes Narragansett Bay, the lower 
Chesapeake Bay and St. Andrew Bay for training and testing activities. 
Ports included for Civilian Port Defense training events include Earle, 
New Jersey; Groton, Connecticut; Norfolk, Virginia; Morehead City, 
North Carolina; Wilmington, North Carolina; Kings Bay, Georgia; 
Mayport, Florida; Beaumont, Texas; and Corpus Christi, Texas.
    The Study Area includes pierside locations where Navy surface ship 
and submarine sonar maintenance and testing occur. Pierside locations 
include channels and transit routes in ports and facilities associated 
with ports and shipyards. These locations in the AFTT Study Area are 
located at the following Navy ports and naval shipyards:
     Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Kittery, Maine;
     Naval Submarine Base New London, Groton, Connecticut;
     Naval Station Norfolk, Norfolk, Virginia;
     Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek--Fort Story, 
Virginia Beach, Virginia;
     Norfolk Naval Shipyard, Portsmouth, Virginia;
     Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Kings Bay, Georgia;
     Naval Station Mayport, Jacksonville, Florida; and
     Port Canaveral, Cape Canaveral, Florida.
    Navy-contractor shipyards in the following cities are also in the 
Study Area:
     Bath, Maine;
     Groton, Connecticut;
     Newport News, Virginia; and
     Pascagoula, Mississippi.
    More detailed information is provided in the Navy's LOA application 
(http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental.htm).

Description of Marine Mammals in the Area of the Specified Activities

    There are 48 marine mammal species with possible or known 
occurrence in the AFTT Study Area, 45 of which are managed by NMFS. As 
indicated in Table 9, there are 39 cetacean species (8 mysticetes and 
31 odontocetes) and six pinnipeds. Seven marine mammal species are 
listed under the Endangered Species Act: Bowhead whale, North Atlantic 
right whale, humpback whale, sei whale, fin whale, blue whale, and 
sperm whale.

                                              Table 9--Marine Mammal Occurrence Within the AFTT Study Area
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                                  Occurrence in study area \4\
                                Scientific name  ESA/MMPA  status                    Stock  abundance --------------------------------------------------
         Common name                  \1\               \2\            Stock \3\      \3\  best (CV)/                     Large marine    Bays, rivers,
                                                                                            min           Open ocean       ecosystems     and  estuaries
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                      Order Cetacea
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                           Suborder Mysticeti (baleen whales)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                            Family Balaenidae (right whales)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
North Atlantic right whale...  Eubalaena         Endangered,       Western North     361 (0)/361.....  Gulf Stream,     Southeast U.S.
                                glacialis.        Strategic,        Atlantic.                           Labrador         Continental
                                                  Depleted.                                             Current.         Shelf,
                                                                                                                         Northeast U.S.
                                                                                                                         Continental
                                                                                                                         Shelf, Scotian
                                                                                                                         Shelf,
                                                                                                                         Newfoundland-
                                                                                                                         Labrador
                                                                                                                         Shelf.
Bowhead whale................  Balaena           Endangered,       West Greenland..  1,230 \5\/490-    Labrador         Newfoundland-
                                mysticetus.       Strategic,                          2,940.            Current.         Labrador
                                                  Depleted.                                                              Shelf, West
                                                                                                                         Greenland
                                                                                                                         Shelf.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

[[Page 7067]]

 
                                                            Family Balaenopteridae (rorquals)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Humpback whale...............  Megaptera         Endangered,       Gulf of Maine...  847 (0.55)/549..  Gulf Stream,     Gulf of Mexico,
                                novaeangliae.     Strategic,                                            North Atlantic   Caribbean Sea,
                                                  Depleted.                                             Gyre, Labrador   Southeast U.S.
                                                                                                        Current.         Continental
                                                                                                                         Shelf,
                                                                                                                         Northeast U.S.
                                                                                                                         Continental
                                                                                                                         Shelf, Scotian
                                                                                                                         Shelf,
                                                                                                                         Newfoundland-
                                                                                                                         Labrador
                                                                                                                         Shelf.
Minke whale..................  Balaenoptera      ................  Canadian east     8,987 (0.32)/     Gulf Stream,     Caribbean Sea,
                                acutorostrata.                      coast.            6,909.            North Atlantic   Southeast U.S.
                                                                                                        Gyre, Labrador   Continental
                                                                                                        Current.         Shelf,
                                                                                                                         Northeast U.S.
                                                                                                                         Continental
                                                                                                                         Shelf, Scotian
                                                                                                                         Shelf,
                                                                                                                         Newfoundland-
                                                                                                                         Labrador
                                                                                                                         Shelf.
Bryde's whale................  Balaenoptera      ................  Gulf of Mexico    15 (1.98)/5.....  Gulf Stream,     Gulf of Mexico,
                                brydei/edeni.                       Oceanic.                            North Atlantic   Caribbean Sea,
                                                                                                        Gyre.            Southeast U.S.
                                                                                                                         Continental
                                                                                                                         Shelf.
Sei whale....................  Balaenoptera      Endangered,       Nova Scotia.....  386 (0.85)/208..  Gulf Stream,     Gulf of Mexico,
                                borealis.         Strategic,                                            North Atlantic   Caribbean Sea,
                                                  Depleted.                                             Gyre, Labrador   Southeast U.S.
                                                                                                        Current.         Continental
                                                                                                                         Shelf,
                                                                                                                         Northeast U.S.
                                                                                                                         Continental
                                                                                                                         Shelf, Scotian
                                                                                                                         Shelf,
                                                                                                                         Newfoundland-
                                                                                                                         Labrador
                                                                                                                         Shelf.
Fin whale....................  Balaenoptera      Endangered,       Western North     3,985 (0.24)/     Gulf Stream,     Caribbean Sea,
                                physalus.         Strategic,        Atlantic.         3,269.            North Atlantic   Southeast U.S.
                                                  Depleted.                                             Gyre, Labrador   Continental
                                                                                                        Current.         Shelf,
                                                                                                                         Northeast U.S.
                                                                                                                         Continental
                                                                                                                         Shelf, Scotian
                                                                                                                         Shelf,
                                                                                                                         Newfoundland-
                                                                                                                         Labrador
                                                                                                                         Shelf.
Blue whale...................  Balaenoptera      Endangered,       Western North     NA/440 \6\......  Gulf Stream,     Northeast U.S.
                                musculus.         Strategic,        Atlantic.                           North Atlantic   Continental
                                                  Depleted.                                             Gyre, Labrador   Shelf, Scotian
                                                                                                        Current.         Shelf,
                                                                                                                         Newfoundland-
                                                                                                                         Labrador
                                                                                                                         Shelf.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                          Suborder Odontoceti (toothed whales)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                            Family Physeteridae (sperm whale)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sperm whale..................  Physeter          Endangered,       North Atlantic..  4,804 (0.38)/     Gulf Stream,     Southeast U.S.
                                macrocephalus.    Strategic,                          3,539.            North Atlantic   Continental
                                                  Depleted.                                             Gyre, Labrador   Shelf,
                                                                                                        Current.         Northeast U.S.
                                                                                                                         Continental
                                                                                                                         Shelf, Scotian
                                                                                                                         Shelf,
                                                                                                                         Newfoundland-
                                                                                                                         Labrador
                                                                                                                         Shelf.
                                                 Endangered,       Gulf of Mexico    1,665 (0.2)/      ...............  Gulf of Mexico.
                                                  Strategic,        Oceanic.          1,409.
                                                  Depleted.
                                                 Endangered,       Puerto Rico and   unknown.........  North Atlantic   Caribbean Sea.
                                                  Strategic,        U.S. Virgin                         Gyre.
                                                  Depleted.         Islands.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

[[Page 7068]]

 
                                                             Family Kogiidae (sperm whales)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pygmy sperm whale............  Kogia breviceps.  Strategic.......  Western North     395 (0.4)/285     Gulf Stream,     Southeast U.S.
                                                                    Atlantic.         \7\.              North Atlantic   Continental
                                                                                                        Gyre.            Shelf,
                                                                                                                         Northeast U.S.
                                                                                                                         Continental
                                                                                                                         Shelf, Scotian
                                                                                                                         Shelf,
                                                                                                                         Newfoundland-
                                                                                                                         Labrador
                                                                                                                         Shelf.
                                                                   Gulf of Mexico    453(0.35)/340     ...............  Gulf of Mexico,
                                                                    Oceanic.          \7\.                               Caribbean Sea.
Dwarf sperm whale............  Kogia sima......  ................  Western North     395 (0.4)/285     Gulf Stream,     Southeast U.S.
                                                                    Atlantic.         \7\.              North Atlantic   Continental
                                                                                                        Gyre.            Shelf,
                                                                                                                         Northeast U.S.
                                                                                                                         Continental
                                                                                                                         Shelf, Scotian
                                                                                                                         Shelf.
                                                                   Gulf of Mexico    453(0.35)/340     ...............  Gulf of Mexico,
                                                                    Oceanic.          \7\.                               Caribbean Sea.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                     Family Monodontidae (beluga whale and narwhal)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Beluga whale.................  Delphinapterus    ................  NA8.............  NA \8\..........  ...............  Northeast U.S.
                                leucas.                                                                                  Continental
                                                                                                                         Shelf, Scotian
                                                                                                                         Shelf,
                                                                                                                         Newfoundland-
                                                                                                                         Labrador
                                                                                                                         Shelf.
Narwhal......................  Monodon           ................  NA9.............  NA \9\..........  ...............  Newfoundland-
                                monoceros.                                                                               Labrador
                                                                                                                         Shelf, West
                                                                                                                         Greenland
                                                                                                                         Shelf.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                            Family Ziphiidae (beaked whales)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Cuvier's beaked whale........  Ziphius           ................  Western North     3,513 (0.63)/     Gulf Stream,     Southeast U.S.
                                cavirostris.                        Atlantic.         2,154 \10\.       North Atlantic   Continental
                                                                                                        Gyre, Labrador   Shelf,
                                                                                                        Current.         Northeast U.S.
                                                                                                                         Continental
                                                                                                                         Shelf, Scotian
                                                                                                                         Shelf,
                                                                                                                         Newfoundland-
                                                                                                                         Labrador
                                                                                                                         Shelf.
                                                                   Gulf of Mexico    65 (0.67)/39....  ...............  Gulf of Mexico,
                                                                    Oceanic.                                             Caribbean Sea.
True's beaked whale..........  Mesoplodon mirus  ................  Western North     3,513 (0.63)/     Gulf Stream,     Southeast U.S.
                                                                    Atlantic.         2,154 \10\.       North Atlantic   Continental
                                                                                                        Gyre, Labrador   Shelf,
                                                                                                        Current.         Northeast U.S.
                                                                                                                         Continental
                                                                                                                         Shelf, Scotian
                                                                                                                         Shelf,
                                                                                                                         Newfoundland-
                                                                                                                         Labrador
                                                                                                                         Shelf.
Gervais' beaked whale........  Mesoplodon        ................  Western North     3,513 (0.63)/     Gulf Stream,     Southeast U.S.
                                europaeus.                          Atlantic.         2,154 \10\.       North Atlantic   Continental
                                                                                                        Gyre.            Shelf,
                                                                                                                         Northeast
                                                                                                                         United States
                                                                                                                         Continental
                                                                                                                         Shelf.
                                                                   Gulf of Mexico    57 (1.4)/24 \11\  Gulf Stream,     Southeast U.S.
                                                                    Oceanic.                            North Atlantic   Continental
                                                                                                        Gyre.            Shelf,
                                                                                                                         Northeast U.S.
                                                                                                                         Continental
                                                                                                                         Shelf.
Sowerby's beaked whale.......  Mesoplodon        ................  Western North     3,513 (0.63)/     Gulf Stream,     Northeast U.S.
                                bidens.                             Atlantic.         2,154 \10\.       North Atlantic   Continental
                                                                                                        Gyre.            Shelf, Scotian
                                                                                                                         Shelf,
                                                                                                                         Newfoundland-
                                                                                                                         Labrador
                                                                                                                         Shelf.

[[Page 7069]]

 
Blainville's beaked whale....  Mesoplodon        ................  Western North     3,513 (0.63)/     Gulf Stream,     Southeast U.S.
                                densirostris.                       Atlantic.         2,154 \10\.       North Atlantic   Continental
                                                                                                        Gyre, Labrador   Shelf,
                                                                                                        Current.         Northeast U.S.
                                                                                                                         Continental
                                                                                                                         Shelf, Scotian
                                                                                                                         Shelf,
                                                                                                                         Newfoundland-
                                                                                                                         Labrador
                                                                                                                         Shelf.
                                                                   Gulf of Mexico    57 (1.4)/24 \11\  ...............  Gulf of Mexico,
                                                                    Oceanic.                                             Caribbean Sea.
Northern bottlenose whale....  Hyperoodon        ................  Western North     Unknown.........  Gulf Stream,     Northeast U.S.
                                ampullatus.                         Atlantic.                           North Atlantic   Continental
                                                                                                        Gyre, Labrador   Shelf, Scotian
                                                                                                        Current.         Shelf,
                                                                                                                         Newfoundland-
                                                                                                                         Labrador
                                                                                                                         Shelf.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                              Family Delphinidae (dolphins)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Rough-toothed dolphin........  Steno             ................  Western North     Unknown.........  Gulf Stream,     Caribbean Sea,
                                bredanensis.                        Atlantic.                           North Atlantic   Southeast U.S.
                                                                                                        Gyre.            Continental
                                                                                                                         Shelf.
                                                                   Gulf of Mexico    Unknown.........  ...............  Gulf of Mexico,
                                                                    (Outer                                               Caribbean Sea.
                                                                    continental
                                                                    shelf and
                                                                    Oceanic).
Bottlenose dolphin...........  Tursiops          Strategic,        Western North     81,588 (0.17)/    Gulf Stream,     Southeast U.S.
                                truncatus.        Depleted.         Atlantic,         70,775.           North Atlantic   Continental
                                                                    offshore \12\.                      Gyre.            Shelf,
                                                                                                                         Northeast U.S.
                                                                                                                         Continental
                                                                                                                         Shelf.
                                                 Strategic,        Western North     9,604 (0.36)/     ...............  Southeast U.S.   Island Sound,
                                                  Depleted.         Atlantic,         7,147.                             Continental      Sandy Hook
                                                                    coastal,                                             Shelf.           Bay, Lower
                                                                    northern                                                              Chesapeake
                                                                    migratory.                                                            Bay, James
                                                                                                                                          River,
                                                                                                                                          Elizabeth
                                                                                                                                          River.
                                                 Strategic,        Western North     12,482 (0.32)/    ...............  Southeast U.S.   Lower
                                                  Depleted.         Atlantic,         9,591.                             Continental      Chesapeake
                                                                    coastal,                                             Shelf.           Bay, James
                                                                    southern                                                              River,
                                                                    migratory.                                                            Elizabeth
                                                                                                                                          River,
                                                                                                                                          Beaufort
                                                                                                                                          Inlet, Cape
                                                                                                                                          Fear River,
                                                                                                                                          Kings Bay, St.
                                                                                                                                          Johns River.
                                                 Strategic,        Western North     7,738 (0.23)/     ...............  Southeast U.S.   Kings Bay, St.
                                                  Depleted.         Atlantic,         6,399.                             Continental      Johns River.
                                                                    coastal, South                                       Shelf.
                                                                    Carolina/
                                                                    Georgia.
                                                 Strategic,        Western North     3,064 (0.24)/     ...............  Southeast U.S.   Kings Bay, St.
                                                  Depleted.         Atlantic,         2,511.                             Continental      Johns River.
                                                                    coastal,                                             Shelf.
                                                                    Northern
                                                                    Florida.
                                                 Strategic.......  Western North     6,318 (0.26)/     ...............  Southeast U.S.   Port Canaveral.
                                                                    Atlantic,         5,094.                             Continental
                                                                    coastal,                                             Shelf.
                                                                    Central Florida.
                                                 Strategic.......  Northern North    Unknown.........  ...............  Southeast U.S.   Beaufort Inlet,
                                                                    Carolina                                             Continental      Cape Fear
                                                                    Estuarine                                            Shelf.           River.
                                                                    System.
                                                 Strategic.......  Southern North    2,454 (0.53)/     ...............  Southeast U.S.   Beaufort Inlet,
                                                                    Carolina          1,614.                             Continental      Cape Fear
                                                                    Estuarine                                            Shelf.           River.
                                                                    System.
                                                 Strategic.......  Charleston        Unknown.........  ...............  Southeast U.S.
                                                                    Estuarine                                            Continental
                                                                    System.                                              Shelf.
                                                 Strategic.......  Northern Georgia/ Unknown.........  ...............  Southeast U.S.
                                                                    Southern South                                       Continental
                                                                    Carolina                                             Shelf.
                                                                    Estuarine
                                                                    System.
                                                 Strategic.......  Southern Georgia  Unknown.........  ...............  Southeast U.S.   Kings Bay, St.
                                                                    Estuarine                                            Continental      Johns River.
                                                                    System.                                              Shelf.
                                                 Strategic.......  Jacksonville      Unknown.........  ...............  Southeast U.S.   Kings Bay, St.
                                                                    Estuarine                                            Continental      Johns River.
                                                                    System.                                              Shelf.

[[Page 7070]]

 
                                                 Strategic.......  Indian River      Unknown.........  ...............  Southeast U.S.   Port Canaveral.
                                                                    Lagoon                                               Continental
                                                                    Estuarine                                            Shelf.
                                                                    System.
                                                 Strategic.......  Biscayne Bay....  Unknown.........  ...............  Southeast U.S.
                                                                                                                         Continental
                                                                                                                         Shelf.
                                                                   Florida Bay.....  514 (0.17)/447..  ...............  Gulf of Mexico.
                                                                   Gulf of Mexico    Unknown.........  ...............  Gulf of Mexico.
                                                                    Continental
                                                                    Shelf.
                                                                   Gulf of Mexico,   7,702 (0.19)/     ...............  Gulf of Mexico.
                                                                    eastern coastal.  6,551.
                                                                   Gulf of Mexico,   2,473 (0.25)/     ...............  Gulf of Mexico.  St. Andrew Bay,
                                                                    northern          2,004.                                              Pascagoula
                                                                    coastal.                                                              River.
                                                 Strategic.......  Gulf of Mexico,   Unknown.........  ...............  Gulf of Mexico.  Corpus Christi
                                                                    western coastal.                                                      Bay, Galveston
                                                                                                                                          Bay.
                                                                   Gulf of Mexico    3,708 (0.42)/     ...............  Gulf of Mexico.
                                                                    Oceanic.          2,641.
                                                 Strategic.......  Gulf of Mexico    Unknown.........  ...............  Gulf of Mexico.  St. Andrew Bay,
                                                                    bay, sound, and                                                       Pascagoula
                                                                    estuarine.                                                            River, Sabine
                                                                                                                                          Lake, Corpus
                                                                                                                                          Christi Bay,
                                                                                                                                          and Galveston
                                                                                                                                          Bay.
Pantropical spotted dolphin..  Stenella          ................  Western North     4,439 (0.49)/     Gulf Stream,     Southeast U.S.
                                attenuata.                          Atlantic.         3,010.            North Atlantic   Continental
                                                                                                        Gyre.            Shelf,
                                                                                                                         Northeast U.S.
                                                                                                                         Continental
                                                                                                                         Shelf.
                                                                   Gulf of Mexico    34,067 (0.18)/    ...............  Gulf of Mexico,
                                                                    Oceanic.          29,311.                            Caribbean Sea.
Atlantic spotted dolphin.....  Stenella          ................  Western North     50,978 (0.42)/    Gulf Stream....  Southeast U.S.
                                frontalis.                          Atlantic.         36,235.                            Continental
                                                                                                                         Shelf,
                                                                                                                         Northeast U.S.
                                                                                                                         Continental
                                                                                                                         Shelf, Scotian
                                                                                                                         Shelf,
                                                                                                                         Newfoundland-
                                                                                                                         Labrador
                                                                                                                         Shelf.
                                                                   Gulf of Mexico    Unknown.........  ...............  Gulf of Mexico,
                                                                    (Continental                                         Caribbean Sea.
                                                                    shelf and
                                                                    Oceanic).
Spinner dolphin..............  Stenella          ................  Western North     Unknown.........  Gulf Stream,     Southeast U.S.
                                longirostris.                       Atlantic.                           North Atlantic   Continental
                                                                                                        Gyre.            Shelf,
                                                                                                                         Northeast U.S.
                                                                                                                         Continental
                                                                                                                         Shelf.
                                                                   Gulf of Mexico    1,989 (0.48)/     ...............  Gulf of Mexico,
                                                                    Oceanic.          1,356.                             Caribbean Sea.
Clymene dolphin..............  Stenella clymene  ................  Western North     Unknown.........  Gulf Stream....  Southeast U.S.
                                                                    Atlantic.                                            Continental
                                                                                                                         Shelf.
                                                                   Gulf of Mexico    6,575 (0.36)/     ...............  Gulf of Mexico,
                                                                    Oceanic.          4,901.                             Caribbean Sea.
Striped dolphin..............  Stenella          ................  Western North     94,462 (0.4)/     Gulf Stream.
                                coeruleoalba.                       Atlantic.         68,558.
                                                                   Gulf of Mexico    3,325 (0.48)/     ...............  Gulf of Mexico,
                                                                    Oceanic.          2,266.                             Caribbean Sea.
Fraser's dolphin.............  Lagenodelphis     ................  Western North     Unknown.........  North Atlantic   Southeast U.S.
                                hosei.                              Atlantic.                           Gyre.            Continental
                                                                                                                         Shelf.
                                                                   Gulf of Mexico    Unknown.........  ...............  Gulf of Mexico,
                                                                    Oceanic.                                             Caribbean Sea.
Risso's dolphin..............  Grampus griseus.  ................  Western North     20,479 (0.59)/    Gulf Stream....  Southeast U.S.
                                                                    Atlantic.         12,920.                            Continental
                                                                                                                         Shelf,
                                                                                                                         Northeast U.S.
                                                                                                                         Continental
                                                                                                                         Shelf, Scotian
                                                                                                                         Shelf,
                                                                                                                         Newfoundland-
                                                                                                                         Labrador
                                                                                                                         Shelf.
                                                                   Gulf of Mexico    1,589 (0.27)/     ...............  Gulf of Mexico,
                                                                    Oceanic.          1,271.                             Caribbean Sea.

[[Page 7071]]

 
Atlantic white-sided dolphin.  Lagenorhynchus    ................  Western North     63,368 (0.27)/    Labrador         Northeast U.S.
                                acutus.                             Atlantic.         50,883.           Current.         Continental
                                                                                                                         Shelf, Scotian
                                                                                                                         Shelf,
                                                                                                                         Newfoundland-
                                                                                                                         Labrador
                                                                                                                         Shelf.
White-beaked dolphin.........  Lagenorhynchus    ................  Western North     2,003 (0.94)/     Labrador         Northeast U.S.
                                albirostris.                        Atlantic.         1,023.            Current.         Continental
                                                                                                                         Shelf, Scotian
                                                                                                                         Shelf,
                                                                                                                         Newfoundland-
                                                                                                                         Labrador
                                                                                                                         Shelf.
Long-beaked common dolphin...  Delphinus         ................  NA \13\.........  Unknown \13\....  ...............  Caribbean Sea
                                capensis.                                                                                13.
Short-beaked common dolphin..  Delphinus         ................  Western North     120,743 (0.23)/   Gulf Stream....  Southeast U.S.
                                delphis.                            Atlantic.         99,975.                            Continental
                                                                                                                         Shelf,
                                                                                                                         Northeast U.S.
                                                                                                                         Continental
                                                                                                                         Shelf, Scotian
                                                                                                                         Shelf,
                                                                                                                         Newfoundland-
                                                                                                                         Labrador
                                                                                                                         Shelf.
Melon-headed whale...........  Peponocephala     ................  Western North     Unknown.........  Gulf Stream,     Southeast U.S.
                                electra.                            Atlantic.                           North Atlantic   Continental
                                                                                                        Gyre.            Shelf.
                                                                   Gulf of Mexico    2,283 (0.76)/     ...............  Gulf of Mexico,
                                                                    Oceanic.          1,293.                             Caribbean Sea.
Pygmy killer whale...........  Feresa attenuata  ................  Western North     Unknown.........  Gulf Stream,     Southeast U.S.
                                                                    Atlantic.                           North Atlantic   Continental
                                                                                                        Gyre.            Shelf.
                                                                   Gulf of Mexico    323 (0.6)/203...  ...............  Gulf of Mexico,
                                                                    Oceanic.                                             Caribbean Sea,
                                                                                                                         Southeast U.S.
                                                                                                                         Continental
                                                                                                                         Shelf.
False killer whale...........  Pseudorca         ................  Gulf of Mexico    777 (0.56)/501..  Gulf Stream,     Gulf of Mexico,
                                crassidens.                         Oceanic.                            North Atlantic   Caribbean Sea,
                                                                                                        Gyre.            Southeast U.S.
                                                                                                                         Continental
                                                                                                                         Shelf.
Killer whale.................  Orcinus orca....  ................  Western North     Unknown.........  Gulf Stream,     Southeast U.S.
                                                                    Atlantic.                           North Atlantic   Continental
                                                                                                        Gyre, Labrador   Shelf,
                                                                                                        Current.         Northeast U.S.
                                                                                                                         Continental
                                                                                                                         shelf, Scotian
                                                                                                                         Shelf,
                                                                                                                         Newfoundland-
                                                                                                                         Labrador
                                                                                                                         Shelf.
                                                                   Gulf of Mexico    49 (0.77)/28....  ...............  Gulf of Mexico,
                                                                    Oceanic.                                             Caribbean Sea.
Long-finned pilot whale......  Globicephala      ................  Western North     12,619 (0.37)/    Gulf Stream....  Northeast U.S.
                                melas.                              Atlantic.         9,333.                             Continental
                                                                                                                         Shelf, Scotian
                                                                                                                         Shelf,
                                                                                                                         Newfoundland-
                                                                                                                         Labrador
                                                                                                                         Shelf.
Short-finned pilot whale.....  Globicephala      ................  Western North     24,674 (0.45)/    Gulf Stream....  Northeast U.S.
                                macrorhynchus.                      Atlantic.         17,190.                            Continental
                                                                                                                         Shelf,
                                                                                                                         Southeast U.S.
                                                                                                                         Continental
                                                                                                                         Shelf.
                                                                   Gulf of Mexico    716 (0.34)/542..  ...............  Gulf of Mexico,
                                                                    Oceanic.                                             Caribbean Sea.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

[[Page 7072]]

 
                                                             Family Phocoenidae (porpoises)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Harbor porpoise..............  Phocoena          ................  Gulf of Maine/    89,054 (0.47)/    ...............  Northeast U.S.   Narragansett
                                phocoena.                           Bay of Fundy.     60,970.                            Continental      Bay, Rhode
                                                                                                                         Shelf, Scotian   Island Sound,
                                                                                                                         Shelf,           Block Island
                                                                                                                         Newfoundland-    Sound,
                                                                                                                         Labrador Shelf.  Buzzards Bay,
                                                                                                                                          Vineyard
                                                                                                                                          Sound, Long
                                                                                                                                          Island Sound,
                                                                                                                                          Piscataqua
                                                                                                                                          River, Thames
                                                                                                                                          River,
                                                                                                                                          Kennebec
                                                                                                                                          River.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                     Order Carnivora
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                   Suborder Pinnipedia
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                              Family Phocidae (true seals)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ringed seal..................  Pusa hispida....  Proposed \15\...  NA \14\.........  Unknown.........  ...............  Newfoundland-
                                                                                                                         Labrador
                                                                                                                         Shelf, West
                                                                                                                         Greenland
                                                                                                                         Shelf.
Bearded seal.................  Erignathus        ................  NA \14\.........  Unknown.........  ...............  Scotian Shelf,
                                barbatus.                                                                                Newfoundland-
                                                                                                                         Labrador
                                                                                                                         Shelf, West
                                                                                                                         Greenland
                                                                                                                         Shelf.
Hooded seal..................  Cystophora        ................  Western North     592,100/512,000.  ...............  Southeast U.S.   Narragansett
                                cristata.                           Atlantic.                                            Continental      Bay, Rhode
                                                                                                                         Shelf,           Island Sound,
                                                                                                                         Northeast U.S.   Block Island
                                                                                                                         Continental      Sound,
                                                                                                                         Shelf, Scotian   Buzzards Bay,
                                                                                                                         Shelf,           Vineyard
                                                                                                                         Newfoundland-    Sound, Long
                                                                                                                         Labrador         Island Sound,
                                                                                                                         Shelf, West      Piscataqua
                                                                                                                         Greenland        River, Thames
                                                                                                                         Shelf.           River,
                                                                                                                                          Kennebec
                                                                                                                                          River.
Harp seal....................  Pagophilus        ................  Western North     Unknown.........  ...............  Northeast U.S.
                                groenlandicus.                      Atlantic.                                            Continental
                                                                                                                         Shelf, Scotian
                                                                                                                         Shelf,
                                                                                                                         Newfoundland-
                                                                                                                         Labrador
                                                                                                                         Shelf.
Gray seal....................  Halichoerus       ................  Western North     Unknown.........  ...............  Northeast U.S.   Narragansett
                                grypus.                             Atlantic.                                            Continental      Bay, Rhode
                                                                                                                         Shelf, Scotian   Island Sound,
                                                                                                                         Shelf,           Block Island
                                                                                                                         Newfoundland-    Sound,
                                                                                                                         Labrador Shelf.  Buzzards Bay,
                                                                                                                                          Vineyard
                                                                                                                                          Sound, Long
                                                                                                                                          Island Sound,
                                                                                                                                          Piscataqua
                                                                                                                                          River, Thames
                                                                                                                                          River,
                                                                                                                                          Kennebeck
                                                                                                                                          River.
Harbor seal..................  Phoca vitulina..  ................  Western North     Unknown \16\....  ...............  Southeast U.S.   Narragansett
                                                                    Atlantic.                                            Continental      Bay, Rhode
                                                                                                                         Shelf,           Island Sound,
                                                                                                                         Northeast U.S.   Block Island
                                                                                                                         Continental      Sound,
                                                                                                                         Shelf, Scotian   Buzzards Bay,
                                                                                                                         Shelf,           Vineyard
                                                                                                                         Newfoundland-    Sound, Long
                                                                                                                         Labrador Shelf.  Island Sound,
                                                                                                                                          Piscataqua
                                                                                                                                          River, Thames
                                                                                                                                          River,
                                                                                                                                          Kennebeck
                                                                                                                                          River.

[[Page 7073]]

 
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Taxonomy follows Perrin 2009.
\2\ ESA listing status. All marine mammals are protected under MMPA. Populations or stocks for which the level of direct human-caused mortality exceeds
  the potential biological removal level, which, based on the best available scientific information, is declining and is likely to be listed as a
  threatened species under the ESA within the foreseeable future, or is listed as a threatened or endangered species under the ESA, or is designated as
  depleted under the MMPA are considered ``strategic'' under MMPA.
\3\ Best CV/Min is a statistic measurement used as an indicator of the accuracy of the estimate. Stock designations for the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone
  and abundance estimates from 2010 Stock Assessment Report (Waring et al. 2010).
\4\ Occurrence in the Study Area includes open ocean areas--Labrador Current, North Atlantic Gyre, and Gulf Stream, and coastal/shelf waters of seven
  Large Marine Ecosystems--Gulf of Mexico, Southeast U.S. Continental Shelf, Northeast U.S. Continental Shelf, Caribbean Sea, Scotian Shelf,
  Newfoundland-Labrador Shelf, West Greenland Shelf, and inland waters of--Kennebec River, Piscataqua River, Thames River, Narragansett Bay, Rhode
  Island Sound, Block Island Sound, Buzzards Bay, Vineyard Sound, Long Island Sound, Sandy Hook Bay, Lower Chesapeake Bay, James River, Elizabeth River,
  Beaufort Inlet, Cape Fear River, Kings Bay, St. Johns River, Port Canaveral, St. Andrew Bay, Pascagoula River, Sabine Lake, Corpus Christi Bay, and
  Galveston Bay.
\5\ This species occurs in the Atlantic outside of the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone; and therefore has no associated Stock Assessment Report. See the
  appropriate subsections below for details of populations that may be found within the Study Area. Abundance and 95 percent confidence interval are
  provided by the International Whaling Commission.
\6\ Photo identification catalogue count of 440 recognizable blue whale individuals from the Gulf of St. Lawrence is considered to be a minimum
  population estimate for the western North Atlantic stock.
\7\ Estimate may include both the pygmy and dwarf sperm whales.
\8\ This species occurs in the Atlantic outside of the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone; and therefore has no associated Stock Assessment Report. See the
  appropriate subsections below for details of populations that may be found within the Study Area.
\9\ Narwhals in the Atlantic are not managed by NMFS and have no associated Stock Assessment Report.
\10\ Estimate includes Cuvier's beaked whales and undifferentiated Mesoplodon species.
\11\ Estimate includes Gervais' and Blainville's beaked whales.
\12\ Estimate may include sightings of the coastal form.
\13\ Long-beaked common dolphins are only known in the western Atlantic from a discrete population off the east coast of South America.
\14\ This species occurs in the Atlantic outside of the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone; and therefore has no associated Stock Assessment Report. See the
  appropriate subsections below for details of populations that may be found within the Study Area.
\15\ Arctic sub-species of ringed seal has been proposed as threatened under the ESA (75 Federal Register [FR] 77476).
\16\ 2010 Stock Assessment Report states that present data are insufficient to calculate a minimum population estimate for this stock, however, the 2009
  Stock Assessment Report indicated the ``best'' population estimate was 99,340 (CV = .097) and minimum population estimate was 91,546.

    NMFS has reviewed the information complied by the Navy on the 
abundance, behavior, status and distribution, and vocalizations of 
marine mammal species in the waters of the AFTT Study Area, which was 
derived from peer reviewed literature, the Navy Marine Resource 
Assessments, NMFS Stock Assessment Reports, and marine mammal surveys 
using acoustic or visual observations from aircraft or ships. NMFS 
considers this information to be the best available science with which 
we can conduct the analyses necessary to propose these regulations and 
future LOAs. This information may be viewed in the Navy's LOA 
application and the Navy's EIS for AFTT (see Availability). Additional 
information is available in the NMFS Stock Assessment Reports, which 
may be viewed at: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/sars/species.htm.
    Bowhead whales, beluga whales, and narwhal are considered rare in 
the AFTT Study Area. Bowhead whales inhabit only the arctic and 
subarctic regions, often close to the ice edge. The St. Lawrence 
estuary is at the southern limit of the beluga whales' distribution 
(Lesage and Kingsley, 1998). Beluga distribution does not include the 
Gulf of Mexico or the southeastern Atlantic coast and they are 
considered extralimital in the Northeast. Narwhals inhabit Arctic 
waters, but populations from the Hudson Strait and Davis Strait--at the 
northwest extreme of the Study Area--may extend into the AFTT Study 
Area, but the possibility of narwhal actually occurring is considered 
remote. Based on the rare occurrence of these species in the AFTT Study 
Area, the Navy and NMFS do not anticipate any take of bowhead whales, 
beluga whales, or narwhals; therefore, these species are not addressed 
further in this proposed rule.

Important Areas

    NMFS identifies biologically important areas when considering an 
application to authorize the incidental take of marine mammals. The 
negligible impact finding necessary for the issuance of an MMPA 
authorization requires NMFS to consider areas where marine mammals are 
known to selectively breed or calve/pup. In addition, NMFS must 
prescribe regulations setting forth the permissible methods of taking 
and other means of effecting the least practicable adverse impact on 
marine mammals species or stocks by paying particular attention to 
rookeries, mating grounds, and other areas of similar significance. 
This section identifies and discusses known important reproductive and 
feeding areas within the AFTT Study Area.
    Little is known about the breeding and calving behaviors of many of 
the marine mammals that occur within the AFTT Study Area. For rorquals 
(humpback whale, minke whale, Bryde's whale, sei whale, fin whale, and 
blue whale) and sperm whales, mating is generally thought to occur in 
tropical and sub-tropical waters between mid-winter and mid-summer in 
deep offshore waters. Delphinids (Melon-headed whale, killer whale, 
pygmy killer whale, false killer whale, pilot whale, common dolphin, 
Atlantic spotted dolphin, clymene dolphin, pantropical spotted dolphin, 
spinner dolphin, striped dolphin, rough-toothed dolphin, bottlenose 
dolphin, Risso's dolphin, Fraser's dolphin, Atlantic white-sided 
dolphin, white-beaked dolphin) may mate throughout their distribution 
during any time of year. For pinnipeds, mating and pupping typically 
occur in coastal waters near northeast rookeries. With one notable 
exception, no specific areas for breeding or calving/pupping have been 
identified in the AFTT Study Area for the species that occur there. 
However, under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), critical habitat has 
been designated for the North Atlantic right whale. Additional 
biologically important areas have been identified for humpback whales 
and sperm whales. Biologically important areas for all three species 
are discussed below.

North Atlantic Right Whale

    Most North Atlantic right whale sightings follow a well-defined 
seasonal migratory pattern through several consistently utilized 
habitats (Winn et al., 1986). It should be noted, however, that some 
individuals may be sighted in these habitats outside of the typical 
time of year and that migration routes are not well known (there may be 
a regular offshore component). The population migrates as two separate 
components, although some whales may remain in the feeding grounds 
throughout the winter (Winn et al., 1986, Kenney et al., 2001). 
Pregnant females and some juveniles migrate from the feeding grounds to 
the calving grounds off the southeastern United States in late fall to 
winter. The cow-calf pairs return northward in late winter to early 
spring. The majority of the right whale population leaves the feeding 
grounds for unknown habitats in the winter but returns to the feeding 
grounds coinciding with the return of the cow-calf pairs. Some 
individuals as well as cow-calf pairs can be seen through the fall and 
winter on the feeding grounds

[[Page 7074]]

with feeding being observed (e.g., Sardi et al., 2005).
    During the spring through early summer, North Atlantic right whales 
are found on feeding grounds off the northeastern United States and 
Canada. Individuals may be found in Cape Cod Bay in February through 
April (Winn et al., 1986; Hamilton and Mayo, 1990) and in the Great 
South Channel east of Cape Cod in April through June (Winn et al., 
1986; Kenney et al., 1995). Right whales are found throughout the 
remainder of summer and into fall (June through November) on two 
feeding grounds in Canadian waters (Gaskin, 1987 and 1991), with peak 
abundance in August, September, and early October. The majority of 
summer/fall sightings of mother/calf pairs occur east of Grand Manan 
Island (Bay of Fundy), although some pairs might move to other unknown 
locations (Schaeff et al., 1993). Jeffreys Ledge appears to be 
important habitat for right whales, with extended whale residences; 
this area appears to be an important fall feeding area for right whales 
and an important nursery area during summer (Weinrich et al., 2000). 
The second feeding area is off the southern tip of Nova Scotia in the 
Roseway Basin between Browns, Baccaro, and Roseway banks (Mitchell et 
al., 1986; Gaskin, 1987; Stone et al., 1988; Gaskin, 1991). The Cape 
Cod Bay and Great South Channel feeding grounds have been designated as 
critical habitat under the ESA (Silber and Clapham, 2001).
    During the winter (as early as November and through March), North 
Atlantic right whales may be found in coastal waters off North 
Carolina, Georgia, and northern Florida (Winn et al., 1986). The waters 
off Georgia and northern Florida are the only known calving ground for 
western North Atlantic right whales and they have been designated as 
critical habitat under the ESA. Calving occurs from December through 
March (Silber and Clapham, 2001). On 1 January 2005, the first observed 
birth on the calving grounds was reported (Zani et al., 2005). The 
majority of the population is not accounted for on the calving grounds, 
and not all reproductively active females return to this area each year 
(Kraus et al., 1986a).
    The coastal waters of the Carolinas are suggested to be a migratory 
corridor for the right whale (Winn et al., 1986). This area, consisting 
of coastal waters between North Carolina and northern Florida, was 
mainly a winter and early spring (January-March) right whaling ground 
during the late 1800s (Reeves and Mitchell, 1986). The whaling ground 
was centered along the coasts of South Carolina and Georgia (Reeves and 
Mitchell, 1986). An examination of sighting records from all sources 
between 1950 and 1992 found that wintering right whales were observed 
widely along the coast from Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, to Miami, 
Florida (Kraus et al., 1993). Sightings off the Carolinas were 
comprised of single individuals that appeared to be transients (Kraus 
et al., 1993). These observations are consistent with the hypothesis 
that the coastal waters of the Carolinas are part of a migratory 
corridor for the North Atlantic right whale (Winn et al., 1986). 
Knowlton et al. (2002) analyzed sightings data collected in the mid-
Atlantic from northern Georgia to southern New England and found that 
the majority of North Atlantic right whale sightings occurred within 
approximately 30 NM (56 km) from shore. Critical habitat for the north 
Atlantic population of the North Atlantic right whale exists in 
portions of the JAX and Northeast OPAREAs (Figure 4-1 of the Navy's 
Application). The following three areas occur in U.S. waters and were 
designated by NMFS as critical habitat in June 1994 (NMFS, 2005):
     Coastal Florida and Georgia (Sebastian Inlet, Florida, to 
the Altamaha River, Georgia),
     The Great South Channel, east of Cape Cod, and
     Cape Cod and Massachusetts Bays.
    The northern critical habitat areas serve as feeding and nursery 
grounds, while the southern area from the mid-Georgia coast extending 
southward along the Florida coast serves as calving grounds. A large 
portion of this habitat lies within the coastal waters of the JAX 
OPAREA. The physical features correlated with the distribution of right 
whales in the southern critical habitat area provide an optimum 
environment for calving. For example, the bathymetry of the inner and 
nearshore middle shelf area minimizes the effect of strong winds and 
offshore waves, limiting the formation of large waves and rough water. 
The average temperature of critical habitat waters is cooler during the 
time right whales are present due to a lack of influence by the Gulf 
Stream and cool freshwater runoff from coastal areas. The water 
temperatures may provide an optimal balance between offshore waters 
that are too warm for nursing mothers to tolerate, yet not too cool for 
calves that may only have minimal fatty insulation. On the calving 
grounds, the reproductive females and calves are expected to be 
concentrated near the critical habitat in the JAX OPAREA from December 
through April.
    Two additional biologically important habitat areas are located in 
Canadian waters--Grand Manan Basin and Roseway Basin. These areas were 
identified in Canada's final recovery strategy for the North Atlantic 
right whale. On October 6, 2010, NMFS published a notice announcing 90-
day finding and 12-month determination on a petition to revise critical 
habitat for the North Atlantic right whale (75 FR 61690). NMFS found 
that the petition, in addition with the information readily available, 
presents substantial scientific information indicating that the 
requested revision may be warranted. NMFS determined that we would 
proceed with the ongoing rulemaking process for revising critical 
habitat for the North Atlantic right whale.

Humpback Whale

    In the North Atlantic Ocean, humpbacks are found from spring 
through fall on feeding grounds that are located from south of New 
England to northern Norway (NMFS, 1991). The Gulf of Maine is one of 
the principal summer feeding grounds for humpback whales in the North 
Atlantic. The largest numbers of humpback whales are present from mid-
April to mid- November. Feeding locations off the northeastern United 
States include Stellwagen Bank, Jeffreys Ledge, the Great South 
Channel, the edges and shoals of Georges Bank, Cashes Ledge, Grand 
Manan Banks, the banks on the Scotian Shelf, the Gulf of St. Lawrence, 
and the Newfoundland Grand Banks (CETAP, 1982; Whitehead, 1982; Kenney 
and Winn, 1986; Weinrich et al., 1997). Distribution in this region has 
been largely correlated to prey species and abundance, although 
behavior and bottom topography are factors in foraging strategy (Payne 
et al., 1986; Payne et al., 1990b). Humpbacks typically return to the 
same feeding areas each year.
    Feeding most often occurs in relatively shallow waters over the 
inner continental shelf and sometimes in deeper waters. Large multi-
species feeding aggregations (including humpback whales) have been 
observed over the shelf break on the southern edge of Georges Bank 
(CETAP, 1982; Kenney and Winn, 1987) and in shelf break waters off the 
U.S. mid-Atlantic coast (Smith et al., 1996).

Sperm Whale

    The region of the Mississippi River Delta (Desoto Canyon) has been 
recognized for high densities of sperm whales and may potentially 
represent an important calving and nursery, or feeding area for these 
animals

[[Page 7075]]

(Townsend, 1935; Collum and Fritts, 1985; Mullin et al., 1994a; 
W[uuml]rsig et al., 2000; Baumgartner et al., 2001; Davis et al., 2002; 
Mullin et al., 2004; Jochens et al., 2006). Sperm whales typically 
exhibit a strong affinity for deep waters beyond the continental shelf, 
though in the area of the Mississippi Delta they also occur on the 
outer continental shelf break.

Marine Mammal Density Estimates

    A quantitative analysis of impacts on a species requires data on 
the abundance and distribution of the species population in the 
potentially impacted area. One metric for performing this type of 
analysis is density, which is the number of animals present per unit 
area. The Navy compiled existing, publically available density data for 
use in the quantitative acoustic impact analysis.
    There is no single source of density data for every area of the 
world, species, and season because of the costs, resources, and effort 
required to provide adequate survey coverage to sufficiently estimate 
density. Therefore, to estimate the marine mammal densities for large 
areas like the AFTT Study Area, the Navy compiled data from several 
sources. To compile and structure the most appropriate database of 
marine species density data, the Navy developed a protocol to select 
the best available data sources based on species, area, and time 
(season). The resulting Geographic Information System database, called 
the Navy Marine Species Density Database, includes seasonal density 
values for every marine mammal species present within the AFTT Study 
Area (Navy, 2012).
    The Navy Marine Species Density Database includes a compilation of 
the best available density data from several primary sources and 
published works including survey data from NMFS within the U.S. 
Exclusive Economic Zone.
    Additional information on the density data sources and how the 
database was applied to the AFTT Study Area is detailed in the Navy 
Marine Species Density Database Technical Report (aftteis.com/DocumentsandReferences/AFTTDocuments/SupportingTechnicalDocuments.aspx).

Marine Mammal Hearing and Vocalizations

    Cetaceans have an auditory anatomy that follows the basic mammalian 
pattern, with some changes to adapt to the demands of hearing 
underwater. The typical mammalian ear is divided into an outer ear, 
middle ear, and inner ear. The outer ear is separated from the inner 
ear by a tympanic membrane, or eardrum. In terrestrial mammals, the 
outer ear, eardrum, and middle ear transmit airborne sound to the inner 
ear, where the sound waves are propagated through the cochlear fluid. 
Since the impedance of water is close to that of the tissues of a 
cetacean, the outer ear is not required to transduce sound energy as it 
does when sound waves travel from air to fluid (inner ear). Sound waves 
traveling through the inner ear cause the basilar membrane to vibrate. 
Specialized cells, called hair cells, respond to the vibration and 
produce nerve pulses that are transmitted to the central nervous 
system. Acoustic energy causes the basilar membrane in the cochlea to 
vibrate. Sensory cells at different positions along the basilar 
membrane are excited by different frequencies of sound (Pickles, 1998).
    Marine mammal vocalizations often extend both above and below the 
range of human hearing; vocalizations with frequencies lower than 20 Hz 
are labeled as infrasonic and those higher than 20 kHz as ultrasonic 
(National Research Council (NRC), 2003; Figure 4-1). Measured data on 
the hearing abilities of cetaceans are sparse, particularly for the 
larger cetaceans such as the baleen whales. The auditory thresholds of 
some of the smaller odontocetes have been determined in captivity. It 
is generally believed that cetaceans should at least be sensitive to 
the frequencies of their own vocalizations. Comparisons of the anatomy 
of cetacean inner ears and models of the structural properties and the 
response to vibrations of the ear's components in different species 
provide an indication of likely sensitivity to various sound 
frequencies. The ears of small toothed whales are optimized for 
receiving high-frequency sound, while baleen whale inner ears are best 
in low to infrasonic frequencies (Ketten, 1992; 1997; 1998).
    Baleen whale vocalizations are composed primarily of frequencies 
below 1 kHz, and some contain fundamental frequencies as low as 16 Hz 
(Watkins et al., 1987; Richardson et al., 1995; Rivers, 1997; Moore et 
al., 1998; Stafford et al., 1999; Wartzok and Ketten, 1999) but can be 
as high as 24 kHz (humpback whale; Au et al., 2006). Clark and Ellison 
(2004) suggested that baleen whales use low-frequency sounds not only 
for long-range communication, but also as a simple form of echo 
ranging, using echoes to navigate and orient relative to physical 
features of the ocean. Information on auditory function in baleen 
whales is extremely lacking. Sensitivity to low-frequency sound by 
baleen whales has been inferred from observed vocalization frequencies, 
observed reactions to playback of sounds, and anatomical analyses of 
the auditory system. Although there is apparently much variation, the 
source levels of most baleen whale vocalizations lie in the range of 
150-190 dB re 1 [mu]Pa at 1 m. Low-frequency vocalizations made by 
baleen whales and their corresponding auditory anatomy suggest that 
they have good low-frequency hearing (Ketten, 2000), although specific 
data on sensitivity, frequency or intensity discrimination, or 
localization abilities are lacking. Marine mammals, like all mammals, 
have typical U-shaped audiograms that begin with relatively low 
sensitivity (high threshold) at some specified low frequency with 
increased sensitivity (low threshold) to a species specific optimum 
followed by a generally steep rise at higher frequencies (high 
threshold) (Fay, 1988).
    The toothed whales produce a wide variety of sounds, which include 
species-specific broadband ``clicks'' with peak energy between 10 and 
200 kHz, individually variable ``burst pulse'' click trains, and 
constant frequency or frequency-modulated (FM) whistles ranging from 4 
to 16 kHz (Wartzok and Ketten, 1999). The general consensus is that the 
tonal vocalizations (whistles) produced by toothed whales play an 
important role in maintaining contact between dispersed individuals, 
while broadband clicks are used during echolocation (Wartzok and 
Ketten, 1999). Burst pulses have also been strongly implicated in 
communication, with some scientists suggesting that they play an 
important role in agonistic encounters (McCowan and Reiss, 1995), while 
others have proposed that they represent ``emotive'' signals in a 
broader sense, possibly representing graded communication signals 
(Herzing, 1996). Sperm whales, however, are known to produce only 
clicks, which are used for both communication and echolocation 
(Whitehead, 2003). Most of the energy of toothed whale social 
vocalizations is concentrated near 10 kHz, with source levels for 
whistles as high as 100 to 180 dB re 1 [mu]Pa at 1 m (Richardson et 
al., 1995). No odontocete has been shown audiometrically to have acute 
hearing (<80 dB re 1 [mu]Pa) below 500 Hz (Southall et al., 2007). 
Sperm whales produce clicks, which may be used to echolocate (Mullins 
et al., 1988), with a frequency range from less than 100 Hz to 30 kHz 
and source levels up to 230 dB re 1 [mu]Pa 1 m or greater (Mohl et al., 
2000).

[[Page 7076]]

Brief Background on Sound

    An understanding of the basic properties of underwater sound is 
necessary to comprehend many of the concepts and analyses presented in 
this document. A summary is included below.
    Sound is a wave of pressure variations propagating through a medium 
(e.g., water). Sound measurements can be expressed in two forms: 
intensity and pressure. Acoustic intensity is the average rate of 
energy transmitted through a unit area in a specified direction and is 
expressed in watts per square meter (W/m\2\). Acoustic intensity is 
rarely measured directly, but rather from ratios of pressures; the 
standard reference pressure for underwater sound is 1 microPascal 
([mu]Pa); for airborne sound, the standard reference pressure is 20 
[mu]Pa (Richardson et al., 1995).
    Acousticians have adopted a logarithmic scale for sound 
intensities, which is denoted in decibels (dB). Decibel measurements 
represent the ratio between a measured pressure value and a reference 
pressure value (in this case 1 [mu]Pa or, for airborne sound, 20 
[mu]Pa.). The logarithmic nature of the scale means that each 10-dB 
increase is a ten-fold increase in acoustic power (and a 20-dB increase 
is then a 100-fold increase in power; and a 30-dB increase is a 1,000-
fold increase in power). A ten-fold increase in acoustic power does not 
mean that the sound is perceived as being ten times louder. Humans 
perceive a 10-dB increase in sound level as a doubling of loudness, and 
a 10-dB decrease in sound level as a halving of loudness. The term 
``sound pressure level'' implies a decibel measure and a reference 
pressure that is used as the denominator of the ratio. Throughout this 
document, NMFS uses 1 microPascal (denoted re: 1[mu]Pa) as a standard 
reference pressure unless noted otherwise.
    It is important to note that decibels underwater and decibels in 
air are not the same and cannot be directly compared. To estimate a 
comparison between sound in air and underwater, because of the 
different densities of air and water and the different decibel 
standards (i.e., reference pressures) in air and water, a sound with 
the same intensity (i.e., power) in air and in water would be 
approximately 62 dB lower in air. Thus a sound that measures 160 dB (re 
1[mu]Pa) underwater would have the same approximate effective level as 
a sound that is 98 dB (re 20 1[mu]Pa) in air.
    Sound frequency is measured in cycles per second, or Hertz 
(abbreviated Hz), and is analogous to musical pitch; high-pitched 
sounds contain high frequencies and low-pitched sounds contain low 
frequencies. Natural sounds in the ocean span a huge range of 
frequencies: From earthquake noise at 5 Hz to harbor porpoise clicks at 
150,000 Hz (150 kHz). These sounds are so low or so high in pitch that 
humans cannot even hear them; acousticians call these infrasonic 
(typically below 20 Hz) and ultrasonic (typically above 20,000 Hz) 
sounds, respectively. A single sound may be made up of many different 
frequencies together. Sounds made up of only a small range of 
frequencies are called ``narrowband,'' and sounds with a broad range of 
frequencies are called ``broadband''; tactical sonars are an example of 
a narrowband sound source and explosives are an example of a broadband 
sound source.
    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. Based 
on available behavioral data, audiograms derived using auditory evoked 
potential (AEP) techniques, anatomical modeling, and other data, 
Southall et al. (2007) designated ``functional hearing groups'' for 
marine mammals and estimated the lower and upper frequencies of 
functional hearing of the groups. Further, the frequency range in which 
each group's hearing is estimated as being most sensitive is 
represented in the flat part of the M-weighting functions (which are 
derived from the audiograms described above; see Figure 1 in Southall 
et al., 2007) developed for each group. The functional groups and the 
associated frequencies are indicated below (though, again, animals are 
less sensitive to sounds at the outer edge of their functional range 
and most sensitive to sounds of frequencies within a smaller range 
somewhere in the middle of their functional hearing range):
     Low frequency cetaceans (13 species of mysticetes): 
functional hearing is estimated to occur between approximately 7 Hz and 
30 kHz.
     Mid-frequency cetaceans (32 species of dolphins, six 
species of larger toothed whales, and 19 species of beaked and 
bottlenose whales): functional hearing is estimated to 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 is estimated to occur between 
approximately 200 Hz and 180 kHz.
     Pinnipeds in Water: functional hearing is estimated to 
occur between approximately 75 Hz and 75 kHz, with the greatest 
sensitivity between approximately 700 Hz and 20 kHz.
    The estimated hearing range for low-frequency cetaceans has been 
slightly extended from previous analyses (from 22 to 30 kHz). This 
decision is based on data from Watkins et al. (1986) for numerous 
mysticete species, Au et al. (2006) for humpback whales, and abstract 
from Frankel (2005) and a paper from Lucifredi and Stein (2007) on gray 
whales, and an unpublished report (Ketten and Mountain, 2009) and 
abstract (Tubelli et al., 2012) for minke whales. As more data from 
additional species become available, these estimated hearing ranges may 
require modification.
    When sound travels away (propagates) from its source, its loudness 
decreases as the distance traveled by the sound increases. Thus, the 
loudness of a sound at its source is higher than the loudness of that 
same sound a kilometer distant. Acousticians often refer to the 
loudness of a sound at its source (typically referenced to one meter 
from the source) as the source level and the loudness of sound 
elsewhere as the received level (i.e., typically the receiver). For 
example, a humpback whale 3 kilometers from a device that has a source 
level of 230 dB re 1 [mu]Pa may only be exposed to sound that is 160 dB 
re 1 [mu]Pa loud, depending on how the sound travels through the water 
(in this example, it is spherical spreading [3 dB reduction with 
doubling of distance]). As a result, it is important to understand the 
difference between source levels and received levels when discussing 
the loudness of sound in the ocean or its impacts on the marine 
environment.
    As sound travels from a source, its propagation in water is 
influenced by various physical characteristics, including water 
temperature, depth, salinity, and surface and bottom properties that 
cause refraction, reflection, absorption, and scattering of sound 
waves. Oceans are not homogeneous and the contribution of each of these 
individual factors is extremely complex and interrelated. The physical 
characteristics that determine the sound's speed through the water will 
change with depth, season, geographic location, and with time of day 
(as a result, in actual sonar operations, crews will measure oceanic 
conditions, such as sea water temperature and depth, to calibrate 
models that determine the path the sonar signal will take as it travels 
through the ocean and how strong the

[[Page 7077]]

sound signal will be at a given range along a particular transmission 
path). As sound travels through the ocean, the intensity associated 
with the wavefront diminishes, or attenuates. This decrease in 
intensity is referred to as propagation loss, also commonly called 
transmission loss.

Metrics Used in This Document

    This section includes a brief explanation of the two sound 
measurements (sound pressure level (SPL) and sound exposure level 
(SEL)) frequently used to describe sound levels in the discussions of 
acoustic effects in this document.

SPL

    Sound pressure is the sound force per unit area, and is usually 
measured in micropascals ([mu]Pa), where 1 Pa is the pressure resulting 
from a force of one newton exerted over an area of one square meter. 
SPL is expressed as the ratio of a measured sound pressure and a 
reference level.

SPL (in dB) = 20 log (pressure/reference pressure)

    The commonly used reference pressure level in underwater acoustics 
is 1 [mu]Pa, and the units for SPLs are dB re: 1 [mu]Pa. SPL is an 
instantaneous measurement and can be expressed as the peak, the peak-
to-peak, or the root mean square (rms). Root mean square, which is the 
square root of the arithmetic average of the squared instantaneous 
pressure values, is typically used in discussions of the effects of 
sounds on vertebrates and all references to SPL in this document refer 
to the root mean square. SPL does not take the duration of a sound into 
account. SPL is the applicable metric used in the Behavioral Response 
Function (BRF), which is used to estimate behavioral harassment takes.

SEL

    SEL is an energy metric that integrates the squared instantaneous 
sound pressure over a stated time interval. The units for SEL are dB 
re: 1 [mu]Pa\2\ s.

SEL = SPL + 10 log(duration in seconds)

    As applied to sonar and other active acoustic sources, the SEL 
includes both the SPL of a sonar ping and the total duration. Longer 
duration pings and/or pings with higher SPLs will have a higher SEL. If 
an animal is exposed to multiple pings, the SEL in each individual ping 
is summed to calculate the cumulative SEL. The cumulative SEL depends 
on the SPL, duration, and number of pings received. The thresholds that 
NMFS uses to indicate at what received level the onset of temporary 
threshold shift (TTS) and permanent threshold shift (PTS) in hearing 
are likely to occur are expressed as cumulative SEL.

Potential Effects of Specified Activities on Marine Mammals

    The Navy has requested authorization for the take of marine mammals 
that may occur incidental to training and testing activities in the 
AFTT Study Area. The Navy has analyzed the potential impacts on marine 
mammals from impulsive and non-impulsive sound sources and vessel 
strikes.
    Other potential impacts on marine mammals from AFTT training and 
testing activities were analyzed in the Navy's AFTT EIS/OEIS, in 
consultation with NMFS as a cooperating agency, and determined to be 
unlikely to result in marine mammal harassment. Therefore, the Navy has 
not requested authorization for take of marine mammals that might occur 
incidental to other components of their proposed activities. In this 
document, NMFS analyzes the potential effects on marine mammals from 
exposure to non-impulsive (sonar and other active acoustic sources) and 
impulsive (underwater detonations, pile driving, and air guns) 
stressors, and vessel strikes.
    For the purpose of MMPA authorizations, NMFS' effects assessments 
serve four primary purposes: (1) To prescribe the permissible methods 
of taking (i.e., Level B Harassment (behavioral harassment), Level A 
Harassment (injury), or mortality, including an identification of the 
number and types of take that could occur by harassment or mortality) 
and to prescribe other means of effecting the least practicable adverse 
impact on such species or stock and its habitat (i.e., mitigation); (2) 
to determine whether the specified activity would have a negligible 
impact on the affected species or stocks of marine mammals (based on 
the likelihood that the activity would adversely affect the species or 
stock through effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival); (3) 
to determine whether the specified activity would have an unmitigable 
adverse impact on the availability of the species or stock(s) for 
subsistence uses (however, there are no subsistence communities that 
would be affected in the AFTT Study Area, so this determination is 
inapplicable to the AFTT rulemaking); and (4) to prescribe requirements 
pertaining to monitoring and reporting.
    More specifically, for activities involving non-impulsive or 
impulsive sources, NMFS' analysis will identify the probability of 
lethal responses, physical trauma, sensory impairment (permanent and 
temporary threshold shifts and acoustic masking), physiological 
responses (particular stress responses), behavioral disturbance (that 
rises to the level of harassment), and social responses (effects to 
social relationships) that would be classified as a take and whether 
such take will have a negligible impact on such species or stocks. 
Vessel strikes, which have the potential to result in incidental take 
from direct injury and/or mortality, will be discussed in more detail 
in the Estimated Take of Marine Mammals Section. In this section, we 
will focus qualitatively on the different ways that non-impulsive and 
impulsive sources may affect marine mammals (some of which NMFS does 
not classify as harassment). Then, in the Estimated Take of Marine 
Mammals Section, we will relate the potential effects on marine mammals 
from non-impulsive and impulsive sources to the MMPA definitions of 
Level A and Level B Harassment, along with the potential effects from 
vessel strikes, and attempt to quantify those effects.

Non-Impulsive Sources

Direct Physiological Effects

    Based on the literature, there are two basic ways that non-
impulsive sources might directly result in direct physiological 
effects: Noise-induced loss of hearing sensitivity (more commonly-
called ``threshold shift'') and acoustically mediated bubble growth. 
Separately, an animal's behavioral reaction to an acoustic exposure 
might lead to physiological effects that might ultimately lead to 
injury or death, which is discussed later in the Stranding Section.

Threshold Shift (Noise-Induced Loss of Hearing)

    When animals exhibit reduced hearing sensitivity (i.e., sounds must 
be received at a higher level for an animal to recognize them) 
following exposure to a sufficiently intense sound, it is referred to 
as a noise-induced threshold shift (TS). An animal can experience 
temporary threshold shift (TTS) or permanent threshold shift (PTS). TTS 
can last from minutes or hours to days (i.e., there is recovery), 
occurs in specific frequency ranges (i.e., an animal might only have a 
temporary loss of hearing sensitivity between the frequencies of 1 and 
10 kHz)), and can be of varying amounts (for example, an animal's 
hearing sensitivity might be reduced by only 6 dB or reduced by 30

[[Page 7078]]

dB). PTS is permanent, but some recovery is possible. PTS can also 
occurs in a specific frequency range and amount as mentioned above for 
TTS.
    The following physiological mechanisms are thought to play a role 
in inducing auditory TSs: Effects on sensory hair cells in the inner 
ear that reduce their sensitivity, modification of the chemical 
environment within the sensory cells, residual muscular activity in the 
middle ear, displacement of certain inner ear membranes, increased 
blood flow, and post-stimulatory reduction in both efferent and sensory 
neural output (Southall et al., 2007). The amplitude, duration, 
frequency, temporal pattern, and energy distribution of sound exposure 
all affect the amount of associated TS and the frequency range in which 
it occurs. As amplitude and duration of sound exposure increase, so, 
generally, does the amount of TS, along with the recovery time. For 
continuous sounds, exposures of equal energy (the same SEL) will lead 
to approximately equal effects. For intermittent sounds, less TS will 
occur than from a continuous exposure with the same energy (some 
recovery will occur between intermittent exposures) (Kryter et al., 
1966; Ward, 1997). For example, one short but loud (higher SPL) sound 
exposure may induce the same impairment as one longer but softer sound, 
which in turn may cause more impairment than a series of several 
intermittent softer sounds with the same total energy (Ward, 1997). 
Additionally, though TTS is temporary, very prolonged exposure to sound 
strong enough to elicit TTS, or shorter-term exposure to sound levels 
well above the TTS threshold, can cause PTS, at least in terrestrial 
mammals (Kryter, 1985). Although in the case of sonar and other active 
acoustic sources, animals are not expected to be exposed to levels high 
enough or durations long enough to result in PTS.
    PTS is considered auditory injury (Southall et al., 2007). 
Irreparable damage to the inner or outer cochlear hair cells may cause 
PTS, however, other mechanisms are also involved, such as exceeding the 
elastic limits of certain tissues and membranes in the middle and inner 
ears and resultant changes in the chemical composition of the inner ear 
fluids (Southall et al., 2007).
    Although the published body of scientific literature contains 
numerous theoretical studies and discussion papers on hearing 
impairments that can occur with exposure to a loud sound, only a few 
studies provide empirical information on the levels at which noise-
induced loss in hearing sensitivity occurs in nonhuman animals. For 
cetaceans, published data are limited to the captive bottlenose 
dolphin, beluga, harbor porpoise, and Yangtze finless porpoise 
(Finneran et al., 2000, 2002b, 2003, 2005a, 2007, 2010a, 2010b; 
Finneran and Schlundt, 2010; Lucke et al, 2009; Mooney et al., 2009a, 
2009b; Popov et al., 2011a, 2011b; Popov and Supin, 2012; Kastelein et 
al., 2012a; Schlundt et al., 2000; Nachtigall et al., 2003, 2004). For 
pinnipeds in water, data are limited to measurement of TTS in harbor 
seals, one elephant seal, and California sea lions (Kastak et al., 
1999, 2005; Kastelien et al., 2012b).
    Marine mammal hearing plays a critical role in communication with 
conspecifics, and interpretation of environmental cues for purposes 
such as predator avoidance and prey capture. Depending on the degree 
(elevation of threshold in dB), duration (i.e., recovery time), and 
frequency range of TTS, and the context in which it is experienced, TTS 
can have effects on marine mammals ranging from discountable to serious 
(similar to those discussed in auditory masking, below). For example, a 
marine mammal may be able to readily compensate for a brief, relatively 
small amount of TTS in a non-critical frequency range that takes place 
during a time when the animal is traveling through the open ocean, 
where ambient noise is lower and there are not as many competing sounds 
present. Alternatively, a larger amount and longer duration of TTS 
sustained during time when communication is critical for successful 
mother/calf interactions could have more serious impacts. Also, 
depending on the degree and frequency range, the effects of PTS on an 
animal could range in severity, although it is considered generally 
more serious because it is a permanent condition. Of note, reduced 
hearing sensitivity as a simple function of aging has been observed in 
marine mammals, as well as humans and other taxa (Southall et al., 
2007), so we can infer that strategies exist for coping with this 
condition to some degree, though likely not without cost.

Acoustically Mediated Bubble Growth

    A suggested indirect cause of injury to marine mammals is rectified 
diffusion (Crum and Mao, 1996), the process of increasing the size of a 
bubble by exposing it to a sound field. The process depends on many 
factors, including the sound pressure level and duration. Under this 
hypothesis, microscopic bubbles assumed to exist in the tissues of 
marine mammals may experience one of three things: (1) Bubbles grow to 
the extent that tissue hemorrhage (injury) occurs; (2) bubbles develop 
to the extent that an immune response is triggered or nervous system 
tissue is subjected to enough localized pressure that pain or 
dysfunction occurs (a stress response without injury); or (3) the 
bubbles are cleared by the lung without negative consequence to the 
animal. The probability of rectified diffusion, or any other indirect 
tissue effect, will necessarily be based on what is known about the 
specific process involved. Rectified diffusion is facilitated if the 
environment in which the ensonified bubbles exist is supersaturated 
with gas. Repetitive diving by marine mammals can cause the blood and 
some tissues to accumulate nitrogen gas to a greater degree than is 
supported by the surrounding environmental pressure (Ridgway and 
Howard, 1979). The dive patterns of some marine mammals (for example, 
beaked whales) are theoretically predicted to induce greater nitrogen 
gas supersaturation (Houser et al., 2001). If rectified diffusion were 
possible in marine mammals exposed to a high level of sound, conditions 
of tissue supersaturation could theoretically speed the rate and 
increase the size of bubble growth. Subsequent effects due to tissue 
trauma and emboli would presumably mirror those observed in humans 
suffering from decompression sickness (e.g., nausea, disorientation, 
localized pain, breathing problems, etc.).
    It is unlikely that the short duration of sonar or explosion sounds 
would last long enough to drive bubble growth to any substantial size, 
if such a phenomenon occurs. However, an alternative but related 
hypothesis is also suggested: stable microbubbles could be destabilized 
by high-level sound exposures so bubble growth would occur through 
static diffusion of gas out of the tissues. In such a scenario, the 
marine mammal would need to be in a gas-supersaturated state for a long 
enough time for bubbles to become a problematic size. Recent research 
with ex vivo supersaturated bovine tissues suggests that for a 37 kHz 
signal, a sound exposure of approximately 215 dB re 1 [mu]Pa would be 
required before microbubbles became destabilized and grew (Crum et al., 
2005). Assuming spherical spreading loss and a nominal sonar source 
level of 235 dB re 1 [mu]Pa, a whale would need to be within 33 ft. (10 
m) of the sonar dome to be exposed to such sound levels. Furthermore, 
tissues in the study were supersaturated by exposing them to pressures 
of 400 to 700 kiloPascals (kPa) for periods of hours and then releasing 
them to

[[Page 7079]]

ambient pressures. Assuming the equilibration of gases with the tissues 
occurred when the tissues were exposed to the high pressures, levels of 
supersaturation in the tissues could have been as high as 400 to 700 
percent. These levels of tissue supersaturation are substantially 
higher than model predictions for marine mammals (Houser et al., 2001). 
It is improbable that this mechanism would be responsible for stranding 
events or traumas associated with beaked whale strandings. Both the 
degree of supersaturation and exposure levels observed to cause 
microbubble destabilization are unlikely to occur, either alone or in 
concert.
    There is considerable disagreement among scientists as to the 
likelihood of bubble formation in diving marine mammals (Evans and 
Miller, 2003; Piantadosi and Thalmann, 2004). Although it has been 
argued that traumas from recent beaked whale strandings are consistent 
with gas emboli and bubble-induced tissue separations (Fern[aacute]ndez 
et al., 2005; Jepson et al., 2003), nitrogen bubble formation as the 
cause of the traumas has not been verified. The presence of bubbles 
postmortem, particularly after decompression, is not necessarily 
indicative of bubble pathology. Prior experimental work demonstrates 
that the postmortem presence of bubbles following decompression in 
laboratory animals can occur as a result of invasive investigative 
procedures (Stock et al., 1980). Also, variations in diving behavior or 
avoidance responses can possibly result in nitrogen tissue 
supersaturation and nitrogen off-gassing, possibly to the point of 
deleterious vascular bubble formation (Jepson et al., 2003). The 
mechanism for bubble formation would be different from rectified 
diffusion, but the effects would be similar. Although hypothetical, the 
potential process is under debate in the scientific community. The 
hypothesis speculates that if exposure to a startling sound elicits a 
rapid ascent to the surface, tissue gas saturation sufficient for the 
evolution of nitrogen bubbles might result (Fern[aacute]ndez et al., 
2005; Jepson et al., 2003). In this scenario, the rate of ascent would 
need to be sufficiently rapid to compromise behavioral or physiological 
protections against nitrogen bubble formation.
    Recent modeling suggests that even unrealistically rapid rates of 
ascent from normal dive behaviors are unlikely to result in 
supersaturation to the extent that bubble formation would be expected 
in beaked whales (Zimmer and Tyack, 2007). Tyack et al. (Tyack et al., 
2006) suggested that emboli observed in animals exposed to mid-
frequency active sonar (Fern[aacute]ndez et al., 2005; Jepson et al., 
2003) could stem instead from a behavioral response that involves 
repeated dives, shallower than the depth of lung collapse. A bottlenose 
dolphin was trained to repetitively dive to specific depths to elevate 
nitrogen saturation to the point that asymptomatic nitrogen bubble 
formation was predicted to occur. However, inspection of the vascular 
system of the dolphin via ultrasound did not demonstrate the formation 
of any nitrogen gas bubbles (Houser et al., 2009).
    More recently, modeling has suggested that the long, deep dives 
performed regularly by beaked whales over a lifetime could result in 
the saturation of long-halftime tissues (e.g. fat, bone lipid) to the 
point that they are supersaturated when the animals are at the surface 
(Hooker et al. 2009). Proposed adaptations for prevention of bubble 
formation under conditions of persistent tissue saturation have been 
suggested (Fahlman et al., 2006; Hooker et al., 2009), while the 
condition of supersaturation required for bubble formation has been 
demonstrated in bycatch animals drowned at depth and brought to the 
surface (Moore et al., 2009). Since bubble formation is facilitated by 
compromised blood flow, it has been suggested that rapid stranding may 
lead to bubble formation in animals with supersaturated, long-halftime 
tissues because of the stress of stranding and the cardiovascular 
collapse that can accompany it (Houser et al., 2009).
    A fat embolic syndrome was identified by Fern[aacute]ndez et al. 
(2005) coincident with the identification of bubble emboli in stranded 
beaked whales. The fat embolic syndrome was the first pathology of this 
type identified in marine mammals, and was thought to possibly arise 
from the formation of bubbles in fat bodies, which subsequently 
resulted in the release of fat emboli into the blood stream. Recently, 
Dennison et al. (2011) reported on investigations of dolphins stranded 
in 2009-2010 and, using ultrasound, identified gas bubbles in kidneys 
of 21 of 22 live-stranded dolphins and in the liver of two of 22. The 
authors postulated that stranded animals are unable to recompress by 
diving, and thus may retain bubbles that are otherwise re-absorbed in 
animals that can continue to dive. The researchers concluded that the 
minor bubble formation observed can be tolerated since the majority of 
stranded dolphins released did not re-strand. As a result, no marine 
mammals addressed in this analysis are given differential treatment due 
to the possibility for acoustically mediated bubble growth.

Acoustic Masking

    Marine mammals use acoustic signals for a variety of purposes, 
which differ among species, but include communication between 
individuals, navigation, foraging, reproduction, and learning about 
their environment (Erbe and Farmer 2000, Tyack 2000). Masking, or 
auditory interference, generally occurs when sounds in the environment 
are louder than and of a similar frequency to, auditory signals an 
animal is trying to receive. Masking is a phenomenon that affects 
animals that are trying to receive acoustic information about their 
environment, including sounds from other members of their species, 
predators, prey, and sounds that allow them to orient in their 
environment. Masking these acoustic signals can disturb the behavior of 
individual animals, groups of animals, or entire populations.
    The extent of the masking interference depends on the spectral, 
temporal, and spatial relationships between the signals an animal is 
trying to receive and the masking noise, in addition to other factors. 
In humans, significant masking of tonal signals occurs as a result of 
exposure to noise in a narrow band of similar frequencies. As the sound 
level increases, though, the detection of frequencies above those of 
the masking stimulus decreases also. This principle is expected to 
apply to marine mammals as well because of common biomechanical 
cochlear properties across taxa.
    Richardson et al. (1995b) argued that the maximum radius of 
influence of an industrial noise (including broadband low frequency 
sound transmission) on a marine mammal is the distance from the source 
to the point at which the noise can barely be heard. This range is 
determined by either the hearing sensitivity of the animal or the 
background noise level present. Industrial masking is most likely to 
affect some species' ability to detect communication calls and natural 
sounds (i.e., surf noise, prey noise, etc.; Richardson et al., 1995).
    The echolocation calls of toothed whales are subject to masking by 
high frequency sound. Human data indicate low-frequency sound can mask 
high-frequency sounds (i.e., upward masking). Studies on captive 
odontocetes by Au et al. (1974, 1985, 1993) indicate that some species 
may use various processes to reduce masking effects (e.g., adjustments 
in echolocation

[[Page 7080]]

call intensity or frequency as a function of background noise 
conditions). There is also evidence that the directional hearing 
abilities of odontocetes are useful in reducing masking at the high-
frequencies these cetaceans use to echolocate, but not at the low-to-
moderate frequencies they use to communicate (Zaitseva et al., 1980). A 
recent study by Nachtigall and Supin (2008) showed that false killer 
whales adjust their hearing to compensate for ambient sounds and the 
intensity of returning echolocation signals.
    As mentioned previously, the functional hearing ranges of 
mysticetes, odontocetes, and pinnipeds underwater all encompass the 
frequencies of the sonar sources used in the Navy's training exercises. 
Additionally, almost all species, vocal repertoires span across the 
frequencies of these sonar sources used by the Navy. The closer the 
characteristics of the masking signal to the signal of interest, the 
more likely masking is to occur. For hull-mounted sonar, the duty cycle 
of the signal makes it less likely that masking will occur as a result.

Impaired Communication

    In addition to making it more difficult for animals to perceive 
acoustic cues in their environment, anthropogenic sound presents 
separate challenges for animals that are vocalizing. When they 
vocalize, animals are aware of environmental conditions that affect the 
``active space'' of their vocalizations, which is the maximum area 
within which their vocalizations can be detected before it drops to the 
level of ambient noise (Brenowitz, 2004; Brumm et al., 2004; Lohr et 
al., 2003). Animals are also aware of environment conditions that 
affect whether listeners can discriminate and recognize their 
vocalizations from other sounds, which is more important than simply 
detecting that a vocalization is occurring (Brenowitz, 1982; Brumm et 
al., 2004; Dooling, 2004, Marten and Marler, 1977; Patricelli et al., 
2006). Most animals that vocalize have evolved with an ability to make 
adjustments to their vocalizations to increase the signal-to-noise 
ratio, active space, and recognizability/distinguishability of their 
vocalizations in the face of temporary changes in background noise 
(Brumm et al., 2004; Patricelli et al., 2006). Vocalizing animals can 
make adjustments to vocalization characteristics such as the frequency 
structure, amplitude, temporal structure, and temporal delivery.
    Many animals will combine several of these strategies to compensate 
for high levels of background noise. Anthropogenic sounds that reduce 
the signal-to-noise ratio of animal vocalizations, increase the masked 
auditory thresholds of animals listening for such vocalizations, or 
reduce the active space of an animal's vocalizations impair 
communication between animals. Most animals that vocalize have evolved 
strategies to compensate for the effects of short-term or temporary 
increases in background or ambient noise on their songs or calls. 
Although the fitness consequences of these vocal adjustments remain 
unknown, like most other trade-offs animals must make, some of these 
strategies probably come at a cost (Patricelli et al., 2006). For 
example, vocalizing more loudly in noisy environments may have 
energetic costs that decrease the net benefits of vocal adjustment and 
alter a bird's energy budget (Brumm, 2004; Wood and Yezerinac, 2006). 
Shifting songs and calls to higher frequencies may also impose 
energetic costs (Lambrechts, 1996).

Stress Responses

    Classic stress responses begin when an animal's central nervous 
system perceives a potential threat to its homeostasis. That perception 
triggers stress responses regardless of whether a stimulus actually 
threatens the animal; the mere perception of a threat is sufficient to 
trigger a stress response (Moberg, 2000; Sapolsky et al., 2005; Seyle, 
1950). Once an animal's central nervous system perceives a threat, it 
mounts a biological response or defense that consists of a combination 
of the four general biological defense responses: Behavioral responses, 
autonomic nervous system responses, neuroendocrine responses, or immune 
response.
    In the case of many stressors, an animal's first and most 
economical (in terms of biotic costs) response is behavioral avoidance 
of the potential stressor or avoidance of continued exposure to a 
stressor. An animal's second line of defense to stressors involves the 
sympathetic part of the autonomic nervous system and the classical 
``fight or flight'' response which includes the cardiovascular system, 
the gastrointestinal system, the exocrine glands, and the adrenal 
medulla to produce changes in heart rate, blood pressure, and 
gastrointestinal activity that humans commonly associate with 
``stress.'' These responses have a relatively short duration and may or 
may not have significant long-term effect on an animal's welfare.
    An animal's third line of defense to stressors involves its 
neuroendocrine or sympathetic nervous systems; the system that has 
received the most study has been the hypothalmus-pituitary-adrenal 
system (also known as the HPA axis in mammals or the hypothalamus-
pituitary-interrenal axis in fish and some reptiles). Unlike stress 
responses associated with the autonomic nervous system, virtually all 
neuro-endocrine functions that are affected by stress--including immune 
competence, reproduction, metabolism, and behavior--are regulated by 
pituitary hormones. Stress-induced changes in the secretion of 
pituitary hormones have been implicated in failed reproduction (Moberg, 
1987; Rivier, 1995) and altered metabolism (Elasser et al., 2000), 
reduced immune competence (Blecha, 2000) and behavioral disturbance. 
Increases in the circulation of glucocorticosteroids (cortisol, 
corticosterone, and aldosterone in marine mammals; see Romano et al., 
2004) have been equated with stress for many years.
    The primary distinction between stress (which is adaptive and does 
not normally place an animal at risk) and distress is the biotic cost 
of the response. During a stress response, an animal uses glycogen 
stores that can be quickly replenished once the stress is alleviated. 
In such circumstances, the cost of the stress response would not pose a 
risk to the animal's welfare. However, when an animal does not have 
sufficient energy reserves to satisfy the energetic costs of a stress 
response, energy resources must be diverted from other biotic function, 
which impairs those functions that experience the diversion. For 
example, when mounting a stress response diverts energy away from 
growth in young animals, those animals may experience stunted growth. 
When mounting a stress response diverts energy from a fetus, an 
animal's reproductive success and its fitness will suffer. In these 
cases, the animals will have entered a pre-pathological or pathological 
state which is called ``distress'' (sensu Seyle 1950) or ``allostatic 
loading'' (sensu McEwen and Wingfield, 2003). This pathological state 
will last until the animal replenishes its biotic reserves sufficient 
to restore normal function. Note that these examples involved a long-
term (days or weeks) stress response exposure to stimuli.
    Relationships between these physiological mechanisms, animal 
behavior, and the costs of stress responses have also been documented 
fairly well through controlled experiment; because this physiology 
exists in every vertebrate that has been studied, it is not surprising 
that stress responses and their costs have been

[[Page 7081]]

documented in both laboratory and free-living animals (for examples 
see, Holberton et al., 1996; Hood et al., 1998; Jessop et al., 2003; 
Krausman et al., 2004; Lankford et al., 2005; Reneerkens et al., 2002; 
Thompson and Hamer, 2000). Information has also been collected on the 
physiological responses of marine mammals to exposure to anthropogenic 
sounds (Fair and Becker, 2000; Romano et al., 2002; Wright et al., 
2008). For example, Rolland et al. (2012) found that noise reduction 
from reduced ship traffic in the Bay of Fundy was associated with 
decreased stress in North Atlantic right whales. In a conceptual model 
developed by the Population Consequences of Acoustic Disturbance (PCAD) 
working group, serum hormones were identified as possible indicators of 
behavioral effects that translated into altered rates of reproduction 
and mortality. The Office of Naval Research hosted a workshop (Effects 
of Stress on Marine Mammals Exposed to Sound) in 2009 that focused on 
this very topic (ONR, 2009).
    Studies of other marine animals and terrestrial animals would lead 
us to expect some marine mammals to experience physiological stress 
responses and, perhaps, physiological responses that would be 
classified as ``distress'' upon exposure to high frequency, mid-
frequency and low-frequency sounds. For example, Jansen (1998) reported 
on the relationship between acoustic exposures and physiological 
responses that are indicative of stress responses in humans (for 
example, elevated respiration and increased heart rates). Jones (1998) 
reported on reductions in human performance when faced with acute, 
repetitive exposures to acoustic disturbance. Trimper et al. (1998) 
reported on the physiological stress responses of osprey to low-level 
aircraft noise while Krausman et al. (2004) reported on the auditory 
and physiology stress responses of endangered Sonoran pronghorn to 
military overflights. Smith et al. (2004a, 2004b) identified noise-
induced physiological transient stress responses in hearing-specialist 
fish (i.e., goldfish) that accompanied short- and long-term hearing 
losses. Welch and Welch (1970) reported physiological and behavioral 
stress responses that accompanied damage to the inner ears of fish and 
several mammals.
    Hearing is one of the primary senses marine mammals use to gather 
information about their environment and to communicate with 
conspecifics. Although empirical information on the relationship 
between sensory impairment (TTS, PTS, and acoustic masking) on marine 
mammals remains limited, it seems reasonable to assume that reducing an 
animal's ability to gather information about its environment and to 
communicate with other members of its species would be stressful for 
animals that use hearing as their primary sensory mechanism. Therefore, 
we assume that acoustic exposures sufficient to trigger onset PTS or 
TTS would be accompanied by physiological stress responses because 
terrestrial animals exhibit those responses under similar conditions 
(NRC, 2003). More importantly, marine mammals might experience stress 
responses at received levels lower than those necessary to trigger 
onset TTS. Based on empirical studies of the time required to recover 
from stress responses (Moberg, 2000), we also assume that stress 
responses are likely to persist beyond the time interval required for 
animals to recover from TTS and might result in pathological and pre-
pathological states that would be as significant as behavioral 
responses to TTS.

Behavioral Disturbance

    Behavioral responses to sound are highly variable and context-
specific. Many different variables can influence an animal's perception 
of and response to (nature and magnitude) an acoustic event. An 
animal's prior experience with a sound or sound source effects whether 
it is less likely (habituation) or more likely (sensitization) to 
respond to certain sounds in the future (animals can also be innately 
pre-disposed to respond to certain sounds in certain ways) (Southall et 
al., 2007). Related to the sound itself, the perceived nearness of the 
sound, bearing of the sound (approaching vs. retreating), similarity of 
a sound to biologically relevant sounds in the animal's environment 
(i.e., calls of predators, prey, or conspecifics), and familiarity of 
the sound may affect the way an animal responds to the sound (Southall 
et al., 2007). Individuals (of different age, gender, reproductive 
status, etc.) among most populations will have variable hearing 
capabilities, and differing behavioral sensitivities to sounds that 
will be affected by prior conditioning, experience, and current 
activities of those individuals. Often, specific acoustic features of 
the sound and contextual variables (i.e., proximity, duration, or 
recurrence of the sound or the current behavior that the marine mammal 
is engaged in or its prior experience), as well as entirely separate 
factors such as the physical presence of a nearby vessel, may be more 
relevant to the animal's response than the received level alone.
    Exposure of marine mammals to sound sources can result in no 
response or responses including, but not limited to increased 
alertness; orientation or attraction to a sound source; vocal 
modifications; cessation of feeding; cessation of social interaction; 
alteration of movement or diving behavior; habitat abandonment 
(temporary or permanent); and, in severe cases, panic, flight, 
stampede, or stranding, potentially resulting in death (Southall et 
al., 2007). A review of marine mammal responses to anthropogenic sound 
was first conducted by Richardson and others in 1995. A review by 
Nowacek et al. (2007) addresses studies conducted since 1995 and 
focuses on observations where the received sound level of the exposed 
marine mammal(s) was known or could be estimated. The following sub-
sections provide examples of behavioral responses that provide an idea 
of the variability in behavioral responses that would be expected given 
the differential sensitivities of marine mammal species to sound and 
the wide range of potential acoustic sources to which a marine mammal 
may be exposed.
    Flight Response--A flight response is a dramatic change in normal 
movement to a directed and rapid movement away from the perceived 
location of a sound source. Relatively little information on flight 
responses of marine mammals to anthropogenic signals exist, although 
observations of flight responses to the presence of predators have 
occurred (Connor and Heithaus, 1996). Flight responses have been 
speculated as being a component of marine mammal strandings associated 
with sonar activities (Evans and England, 2001).
    Response to Predator--Evidence suggests that at least some marine 
mammals have the ability to acoustically identify potential predators. 
For example, harbor seals that reside in the coastal waters off British 
Columbia are frequently targeted by certain groups of killer whales, 
but not others. The seals discriminate between the calls of threatening 
and non-threatening killer whales (Deecke et al., 2002), a capability 
that should increase survivorship while reducing the energy required 
for attending to and responding to all killer whale calls. The 
occurrence of masking or hearing impairment provides a means by which 
marine mammals may be prevented from responding to the acoustic cues 
produced by their predators. Whether or not this is a possibility 
depends on the duration of the masking/hearing impairment and the 
likelihood of encountering a predator during the time that predator 
cues are impeded.

[[Page 7082]]

    Diving--Changes in dive behavior can vary widely. They may consist 
of increased or decreased dive times and surface intervals as well as 
changes in the rates of ascent and descent during a dive. Variations in 
dive behavior may reflect interruptions in biologically significant 
activities (e.g., foraging) or they may be of little biological 
significance. Variations in dive behavior may also expose an animal to 
potentially harmful conditions (e.g., increasing the chance of ship-
strike) or may serve as an avoidance response that enhances 
survivorship. The impact of a variation in diving resulting from an 
acoustic exposure depends on what the animal is doing at the time of 
the exposure and the type and magnitude of the response.
    Nowacek et al. (2004) reported disruptions of dive behaviors in 
foraging North Atlantic right whales when exposed to an alerting 
stimulus, an action, they noted, that could lead to an increased 
likelihood of ship strike. However, the whales did not respond to 
playbacks of either right whale social sounds or vessel noise, 
highlighting the importance of the sound characteristics in producing a 
behavioral reaction. Conversely, Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins have 
been observed to dive for longer periods of time in areas where vessels 
were present and/or approaching (Ng and Leung, 2003). In both of these 
studies, the influence of the sound exposure cannot be decoupled from 
the physical presence of a surface vessel, thus complicating 
intepretations of the relative contribution of each stimulus to the 
response. Indeed, the presence of surface vessels, their approach and 
speed of approach, seemed to be significant factors in the response of 
the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins (Ng and Leung, 2003). Low frequency 
signals of the Acoustic Thermometry of Ocean Climate (ATOC) sound 
source were not found to affect dive times of humpback whales in 
Hawaiian waters (Frankel and Clark, 2000) or to overtly affect elephant 
seal dives (Costa et al., 2003). They did, however, produce subtle 
effects that varied in direction and degree among the individual seals, 
illustrating the equivocal nature of behavioral effects and consequent 
difficulty in defining and predicting them.
    Due to past incidents of beaked whale strandings associated with 
sonar operations, feedback paths are provided between avoidance and 
diving and indirect tissue effects. This feedback accounts for the 
hypothesis that variations in diving behavior and/or avoidance 
responses can possibly result in nitrogen tissue supersaturation and 
nitrogen off-gassing, possibly to the point of deleterious vascular 
bubble formation (Jepson et al., 2003). Although hypothetical, 
discussions surrounding this potential process are controversial.
    Foraging--Disruption of feeding behavior can be difficult to 
correlate with anthropogenic sound exposure, so it is usually inferred 
by observed displacement from known foraging areas, the appearance of 
secondary indicators (e.g., bubble nets or sediment plumes), or changes 
in dive behavior. Noise from seismic surveys was not found to impact 
the feeding behavior in western grey whales off the coast of Russia 
(Yazvenko et al., 2007) and sperm whales engaged in foraging dives did 
not abandon dives when exposed to distant signatures of seismic airguns 
(Madsen et al., 2006). Balaenopterid whales exposed to moderate low-
frequency signals similar to the ATOC sound source demonstrated no 
variation in foraging activity (Croll et al., 2001), whereas five out 
of six North Atlantic right whales exposed to an acoustic alarm 
interrupted their foraging dives (Nowacek et al., 2004). Although the 
received sound pressure level at the animals was similar in the latter 
two studies, the frequency, duration, and temporal pattern of signal 
presentation were different. These factors, as well as differences in 
species sensitivity, are likely contributing factors to the 
differential response. A determination of whether foraging disruptions 
incur fitness consequences will require information on or estimates of 
the energetic requirements of the individuals and the relationship 
between prey availability, foraging effort and success, and the life 
history stage of the animal.
    Breathing--Variations in respiration naturally vary with different 
behaviors and variations in respiration rate as a function of acoustic 
exposure can be expected to co-occur with other behavioral reactions, 
such as a flight response or an alteration in diving. However, 
respiration rates in and of themselves may be representative of 
annoyance or an acute stress response. Mean exhalation rates of gray 
whales at rest and while diving were found to be unaffected by seismic 
surveys conducted adjacent to the whale feeding grounds (Gailey et al., 
2007). Studies with captive harbor porpoises showed increased 
respiration rates upon introduction of acoustic alarms (Kastelein et 
al., 2001; Kastelein et al., 2006a) and emissions for underwater data 
transmission (Kastelein et al., 2005). However, exposure of the same 
acoustic alarm to a striped dolphin under the same conditions did not 
elicit a response (Kastelein et al., 2006a), again highlighting the 
importance in understanding species differences in the tolerance of 
underwater noise when determining the potential for impacts resulting 
from anthropogenic sound exposure.
    Social relationships--Social interactions between mammals can be 
affected by noise via the disruption of communication signals or by the 
displacement of individuals. Disruption of social relationships 
therefore depends on the disruption of other behaviors (e.g., caused 
avoidance, masking, etc.) and no specific overview is provided here. 
However, social disruptions must be considered in context of the 
relationships that are affected. Long-term disruptions of mother/calf 
pairs or mating displays have the potential to affect the growth and 
survival or reproductive effort/success of individuals, respectively.
    Vocalizations (also see Masking Section)--Vocal changes in response 
to anthropogenic noise can occur across the repertoire of sound 
production modes used by marine mammals, such as whistling, 
echolocation click production, calling, and singing. Changes may result 
in response to a need to compete with an increase in background noise 
or may reflect an increased vigilance or startle response. For example, 
in the presence of low-frequency active sonar, humpback whales have 
been observed to increase the length of their ''songs'' (Miller et al., 
2000; Fristrup et al., 2003), possibly due to the overlap in 
frequencies between the whale song and the low-frequency active sonar. 
A similar compensatory effect for the presence of low frequency vessel 
noise has been suggested for right whales; right whales have been 
observed to shift the frequency content of their calls upward while 
reducing the rate of calling in areas of increased anthropogenic noise 
(Parks et al., 2007). Killer whales off the northwestern coast of the 
United States have been observed to increase the duration of primary 
calls once a threshold in observing vessel density (e.g., whale 
watching) was reached, which has been suggested as a response to 
increased masking noise produced by the vessels (Foote et al., 2004). 
In contrast, both sperm and pilot whales potentially ceased sound 
production during the Heard Island feasibility test (Bowles et al., 
1994), although it cannot be absolutely determined whether the 
inability to acoustically detect the animals was due to the cessation 
of sound production or

[[Page 7083]]

the displacement of animals from the area.
    Avoidance--Avoidance is the displacement of an individual from an 
area as a result of the presence of a sound. Richardson et al., (1995) 
noted that avoidance reactions are the most obvious manifestations of 
disturbance in marine mammals. It is qualitatively different from the 
flight response, but also differs in the magnitude of the response 
(i.e., directed movement, rate of travel, etc.). Oftentimes avoidance 
is temporary, and animals return to the area once the noise has ceased. 
Longer term displacement is possible, however, which can lead to 
changes in abundance or distribution patterns of the species in the 
affected region if they do not become acclimated to the presence of the 
sound (Blackwell et al., 2004; Bejder et al., 2006; Teilmann et al., 
2006). Acute avoidance responses have been observed in captive 
porpoises and pinnipeds exposed to a number of different sound sources 
(Kastelein et al., 2001; Finneran et al., 2003; Kastelein et al., 
2006a; Kastelein et al., 2006b). Short term avoidance of seismic 
surveys, low frequency emissions, and acoustic deterrants has also been 
noted in wild populations of odontocetes (Bowles et al., 1994; Goold, 
1996; 1998; Stone et al., 2000; Morton and Symonds, 2002) and to some 
extent in mysticetes (Gailey et al., 2007), while longer term or 
repetitive/chronic displacement for some dolphin groups and for 
manatees has been suggested to be due to the presence of chronic vessel 
noise (Haviland-Howell et al., 2007; Miksis-Olds et al., 2007).
    Maybaum (1993) conducted sound playback experiments to assess the 
effects of MFAS on humpback whales in Hawaiian waters. Specifically, 
she exposed focal pods to sounds of a 3.3-kHz sonar pulse, a sonar 
frequency sweep from 3.1 to 3.6 kHz, and a control (blank) tape while 
monitoring behavior, movement, and underwater vocalizations. The two 
types of sonar signals (which both contained mid- and low-frequency 
components) differed in their effects on the humpback whales, but both 
resulted in avoidance behavior. The whales responded to the pulse by 
increasing their distance from the sound source and responded to the 
frequency sweep by increasing their swimming speeds and track 
linearity. In the Caribbean, sperm whales avoided exposure to mid-
frequency submarine sonar pulses, in the range of 1000 Hz to 10,000 Hz 
(IWC 2005).
    Kvadsheim et al., (2007) conducted a controlled exposure experiment 
in which killer whales fitted with D-tags were exposed to mid-frequency 
active sonar (Source A: a 1.0 second upsweep 209 dB @ 1-2 kHz every 10 
seconds for 10 minutes; Source B: with a 1.0 second upsweep 197 dB @ 6-
7 kHz every 10 seconds for 10 minutes). When exposed to Source A, a 
tagged whale and the group it was traveling with did not appear to 
avoid the source. When exposed to Source B, the tagged whales along 
with other whales that had been carousel feeding, ceased feeding during 
the approach of the sonar and moved rapidly away from the source. When 
exposed to Source B, Kvadsheim and his co-workers reported that a 
tagged killer whale seemed to try to avoid further exposure to the 
sound field by the following behaviors: Immediately swimming away 
(horizontally) from the source of the sound; engaging in a series of 
erratic and frequently deep dives that seemed to take it below the 
sound field; or swimming away while engaged in a series of erratic and 
frequently deep dives. Although the sample sizes in this study are too 
small to support statistical analysis, the behavioral responses of the 
orcas were consistent with the results of other studies.
    In 2007, the first in a series of behavioral response studies 
conducted by NMFS and other scientists showed one beaked whale 
(Mesoplodon densirostris) responding to an MFAS playback. The BRS-07 
cruise report indicates that the playback began when the tagged beaked 
whale was vocalizing at depth (at the deepest part of a typical feeding 
dive), following a previous control with no sound exposure. The whale 
appeared to stop clicking significantly earlier than usual, when 
exposed to mid-frequency signals in the 130-140 dB (rms) received level 
range. After a few more minutes of the playback, when the received 
level reached a maximum of 140-150 dB, the whale ascended on the slow 
side of normal ascent rates with a longer than normal ascent, at which 
point the exposure was terminated. The results are from a single 
experiment and that a greater sample size is needed before robust and 
definitive conclusions can be drawn.
    Studies on the Atlantic Undersea Test and Evaluation Center 
instrumented range in the Bahamas have shown that some Blainville's 
beaked whales may be resident during all or part of the year in the 
area, and that individuals may move off of the range for several days 
during and following a sonar event. However, animals are thought to 
continue feeding at short distances (a few kilometers) from the range 
out of the louder sound fields (less than 157 dB re 1 [micro]Pa) 
(McCarthy et al., 2011; Tyack et al., 2011). With these studies, there 
are now statistically strong data suggesting that beaked whales tend to 
avoid both actual naval mid-frequency sonar in real anti-submarine 
training scenarios as well as sonar-like signals and other signals used 
during controlled sound exposure studies in the same area.
    Results from a 2007-2008 study conducted near the Bahamas showed a 
change in diving behavior of an adult Blainville's beaked whale to 
playback of mid-frequency source and predator sounds (Boyd et al., 
2008; Tyack et al., 2011). Reaction to mid-frequency sounds included 
premature cessation of clicking and termination of a foraging dive, and 
a slower ascent rate to the surface. Preliminary results from a similar 
behavioral response study in southern California waters have been 
presented for the 2010-2011 field season (Southall et al. 2011). 
Cuvier's beaked whale responses suggested particular sensitivity to 
sound exposure as consistent with results for Blainville's beaked 
whale. Similarly, beaked whales exposed to sonar during British 
training exercises stopped foraging (DSTL 2007), and preliminary 
results of controlled playback of sonar may indicate feeding/foraging 
disruption of killer whales and sperm whales (Miller et al. 2011).
    Orientation--A shift in an animal's resting state or an attentional 
change via an orienting response represent behaviors that would be 
considered mild disruptions if occurring alone. As previously 
mentioned, the responses may co-occur with other behaviors; for 
instance, an animal may initially orient toward a sound source, and 
then move away from it. Thus, any orienting response should be 
considered in context of other reactions that may occur.
    There are few empirical studies of avoidance responses of free-
living cetaceans to mid-frequency sonars. Much more information is 
available on the avoidance responses of free-living cetaceans to other 
acoustic sources, such as seismic airguns and low frequency tactical 
sonar, than mid-frequency active sonar.

Behavioral Responses (Southall et al. (2007))

    Southall et al., (2007) reports the results of the efforts of a 
panel of experts in acoustic research from behavioral, physiological, 
and physical disciplines that convened and reviewed the available 
literature on marine mammal hearing and physiological and behavioral 
responses to human-made sound with the goal of proposing exposure 
criteria for certain effects. This peer-reviewed compilation of 
literature is very valuable, though Southall et al.

[[Page 7084]]

(2007) note that not all data are equal, some have poor statistical 
power, insufficient controls, and/or limited information on received 
levels, background noise, and other potentially important contextual 
variables--such data were reviewed and sometimes used for qualitative 
illustration but were not included in the quantitative analysis for the 
criteria recommendations. All of the studies considered, however, 
contain an estimate of the received sound level when the animal 
exhibited the indicated response.
    In the Southall et al., (2007) publication, for the purposes of 
analyzing responses of marine mammals to anthropogenic sound and 
developing critieria, the authors differentiate between single pulse 
sounds, multiple pulse sounds, and non-pulse sounds. Sonar and other 
active acoustic sources are considered a non-pulse sound. Southall et 
al., (2007) summarize the studies associated with low-frequency, mid-
frequency, and high-frequency cetacean and pinniped responses to non-
pulse sounds, based strictly on received level, in Appendix C of their 
article (incorporated by reference and summarized in the three 
paragraphs below).
    The studies that address responses of low frequency cetaceans to 
non-pulse sounds include data gathered in the field and related to 
several types of sound sources (of varying similarity to sonar and 
other active acoustic sources) including: vessel noise, drilling and 
machinery playback, low-frequency M-sequences (sine wave with multiple 
phase reversals) playback, tactical low-frequency active sonar 
playback, drill ships, Acoustic Thermometry of Ocean Climate (ATOC) 
source, and non-pulse playbacks. These studies generally indicate no 
(or very limited) responses to received levels in the 90 to 120 dB re: 
1 [micro]Pa range and an increasing likelihood of avoidance and other 
behavioral effects in the 120 to 160 dB range. As mentioned earlier, 
though, contextual variables play a very important role in the reported 
responses and the severity of effects are not linear when compared to 
received level. Also, few of the laboratory or field datasets had 
common conditions, behavioral contexts or sound sources, so it is not 
surprising that responses differ.
    The studies that address responses of mid-frequency cetaceans to 
non-pulse sounds include data gathered both in the field and the 
laboratory and related to several different sound sources (of varying 
similarity to sonar and other active acoustic sources) including: 
pingers, drilling playbacks, ship and ice-breaking noise, vessel noise, 
Acoustic Harassment Devices (AHDs), Acoustic Deterrent Devices (ADDs), 
MFAS, and non-pulse bands and tones. Southall et al. (2007) were unable 
to come to a clear conclusion regarding the results of these studies. 
In some cases, animals in the field showed significant responses to 
received levels between 90 and 120 dB, while in other cases these 
responses were not seen in the 120 to 150 dB range. The disparity in 
results was likely due to contextual variation and the differences 
between the results in the field and laboratory data (animals typically 
responded at lower levels in the field).
    The studies that address responses of high frequency cetaceans to 
non-pulse sounds include data gathered both in the field and the 
laboratory and related to several different sound sources (of varying 
similarity to sonar and other active acoustic sources) including: 
pingers, AHDs, and various laboratory non-pulse sounds. All of these 
data were collected from harbor porpoises. Southall et al. (2007) 
concluded that the existing data indicate that harbor porpoises are 
likely sensitive to a wide range of anthropogenic sounds at low 
received levels (~90-120 dB), at least for initial exposures. All 
recorded exposures above 140 dB induced profound and sustained 
avoidance behavior in wild harbor porpoises (Southall et al., 2007). 
Rapid habituation was noted in some but not all studies. There is no 
data to indicate whether other high frequency cetaceans are as 
sensitive to anthropogenic sound as harbor porpoises are.
    The studies that address the responses of pinnipeds in water to 
non-pulse sounds include data gathered both in the field and the 
laboratory and related to several different sound sources (of varying 
similarity to sonar and other active acoustic sources) including: AHDs, 
ATOC, various non-pulse sounds used in underwater data communication; 
underwater drilling, and construction noise. Few studies exist with 
enough information to include them in the analysis. The limited data 
suggested that exposures to non-pulse sounds between 90 and 140 dB 
generally do not result in strong behavioral responses in pinnipeds in 
water, but no data exist at higher received levels.
    In addition to summarizing the available data, the authors of 
Southall et al. (2007) developed a severity scaling system with the 
intent of ultimately being able to assign some level of biological 
significance to a response. Following is a summary of their scoring 
system, a comprehensive list of the behaviors associated with each 
score may be found in the report:
     0-3 (Minor and/or brief behaviors) includes, but is not 
limited to: no response; minor changes in speed or locomotion (but with 
no avoidance); individual alert behavior; minor cessation in vocal 
behavior; minor changes in response to trained behaviors (in 
laboratory).
     4-6 (Behaviors with higher potential to affect foraging, 
reproduction, or survival) includes, but is not limited to: moderate 
changes in speed, direction, or dive profile; brief shift in group 
distribution; prolonged cessation or modification of vocal behavior 
(duration > duration of sound), minor or moderate individual and/or 
group avoidance of sound; brief cessation of reproductive behavior; or 
refusal to initiate trained tasks (in laboratory).
     7-9 (Behaviors considered likely to affect the 
aforementioned vital rates) includes, but is not limited to: extensive 
of prolonged aggressive behavior; moderate, prolonged or significant 
separation of females and dependent offspring with disruption of 
acoustic reunion mechanisms; long-term avoidance of an area; outright 
panic, stampede, stranding; threatening or attacking sound source (in 
laboratory).

Potential Effects of Behavioral Disturbance

    The different ways that marine mammals respond to sound are 
sometimes indicators of the ultimate effect that exposure to a given 
stimulus will have on the well-being (survival, reproduction, etc.) of 
an animal. There is little marine mammal data quantitatively relating 
the exposure of marine mammals to sound to effects on reproduction or 
survival, though data exists for terrestrial species to which we can 
draw comparisons for marine mammals.
    Attention is the cognitive process of selectively concentrating on 
one aspect of an animal's environment while ignoring other things 
(Posner, 1994). Because animals (including humans) have limited 
cognitive resources, there is a limit to how much sensory information 
they can process at any time. The phenomenon called ``attentional 
capture'' occurs when a stimulus (usually a stimulus that an animal is 
not concentrating on or attending to) ``captures'' an animal's 
attention. This shift in attention can occur consciously or 
unconsciously (for example, when an animal hears sounds that it 
associates with the approach of a predator) and the shift in attention 
can be sudden (Dukas, 2002; van Rij, 2007).

[[Page 7085]]

Once a stimulus has captured an animal's attention, the animal can 
respond by ignoring the stimulus, assuming a ``watch and wait'' 
posture, or treat the stimulus as a disturbance and respond 
accordingly, which includes scanning for the source of the stimulus or 
``vigilance'' (Cowlishaw et al., 2004).
    Vigilance is normally an adaptive behavior that helps animals 
determine the presence or absence of predators, assess their distance 
from conspecifics, or to attend cues from prey (Bednekoff and Lima, 
1998; Treves, 2000). Despite those benefits, however, vigilance has a 
cost of time: when animals focus their attention on specific 
environmental cues, they are not attending to other activities such as 
foraging. These costs have been documented best in foraging animals, 
where vigilance has been shown to substantially reduce feeding rates 
(Saino, 1994; Beauchamp and Livoreil, 1997; Fritz et al., 2002).
    Animals will spend more time being vigilant, which may translate to 
less time foraging or resting, when disturbance stimuli approach them 
more directly, remain at closer distances, have a greater group size 
(for example, multiple surface vessels), or when they co-occur with 
times that an animal perceives increased risk (for example, when they 
are giving birth or accompanied by a calf). Most of the published 
literature, however, suggests that direct approaches will increase the 
amount of time animals will dedicate to being vigilant. For example, 
bighorn sheep and Dall's sheep dedicated more time being vigilant, and 
less time resting or foraging, when aircraft made direct approaches 
over them (Frid, 2001; Stockwell et al., 1991).
    Several authors have established that long-term and intense 
disturbance stimuli can cause population declines by reducing the body 
condition of individuals that have been disturbed, followed by reduced 
reproductive success, reduced survival, or both (Daan et al., 1996; 
Madsen, 1994; White, 1983). For example, Madsen (1994) reported that 
pink-footed geese in undisturbed habitat gained body mass and had about 
a 46-percent reproductive success rate compared with geese in disturbed 
habitat (being consistently scared off the fields on which they were 
foraging) which did not gain mass and had a 17 percent reproductive 
success rate. Similar reductions in reproductive success have been 
reported for mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) disturbed by all-terrain 
vehicles (Yarmoloy et al., 1988), caribou disturbed by seismic 
exploration blasts (Bradshaw et al., 1998), caribou disturbed by low-
elevation jet fights (Luick et al., 1996; Harrington and Veitch, 1992. 
Similarly, a study of elk that were disturbed experimentally by 
pedestrians concluded that the ratio of young to mothers was inversely 
related to disturbance rate (Phillips and Alldredge, 2000).
    The primary mechanism by which increased vigilance and disturbance 
appear to affect the fitness of individual animals is by disrupting an 
animal's time budget and, as a result, reducing the time they might 
spend foraging and resting (which increases an animal's activity rate 
and energy demand). For example, a study of grizzly bears reported that 
bears disturbed by hikers reduced their energy intake by an average of 
12 kcal/minute (50.2 x 10\3\kJ/minute), and spent energy fleeing or 
acting aggressively toward hikers (White et al. 1999). Alternately, 
Ridgway et al. (2006) reported that increased vigilance in bottlenose 
dolphins exposed to sound over a 5-day period did not cause any sleep 
deprivation or stress effects such as changes in cortisol or 
epinephrine levels.
    On a related note, many animals perform vital functions, such as 
feeding, resting, traveling, and socializing, on a diel cycle (24-hour 
cycle). Substantive behavioral reactions to noise exposure (such as 
disruption of critical life functions, displacement, or avoidance of 
important habitat) are more likely to be significant if they last more 
than one diel cycle or recur on subsequent days (Southall et al., 
2007). Consequently, a behavioral response lasting less than one day 
and not recurring on subsequent days is not considered particularly 
severe unless it could directly affect reproduction or survival 
(Southall et al., 2007).
    In response to the National Research Council of the National 
Academies (2005) review, the Office of Naval Research founded a working 
group to formalize the Population Consequences of Acoustic Disturbance 
(PCAD) framework. The PCAD model connects observable data through a 
series of transfer functions using a case study approach. The long-term 
goal is to improve the understanding of how effects of sound on marine 
mammals transfer between behavior and life functions and between life 
functions and vital rates of individuals. Then, this understanding of 
how disturbance can affect the vital rates of individuals will 
facilitate the further assessment of the population level effects of 
anthropogenic sound on marine mammals by providing a quantitative 
approach to evaluate effects and the relationship between takes and 
possible changes to adult survival and/or annual recruitment.

Stranding and Mortality

    When a live or dead marine mammal swims or floats onto shore and 
becomes ``beached'' or incapable of returning to sea, the event is 
termed a ``stranding'' (Geraci et al., 1999; Perrin and Geraci, 2002; 
Geraci and Lounsbury, 2005; NMFS, 2007). The legal definition for a 
stranding within the United States is that (A) ``a marine mammal is 
dead and is (i) on a beach or shore of the United States; or (ii) in 
waters under the jurisdiction of the United States (including any 
navigable waters); or (B) a marine mammal is alive and is (i) on a 
beach or shore of the United States and is unable to return to the 
water; (ii) on a beach or shore of the United States and, although able 
to return to the water, is in need of apparent medical attention; or 
(iii) in the waters under the jurisdiction of the United States 
(including any navigable waters), but is unable to return to its 
natural habitat under its own power or without assistance.'' (16 U.S.C. 
1421h).
    Marine mammals are known to strand for a variety of reasons, such 
as infectious agents, biotoxicosis, starvation, fishery interaction, 
ship strike, unusual oceanographic or weather events, sound exposure, 
or combinations of these stressors sustained concurrently or in series. 
However, the cause or causes of most stranding are unknown (Geraci et 
al., 1976; Eaton, 1979, Odell et al., 1980; Best, 1982). Numerous 
studies suggest that the physiology, behavior, habitat relationships, 
age, or condition of cetaceans may cause them to strand or might pre-
dispose them to strand when exposed to another phenomenon. These 
suggestions are consistent with the conclusions of numerous other 
studies that have demonstrated that combinations of dissimilar 
stressors commonly combine to kill an animal or dramatically reduce its 
fitness, even though one exposure without the other does not produce 
the same result (Chroussos, 2000; Creel, 2005; DeVries et al., 2003; 
Fair and Becker, 2000; Foley et al., 2001; Moberg, 2000; Relyea, 2005a; 
2005b, Romero, 2004; Sih et al., 2004). For reference, between 2001-
2009, there was an annual average of approximately 1,400 cetacean 
strandings and 4,300 pinniped strandings along the coasts of the 
continental United States and Alaska (NMFS, 2011).
    Several sources have published lists of mass stranding events of 
cetaceans during attempts to identify relationships between those 
stranding events and

[[Page 7086]]

military sonar (Hildebrand, 2004; IWC, 2005; Taylor et al., 2004). For 
example, based on a review of stranding records between 1960 and 1995, 
the International Whaling Commission (2005) identified ten mass 
stranding events of Cuvier's beaked whales had been reported and one 
mass stranding of four Baird's beaked whale. The IWC concluded that, 
out of eight stranding events reported from the mid-1980s to the summer 
of 2003, seven had been coincident with the use of tactical mid-
frequency sonar, one of those seven had been associated with the use of 
tactical low-frequency sonar, and the remaining stranding event had 
been associated with the use of seismic airguns.
    Most of the stranding events reviewed by the International Whaling 
Commission involved beaked whales. A mass stranding of Cuvier's beaked 
whales in the eastern Mediterranean Sea occurred in 1996 (Franzis, 
1998) and mass stranding events involving Gervais' beaked whales, 
Blainville's beaked whales, and Cuvier's beaked whales occurred off the 
coast of the Canary Islands in the late 1980s (Simmonds and Lopez-
Jurado, 1991). The stranding events that occurred in the Canary Islands 
and Kyparissiakos Gulf in the late 1990s and the Bahamas in 2000 have 
been the most intensively-studied mass stranding events and have been 
associated with naval maneuvers involving the use of tactical sonar.
    Between 1960 and 2006, 48 strandings (68 percent) involved beaked 
whales, 3 (4 percent) involved dolphins, and 14 (20 percent) involved 
whale species. Cuvier's beaked whales were involved in the greatest 
number of these events (48 or 68 percent), followed by sperm whales (7 
or 10 percent), and Blainville's and Gervais' beaked whales (4 each or 
6 percent). Naval activities (not just activities conducted by the U.S. 
Navy) that might have involved active sonar are reported to have 
coincided with 9 (13 percent) or 10 (14 percent) of those stranding 
events. Between the mid-1980s and 2003 (the period reported by the 
International Whaling Commission), we identified reports of 44 mass 
cetacean stranding events of which at least seven were coincident with 
naval exercises that were using mid-frequency sonar.

Strandings Associated With Impulse Sound

    During a Navy training event on March 4, 2011 at the Silver Strand 
Training Complex in San Diego, California, three or possibly four 
dolphins were killed in an explosion. During an underwater detonation 
training event, a pod of 100 to 150 long-beaked common dolphins were 
observed moving towards the 700-yd (640.1-m) exclusion zone around the 
explosive charge, monitored by personnel in a safety boat and 
participants in a dive boat. Approximately 5 minutes remained on a 
time-delay fuse connected to a single 8.76 lb. (3.97 kg) explosive 
charge (C-4 and detonation cord). Although the dive boat was placed 
between the pod and the explosive in an effort to guide the dolphins 
away from the area, that effort was unsuccessful and three long-beaked 
common dolphins near the explosion died. In addition to the three 
dolphins found dead on March 4, the remains of a fourth dolphin were 
discovered on March 7, 2011 near Ocean Beach, California (3 days later 
and approximately 11.8 mi. [19 km] from Silver Strand where the 
training event occurred), which might also have been related to this 
event. Association of the fourth stranding with the training event is 
uncertain because dolphins strand on a regular basis in the San Diego 
area. Details such as the dolphins' depth and distance from the 
explosive at the time of the detonation could not be estimated from the 
250 yd (228.6 m) standoff point of the observers in the dive boat or 
the safety boat.
    These dolphin mortalities are the only known occurrence of a U.S. 
Navy training or testing event involving impulse energy (underwater 
detonation) that caused mortality or injury to a marine mammal. Despite 
this being a rare occurrence, the Navy has reviewed training 
requirements, safety procedures, and possible mitigation measures and 
implemented changes to reduce the potential for this to occur in the 
future. Discussions of procedures associated with these and other 
training and testing events are presented in the Mitigation section.

Strandings Associated With MFAS

    Over the past 16 years, there have been five stranding events 
coincident with military mid-frequency sonar use in which exposure to 
sonar is believed to have been a contributing factor: Greece (1996); 
the Bahamas (2000); Madeira (2000); Canary Islands (2002); and Spain 
(2006). Additionally, during the 2004 Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 
exercises, between 150 and 200 usually pelagic melon-headed whales 
occupied the shallow waters of Hanalei Bay, Kaua'i, Hawaii for over 28 
hours. NMFS determined that MFAS was a plausible, if not likely, 
contributing factor in what may have been a confluence of events that 
led to the stranding. A number of other stranding events coincident 
with the operation of mid-frequency sonar including the death of beaked 
whales or other species (minke whales, dwarf sperm whales, pilot 
whales) have been reported; however, the majority have not been 
investigated to the degree necessary to determine the cause of the 
stranding and only one of these stranding events, the Bahamas (2000), 
was associated with exercises conducted by the U.S. Navy.

Greece (1996)

    Twelve Cuvier's beaked whales stranded atypically (in both time and 
space) along a 38.2-kilometer strand of the coast of the Kyparissiakos 
Gulf on May 12 and 13, 1996 (Frantzis, 1998). From May 11 through May 
15, the NATO research vessel Alliance was conducting sonar tests with 
signals of 600 Hz and 3 kHz and source levels of 228 and 226 dB re: 
1[mu]Pa, respectively (D'Amico and Verboom, 1998; D'Spain et al., 
2006). The timing and the location of the testing encompassed the time 
and location of the whale strandings (Frantzis, 1998).
    Necropsies of eight of the animals were performed but were limited 
to basic external examination and sampling of stomach contents, blood, 
and skin. No ears or organs were collected, and no histological samples 
were preserved. No apparent abnormalities or wounds were found 
(Frantzis, 2004). Examination of photos of the animals, taken soon 
after their death, revealed that the eyes of at least four of the 
individuals were bleeding. Photos were taken soon after their death 
(Frantzis, 2004). Stomach contents contained the flesh of cephalopods, 
indicating that feeding had recently taken place (Frantzis, 1998).
    All available information regarding the conditions associated with 
this stranding event were compiled, and many potential causes were 
examined including major pollution events, prominent tectonic activity, 
unusual physical or meteorological events, magnetic anomalies, 
epizootics, and conventional military activities (International Council 
for the Exploration of the Sea, 2005a). However, none of these 
potential causes coincided in time or space with the mass stranding, or 
could explain its characteristics (International Council for the 
Exploration of the Sea, 2005a). The robust condition of the animals, 
plus the recent stomach contents, is inconsistent with pathogenic 
causes (Frantzis, 2004). In addition, environmental causes can be ruled 
out as there were no unusual environmental circumstances or events 
before or during this time period and within the general proximity 
(Frantzis, 2004).

[[Page 7087]]

    Because of the rarity of this mass stranding of Cuvier's beaked 
whales in the Kyparissiakos Gulf (first one in history), the 
probability for the two events (the military exercises and the 
strandings) to coincide in time and location, while being independent 
of each other, was extremely low (Frantzis, 1998). However, because 
full necropsies had not been conducted, and no abnormalities were 
noted, the cause of the strandings could not be precisely determined 
(Cox et al., 2006). A Bioacoustics Panel convened by NATO concluded 
that the evidence available did not allow them to accept or reject 
sonar exposures as a causal agent in these stranding events. The 
analysis of this stranding event provided support for, but no clear 
evidence for, the cause-and-effect relationship of tactical sonar 
training activities and beaked whale strandings (Cox et al., 2006).

Bahamas (2000)

    NMFS and the Navy prepared a joint report addressing the multi-
species stranding in the Bahamas in 2000, which took place within 24 
hours of U.S. Navy ships using MFAS as they passed through the 
Northeast and Northwest Providence Channels on March 15-16, 2000. The 
ships, which operated both AN/SQS-53C and AN/SQS-56, moved through the 
channel while emitting sonar pings approximately every 24 seconds. Of 
the 17 cetaceans that stranded over a 36-hr period (Cuvier's beaked 
whales, Blainville's beaked whales, Minke whales, and a spotted 
dolphin), seven animals died on the beach (5 Cuvier's beaked whales, 1 
Blainville's beaked whale, and the spotted dolphin), while the other 10 
were returned to the water alive (though their ultimate fate is 
unknown). As discussed in the Bahamas report (DOC/DON, 2001), there is 
no likely association between the minke whale and spotted dolphin 
strandings and the operation of MFAS.
    Necropsies were performed on five of the stranded beaked whales. 
All five necropsied beaked whales were in good body condition, showing 
no signs of infection, disease, ship strike, blunt trauma, or fishery 
related injuries, and three still had food remains in their stomachs. 
Auditory structural damage was discovered in four of the whales, 
specifically bloody effusions or hemorrhaging around the ears. 
Bilateral intracochlear and unilateral temporal region subarachnoid 
hemorrhage, with blood clots in the lateral ventricles, were found in 
two of the whales. Three of the whales had small hemorrhages in their 
acoustic fats (located along the jaw and in the melon).
    A comprehensive investigation was conducted and all possible causes 
of the stranding event were considered, whether they seemed likely at 
the outset or not. Based on the way in which the strandings coincided 
with ongoing naval activity involving tactical MFAS use, in terms of 
both time and geography, the nature of the physiological effects 
experienced by the dead animals, and the absence of any other acoustic 
sources, the investigation team concluded that MFAS aboard U.S. Navy 
ships that were in use during the sonar exercise in question were the 
most plausible source of this acoustic or impulse trauma to beaked 
whales. This sound source was active in a complex environment that 
included the presence of a surface duct, unusual and steep bathymetry, 
a constricted channel with limited egress, intensive use of multiple, 
active sonar units over an extended period of time, and the presence of 
beaked whales that appear to be sensitive to the frequencies produced 
by these sonars. The investigation team concluded that the cause of 
this stranding event was the confluence of the Navy MFAS and these 
contributory factors working together, and further recommended that the 
Navy avoid operating MFAS in situations where these five factors would 
be likely to occur. This report does not conclude that all five of 
these factors must be present for a stranding to occur, nor that beaked 
whales are the only species that could potentially be affected by the 
confluence of the other factors. Based on this, NMFS believes that the 
operation of MFAS in situations where surface ducts exist, or in marine 
environments defined by steep bathymetry and/or constricted channels 
may increase the likelihood of producing a sound field with the 
potential to cause cetaceans (especially beaked whales) to strand, and 
therefore, suggests the need for increased vigilance while operating 
MFAS in these areas, especially when beaked whales (or potentially 
other deep divers) are likely present.

Madeira, Spain (2000)

    From May 10-14, 2000, three Cuvier's beaked whales were found 
atypically stranded on two islands in the Madeira archipelago, Portugal 
(Cox et al., 2006). A fourth animal was reported floating in the 
Madeiran waters by fisherman but did not come ashore (Woods Hole 
Oceanographic Institution, 2005). Joint NATO amphibious training 
peacekeeping exercises involving participants from 17 countries 80 
warships, took place in Portugal during May 2-15, 2000.
    The bodies of the three stranded whales were examined post mortem 
(Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, 2005), though only one of the 
stranded whales was fresh enough (24 hours after stranding) to be 
necropsied (Cox et al., 2006). Results from the necropsy revealed 
evidence of hemorrhage and congestion in the right lung and both 
kidneys (Cox et al., 2006). There was also evidence of intercochlear 
and intracranial hemorrhage similar to that which was observed in the 
whales that stranded in the Bahamas event (Cox et al., 2006). There 
were no signs of blunt trauma, and no major fractures (Woods Hole 
Oceanographic Institution, 2005). The cranial sinuses and airways were 
found to be clear with little or no fluid deposition, which may 
indicate good preservation of tissues (Woods Hole Oceanographic 
Institution, 2005).
    Several observations on the Madeira stranded beaked whales, such as 
the pattern of injury to the auditory system, are the same as those 
observed in the Bahamas strandings. Blood in and around the eyes, 
kidney lesions, pleural hemorrhages, and congestion in the lungs are 
particularly consistent with the pathologies from the whales stranded 
in the Bahamas, and are consistent with stress and pressure related 
trauma. The similarities in pathology and stranding patterns between 
these two events suggest that a similar pressure event may have 
precipitated or contributed to the strandings at both sites (Woods Hole 
Oceanographic Institution, 2005).
    Even though no definitive causal link can be made between the 
stranding event and naval exercises, certain conditions may have 
existed in the exercise area that, in their aggregate, may have 
contributed to the marine mammal strandings (Freitas, 2004): exercises 
were conducted in areas of at least 547 fathoms (1000 m) depth near a 
shoreline where there is a rapid change in bathymetry on the order of 
547 to 3,281 fathoms (1000-6000 m) occurring a cross a relatively short 
horizontal distance (Freitas, 2004); multiple ships were operating 
around Madeira, though it is not known if MFA sonar was used, and the 
specifics of the sound sources used are unknown (Cox et al., 2006, 
Freitas, 2004); and exercises took place in an area surrounded by 
landmasses separated by less than 35 nm (65 km) and at least 10 nm (19 
km) in length, or in an embayment. Exercises involving multiple ships 
employing MFA near land may produce sound directed towards a channel or 
embayment that may cut off the lines of egress for marine mammals 
(Freitas, 2004).

[[Page 7088]]

Canary Islands, Spain (2002)

    The southeastern area within the Canary Islands is well known for 
aggregations of beaked whales due to its ocean depths of greater than 
547 fathoms (1,000 m) within a few hundred meters of the coastline 
(Fernandez et al., 2005). On September 24, 2002, 14 beaked whales were 
found stranded on Fuerteventura and Lanzarote Islands in the Canary 
Islands (International Council for Exploration of the Sea, 2005a). 
Seven whales died, while the remaining seven live whales were returned 
to deeper waters (Fernandez et al., 2005). Four beaked whales were 
found stranded dead over the next 3 days either on the coast or 
floating offshore. These strandings occurred within near proximity of 
an international naval exercise that utilized MFAS and involved 
numerous surface warships and several submarines. Strandings began 
about 4 hours after the onset of MFA sonar activity (International 
Council for Exploration of the Sea, 2005a; Fernandez et al., 2005).
    Eight Cuvier's beaked whales, one Blainville's beaked whale, and 
one Gervais' beaked whale were necropsied, six of them within 12 hours 
of stranding (Fernandez et al., 2005). No pathogenic bacteria were 
isolated from the carcasses (Jepson et al., 2003). The animals 
displayed severe vascular congestion and hemorrhage especially around 
the tissues in the jaw, ears, brain, and kidneys, displaying marked 
disseminated microvascular hemorrhages associated with widespread fat 
emboli (Jepson et al., 2003; International Council for Exploration of 
the Sea, 2005a). Several organs contained intravascular bubbles, 
although definitive evidence of gas embolism in vivo is difficult to 
determine after death (Jepson et al., 2003). The livers of the 
necropsied animals were the most consistently affected organ, which 
contained macroscopic gas-filled cavities and had variable degrees of 
fibrotic encapsulation. In some animals, cavitary lesions had 
extensively replaced the normal tissue (Jepson et al., 2003). Stomachs 
contained a large amount of fresh and undigested contents, suggesting a 
rapid onset of disease and death (Fernandez et al., 2005). Head and 
neck lymph nodes were enlarged and congested, and parasites were found 
in the kidneys of all animals (Fernandez et al., 2005).
    The association of NATO MFAS use close in space and time to the 
beaked whale strandings, and the similarity between this stranding 
event and previous beaked whale mass strandings coincident with sonar 
use, suggests that a similar scenario and causative mechanism of 
stranding may be shared between the events. Beaked whales stranded in 
this event demonstrated brain and auditory system injuries, 
hemorrhages, and congestion in multiple organs, similar to the 
pathological findings of the Bahamas and Madeira stranding events. In 
addition, the necropsy results of Canary Islands stranding event lead 
to the hypothesis that the presence of disseminated and widespread gas 
bubbles and fat emboli were indicative of nitrogen bubble formation, 
similar to what might be expected in decompression sickness (Jepson et 
al., 2003; Fern[aacute]ndez et al., 2005).

Hanalei Bay (2004)

    On July 3 and 4, 2004, approximately 150 to 200 melon-headed whales 
occupied the shallow waters of the Hanalei Bay, Kaua'i, Hawaii for over 
28 hours. Attendees of a canoe blessing observed the animals entering 
the Bay in a single wave formation at 7 a.m. on July 3, 2004. The 
animals were observed moving back into the shore from the mouth of the 
Bay at 9 a.m. The usually pelagic animals milled in the shallow bay and 
were returned to deeper water with human assistance beginning at 9:30 
a.m. on July 4, 2004, and were out of sight by 10:30 a.m.
    Only one animal, a calf, was known to have died following this 
event. The animal was noted alive and alone in the Bay on the afternoon 
of July 4, 2004 and was found dead in the Bay the morning of July 5, 
2004. A full necropsy, magnetic resonance imaging, and computerized 
tomography examination were performed on the calf to determine the 
manner and cause of death. The combination of imaging, necropsy and 
histological analyses found no evidence of infectious, internal 
traumatic, congenital, or toxic factors. Cause of death could not be 
definitively determined, but it is likely that maternal separation, 
poor nutritional condition, and dehydration contributed to the final 
demise of the animal. Although we do not know when the calf was 
separated from its mother, the animals' movement into the Bay and 
subsequent milling and re-grouping may have contributed to the 
separation or lack of nursing, especially if the maternal bond was weak 
or this was a primiparous calf.
    Environmental factors, abiotic and biotic, were analyzed for any 
anomalous occurrences that would have contributed to the animals 
entering and remaining in Hanalei Bay. The Bay's bathymetry is similar 
to many other sites within the Hawaiian Island chain and dissimilar to 
sites that have been associated with mass strandings in other parts of 
the U.S. The weather conditions appeared to be normal for that time of 
year with no fronts or other significant features noted. There was no 
evidence of unusual distribution, occurrence of predator or prey 
species, or unusual harmful algal blooms, although Mobley et al., 2007 
suggested that the full moon cycle that occurred at that time may have 
influenced a run of squid into the Bay. Weather patterns and bathymetry 
that have been associated with mass strandings elsewhere were not found 
to occur in this instance.
    The Hanalei event was spatially and temporally correlated with 
RIMPAC. Official sonar training and tracking exercises in the Pacific 
Missile Range Facility (PMRF) warning area did not commence until 
approximately 8 a.m. on July 3 and were thus ruled out as a possible 
trigger for the initial movement into the Bay. However, six naval 
surface vessels transiting to the operational area on July 2 
intermittently transmitted active sonar (for approximately 9 hours 
total from 1:15 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.) as they approached from the south. 
The potential for these transmissions to have triggered the whales' 
movement into Hanalei Bay was investigated. Analyses with the 
information available indicated that animals to the south and east of 
Kaua'i could have detected active sonar transmissions on July 2, and 
reached Hanalei Bay on or before 7 a.m. on July 3. However, data 
limitations regarding the position of the whales prior to their arrival 
in the Bay, the magnitude of sonar exposure, behavioral responses of 
melon-headed whales to acoustic stimuli, and other possible relevant 
factors preclude a conclusive finding regarding the role of sonar in 
triggering this event. Propagation modeling suggest that transmissions 
from sonar use during the July 3 exercise in the PMRF warning area may 
have been detectable at the mouth of the Bay. If the animals responded 
negatively to these signals, it may have contributed to their continued 
presence in the Bay. The U.S. Navy ceased all active sonar 
transmissions during exercises in this range on the afternoon of July 
3. Subsequent to the cessation of sonar use, the animals were herded 
out of the Bay.
    While causation of this stranding event may never be unequivocally 
determined, we consider the active sonar transmissions of July 2-3, 
2004, a plausible, if not likely, contributing factor in what may have 
been a confluence of events. This conclusion is based on the following: 
(1) The evidently anomalous nature of the

[[Page 7089]]

stranding; (2) its close spatiotemporal correlation with wide-scale, 
sustained use of sonar systems previously associated with stranding of 
deep-diving marine mammals; (3) the directed movement of two groups of 
transmitting vessels toward the southeast and southwest coast of Kauai; 
(4) the results of acoustic propagation modeling and an analysis of 
possible animal transit times to the Bay; and (5) the absence of any 
other compelling causative explanation. The initiation and persistence 
of this event may have resulted from an interaction of biological and 
physical factors. The biological factors may have included the presence 
of an apparently uncommon, deep-diving cetacean species (and possibly 
an offshore, non-resident group), social interactions among the animals 
before or after they entered the Bay, and/or unknown predator or prey 
conditions. The physical factors may have included the presence of 
nearby deep water, multiple vessels transiting in a directed manner 
while transmitting active sonar over a sustained period, the presence 
of surface sound ducting conditions, and/or intermittent and random 
human interactions while the animals were in the Bay.
    A separate event involving melon-headed whales and rough-toothed 
dolphins took place over the same period of time in the Northern 
Mariana Islands (Jefferson et al., 2006), which is several thousand 
miles from Hawaii. Some 500 to 700 melon-headed whales came into 
Sasanhaya Bay on July 4, 2004 near the island of Rota and then left of 
their own accord after 5.5 hours; no known active sonar transmissions 
occurred in the vicinity of that event. The Rota incident led to 
scientific debate regarding what, if any, relationship the event had to 
the simultaneous events in Hawaii and whether they might be related by 
some common factor (e.g., there was a full moon on July 2, 2004 as well 
as during other melon-headed whale strandings and nearshore 
aggregations (Brownell et al., 2009; Lignon et al., 2007; Mobley et 
al., 2007). Brownell et al. (2009) compared the two incidents, along 
with one other stranding incident at Nuka Hiva in French Polynesia and 
normal resting behaviors observed at Palmyra Island, in regard to 
physical features in the areas, melon-headed whale behavior, and lunar 
cycles. Brownell et al., (2009) concluded that the rapid entry of the 
whales into Hanalei Bay, their movement into very shallow water far 
from the 100-m contour, their milling behavior (typical pre-stranding 
behavior), and their reluctance to leave the bay constituted an unusual 
event that was not similar to the events that occurred at Rota (but was 
similar to the events at Palmyra), which appear to be similar to 
observations of melon-headed whales resting normally at Palmyra Island. 
Additionally, there was no correlation between lunar cycle and the 
types of behaviors observed in the Brownell et al. (2009) examples.

Spain (2006)

    The Spanish Cetacean Society reported an atypical mass stranding of 
four beaked whales that occurred January 26, 2006, on the southeast 
coast of Spain, near Mojacar (Gulf of Vera) in the Western 
Mediterranean Sea. According to the report, two of the whales were 
discovered the evening of January 26 and were found to be still alive. 
Two other whales were discovered during the day on January 27, but had 
already died. The first three animals were located near the town of 
Mojacar and the fourth animal was found dead, a few kilometers north of 
the first three animals. From January 25-26, 2006, Standing North 
Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Response Force Maritime Group Two 
(five of seven ships including one U.S. ship under NATO Operational 
Control) had conducted active sonar training against a Spanish 
submarine within 50 nm (93 km) of the stranding site.
    Veterinary pathologists necropsied the two male and two female 
Cuvier's beaked whales. According to the pathologists, the most likely 
primary cause of this type of beaked whale mass stranding event was 
anthropogenic acoustic activities, most probably anti-submarine MFAS 
used during the military naval exercises. However, no positive acoustic 
link was established as a direct cause of the stranding. Even though no 
causal link can be made between the stranding event and naval 
exercises, certain conditions may have existed in the exercise area 
that, in their aggregate, may have contributed to the marine mammal 
strandings (Freitas, 2004): Exercises were conducted in areas of at 
least 547 fathoms (1,000 m) depth near a shoreline where there is a 
rapid change in bathymetry on the order of 547 to 3,281 fathoms (1,000-
6,000 m) occurring across a relatively short horizontal distance 
(Freitas, 2004); multiple ships (in this instance, five) were operating 
MFAS in the same area over extended periods of time (in this case, 20 
hours) in close proximity; and exercises took place in an area 
surrounded by landmasses, or in an embayment. Exercises involving 
multiple ships employing MFAS near land may have produced sound 
directed towards a channel or embayment that may have cut off the lines 
of egress for the affected marine mammals (Freitas, 2004).

Association Between Mass Stranding Events and Exposure to MFAS

    Several authors have noted similarities between some of these 
stranding incidents: They occurred in islands or archipelagoes with 
deep water nearby, several appeared to have been associated with 
acoustic waveguides like surface ducting, and the sound fields created 
by ships transmitting MFAS (Cox et al., 2006, D'Spain et al., 2006). 
Although Cuvier's beaked whales have been the most common species 
involved in these stranding events (81 percent of the total number of 
stranded animals), other beaked whales (including Mesoplodon europeaus, 
M. densirostris, and Hyperoodon ampullatus) comprise 14 percent of the 
total. Other species (Stenella coeruleoalba, Kogia breviceps and 
Balaenoptera acutorostrata) have stranded, but in much lower numbers 
and less consistently than beaked whales.
    Based on the evidence available, however, we cannot determine 
whether: (a) Cuvier's beaked whale is more prone to injury from high-
intensity sound than other species; (b) their behavioral responses to 
sound makes them more likely to strand; or (c) they are more likely to 
be exposed to MFAS than other cetaceans (for reasons that remain 
unknown). Because the association between active sonar exposures and 
marine mammals mass stranding events is not consistent--some marine 
mammals strand without being exposed to sonar and some sonar 
transmissions are not associated with marine mammal stranding events 
despite their co-occurrence--other risk factors or a groupings of risk 
factors probably contribute to these stranding events.

Behaviorally Mediated Responses to MFAS That May Lead to Stranding

    Although the confluence of Navy MFAS with the other contributory 
factors noted in the report was identified as the cause of the Bahamas 
(2000) stranding event, the specific mechanisms that led to that 
stranding (or the others) are not understood, and there is uncertainty 
regarding the ordering of effects that led to the stranding. It is 
unclear whether beaked whales were directly injured by sound 
(acoustically mediated bubble growth, addressed above) prior to 
stranding or whether a behavioral response to sound occurred that 
ultimately caused the beaked whales to be injured and strand.

[[Page 7090]]

    Although causal relationships between beaked whale stranding events 
and active sonar remain unknown, several authors have hypothesized that 
stranding events involving these species in the Bahamas and Canary 
Islands may have been triggered when the whales changed their dive 
behavior in a startled response to exposure to active sonar or to 
further avoid exposure (Cox et al., 2006, Rommel et al., 2006). These 
authors proposed three mechanisms by which the behavioral responses of 
beaked whales upon being exposed to active sonar might result in a 
stranding event. These include the following: gas bubble formation 
caused by excessively fast surfacing; remaining at the surface too long 
when tissues are supersaturated with nitrogen; or diving prematurely 
when extended time at the surface is necessary to eliminate excess 
nitrogen. More specifically, beaked whales that occur in deep waters 
that are in close proximity to shallow waters (for example, the 
``canyon areas'' that are cited in the Bahamas stranding event; see 
D'Spain and D'Amico, 2006), may respond to active sonar by swimming 
into shallow waters to avoid further exposures and strand if they were 
not able to swim back to deeper waters. Second, beaked whales exposed 
to active sonar might alter their dive behavior. Changes in their dive 
behavior might cause them to remain at the surface or at depth for 
extended periods of time which could lead to hypoxia directly by 
increasing their oxygen demands or indirectly by increasing their 
energy expenditures (to remain at depth) and increase their oxygen 
demands as a result. If beaked whales are at depth when they detect a 
ping from an active sonar transmission and change their dive profile, 
this could lead to the formation of significant gas bubbles, which 
could damage multiple organs or interfere with normal physiological 
function (Cox et al., 2006; Rommel et al., 2006; Zimmer and Tyack, 
2007). Baird et al. (2005) found that slow ascent rates from deep dives 
and long periods of time spent within 50 m of the surface were typical 
for both Cuvier's and Blainville's beaked whales, the two species 
involved in mass strandings related to naval sonar. These two 
behavioral mechanisms may be necessary to purge excessive dissolved 
nitrogen concentrated in their tissues during their frequent long dives 
(Baird et al., 2005). Baird et al. (2005) further suggests that 
abnormally rapid ascents or premature dives in response to high-
intensity sonar could indirectly result in physical harm to the beaked 
whales, through the mechanisms described above (gas bubble formation or 
non-elimination of excess nitrogen).
    Because many species of marine mammals make repetitive and 
prolonged dives to great depths, it has long been assumed that marine 
mammals have evolved physiological mechanisms to protect against the 
effects of rapid and repeated decompressions. Although several 
investigators have identified physiological adaptations that may 
protect marine mammals against nitrogen gas supersaturation (alveolar 
collapse and elective circulation; Kooyman et al., 1972; Ridgway and 
Howard, 1979), Ridgway and Howard (1979) reported that bottlenose 
dolphins that were trained to dive repeatedly had muscle tissues that 
were substantially supersaturated with nitrogen gas. Houser et al. 
(2001) used these data to model the accumulation of nitrogen gas within 
the muscle tissue of other marine mammal species and concluded that 
cetaceans that dive deep and have slow ascent or descent speeds would 
have tissues that are more supersaturated with nitrogen gas than other 
marine mammals. Based on these data, Cox et al. (2006) hypothesized 
that a critical dive sequence might make beaked whales more prone to 
stranding in response to acoustic exposures. The sequence began with 
(1) very deep (to depths as deep as 2 kilometers) and long (as long as 
90 minutes) foraging dives with (2) relatively slow, controlled 
ascents, followed by (3) a series of ``bounce'' dives between 100 and 
400 meters in depth (also see Zimmer and Tyack, 2007). They concluded 
that acoustic exposures that disrupted any part of this dive sequence 
(for example, causing beaked whales to spend more time at surface 
without the bounce dives that are necessary to recover from the deep 
dive) could produce excessive levels of nitrogen supersaturation in 
their tissues, leading to gas bubble and emboli formation that produces 
pathologies similar to decompression sickness.
    Zimmer and Tyack (2007) modeled nitrogen tension and bubble growth 
in several tissue compartments for several hypothetical dive profiles 
and concluded that repetitive shallow dives (defined as a dive where 
depth does not exceed the depth of alveolar collapse, approximately 72 
m for Ziphius), perhaps as a consequence of an extended avoidance 
reaction to sonar sound, could pose a risk for decompression sickness 
and that this risk should increase with the duration of the response. 
Their models also suggested that unrealistically rapid ascent rates 
from normal dive behaviors are unlikely to result in supersaturation to 
the extent that bubble formation would be expected. Tyack et al. (2006) 
suggested that emboli observed in animals exposed to mid-frequency 
range sonar (Jepson et al., 2003; Fernandez et al., 2005) could stem 
from a behavioral response that involves repeated dives shallower than 
the depth of lung collapse. Given that nitrogen gas accumulation is a 
passive process (i.e. nitrogen is metabolically inert), a bottlenose 
dolphin was trained to repetitively dive a profile predicted to elevate 
nitrogen saturation to the point that nitrogen bubble formation was 
predicted to occur. However, inspection of the vascular system of the 
dolphin via ultrasound did not demonstrate the formation of 
asymptomatic nitrogen gas bubbles (Houser et al., 2007). Baird et al. 
(2008), in a beaked whale tagging study off Hawaii, showed that deep 
dives are equally common during day or night, but ``bounce dives'' are 
typically a daytime behavior, possibly associated with visual predator 
avoidance. This may indicate that ``bounce dives'' are associated with 
something other than behavioral regulation of dissolved nitrogen 
levels, which would be necessary day and night.
    If marine mammals respond to a Navy vessel that is transmitting 
active sonar in the same way that they might respond to a predator, 
their probability of flight responses should increase when they 
perceive that Navy vessels are approaching them directly, because a 
direct approach may convey detection and intent to capture (Burger and 
Gochfeld, 1981, 1990; Cooper, 1997, 1998). The probability of flight 
responses should also increase as received levels of active sonar 
increase (and the ship is, therefore, closer) and as ship speeds 
increase (that is, as approach speeds increase). For example, the 
probability of flight responses in Dall's sheep (Ovis dalli dalli) 
(Frid 2001a, b), ringed seals (Phoca hispida) (Born et al., 1999), 
Pacific brant (Branta bernic nigricans) and Canada geese (B. 
Canadensis) increased as a helicopter or fixed-wing aircraft approached 
groups of these animals more directly (Ward et al., 1999). Bald eagles 
(Haliaeetus leucocephalus) perched on trees alongside a river were also 
more likely to flee from a paddle raft when their perches were closer 
to the river or were closer to the ground (Steidl and Anthony, 1996).
    Despite the many theories involving bubble formation (both as a 
direct cause of injury (see Acoustically Mediated Bubble Growth 
Section) and an indirect cause of stranding (See Behaviorally Mediated 
Bubble Growth Section),

[[Page 7091]]

Southall et al., (2007) summarizes that there is either scientific 
disagreement or a lack of information regarding each of the following 
important points: (1) Received acoustical exposure conditions for 
animals involved in stranding events; (2) pathological interpretation 
of observed lesions in stranded marine mammals; (3) acoustic exposure 
conditions required to induce such physical trauma directly; (4) 
whether noise exposure may cause behavioral reactions (such as atypical 
diving behavior) that secondarily cause bubble formation and tissue 
damage; and (5) the extent the post mortem artifacts introduced by 
decomposition before sampling, handling, freezing, or necropsy 
procedures affect interpretation of observed lesions.
    During AFTT exercises there will be use of multiple sonar units in 
areas where six species of beaked whale species may be present. A 
surface duct may be present in a limited area for a limited period of 
time. Although most of the ASW training events will take place in the 
deep ocean, some will occur in areas of high bathymetric relief. 
However, none of the training events will take place in a location 
having a constricted channel with limited egress similar to the Bahamas 
(because none exist in the AFTT Study Area). None of the AFTT exercise 
areas will have a convergence of all five of the environmental factors 
believed to contribute to the Bahamas stranding (mid-frequency sonar, 
beaked whale presence, surface ducts, steep bathymetry, and constricted 
channels with limited egress). However, as mentioned previously, NMFS 
recommends caution when steep bathymetry, surface ducting conditions, 
or a constricted channel is present when mid-frequency tactical sonar 
is employed and cetaceans (especially beaked whales) are present.

Impulsive Sources

    Underwater explosive detonations send a shock wave and sound energy 
through the water and can release gaseous by-products, create an 
oscillating bubble, or cause a plume of water to shoot up from the 
water surface. The shock wave and accompanying noise are of most 
concern to marine animals. Depending on the intensity of the shock wave 
and size, location, and depth of the animal, an animal can be injured, 
killed, suffer non-lethal physical effects, experience hearing related 
effects with or without behavioral responses, or exhibit temporary 
behavioral responses or tolerance from hearing the blast sound. 
Generally, exposures to higher levels of impulse and pressure levels 
would result in greater impacts on an individual animal.
    Injuries resulting from a shock wave take place at boundaries 
between tissues of different densities. Different velocities are 
imparted to tissues of different densities, and this can lead to their 
physical disruption. Blast effects are greatest at the gas-liquid 
interface (Landsberg, 2000). Gas-containing organs, particularly the 
lungs and gastrointestinal tract, are especially susceptible (Goertner, 
1982; Hill, 1978; Yelverton et al., 1973). In addition, gas-containing 
organs including the nasal sacs, larynx, pharynx, trachea, and lungs 
may be damaged by compression/expansion caused by the oscillations of 
the blast gas bubble (Reidenberg and Laitman, 2003). Intestinal walls 
can bruise or rupture, with subsequent hemorrhage and escape of gut 
contents into the body cavity. Less severe gastrointestinal tract 
injuries include contusions, petechiae (small red or purple spots 
caused by bleeding in the skin), and slight hemorrhaging (Yelverton et 
al., 1973).
    Because the ears are the most sensitive to pressure, they are the 
organs most sensitive to injury (Ketten, 2000). Sound-related damage 
associated with sound energy from detonations can be theoretically 
distinct from injury from the shock wave, particularly farther from the 
explosion. If an animal is able to hear a noise, at some level it can 
damage its hearing by causing decreased sensitivity (Ketten, 1995). 
Sound-related trauma can be lethal or sublethal. Lethal impacts are 
those that result in immediate death or serious debilitation in or near 
an intense source and are not, technically, pure acoustic trauma 
(Ketten, 1995). Sublethal impacts include hearing loss, which is caused 
by exposures to perceptible sounds. Severe damage (from the shock wave) 
to the ears includes tympanic membrane rupture, fracture of the 
ossicles, damage to the cochlea, hemorrhage, and cerebrospinal fluid 
leakage into the middle ear. Moderate injury implies partial hearing 
loss due to tympanic membrane rupture and blood in the middle ear. 
Permanent hearing loss also can occur when the hair cells are damaged 
by one very loud event, as well as by prolonged exposure to a loud 
noise or chronic exposure to noise. The level of impact from blasts 
depends on both an animal's location and, at outer zones, on its 
sensitivity to the residual noise (Ketten, 1995).
    There have been fewer studies addressing the behavioral effects of 
explosives on marine mammals compared to sonar and other active 
acoustic sources. However, though the nature of the sound waves emitted 
from an explosion are different (in shape and rise time) from sonar and 
other active acoustic sources, we still anticipate the same sorts of 
behavioral responses to result from repeated explosive detonations (a 
smaller range of likely less severe responses (i.e., not rising to the 
level of MMPA harassment) would be expected to occur as a result of 
exposure to a single explosive detonation that was not powerful enough 
or close enough to the animal to cause TTS or injury).

Vessel Strike

    Commercial and Navy ship strikes of cetaceans can cause major 
wounds, which may lead to the death of the animal. An animal at the 
surface could be struck directly by a vessel, a surfacing animal could 
hit the bottom of a vessel, or an animal just below the surface could 
be cut by a vessel's propeller. The severity of injuries typically 
depends on the size and speed of the vessel (Knowlton and Kraus, 2001; 
Laist et al., 2001; Vanderlaan and Taggart, 2007).
    The most vulnerable marine mammals are those that spend extended 
periods of time at the surface in order to restore oxygen levels within 
their tissues after deep dives (e.g., the sperm whale). In addition, 
some baleen whales, such as the North Atlantic right whale, seem 
generally unresponsive to vessel sound, making them more susceptible to 
vessel collisions (Nowacek et al., 2004). These species are primarily 
large, slow moving whales. Smaller marine mammals (e.g., bottlenose 
dolphin) move quickly through the water column and are often seen 
riding the bow wave of large ships. Marine mammal responses to vessels 
may include avoidance and changes in dive pattern (NRC, 2003).
    An examination of all known ship strikes from all shipping sources 
(civilian and military) indicates vessel speed is a principal factor in 
whether a vessel strike results in death (Knowlton and Kraus, 2001; 
Laist et al., 2001; Jensen and Silber, 2003; Vanderlaan and Taggart, 
2007). In assessing records in which vessel speed was known, Laist et 
al. (2001) found a direct relationship between the occurrence of a 
whale strike and the speed of the vessel involved in the collision. The 
authors concluded that most deaths occurred when a vessel was traveling 
in excess of 13 knots.
    Jensen and Silber (2003) detailed 292 records of known or probable 
ship strikes of all large whale species from 1975 to 2002. Of these, 
vessel speed at the time of collision was reported for 58

[[Page 7092]]

cases. Of these cases, 39 (or 67 percent) resulted in serious injury or 
death (19 of those resulted in serious injury as determined by blood in 
the water, propeller gashes or severed tailstock, and fractured skull, 
jaw, vertebrae, hemorrhaging, massive bruising or other injuries noted 
during necropsy and 20 resulted in death). Operating speeds of vessels 
that struck various species of large whales ranged from 2 to 51 knots. 
The majority (79 percent) of these strikes occurred at speeds of 13 
knots or greater. The average speed that resulted in serious injury or 
death was 18.6 knots. Pace and Silber (2005) found that the probability 
of death or serious injury increased rapidly with increasing vessel 
speed. Specifically, the predicted probability of serious injury or 
death increased from 45 to 75 percent as vessel speed increased from 10 
to 14 knots, and exceeded 90 percent at 17 knots. Higher speeds during 
collisions result in greater force of impact, but higher speeds also 
appear to increase the chance of severe injuries or death by pulling 
whales toward the vessel. Computer simulation modeling showed that 
hydrodynamic forces pulling whales toward the vessel hull increase with 
increasing speed (Clyne, 1999; Knowlton et al., 1995).
    The Jensen and Silber (2003) report notes that the database 
represents a minimum number of collisions, because the vast majority 
probably goes undetected or unreported. In contrast, Navy vessels are 
likely to detect any strike that does occur, and they are required to 
report all ship strikes involving marine mammals. Overall, the 
percentages of Navy traffic relative to overall reported large shipping 
traffic are very small (on the order of 2 percent).
    Over a period of 18 years from 1995 to 2012 there have been a total 
of 19 Navy vessel strikes in the Study Area. Eight of the strikes 
resulted in a confirmed death; but in 11 of the 19 strikes, the fate of 
the animal was unknown. It is possible that some of the 11 reported 
strikes resulted in recoverable injury or were not marine mammals at 
all, but another large marine species (e.g., basking shark). However, 
it is prudent to consider that all of the strikes could have resulted 
in the death of a marine mammal. The maximum number of strikes in any 
given year was three strikes, which occurred in 2001 and 2004. The 
highest average number of strikes over any five year period was two 
strikes per year from 2001 to 2005. The average number of strikes for 
the entire 18-year period is 1.055 strikes per year. Since the 
implementation of the Navy's Marine Species Awareness Training in 2007, 
strikes in the Study Area have decreased to an average of 0.5 per year. 
Over the last five years on the east coast, the Navy was involved in 
two strikes, with no confirmed marine mammal deaths as a result of the 
vessel strike.

Mitigation

    In order to issue an incidental take authorization (ITA) under 
Section 101(a)(5)(A) 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.'' The NDAA of 2004 amended 
the MMPA as it relates to military-readiness activities and the 
incidental take authorization process such that ``least practicable 
adverse impact'' shall include consideration of personnel safety, 
practicality of implementation, and impact on the effectiveness of the 
``military readiness activity.'' The training and testing activities 
described in the AFTT application are considered military readiness 
activities.
    NMFS reviewed the proposed activities and the proposed mitigation 
measures as described in the Navy's LOA application to determine if 
they would result in the least practicable adverse effect on marine 
mammals, which includes a careful balancing of the likely benefit of 
any particular measure to the marine mammals with the likely effect of 
that measure on personnel safety, practicality of implementation, and 
impact on the effectiveness of the ``military readiness activity.'' 
Included below are the mitigation measures the Navy proposed in its LOA 
application.

Proposed Mitigation Measures

    In general, mitigation measures are modifications to the proposed 
activities that are implemented for the sole purpose of reducing a 
specific potential environmental impact on a particular resource. These 
do not include standard operating procedures, which are established for 
reasons other than environmental benefit. Most of the following 
proposed mitigation measures are currently implemented, and the 
remainder were developed where there was no mitigation for new systems. 
The Navy's overall approach to assessing potential mitigation measures 
is provided in Section 5.2.2 of the AFTT DEIS/OEIS. It may be necessary 
for NMFS to require additional mitigation or monitoring beyond those 
presented below based on information and comments received during the 
public comment period as well as through the consultation process 
required under section 7 of the ESA.

Lookouts

    The use of lookouts is a critical component of Navy procedural 
measures and implementation of mitigation zones. Navy lookouts are 
highly qualified and experienced observers of the marine environment. 
Their duties require that they report all objects sighted in the water 
to the Officer of the Deck (OOD) (e.g., trash, a periscope, marine 
mammals, sea turtles) and all disturbances (e.g., surface disturbance, 
discoloration) that may be indicative of a threat to the vessel and its 
crew. There are personnel standing watch on station at all times (day 
and night) when a ship or surfaced submarine is moving through the 
water.
    The Navy would have two types of lookouts for purposes of 
conducting visual observations: (1) Those positioned on surface ships, 
and (2) those positioned in aircraft or on boats. Lookouts positioned 
on surface ships would be dedicated solely to diligent observation of 
the air and surface of the water. They would have multiple observation 
objectives, which include but are not limited to detecting the presence 
of biological resources and recreational or fishing boats, observing 
mitigation zones, and monitoring for vessel and personnel safety 
concerns.
    Due to aircraft and boat manning and space restrictions, lookouts 
positioned in aircraft or on boats would consist of the aircraft crew, 
pilot, or boat crew. Lookouts positioned in aircraft and boats may 
necessarily be responsible for tasks in addition to observing the air 
or surface of the water (for example, navigation of a helicopter or 
rigid hull inflatable boat). However, aircraft and boat lookouts would, 
to the maximum extent practicable and consistent with aircraft and boat 
safety and training and testing requirements, comply with the 
observation objectives described above for lookouts positioned on 
surface ships.
    The Navy proposes to use at least one lookout during the training 
and testing activities provided in Table 10. Additional details on 
lookout procedures are provided in Chapter 11 of the Navy's LOA 
application (http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental.htm#applications).

[[Page 7093]]



     Table 10--Lookout Mitigation Measures for Training and Testing
                  Activities Within the AFTT Study Area
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                              Training and testing
     Number of lookouts            activities              Benefit
------------------------------------------------------------------------
2 to 4......................  Mine countermeasure   Lookouts can
                               and neutralization    visually detect
                               activities using      marine mammals so
                               time delay would      that potentially
                               use 4 lookouts. If    harmful impacts
                               applicable, aircrew   from explosives use
                               and divers would      can be avoided.
                               report sightings of  Trained lookouts can
                               marine mammals.       more quickly and
                               Ship shock trials     effectively relay
                               would have a          sighting
                               minimum of 2-4        information so that
                               lookouts depending    corrective action
                               on the size of the    can be taken.
                               charge.               Support from
                                                     aircrew and divers,
                                                     if they are
                                                     involved, would
                                                     increase the
                                                     probability of
                                                     sightings, reducing
                                                     the potential for
                                                     impacts.
1 to 2......................  Vessels using low-    Lookouts can
                               frequency active      visually detect
                               sonar or hull-        marine mammals so
                               mounted mid-          that potentially
                               frequency active      harmful impacts
                               sonar associated      from Navy sonar and
                               with ASW activities   explosives use can
                               would have either     be avoided. Trained
                               one or two            lookouts can more
                               lookouts, depending   quickly and
                               on the size of the    effectively relay
                               vessel and the        sighting
                               status/location of    information so that
                               the vessel.           corrective action
                                                     can be taken.
                                                     Support from
                                                     aircrew and divers,
                                                     if they are
                                                     involved, would
                                                     increase the
                                                     probability of
                                                     sightings, reducing
                                                     the potential for
                                                     impacts.
                                                    Mine countermeasure
                                                     and neutralization
                                                     activities with
                                                     positive control
                                                     would use one or
                                                     two lookouts
                                                     (depending on net
                                                     explosive weight),
                                                     with at least one
                                                     on each support
                                                     vessel. If
                                                     applicable, aircrew
                                                     and divers would
                                                     also report the
                                                     presence of marine
                                                     mammals.
                                                    Mine neutralization
                                                     activities
                                                     involving diver
                                                     placed charges of
                                                     up to 100 lb (45
                                                     kg) net explosive
                                                     weight detonation
                                                     would use two
                                                     lookouts.
                                                    Sinking exercises
                                                     would use two
                                                     lookouts (one in an
                                                     aircraft and one on
                                                     a vessel).
                                                    At sea explosives
                                                     testing would have
                                                     at least one
                                                     lookout.
1...........................  Surface ships and     Lookouts can
                               aircraft conducting   visually detect
                               ASW, ASUW, or MIW     marine mammals so
                               activities using      that potentially
                               high-frequency        harmful impacts
                               active sonar; non-    from Navy sonar;
                               hull mounted mid-     explosives;
                               frequency active      sonobuoys; gunnery
                               sonar; helicopter     rounds and missiles
                               dipping mid-          using a surface
                               frequency active      target; explosive
                               sonar; anti-swimmer   torpedoes; pile
                               grenades; IEER        driving; towed
                               sonobuoys; line       systems; surface
                               charge testing;       vessel propulsion;
                               surface gunnery       vessel movements;
                               activities using a    and non-explosive
                               surface target;       munitions can be
                               surface missile       avoided.
                               activities using a   A trained lookout
                               surface target;       can more quickly
                               bombing activities;   and effectively
                               explosive torpedo     relay sighting
                               testing; elevated     information so that
                               causeway system       corrective action
                               pile driving; towed   can be taken.
                               in-water devices;
                               full power
                               propulsion testing
                               of surface vessels;
                               vessel movements;
                               and activities
                               using non-explosive
                               practice munitions,
                               would have one
                               lookout.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Personnel standing watch on the bridge, Commanding Officers, 
Executive Officers, maritime patrol aircraft aircrews, anti-submarine 
warfare helicopter crews, civilian equivalents, and lookouts would 
complete the NMFS-approved Marine Species Awareness Training (MSAT) 
prior to standing watch or serving as a lookout. Additional details on 
the Navy's MSAT program are provided in Chapter 5 of the AFTT Draft 
EIS/OEIS.

Mitigation Zones

    The Navy proposes to use mitigation zones to reduce the potential 
impacts on marine mammals from training and testing activities. 
Mitigation zones are measured as the radius from a source and represent 
a distance that the Navy would monitor. Mitigation zones are applied to 
acoustic stressors (i.e., non-impulsive and impulsive sound), and 
physical strike and disturbance (e.g., vessel movement and bombing 
exercises). In each instance, visual detections of marine mammals would 
be communicated immediately to a watch station for information 
dissemination and appropriate action. Acoustic detections would be 
communicated to lookouts posted in aircraft and on surface vessels.
    Most of the current mitigation zones for activities that involve 
the use of impulsive and non-impulsive sources were originally designed 
to reduce the potential for onset of TTS. The Navy updated their 
acoustic modeling to incorporate new hearing threshold metrics (i.e., 
upper and lower frequency limits), new marine mammal density data, and 
factors such as an animal's likely presence at various depths. An 
explanation of the acoustic modeling process can be found in the Marine 
Species Modeling Team Technical Report (U.S. Department of the Navy, 
2012a).
    As a result of updates to the acoustic modeling, some of the ranges 
to effects are larger than previous model outputs. Due to the 
ineffectiveness associated with mitigating such large areas, the Navy 
is unable to mitigate for onset of TTS during every activity. However, 
some ranges to effects are smaller than previous models estimated, and 
the mitigation zones were adjusted accordingly to provide consistency 
across the measures. The Navy developed each proposed mitigation zone 
to avoid or reduce the potential for onset of the lowest level of 
injury, permanent threshold shift (PTS), out to the predicted maximum 
range (except for shock trials; a detailed discussion of how shock 
trial mitigation zones were developed is presented in Chapter 6.1.7.1 
of the Navy's LOA application). Mitigating to the predicted maximum 
range to PTS also mitigates to the predicted maximum range to onset 
mortality (1 percent mortality), onset slight lung injury, and onset 
slight gastrointestinal tract injury, since the maximum range to 
effects for these criteria are shorter than for PTS. Furthermore, in 
most cases, the predicted maximum range to PTS also covers the 
predicted average range to

[[Page 7094]]

TTS. Tables 11 and 12 summarize the predicted average range to TTS, 
average range to PTS, maximum range to PTS, and recommended mitigation 
zone for each activity category, based on the Navy's acoustic 
propagation modeling results. It is important for the Navy to have 
standardized mitigation zones wherever training and testing may be 
conducted. The information in Tables 11 and 12 was developed in 
consideration of both Atlantic and Pacific Ocean conditions, marine 
mammal species, environmental factors, effectiveness, and operational 
assessments. Therefore, the ranges to effects in Tables 11 and 12 
provide effective values that ensure appropriate mitigation ranges for 
both Atlantic Fleet and Pacific Fleet activities, and may not align 
with range to effects values found in other tables of the Navy's LOA 
application.
    The Navy's proposed mitigation zones are based on the longest range 
for all the marine mammal and sea turtle functional hearing groups. 
Most mitigation zones were driven by the high-frequency cetaceans or 
sea turtles functional hearing group. Therefore, the mitigation zones 
are more conservative for the remaining functional hearing groups (low-
frequency and mid-frequency cetaceans, and pinnipeds), and likely cover 
a larger portion of the potential range to onset of TTS. Additional 
information on the estimated range to effects for each acoustic 
stressor is detailed in Chapter 11 of the Navy's LOA application 
(http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental.htm#applications).

                     Table 11--Predicted Average Range to TTS and Average and Maximum Range to PTS and Recommended Mitigation Zones
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                      Representative source     Predicted average      Predicted average      Predicted maximum         Recommended
         Activity category                   (bin) *              range to TTS            range to PTS           range to PTS         mitigation zone
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                   Non-Impulsive Sound
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Low-Frequency and Hull-Mounted Mid-  SQS-53 ASW hull-        4,251 yd. (3,887 m)...  281 yd. (257 m)......  <292 yd. (<267 m)....  6 dB power down at
 Frequency Active Sonar.              mounted sonar (MF1).                                                                          1,000 yd. (914 m);
                                                                                                                                   4 dB power down at
                                                                                                                                    500 yd. (457 m); and
                                                                                                                                    shutdown at 200 yd.
                                                                                                                                    (183 m).
High-Frequency and Non-Hull Mounted  AQS-22 ASW dipping      226 yd. (207 m).......  <55 yd. (<50 m)......  <55 yd. (<50 m)......  200 yd. (183 m).
 Mid-Frequency Active Sonar.          sonar (MF4).
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                              Explosive and Impulsive Sound
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Improved Extended Echo Ranging       Explosive sonobuoy      434 yd. (397 m).......  156 yd. (143 m)......  563 yd. (515 m)......  600 yd. (549 m).
 Sonobuoys.                           (E4).
Explosive Sonobuoys using 0.6-2.5    Explosive sonobuoy      290 yd. (265 m).......  113 yd. (103 m)......  309 yd. (283 m)......  350 yd. (320 m).
 lb. NEW.                             (E3).
Anti-Swimmer Grenades..............  Up to 0.5 lb. NEW (E2)  190 yd. (174 m).......  83 yd. (76 m)........  182 yd. (167 m)......  200 yd. (183 m).
                                    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Mine Countermeasure and                                                    Dependent on charge size (see Table 12)
 Neutralization Activities Using
 Positive Control Firing Devices.
                                    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Mine Neutralization Diver Placed     Up to 20 lb. NEW (E6).  647 yd. (592 m).......  232 yd. (212 m)......  469 yd. (429 m)......  1,000 yd. (915 m).
 Mines Using Time-Delay Firing
 Devices.
Ordnance Testing (Line Charge        Numerous 5 lb. charges  434 yd. (397 m).......  156 yd. (143 m)......  563 yd. (515 m)......  900 yd. (823 m).**
 Testing).                            (E4).
Gunnery Exercises--Small- and        40 mm projectile (E2).  190 yd. (174 m).......  83 yd. (76 m)........  182 yd. (167 m)......  200 yd. (183 m).
 Medium-Caliber (Surface Target).
Gunnery Exercises--Large-Caliber     5 in. projectiles (E5   453 yd. (414 m).......  186 yd. (170 m)......  526 yd. (481 m)......  600 yd. (549 m).
 (Surface Target).                    at the surface ***).
Missile Exercises up to 250 lb. NEW  Maverick missile (E9).  949 yd. (868 m).......  398 yd. (364 m)......  699 yd. (639 m)......  900 yd. (823 m).
 (Surface Target).
Missile Exercises up to 500 lb. NEW  Harpoon missile (E10).  1,832 yd. (1,675 m)...  731 yd. (668 m)......  1,883 yd. (1,721 m)..  2,000 yd. (1.8 km).
 (Surface Target).
Bombing Exercises..................  MK-84 2,000 lb. bomb    2,513 yd. (2.3 km)....  991 yd. (906 m)......  2,474 yd. (2.3 km)...  2,500 yd. (2.3 km).**
                                      (E12).

[[Page 7095]]

 
Torpedo (Explosive) Testing........  MK-48 torpedo (E11)...  1,632 yd. (1.5 km)....  697 yd. (637 m)......  2,021 yd. (1.8 km)...  2,100 yd. (1.9 km).
Sinking Exercises..................  Various sources up to   2,513 yd. (2.3 km)....  991 yd. (906 m)......  2,474 yd. (2.3 km)...  2.5 nm (4.6 km).**
                                      the MK-84 2,000 lb.
                                      bomb (E12).
Ship Shock Trials in JAX Range       10,000 lb. charge       5.8 nm (10.8 km)......  2.7 nm (4.9 km)......  4.8 nm (8.9 km)......  3.5 nm (6.5 km).
 Complex.                             (HBX).
                                     40,000 lb. charge       9.2 nm (17 km)........  3.6 nm (6.6 km)......  6.4 nm (11.9 km).....  3.5 nm (6.5 km).
                                      (HBX).
Ship Shock Trials in VACAPES Range   10,000 lb. charge       9 nm (16.7 km)........  2 nm (3.6 km)........  4.7 nm (8.7 km)......  3.5 nm (6.5 km).
 Complex.                             (HBX).
                                     40,000 lb. charge       10.3 nm (19.2 km).....  3.7 nm (6.8 km)......  7.6 nm (14 km).......  3.5 nm (6.5 km).
                                      (HBX).
At-Sea Explosive Testing...........  Various sources less    525 yd. (480 m).......  204 yd. (187 m)......  649 yd. (593 m)......  1,600 yd. (1.4 km).**
                                      than 10 lb. NEW (E5
                                      at various depths***).
Elevated Causeway System--Pile       24 in. steel impact     1,094 yd. (1,000 m)...  51 yd. (46 m)........  51 yd. (46 m)........  60 yd. (55 m).
 Driving.                             hammer.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
ASW: Anti-submarine warfare; JAX: Jacksonville; NEW: Net explosive weight; PTS: Permanent threshold shift; TTS: Temporary threshold shift;
* This table does not provide an inclusive list of source bins; bins presented here represent the source bin with the largest range to effects within
  the given activity category.
** Recommended mitigation zones are larger than the modeled injury zones to account for multiple types of sources or charges being used.
*** The representative source bin E5 has different range to effects depending on the depth of activity occurrence (at the surface or at various depths).


                   Table 12--Predicted Range to Effects and Mitigation Zone Radius for Mine Countermeasure and Neutralization Activities Using Positive Control Firing Devices
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                     General mine countermeasure and neutralization activities using positive      Mine countermeasure and neutralization activities using diver placed charges
                                                              control firing devices*                                                        under positive control **
Charge size net explosive weight ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
             (bins)                Predicted average   Predicted average   Predicted maximum      Recommended      Predicted average   Predicted average   Predicted maximum      Recommended
                                     range to TTS        range to PTS        range to PTS       mitigation zone      range to TTS        range to PTS        range to PTS       mitigation zone
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
2.6-5 lb. (E4)..................  434 yd. (474 m)...  197 yd. (180 m)...  563 yd. (515 m)...  600 yd. (549 m)...  545 yd. (498 m)...  169 yd. (155 m)...  301 yd. (275 m)...  350 yd. (320 m).
6-10 lb. (E5)...................  525 yd. (480 m)...  204 yd. (187 m)...  649 yd. (593 m)...  800 yd. (732 m)...  587 yd. (537 m)...  203 yd. (185 m)...  464 yd. (424 m)...  500 yd. (457 m).
11-20 lb. (E6)..................  766 yd. (700 m)...  288 yd. (263 m)...  648 yd. (593 m)...  800 yd. (732 m)...  647 yd. (592 m)...  232 yd. (212 m)...  469 yd. (429 m)...  500 yd. (457 m).
21-60 lb. (E7) ***..............  1,670 yd. (1,527    581 yd. (531 m)...  964 yd. (882 m)...  1,200 yd. (1.1 km)  1,532 yd. (1,401    473 yd. (432 m)...  789 yd. (721 m)...  800 yd. (732 m).
                                   m).                                                                             m).
61-100 lb. (E8) ****............  878 yd. (802 m)...  383 yd. (351 m)...  996 yd. (911 m)...  1,600 yd. (1.4 m).  969 yd. (886 m)...  438 yd. (400 m)...  850 yd. (777 m)...  850 yd. (777 m).
250-500 lb. (E10)...............  1,832 yd. (1,675    731 yd. (668 m)...  1,883 yd. (1,721    2,000 yd. (1.8 km)  ..................  ..................  ..................  Not Applicable.
                                   m).                                     m).
501-650 lb. (E11)...............  1,632 yd. (1,492    697 yd. (637 m)...  2,021 yd. (1,848    2,100 yd. (1.9 km)  ..................  ..................  ..................  Not Applicable.
                                   m).                                     m).
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
PTS: Permanent threshold shift; TTS: Temporary threshold shift.
* These mitigation zones are applicable to all mine countermeasure and neutralization activities conducted in all locations that Tables 2.8-1 through 2.8-5 in the AFTT DEIS/OEIS specifies.
** These mitigation zones are only applicable to mine countermeasure and neutralization activities involving the use of diver placed charges. These activities are conducted in shallow-water
  and the mitigation zones are based only on the functional hearing groups with species that occur in these areas (mid-frequency cetaceans and sea turtles).
*** The E7 bin was only modeled in shallow-water locations so there is no difference for the diver placed charges category.
**** The E8 bin was only modeled for surface explosions, so some of the ranges are shorter than for sources modeled in the E7 bin which occur at depth.

    When mine neutralization activities using diver placed charges (up 
to a 20 lb. NEW) are conducted with a time-delay firing device, the 
detonation is fused with a specified time-delay by the personnel 
conducting the activity and is not authorized until the area is clear 
at the time the fuse is initiated. During these activities, the 
detonation cannot

[[Page 7096]]

be terminated once the fuse is initiated due to human safety concerns. 
The Navy is proposing to modify the number of lookouts currently used 
for mine neutralization activities using diver-placed time-delay firing 
devices. As a reference, the current mitigation involves the use of six 
lookouts and three small rigid hull inflatable boats (two lookouts 
positioned in each of the three boats) for mitigation zones equal to or 
larger than 1,400 yd. (1,280 m), or four lookouts and two boats for 
mitigation zones smaller than 1,400 yd. (1,280 m), which was 
incorporated into the current Silver Strand Training Complex IHA to 
minimize the possibility of take by serious injury or mortality (which 
is not authorized under an IHA). The Navy has determined that using six 
lookouts and three boats in the long-term is impracticable to implement 
from an operational standpoint due to the impact that it is causing on 
resource requirements (i.e., limited personnel resources and boat 
availability). During activities using up to a 20 lb. NEW (bin E6) 
detonation, the Navy is proposing to have four lookouts and two small 
rigid hull inflatable boats (two lookouts positioned in each of the two 
boats). In addition, when aircraft are used, the pilot or member of the 
aircrew will serve as an additional lookout.
    NMFS believes that the Navy's proposed modification to this 
mitigation measure will still reduce the potential for injury or 
mortality for several reasons: (1) The Navy's acoustic propagation 
modeling results show that the predicted ranges to TTS and PTS for mine 
neutralization diver place mines using time-delay firing devices do not 
exceed 647 yd (592 m), which is well within the proposed 1,000-yd (915-
m) mitigation zone; (2) the number of lookouts for a 1,000-yd (915-m) 
mitigation zone would not change; (3) the maximum net explosive weight 
would decrease from 29 lb (currently) to 20 lb (proposed); (4) the Navy 
would continue to monitor the mitigation zone for 30 minutes before, 
during, and 30 after the activity to ensure that the area is clear of 
marine mammals; and (5) time-delay firing device activities are only 
conducted during daylight hours.

Mitigation Areas

    The Navy proposes to implement several mitigation measures within 
pre-defined habitat areas in the AFTT Study Area. NMFS and the Navy 
refer to these areas as ``mitigation areas.'' It is important to note 
that the mitigation measures proposed for implementation only apply 
within each area as described.

North Atlantic Right Whale Mitigation Area Off the Southeast United 
States

    Several mitigation measures are proposed for implementation within 
pre-defined boundaries of a North Atlantic right whale mitigation area 
off the southeast United States annually during calving season between 
November 15 and April 15. The southeast United States mitigation area 
is defined as follows (and depicted in Figure 4-1 of the LOA 
application): A 5 nm (9.3 km) buffer around the coastal waters between 
31[deg]15' North and 30[deg]15' North from the coast out 15 nm (27.8 
km); and the coastal waters between 30[deg]15' North and 28[deg]00' 
North from the coast out 5 nm (9.3 km).
    The Navy would not conduct the following activities within the 
mitigation area:
     High-frequency and non-hull mounted mid-frequency active 
sonar (excluding helicopter dipping)
     Missile activities (explosive and non-explosive)
     Bombing exercises (explosive and non-explosive)
     Underwater detonations
     Improved extended echo ranging sonobuoy exercises
     Torpedo exercises (explosive)
     Small-, medium-, and large-caliber gunnery exercises
    The Navy would minimize, to the maximum extent practicable, the use 
of the following systems within the mitigation area:
     Helicopter dipping using active sonar
     Low-frequency and hull-mounted mid-frequency active sonar 
used for navigation training
     Low-frequency and hull-mounted mid-frequency active sonar 
used for object detection exercises

Before transiting through or conducting any training or testing 
activities within the mitigation area, the Navy would communicate with 
the Fleet Area Control and Surveillance Facility, Jacksonville to 
obtain Early Warning System North Atlantic right whale sightings data. 
The Fleet Area Control and Surveillance Facility, Jacksonville, would 
advise ships of all reported whale sightings in the vicinity of the 
mitigation area to help ships and aircraft reduce potential 
interactions with North Atlantic right whales. Commander Submarine 
Force United States Atlantic Fleet would coordinate any submarine 
operations that may require approval from the Fleet Area Control and 
Surveillance Facility, Jacksonville. When transiting within the 
mitigation area, all Navy vessels would exercise extreme caution and 
proceed at the slowest speed that is consistent with safety, mission, 
training, and operations. Vessels would implement speed reductions 
under any of the following conditions: (1) After they observe a North 
Atlantic right whale; (2) if they are within 5 nm (9 km) of a sighting 
reported within the past 12 hours.; or (3) when operating at night or 
during periods of poor visibility. The Navy would minimize to the 
maximum extent practicable north-south transits through the mitigation 
area. The Navy may periodically travel in a north-south direction 
during training and testing activities due to operational requirements. 
If north-south directional travel is required during training or 
testing activities, the Navy would implement the increased caution and 
speed reductions described above when applicable.

North Atlantic Right Whale Mitigation Area Off the Northeast United 
States

    Two important North Atlantic right whale foraging habitats, the 
Great South Channel and Cape Cod Bay, are located off the northeast 
United States. These two areas comprise the northeast United States 
mitigation area, which apply year-round and are defined as follows:
     Great South Channel: The area bounded by 41[deg]40' North/
69[deg]45' West; 41[deg]00' North/69[deg]05' West; 41[deg]38' North/
68[deg]13' West; and 42[deg]10' North/68[deg]31' West
     Cape Cod Bay: The area bounded by 42[deg]04.8' North/
70[deg]10' West; 42[deg]12' North/70[deg]15' West; 42[deg]12' North/
70[deg]30' West; 41[deg]46.8' North/70[deg]30' West and on the south 
and east by the interior shoreline of Cape Cod, Massachusetts

The Navy would not conduct the following activities within the 
boundaries of the mitigation area or within additional specified 
distances from the mitigation area:
     Improved extended echo ranging sonobuoy exercises in or 
within 3 nm (5.6 km) of the mitigation area
     Bombing exercises (explosive and non-explosive)
     Underwater detonations
     Torpedo exercises (explosive)

The Navy would minimize to the maximum extent practicable the use of 
the following systems within the boundaries of the mitigation area:
     Low-frequency and hull-mounted active sonar
     High-frequency and non-hull mounted mid-frequency active 
sonar, including helicopter dipping

Before transiting the mitigation area with a surface vessel, the Navy 
would conduct a prior web query or email inquiry to the NMFS Northeast 
U.S.

[[Page 7097]]

Right Whale Sighting Advisory System in order to obtain the latest 
North Atlantic right whale sighting information. When transiting within 
the mitigation area, Navy vessels would exercise extreme caution and 
proceed at the slowest speed that is consistent with safety, mission, 
training, and operations. Vessels would implement speed reductions 
under the following conditions: (1) After they observe a North Atlantic 
right whale; (2) if they are within 5 nm (9 km) of a sighting reported 
within the past week; or (3) when operating at night or during periods 
of poor visibility. These additional speed reductions shall be 
implemented according to Rule 6 of the International Navigation Rules 
((COLREGS, 1972).
    Additional mitigation would be required when conducting Torpedo 
Exercises (TORPEXs) in the Northeast Right Whale Mitigation Area. 
Surface vessels and submarines would maintain a speed of no more than 
10 knots (19 km/hr.) during transit; and torpedo exercise firing vessel 
speeds would range from 10 knots (19 km/hr.) during normal firing, 18 
knots (33.3 km/hr.) during submarine target firing, and in excess of 18 
knots (33.3 km/hr.) during surface vessel target firing (speeds in 
excess of 18 knots would occur for a short time [e.g., 10-15 min.]).
    The Navy would conduct all non-explosive torpedo testing during 
daylight hours in Beaufort sea states of 3 or less to increase the 
probability of marine mammal detection. Mitigation would include visual 
observation immediately before and during the exercise within the 
immediate vicinity of the activity. During the conduct of the test, 
visual surveys of the test area would be conducted by all vessels and 
aircraft involved in the exercise to detect the presence of marine 
mammals. The test scenario would not commence if concentrations of 
floating vegetation (Sargassum or kelp patties) are observed in the 
immediate vicinity of the activity. The test scenario would cease if a 
North Atlantic right whale is visually detected within the immediate 
vicinity of the activity. The test scenario would re-commence if any 
one of the following conditions are met: (1) The animal is observed 
exiting the immediate vicinity of the activity, (2) the animal is 
thought to have exited the immediate vicinity of the activity based on 
its course and speed, or (3) the immediate vicinity of the activity has 
been clear from any additional sightings for a period of 30 minutes.

North Atlantic Right Whale Mid-Atlantic Mitigation Area

    A North Atlantic right whale migratory route is located off the 
mid-Atlantic coast of the United States. When transiting within the 
mitigation area, the Navy would practice increased vigilance, exercise 
extreme caution, and proceed at the slowest speed that is consistent 
with safety, mission, and training and testing objectives. This 
mitigation area would apply from November 1 through April 30 and would 
be defined as follows:
     Block Island Sound: The area bounded by 40[deg]51'53.7'' 
North/070[deg]36'44.9'' West; 41[deg]20'14.1'' North/070[deg]49'44.1'' 
West
     New York and New Jersey: 20 nm (37 km) seaward of the line 
between 40[deg]29'42.2'' North/073[deg]55'57.6'' West
     Delaware Bay: 38[deg]52'27.4'' North/075[deg]01'32.1'' 
West
     Chesapeake Bay: 37[deg]00'36.9'' North/075[deg]57''50.5'' 
West
     Morehead City, North Carolina: 34[deg]41'32.0'' North/
076[deg]40'08.3'' West
     Wilmington, North Carolina, through South Carolina, and to 
Brunswick, Georgia: Within a continuous area 20 nm from shore and west 
back to shore bounded by 34[deg]10'30'' North/077[deg]49'12'' West; 
33[deg]56'42'' North/077[deg]31'30'' West; 33[deg]36'30'' North/
077[deg]47'06'' West; 33[deg]28'24'' North/078[deg]32'30'' West; 
32[deg]59'06'' North/078[deg]50'18'' West; 31[deg]50'00''North/
080[deg]33'12'' West; 31[deg]27'00'' North/080[deg]51'36'' West

Planning Awareness Areas

    The Navy has designated several planning awareness areas (PAAs) 
based on locations of high productivity that have been correlated with 
high concentrations of marine mammals (such as persistent oceanographic 
features like upwellings associated with the Gulf Stream front where it 
is deflected off the east coast near the Outer Banks), and areas of 
steep bathymetric contours that are frequented by deep diving marine 
mammals such as beaked whales and sperm whales.
    For events involving active sonar, the Navy would avoid planning 
major exercises in planning awareness areas (Figure 11-1 in the LOA 
application) when feasible. To the extent operationally feasible, the 
Navy would not conduct more than one of the five major exercises or 
similar scale events per year in the Gulf of Mexico planning awareness 
area. If national security needs require the conduct of more than five 
major exercises or similar scale events in the planning awareness areas 
per year, or more than one within the Gulf of Mexico planning awareness 
area per year, the Navy would provide NMFS with prior notification and 
include the information in any associated after-action or monitoring 
reports.

Cetacean and Sound Mapping

    NMFS Office of Protected Resources standardly considers available 
information about marine mammal habitat use to inform discussions with 
applicants regarding potential spatio-temporal limitations of their 
activities that might help effect the least practicable adverse impact 
(e.g., Planning Awareness Areas). Through the Cetacean and Sound 
Mapping effort (www.cetsound.noaa.gov), NOAA's Cetacean Density and 
Distribution Mapping Working Group (CetMap) is currently involved in a 
process to compile available literature and solicit expert review to 
identify areas and times where species are known to concentrate for 
specific behaviors (e.g., feeding, breeding/calving, or migration) or 
be range-limited (e.g., small resident populations). These areas, 
called Biologically Important Areas (BIAs), are useful tools for 
planning and impact assessments and are being provided to the public 
via the CetSound Web site, along with a summary of the supporting 
information. While these BIAs are useful tools for analysts, any 
decisions regarding protective measures based on these areas must go 
through the normal MMPA evaluation process (or any other statutory 
process that the BIAs are used to inform)--the designation of a BIA 
does not pre-suppose any specific management decision associated with 
those areas. Additionally, the BIA process is iterative and the areas 
will be updated as new information becomes available. Currently, NMFS 
has published BIAs for the Arctic Slope and some in Hawaii. The BIAs in 
other regions, such as the Atlantic and West Coast of the continental 
U.S. are still in development. We have indicated to the Navy that once 
these BIAs are complete and put on the Web site, we may need to discuss 
whether (in the context of the nature and scope of any Navy activities 
planned in and around the BIAs, what impacts might be anticipated, and 
practicability) additional protective measures might be appropriate.

Stranding Response Plan

    NMFS and the Navy developed Stranding Response Plans for the Study 
Areas and Range Complexes that make up the AFTT Study Area in 2009 as 
part of the previous incidental take authorization process. The 
Stranding Response Plans are specifically

[[Page 7098]]

intended to outline the applicable requirements the authorizations are 
conditioned upon in the event that a marine mammal stranding is 
reported in the east coast Range Complexes and AFAST Study Area during 
a major training exercise. NMFS considers all plausible causes within 
the course of a stranding investigation and these plans in no way 
presume that any strandings in a Navy range complex are related to, or 
caused by, Navy training and testing activities, absent a determination 
made during investigation. The plans are designed to address 
mitigation, monitoring, and compliance. The Navy is currently working 
with NMFS to refine these plans for the new AFTT Study Area. The 
current Stranding Response Plans are available for review here: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental.htm#applications.

Mitigation Conclusions

    NMFS has carefully evaluated the Navy's proposed mitigation 
measures and considered a broad range of other measures in the context 
of ensuring that NMFS prescribes the means of effecting the least 
practicable adverse 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 on 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, including consideration of 
personnel safety, practicality of implementation, and impact on the 
effectiveness of the military readiness activity.
    In some cases, additional mitigation measures are required beyond 
those that the applicant proposes. 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 below:
    (a) Avoidance or minimization of injury or death of marine mammals 
wherever possible (goals b, c, and d may contribute to this goal).
    (b) A reduction in the numbers of marine mammals (total number or 
number at biologically important time or location) exposed to received 
levels of sonar and other active acoustic sources, underwater 
detonations, or other activities expected to result in the take of 
marine mammals (this goal may contribute to a, above, or to reducing 
harassment takes only).
    (c) A reduction in the number of times (total number or number at 
biologically important time or location) individuals would be exposed 
to received levels of sonar and other active acoustic sources, 
underwater detonations, or other activities expected to result in the 
take of marine mammals (this goal may contribute to a, above, or to 
reducing harassment takes only).
    (d) A reduction in the intensity of exposures (either total number 
or number at biologically important time or location) to received 
levels of sonar and other active acoustic sources, underwater 
detonations, or other activities expected to result in the take of 
marine mammals (this goal may contribute to a, above, or to reducing 
the severity of harassment takes only).
    (e) 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.
    (f) For monitoring directly related to mitigation--an increase in 
the probability of detecting marine mammals, thus allowing for more 
effective implementation of the mitigation (shut-down zone, etc.).
    Based on our evaluation of the Navy's proposed measures, as well as 
other measures considered by NMFS or recommended by the public, NMFS 
has determined preliminarily that the Navy's proposed mitigation 
measures (especially when the adaptive management component is taken 
into consideration (see Adaptive Management, below)) are adequate means 
of effecting the least practicable adverse impacts on marine mammals 
species or stocks and their habitat, paying particular attention to 
rookeries, mating grounds, and areas of similar significance, while 
also considering personnel safety, practicality of implementation, and 
impact on the effectiveness of the military readiness activity. Further 
detail is included below.
    The proposed rule comment period will afford the public an 
opportunity to submit recommendations, views, and/or concerns regarding 
this action and the proposed mitigation measures. While NMFS has 
determined preliminarily that the Navy's proposed mitigation measures 
would effect the least practicable adverse impact on the affected 
species or stocks and their habitat, NMFS will consider all public 
comments to help inform our final decision. Consequently, the proposed 
mitigation measures may be refined, modified, removed, or added to 
prior to the issuance of the final rule based on public comments 
received, and where appropriate, further analysis of any additional 
mitigation measures.

Monitoring

    In order to issue an ITA for an activity, Section 101(a)(5)(A) 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 LOAs 
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 are expected to be present.
    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, 
both within the safety zone (thus allowing for more effective 
implementation of the mitigation) and in general to generate more data 
to contribute to the analyses mentioned below
    (2) An increase in our understanding of how many marine mammals are 
likely to be exposed to levels of sonar and other active acoustic 
sources (or explosives or other stimuli) that we associate with 
specific adverse effects, such as behavioral harassment, TTS, or PTS.
    (3) An increase in our understanding of how marine mammals respond 
to sonar and other active acoustic sources (at specific received 
levels), explosives, or other stimuli expected to result in take and 
how 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:
     Behavioral observations in the presence of sonar and other 
active acoustic sources compared to observations in the absence of 
sonar (need to be able to accurately predict received level and report 
bathymetric conditions, distance from source, and other pertinent 
information)
     Physiological measurements in the presence of sonar and 
other active acoustic sources compared to observations in the absence 
of tactical sonar (need to be able to accurately predict received level 
and report

[[Page 7099]]

bathymetric conditions, distance from source, and other pertinent 
information)
     Pre-planned and thorough investigation of stranding events 
that occur coincident to naval activities
     Distribution and/or abundance comparisons in times or 
areas with concentrated sonar and other active acoustic sources versus 
times or areas without sonar and other active acoustic sources
     An increased knowledge of the affected species
     An increase in our understanding of the effectiveness of 
certain mitigation and monitoring measures.

Overview of Navy Monitoring Program

    The current Navy monitoring program is composed of a collection of 
``range-specific'' monitoring plans, each developed individually as 
part of the previous MMPA/ESA authorization processes. These individual 
plans established specific monitoring requirements for each range 
complex based on a set of effort-based metrics (e.g., 20 days of aerial 
survey). Concurrent with implementation of the initial range-specific 
monitoring plans, the Navy and NMFS began development of the Integrated 
Comprehensive Monitoring Program (ICMP). The ICMP has been developed in 
direct response to Navy permitting requirements established in various 
MMPA final rules, ESA consultations, Biological Opinions, and 
applicable regulations. The ICMP is intended to coordinate monitoring 
efforts across all regions and to allocate the most appropriate level 
and type of effort for each range complex based on a set of 
standardized objectives, and in acknowledgement of regional expertise 
and resource availability. The ICMP is designed to be flexible, 
scalable, and adaptable plan, through the adaptive management and 
strategic planning processes to periodically assess progress, and re-
evaluate objectives.
    Although the ICMP does not specify actual monitoring field work or 
projects, it does establish top-level goals that have been developed in 
coordination with NMFS. As the ICMP is implemented, detailed and 
specific studies will be developed which support the Navy's top-level 
monitoring goals. In essence, the ICMP directs that monitoring 
activities relating to the effects of Navy training and testing 
activities on marine species should be designed to accomplish one or 
more of the following top-level goals:
     An increase in our understanding of the likely occurrence 
of marine mammals and/or ESA-listed marine species in the vicinity of 
the action (i.e., presence, abundance, distribution, and/or density of 
species);
     An increase in our understanding of the nature, scope, or 
context of the likely exposure of marine mammals and/or ESA-listed 
species to any of the potential stressor(s) associated with the action 
(e.g., tonal and impulsive sound), through better understanding of one 
or more of the following: (1) The action and the environment in which 
it occurs (e.g., sound source characterization, propagation, and 
ambient noise levels); (2) the affected species (e.g., life history or 
dive patterns); (3) the likely co-occurrence of marine mammals and/or 
ESA-listed marine species with the action (in whole or part) associated 
with specific adverse effects, and/or; (4) the likely biological or 
behavioral context of exposure to the stressor for the marine mammal 
and/or ESA-listed marine species (e.g., age class of exposed animals or 
known pupping, calving or feeding areas);
     An increase in our understanding of how individual marine 
mammals or ESA-listed marine species respond (behaviorally or 
physiologically) to the specific stressors associated with the action 
(in specific contexts, where possible, e.g., at what distance or 
received level);
     An increase in our understanding of how anticipated 
individual responses, to individual stressors or anticipated 
combinations of stressors, may impact either: (1) The long-term fitness 
and survival of an individual; or (2) the population, species, or stock 
(e.g., through effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival);
     An increase in our understanding of the effectiveness of 
mitigation and monitoring measures;
     A better understanding and record of the manner in which 
the authorized entity complies with the ITA and Incidental Take 
Statement;
     An increase in the probability of detecting marine mammals 
(through improved technology or methods), both specifically within the 
safety zone (thus allowing for more effective implementation of the 
mitigation) and in general, to better achieve the above goals; and
     A reduction in the adverse impact of activities to the 
least practicable level, as defined in the MMPA.
    While the ICMP only directly applies to monitoring activities under 
applicable MMPA and ESA authorizations, it also serves to facilitate 
coordination among the Navy's marine species monitoring program and the 
basic and applied research programs discussed in the Research Section 
of this document.
    An October 2010 Navy monitoring meeting initiated a process to 
critically evaluate current Navy monitoring plans and begin development 
of revisions to existing range-specific monitoring plans and associated 
updates to the ICMP. Discussions at that meeting and through the Navy/
NMFS adaptive management process established a way ahead for continued 
refinement of the Navy's monitoring program. This process included 
establishing a Scientific Advisory Group (SAG) composed of technical 
experts to provide objective scientific guidance for Navy 
consideration. The Navy established the SAG in early 2011 with the 
initial task of evaluating current Navy monitoring approaches under the 
ICMP and existing LOAs and developing objective scientific 
recommendations that would serve as the basis for a Strategic Planning 
Process for Navy monitoring to be incorporated as a major component of 
the ICMP. The SAG convened in March 2011, composed of leading academic 
and civilian scientists with significant expertise in marine species 
monitoring, acoustics, ecology, and modeling. The SAG's final report 
laid out both over-arching and range-specific recommendations for the 
Navy's Marine Species Monitoring program and is available through the 
US Navy Marine Species Monitoring web portal at http://www.navymarinespeciesmonitoring.us/. Adaptive management discussions 
between the Navy and NMFS established a way ahead for continued 
refinement of the Navy's monitoring program. Consensus was that the 
ICMP and associated implementation components would continue the 
evolution of Navy marine species monitoring towards a single integrated 
program, incorporate SAG recommendations when appropriate and 
logistically feasible, and establish a more collaborative framework for 
evaluating, selecting, and implementing future monitoring across the 
all Navy range complexes through the adaptive management and strategic 
planning process.

Past and Current Monitoring in the AFTT Study Area

    NMFS has received multiple years' worth of annual exercise and 
monitoring reports addressing active sonar use and explosive 
detonations within the AFTT Study Area. The data and information 
contained in these reports have been considered in developing 
mitigation and monitoring measures for the proposed training and 
testing activities within the AFTT Study Area. The Navy's annual 
exercise and

[[Page 7100]]

monitoring reports may be viewed at: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental.htm#applications; or at the Navy's marine species 
monitoring Web site: http://www.navymarinespeciesmonitoring.us/.
    NMFS has reviewed these reports and summarized the results, as 
related to marine mammal monitoring, below.
    (1) The Navy has shown significant initiative in developing its 
marine species monitoring program and made considerable progress toward 
reaching goals and objectives of the ICMP.
    (2) Observation data from watchstanders aboard Navy vessels is 
generally useful to indicate the presence or absence of marine mammals 
within the mitigation zones (and sometimes without) and to document the 
implementation of mitigation measures, but does not provide useful 
species-specific information or behavioral data.
    (3) Data gathered by experienced marine mammal observers can 
provide very valuable information at a level of detail not possible 
with watchstanders.
    (4) Though it is by no means conclusive, it is worth noting that no 
instances of obvious behavioral disturbance have been observed by Navy 
watchstanders or experienced marine mammal observers conducting visual 
monitoring.
    (5) Visual surveys generally provide suitable data for addressing 
questions of distribution and abundance of marine mammals but are much 
less effective at providing information on movements and behavior, with 
a few notable exceptions where sightings are most frequent.
    (6) Passive acoustics and animal tagging have significant potential 
for applications addressing animal movements and behavioral response to 
Navy training activities but require a longer time horizon and heavy 
investment in analysis to produce relevant results.
    (7) NMFS and the Navy should more carefully consider what and how 
information should be gathered during training exercises and monitoring 
events, as some reports contain different information, making cross-
report comparisons difficult.
    The Navy has invested over $10M in monitoring activities in the 
AFAST and east coast range complex portions of AFTT Study Area since 
2009 and has accomplished the following:
     Covered over 150,000 km of visual survey effort;
     Sighted over 30,000 individual marine mammals;
     Monitored 20 individual training exercise events;
     Taken over 23,000 digital photos;
     Collected over 100 biopsy samples;
     Deployed 11 DTags and conducted 6 playback exposures on 
short finned pilot whales;
     Made 23 HARP deployments and collected over 28,000 hours 
of passive acoustic recordings;
     Deployed 3 temporary bottom-mounted passive acoustic 
arrays during training exercises.
    In addition, 518 sightings for an estimated 2,645 marine mammals 
were reported by watchstanders aboard navy ships within the AFTT Study 
Area from 2009 to 2012. These observations were mainly during major at-
sea training events and there were no reported observations of adverse 
reactions by marine mammals and no dead or injured animals reported 
associated with navy training activities.

Proposed Monitoring for the AFTT Study Area

    Based on discussions between the Navy and NMFS, future monitoring 
would address the ICMP top-level goals through a collection of specific 
regional and ocean basin studies based on scientific objectives. 
Quantitative metrics of monitoring effort (e.g., 20 days of aerial 
survey) would not be a specific requirement. The adaptive management 
process and reporting requirements would serve as the basis for 
evaluating performance and compliance, primarily considering the 
quality of the work and results produced as well as peer review and 
publications, and public dissemination of information, reports, and 
data. The strategic planning process (see below) would be used to set 
intermediate scientific objectives, identify potential species of 
interest at a regional scale, and evaluate and select specific 
monitoring projects to fund or continue supporting for a given fiscal 
year. The strategic planning process would also address relative 
investments to different range complexes based on goals across all 
range complexes, and monitoring would leverage multiple techniques for 
data acquisition and analysis whenever possible.

Research

Overview

    The Navy is working towards a better understanding of marine 
mammals and sound in ways that are not directly related to the MMPA 
process. The Navy highlights some of those ways in the section below. 
Further, NMFS is working on a long-term stranding study that will be 
supported by the Navy by way of a funding and information sharing 
component (see below).

Navy Research

    The Navy is one of the world's leading organizations in assessing 
the effects of human activities on the marine environment, and provides 
a significant amount of funding and support to marine research. They 
also develop approaches to ensure that these resources are minimally 
impacted by current and future Navy operations. Navy scientists work 
cooperatively with other government researchers and scientists, 
universities, industry, and non-governmental conservation organizations 
in collecting, evaluating, and modeling information on marine 
resources, including working towards a better understanding of marine 
mammals and sound. From 2004 to 2012, the Navy has provided over $230 
million for marine species research. The U.S. Navy sponsors 70 percent 
of all U.S. research concerning the effects of human-generated sound on 
marine mammals and 50 percent of such research conducted worldwide. 
Major topics of Navy-supported marine species research directly 
applicable to AFTT activities include the following:
     Better understanding of marine species distribution and 
important habitat areas;
     Developing methods to detect and monitor marine species 
before and during training;
     Understanding the impacts of sound on marine mammals, sea 
turtles, fish, and birds;
     Developing tools to model and estimate potential impacts 
of sound.
    It is imperative that the Navy's research and development (R&D) 
efforts related to marine mammals are conducted in an open, transparent 
manner with validated study needs and requirements. The goal of the 
Navy's R&D program is to enable collection and publication of 
scientifically valid research as well as development of techniques and 
tools for Navy, academic, and commercial use. The two Navy 
organizations that account for most funding and oversight of the Navy 
marine mammal research program are the Office of Naval Research (ONR) 
Marine Mammals and Biology (MMB) Program, and the Office of the Chief 
of Naval Operations (CNO) Energy and Environmental Readiness Division 
(N45) Living Marine Resources (LMR) Program. The primary focus of these 
programs has been on understanding the effects of sound on marine 
mammals, including physiological, behavioral and ecological effects.
    The ONR Marine Mammals and Biology program supports basic and 
applied research and technology

[[Page 7101]]

development related to understanding the effects of sound on marine 
mammals, including physiological, behavioral, ecological effects and 
population-level effects. Current program thrusts include, but are not 
limited to:
     Monitoring and detection;
     Integrated ecosystem research including sensor and tag 
development;
     Effects of sound on marine life [including hearing, 
behavioral response studies, diving and stress, physiology, and 
Population Consequences of Acoustic Disturbance (PCAD); and
     Models and databases for environmental compliance.
    The mission of the LMR program is to develop, demonstrate, and 
assess information and technology solutions to protect living marine 
resources by minimizing the environmental risks of Navy at-sea training 
and testing activities while preserving core Navy readiness 
capabilities. This mission is accomplished by:
     Providing science-based information to support Navy 
environmental effects assessments for research, development, 
acquisition, testing and evaluation (RDAT&E) as well as Fleet at-sea 
training, exercises, maintenance and support activities;
     Improving knowledge of the status and trends of marine 
species of concern and the ecosystems of which they are a part;
     Developing the scientific basis for the criteria and 
thresholds to measure the effects of Navy generated sound;
     Improving understanding of underwater sound and sound 
field characterization unique to assessing the biological consequences 
resulting from underwater sound (as opposed to tactical applications of 
underwater sound or propagation loss modeling for military 
communications or tactical applications); and
     Developing technologies and methods to monitor and, where 
possible, mitigate biologically significant consequences to living 
marine resources resulting from naval activities, emphasizing those 
consequences that are most likely to be biologically significant.
    The program is focused on three primary objectives that influence 
program management priorities and directly affect the program's success 
in accomplishing its mission:
    (1) Collect, Validate and Rank R&D Needs: Expand awareness of R&D 
program opportunities within the Navy marine resource community to 
encourage and facilitate the submittal of well-defined and appropriate 
needs statements.
    (2) Address High Priority Needs: Ensure that program investments 
and the resulting projects maintain a direct and consistent link to the 
defined user needs.
    (3) Transition Solutions and Validate Benefits: Maximize the number 
of program-derived solutions that are successfully transitioned to the 
Fleet and system commands (SYSCOMs). The LMR program primarily invests 
in the following areas:
     Developing Data to Support Risk Threshold Criteria;
     Improved Data Collection on Protected Species, Critical 
Habitat within Navy Ranges;
     New Monitoring and Mitigation Technology Demonstrations;
     Database and Model Development;
     Education and Outreach, Emergent Opportunities.
    The Navy has also developed the technical reports and supporting 
data referenced used for analysis in the AFTT EIS/OEIS and this 
proposed rule, which include the Navy Marine Species Density Database 
(NMSDD), Acoustic Criteria and Thresholds, and Determination of 
Acoustic Effects on Marine Mammals and Sea Turtles. Furthermore, 
research cruises by the NMFS and by academic institutions have received 
funding from the U.S. Navy. For instance, the ONR contributed 
financially to the Sperm Whale Seismic Study (SWSS) in the Gulf of 
Mexico, and CNO-N45 currently supports the Atlantic Marine Assessment 
Program for Protected Species (AMAPPS). Both the ONR and CNO-N45 
programs are partners in the multi-year Southern California Behavioral 
Response Study (SOCAL-BRS). All of this research helps in understanding 
the marine environment and the effects that may arise from underwater 
noise in the oceans. Further, NMFS is working on a long-term stranding 
study that will be supported by the Navy by way of a funding and 
information sharing component (see below).

Adaptive Management and Strategic Planning Process

    The final regulations governing the take of marine mammals 
incidental to Navy training and testing exercises in the AFTT Study 
Area would continue to contain an adaptive management component carried 
over from previous authorizations. Although better than five years ago, 
our understanding of the effects of Navy training and testing (e.g., 
sonar and other active acoustic sources and explosives) on marine 
mammals is still relatively limited, and yet the science in this field 
is evolving fairly quickly. These circumstances make the inclusion of 
an adaptive management component both valuable and necessary within the 
context of 5-year regulations for activities that have been associated 
with marine mammal mortality in certain circumstances and locations 
(though not the AFTT Study Area). The proposed reporting requirements 
are designed to provide NMFS with monitoring data from the previous 
year, which allows NMFS to consider whether any changes are 
appropriate. NMFS and the Navy would meet to discuss the monitoring 
reports, Navy R&D developments, and current science and whether 
mitigation or monitoring modifications are appropriate. The use of 
adaptive management would allow the Navy and NMFS to consider new data 
from different sources to determine if modified mitigation or 
monitoring measures are warranted (including possible additions or 
deletions). Mitigation and monitoring measures could be modified, 
added, or deleted if new data suggests that such modifications would 
have a reasonable likelihood of reducing adverse effects on marine 
mammals and if the measures are practicable.
    The following are some of the possible sources of applicable data 
to be considered through the adaptive management process: (1) Results 
from monitoring and exercises reports; (2) compiled results of Navy 
funded research and development (R&D) studies; (3) results from 
specific stranding investigations; (4) results from general marine 
mammal and sound research; and (5) any information which reveals that 
marine mammals may have been taken in a manner, extent or number not 
authorized by these regulations or subsequent LOAs.
    The Navy is currently establishing a strategic planning process 
under the ICMP in coordination with NMFS. The objective of the 
strategic planning process is to guide the continued evolution of Navy 
marine species monitoring towards a single integrated program, 
incorporating expert review and recommendations, and establishing a 
more structured and collaborative framework for evaluating, selecting, 
and implementing future monitoring across the all Navy range complexes. 
The Strategic Plan is intended to be a primary component of the ICMP 
and provide a ``vision'' for Navy monitoring across geographic 
regions--serving as guidance for determining how to most efficiently 
and effectively invest the marine species monitoring resources to 
address ICMP top-level goals and satisfy MMPA monitoring requirements.

[[Page 7102]]

    This process is being designed to integrate various elements 
including:
     Integrated Comprehensive monitoring Program top-level 
goals;
     Scientific Advisory Group recommendations;
     Integration of regional scientific expert input;
     Ongoing adaptive management review dialog between NMFS and 
Navy;
     Lessons learned from past and future monitoring at Navy 
training and testing ranges;
     Leveraged research and lessons learned from other Navy 
funded marine science programs
    NMFS and the Navy continue to coordinate on the strategic planning 
process through the regulatory process of this proposed rule; however, 
these discussions are still ongoing and we anticipate that more 
specific details will be available by the time it is finalized in 
advance of the issuance of the final rule. Additionally, the process 
and associated monitoring requirements may be modified or supplemented 
based on comments or new information received from the public during 
the public comment period.

Reporting

    In order to issue an ITA for an activity, Section 101(a)(5)(A) of 
the MMPA states that NMFS must set forth ``requirements pertaining to 
the monitoring and reporting of such taking.'' Effective reporting is 
critical both to compliance as well as ensuring that the most value is 
obtained from the required monitoring. Some of the reporting 
requirements are still in development and the final rule may contain 
additional details not contained in the proposed rule. Additionally, 
proposed reporting requirements may be modified, eliminated, or added 
based on information or comments received during the public comment 
period. Reports from individual monitoring events, results of analyses, 
publications, and periodic progress reports for specific monitoring 
projects will be posted to the U.S. Navy Marine Species Monitoring web 
portal as they become available. Currently, there are several specific 
reporting requirements pursuant to these proposed regulations:

General Notification of Injured or Dead Marine Mammals

    Navy personnel would ensure that NMFS (regional stranding 
coordinator) is notified immediately (or as soon as clearance 
procedures allow) if an injured or dead marine mammal is found during 
or shortly after, and in the vicinity of, any Navy training exercise 
utilizing MFAS, HFAS, or underwater explosive detonations. The Navy 
would provide NMFS with species identification or description of the 
animal(s), the condition of the animal(s) (including carcass condition 
if the animal is dead), location, time of first discovery, observed 
behaviors (if alive), and photographs or video (if available). The AFTT 
Stranding Response Plan would contain more specific reporting 
requirements for specific circumstances.

Annual Monitoring and Exercise Report

    As noted above, reports from individual monitoring events, results 
of analyses, publications, and periodic progress reports for specific 
monitoring projects would be posted to the Navy's Marine Species 
Monitoring web portal as they become available. Progress and results 
from all monitoring activity conducted within the AFTT Study Area, as 
well as required Major Training Event exercise activity, would be 
summarized in an annual report. A draft of this report would be 
submitted to NMFS for review by April 15 of each year. NMFS would 
review the report and provide comments for incorporation within 3 
months.

Comprehensive Monitoring and Exercise Summary Report

    The Navy would submit to NMFS a draft report that analyzes, 
compares, and summarizes all multi-year marine mammal data gathered 
during training and testing exercises for which individual annual 
reports are required under the proposed regulations. This report would 
be submitted at the end of the fourth year of the rule (December 2018), 
covering activities that have occurred through June 1, 2018. The Navy 
would respond to NMFS comments on the draft comprehensive report if 
submitted within 3 months of receipt. The report will be considered 
final after the Navy has addressed NMFS' comments, or 3 months after 
the submittal of the draft if NMFS does not provide comments.

Estimated Take of Marine Mammals

    In the potential effects section, NMFS' analysis identified the 
lethal responses, physical trauma, sensory impairment (PTS, TTS, and 
acoustic masking), physiological responses (particular stress 
responses), and behavioral responses that could potentially result from 
exposure to sonar and other active acoustic sources and explosives and 
other impulsive sources. In this section, we will relate the potential 
effects to marine mammals from these sound sources to the MMPA 
regulatory definitions of Level A and Level B Harassment and attempt to 
quantify the effects that might occur from the specific training and 
testing activities that the Navy proposes in the AFTT Study Area.
    As mentioned previously, behavioral responses are context-
dependent, complex, and influenced to varying degrees by a number of 
factors other than just received level. For example, an animal may 
respond differently to a sound emanating from a ship that is moving 
towards the animal than it would to an identical received level coming 
from a vessel that is moving away, or to a ship traveling at a 
different speed or at a different distance from the animal. At greater 
distances, though, the nature of vessel movements could also 
potentially not have any effect on the animal's response to the sound. 
In any case, a full description of the suite of factors that elicited a 
behavioral response would require a mention of the vicinity, speed and 
movement of the vessel, or other factors. So, while sound sources and 
the received levels are the primary focus of the analysis and those 
that are laid out quantitatively in the regulatory text, it is with the 
understanding that other factors related to the training are sometimes 
contributing to the behavioral responses of marine mammals, although 
they cannot be quantified.

Definition of Harassment

    As mentioned previously, with respect to military readiness 
activities, section 3(18)(B) of the MMPA defines ``harassment'' as: (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].

Level B Harassment

    Of the potential effects that were described in the Potential 
Effects of Exposure of Marine Mammal to Non-Impulsive and Impulsive 
Sound Sources Section, the following are the types of effects that fall 
into the Level B Harassment category:
    Behavioral Harassment--Behavioral disturbance that rises to the 
level described in the definition above, when resulting from exposures 
to non-impulsive or impulsive sound, is considered Level B Harassment. 
Some of the lower level physiological stress

[[Page 7103]]

responses discussed earlier would also likely co-occur with the 
predicted harassments, although these responses are more difficult to 
detect and fewer data exist relating these responses to specific 
received levels of sound. When Level B Harassment is predicted based on 
estimated behavioral responses, those takes may have a stress-related 
physiological component as well.
    Earlier in this document, we described the Southall et al., (2007) 
severity scaling system and listed some examples of the three broad 
categories of behaviors: 0-3 (Minor and/or brief behaviors); 4-6 
(Behaviors with higher potential to affect foraging, reproduction, or 
survival); 7-9 (Behaviors considered likely to affect the 
aforementioned vital rates). Generally speaking, MMPA Level B 
Harassment, as defined in this document, would include the behaviors 
described in the 7-9 category, and a subset, dependent on context and 
other considerations, of the behaviors described in the 4-6 categories. 
Behavioral harassment does not generally include behaviors ranked 0-3 
in Southall et al., (2007).
    Acoustic Masking and Communication Impairment--Acoustic masking is 
considered Level B Harassment as it can disrupt natural behavioral 
patterns by interrupting or limiting the marine mammal's receipt or 
transmittal of important information or environmental cues.
    TTS--As discussed previously, TTS can affect how an animal behaves 
in response to the environment, including conspecifics, predators, and 
prey. The following physiological mechanisms are thought to play a role 
in inducing auditory fatigue: Effects to sensory hair cells in the 
inner ear that reduce their sensitivity, modification of the chemical 
environment within the sensory cells, residual muscular activity in the 
middle ear, displacement of certain inner ear membranes, increased 
blood flow, and post-stimulatory reduction in both efferent and sensory 
neural output. Ward (1997) suggested that when these effects result in 
TTS rather than PTS, they are within the normal bounds of physiological 
variability and tolerance and do not represent a physical injury. 
Additionally, Southall et al. (2007) indicate that although PTS is a 
tissue injury, TTS is not because the reduced hearing sensitivity 
following exposure to intense sound results primarily from fatigue, not 
loss, of cochlear hair cells and supporting structures and is 
reversible. Accordingly, NMFS classifies TTS (when resulting from 
exposure sonar and other active acoustic sources and explosives and 
other impulsive sources) as Level B Harassment, not Level A Harassment 
(injury).

Level A Harassment

    Of the potential effects that were described earlier, following are 
the types of effects that fall into the Level A Harassment category:
    PTS--PTS (resulting either from exposure to sonar and other active 
acoustic sources or explosive detonations) is irreversible and 
considered an injury. PTS results from exposure to intense sounds that 
cause a permanent loss of inner or outer cochlear hair cells or exceed 
the elastic limits of certain tissues and membranes in the middle and 
inner ears and result in changes in the chemical composition of the 
inner ear fluids.
    Tissue Damage due to Acoustically Mediated Bubble Growth--A few 
theories suggest ways in which gas bubbles become enlarged through 
exposure to intense sounds (sonar and other active acoustic sources) to 
the point where tissue damage results. In rectified diffusion, exposure 
to a sound field would cause bubbles to increase in size. A short 
duration of sonar pings (such as that which an animal exposed to MFAS 
would be most likely to encounter) would not likely be long enough to 
drive bubble growth to any substantial size. Alternately, bubbles could 
be destabilized by high-level sound exposures such that bubble growth 
then occurs through static diffusion of gas out of the tissues. The 
degree of supersaturation and exposure levels observed to cause 
microbubble destabilization are unlikely to occur, either alone or in 
concert because of how close an animal would need to be to the sound 
source to be exposed to high enough levels, especially considering the 
likely avoidance of the sound source and the required mitigation. 
Still, possible tissue damage from either of these processes would be 
considered an injury.
    Tissue Damage due to Behaviorally Mediated Bubble Growth--Several 
authors suggest mechanisms in which marine mammals could behaviorally 
respond to exposure to sonar and other active acoustic sources by 
altering their dive patterns in a manner (unusually rapid ascent, 
unusually long series of surface dives, etc.) that might result in 
unusual bubble formation or growth ultimately resulting in tissue 
damage (emboli, etc.) In this scenario, the rate of ascent would need 
to be sufficiently rapid to compromise behavioral or physiological 
protections against nitrogen bubble formation.
    There is considerable disagreement among scientists as to the 
likelihood of this phenomenon (Piantadosi and Thalmann, 2004; Evans and 
Miller, 2003). Although it has been argued that traumas from recent 
beaked whale strandings are consistent with gas emboli and bubble-
induced tissue separations (Jepson et al., 2003; Fernandez et al., 
2005), nitrogen bubble formation as the cause of the traumas has not 
been verified. If tissue damage does occur by this phenomenon, it would 
be considered an injury.
    Physical Disruption of Tissues Resulting from Explosive Shock 
Wave--Physical damage of tissues resulting from a shock wave (from an 
explosive detonation) is classified as an injury. Blast effects are 
greatest at the gas-liquid interface (Landsberg, 2000) and gas-
containing organs, particularly the lungs and gastrointestinal tract, 
are especially susceptible (Goertner, 1982; Hill 1978; Yelverton et 
al., 1973). Nasal sacs, larynx, pharynx, trachea, and lungs may be 
damaged by compression/expansion caused by the oscillations of the 
blast gas bubble (Reidenberg and Laitman, 2003). Severe damage (from 
the shock wave) to the ears can include tympanic membrane rupture, 
fracture of the ossicles, damage to the cochlea, hemorrhage, and 
cerebrospinal fluid leakage into the middle ear.
    Vessel or Ordnance Strike--Vessel strike or ordnance strike 
associated with the specified activities would be considered Level A 
harassment, serious injury, or mortality.

Take Criteria

    For the purposes of an MMPA authorization, three types of take are 
identified: Level B Harassment; Level A Harassment; and mortality (or 
serious injury leading to mortality). The categories of marine mammal 
responses (physiological and behavioral) that fall into the two 
harassment categories were described in the previous section.
    Because the physiological and behavioral responses of the majority 
of the marine mammals exposed to non-impulse and impulse sounds cannot 
be detected or measured (not all responses visible external to animal, 
portion of exposed animals underwater (so not visible), many animals 
located many miles from observers and covering very large area, etc.) 
and because NMFS must authorize take prior to the impacts on marine 
mammals, a method is needed to estimate the number of individuals that 
will be taken, pursuant to the MMPA, based on the proposed action. To 
this end, the Navy's application and the AFTT DEIS/OEIS contain 
proposed acoustic criteria and thresholds that would, in some 
instances, represent changes from what NMFS has used to

[[Page 7104]]

evaluate the Navy's proposed activities for past incidental take 
authorizations. The revised thresholds are based on evaluations of 
recent scientific studies; a detailed explanation of how they were 
derived is provided in the AFTT DEIS/OEIS Criteria and Thresholds 
Technical Report. NMFS is currently updating and revising all of its 
acoustic criteria and thresholds. Until that process is complete, NMFS 
will continue its long-standing practice of considering specific 
modifications to the acoustic criteria and thresholds currently 
employed for incidental take authorizations only after providing the 
public with an opportunity for review and comment. NMFS is requesting 
comments on all aspects of the proposed rule, and specifically requests 
comment on the proposed acoustic criteria and thresholds. The acoustic 
criteria for non-impulse and impulse sounds are discussed below.

Non-Impulse Acoustic Criteria

    NMFS utilizes three acoustic criteria for non-impulse sounds: PTS 
(injury--Level A Harassment), TTS (Level B Harassment), and behavioral 
harassment (Level B Harassment). Because the TTS and PTS criteria are 
derived similarly and the PTS criteria were extrapolated from the TTS 
data, the TTS and PTS acoustic criteria will be presented first, before 
the behavioral criteria.
    For more information regarding these criteria, please see the 
Navy's DEIS/OEIS for AFTT.

Level B Harassment Threshold (TTS)

    Behavioral disturbance, acoustic masking, and TTS are all 
considered Level B Harassment. Marine mammals would usually be 
behaviorally disturbed at lower received levels than those at which 
they would likely sustain TTS, so the levels at which behavioral 
disturbance are likely to occur is considered the onset of Level B 
Harassment. The behavioral responses of marine mammals to sound are 
variable, context specific, and, therefore, difficult to quantify (see 
Risk Function section, below). Alternately, TTS is a physiological 
effect that has been studied and quantified in laboratory conditions. 
Because data exist to support an estimate of the received levels at 
which marine mammals will incur TTS, NMFS uses an acoustic criteria to 
estimate the number of marine mammals that might sustain TTS. TTS is a 
subset of Level B Harassment (along with sub-TTS behavioral harassment) 
and we are not specifically required to estimate those numbers; 
however, the more specifically we can estimate the affected marine 
mammal responses, the better the analysis.

Level A Harassment Threshold (PTS)

    For acoustic effects, because the tissues of the ear appear to be 
the most susceptible to the physiological effects of sound, and because 
threshold shifts tend to occur at lower exposures than other more 
serious auditory effects, NMFS has determined that PTS is the best 
indicator for the smallest degree of injury that can be measured. 
Therefore, the acoustic exposure associated with onset-PTS is used to 
define the lower limit of Level A harassment.
    PTS data do not currently exist for marine mammals and are unlikely 
to be obtained due to ethical concerns. However, PTS levels for these 
animals may be estimated using TTS data from marine mammals and 
relationships between TTS and PTS that have been discovered through 
study of terrestrial mammals.
    We note here that behaviorally mediated injuries (such as those 
that have been hypothesized as the cause of some beaked whale 
strandings) could potentially occur in response to received levels 
lower than those believed to directly result in tissue damage. As 
mentioned previously, data to support a quantitative estimate of these 
potential effects (for which the exact mechanism is not known and in 
which factors other than received level may play a significant role) 
does not exist. However, based on the number of years (more than 60) 
and number of hours of MFAS per year that the U.S. (and other 
countries) has operated compared to the reported (and verified) cases 
of associated marine mammal strandings, NMFS believes that the 
probability of these types of injuries is very low. Tables 13 and 14 
provide a summary of non-impulsive and impulsive thresholds to TTS and 
PTS for marine mammals. A detailed explanation of how these thresholds 
were derived is provided in the AFTT DEIS/OEIS Criteria and Thresholds 
Technical Report (http://aftteis.com/DocumentsandReferences/AFTTDocuments/SupportingTechnicalDocuments.aspx) and summarized in 
Chapter 6 of the Navy's LOA application (http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental.htm#applications).

                          Table 13--Onset TTS and PTS Thresholds for Non-Impulse Sound
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                Group                          Species                 Onset TTS                Onset PTS
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Low-Frequency Cetaceans..............  All mysticetes.........  178 dB re 1[mu]Pa\2\-    198 dB re 1[mu]Pa\2\-
                                                                 sec(LFII).               sec(LFII).
Mid-Frequency Cetaceans..............  Most delphinids, beaked  178 dB re 1[mu]Pa\2\-    198 dB re 1[mu]Pa\2\-
                                        whales, medium and       sec(MFII).               sec(MFII).
                                        large toothed whales.
High-Frequency Cetaceans.............  Porpoises, Kogia spp...  152 dB re 1[mu]Pa\2\-    172 dB re 1[mu]Pa\2\-
                                                                 sec(HFII).               secSEL (HFII).
Phocidae In-water....................  Harbor, Gray, Bearded,   183 dB re 1[mu]Pa\2\-    197 dB re 1[mu]Pa\2\-
                                        Harp, Hooded, and        sec(PWI).                sec(PWI).
                                        Ringed seals.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


                          Table 14--Impulsive Sound Explosive Criteria and Thresholds for Predicting Onset Injury and Mortality
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                Onset GI tract                         Onset  mortality
             Group                     Species            Onset TTS           Onset PTS             injury         Onset slight lung    (1% mortality)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Low-frequency Cetaceans........  All mysticetes....  172 dB SEL (LFII)   187 dB SEL (LFII)   237 dB SPL           Equation 1.         Equation 2.
                                                      or 224 dB Peak      or 230 dB Peak     (unweighted)
                                                      SPL.                SPL.
Mid-frequency Cetaceans........  Most delphinids,    172 dB SEL (MFII)   187 dB SEL (MFII)
                                  medium and large    or 224 dB Peak      or 230 dB Peak
                                  toothed whales.     SPL.                SPL.
High-frequency Cetaceans.......  Porpoises and       146 dB SEL (HFII)   161 dB SEL (HFII)
                                  Kogia spp..         or 195 dB Peak      or 201dB Peak SPL.
                                                      SPL.

[[Page 7105]]

 
Phocidae.......................  Harbor, Gray,       177 dB SEL (PWI)    192 dB SEL (PWI)
                                  Bearded, Harp,      or 212 dB Peak      or 218 dB Peak
                                  Hooded, and         SPL.                SPL.
                                  Ringed seals.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Equation 1:

= 39.1M1/3 (1+[DRm/10.081])1/2 Pa-sec

    Equation 2:

= 91.4M1/3 (1+[DRm/10.081])1/2 Pa-sec

Where:

M = mass of the animals in kg.
DRm = depth of the receiver (animal) in meters.
SPL = sound pressure level.

Level B Harassment Risk Function (Behavioral Harassment)

    In 2006, NMFS issued the first MMPA authorization to allow the take 
of marine mammals incidental to MFAS (to the Navy for RIMPAC). For that 
authorization, NMFS used 173 dB SEL as the criterion for the onset of 
behavioral harassment (Level B Harassment). This type of single number 
criterion is referred to as a step function, in which (in this example) 
all animals estimated to be exposed to received levels above 173 dB SEL 
would be predicted to be taken by Level B Harassment and all animals 
exposed to less than 173 dB SEL would not be taken by Level B 
Harassment. As mentioned previously, marine mammal behavioral responses 
to sound are highly variable and context specific (affected by 
differences in acoustic conditions; differences between species and 
populations; differences in gender, age, reproductive status, or social 
behavior; or the prior experience of the individuals), which does not 
support the use of a step function to estimate behavioral harassment.
    Unlike step functions, acoustic risk continuum functions (which are 
also called ``exposure-response functions,'' ``dose-response 
functions,'' or ``stress-response functions'' in other risk assessment 
contexts) allow for probability of a response that NMFS would classify 
as harassment to occur over a range of possible received levels 
(instead of one number) and assume that the probability of a response 
depends first on the ``dose'' (in this case, the received level of 
sound) and that the probability of a response increases as the ``dose'' 
increases (see Figures 6-5 and 6-6 in the LOA application). In January 
2009, NMFS issued three final rules governing the incidental take of 
marine mammals (within Navy's HRC, SOCAL, and Atlantic Fleet Active 
Sonar Training (AFAST)) that used a risk continuum to estimate the 
percent of marine mammals exposed to various levels of MFAS that would 
respond in a manner NMFS considers harassment.
    The Navy and NMFS have previously used acoustic risk functions to 
estimate the probable responses of marine mammals to acoustic exposures 
for other training and research programs. Examples of previous 
application include the Navy FEISs on the SURTASS LFA sonar (U.S. 
Department of the Navy, 2001c); the North Pacific Acoustic Laboratory 
experiments conducted off the Island of Kauai (Office of Naval 
Research, 2001), and the Supplemental EIS for SURTASS LFA sonar (U.S. 
Department of the Navy, 2007d). As discussed earlier, factors other 
than received level (such as distance from or bearing to the sound 
source) can affect the way that marine mammals respond; however, data 
to support a quantitative analysis of those (and other factors) do not 
currently exist. NMFS will continue to modify these criteria as new 
data that meet NMFS standards of quality become available and can be 
appropriately and effectively incorporated.
    The particular acoustic risk functions developed by NMFS and the 
Navy (see Figures 6-5 and 6-6 in the LOA application) estimate the 
probability of behavioral responses to MFAS/HFAS (interpreted as the 
percentage of the exposed population) that NMFS would classify as 
harassment for the purposes of the MMPA given exposure to specific 
received levels of MFAS/HFAS. The mathematical function (below) 
underlying this curve is a cumulative probability distribution adapted 
from a solution in Feller (1968) and was also used in predicting risk 
for the Navy's SURTASS LFA MMPA authorization as well.
[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP31JA13.003

Where:

R = Risk (0-1.0)
L = Received level (dB re: 1 [mu]Pa)
B = Basement received level = 120 dB re: 1 [mu]Pa
K = Received level increment above B where 50-percent risk = 45 dB 
re: 1 [mu]Pa
A = Risk transition sharpness parameter = 10 (odontocetes and 
pinnipeds) or 8 mysticetes)

    Detailed information on the above equation and its parameters is 
available in the AFTT DEIS/OEIS and previous Navy documents listed 
above.
    The inclusion of a special behavioral response criterion for beaked 
whales of the family Ziphiidae is new to these criteria. It has been 
speculated for some time that beaked whales might have unusual 
sensitivities to sonar sound due to their likelihood of stranding in 
conjunction with MFAS use, even in areas where other species were more 
abundant (D'Amico et al. 2009), but there were not sufficient data to 
support a separate treatment for beaked whales until recently. With the 
recent publication of results from Blainville's beaked whale monitoring 
and experimental exposure studies on the instrumented Atlantic Undersea 
Test and Evaluation Center range in the Bahamas (McCarthy et al. 2011; 
Tyack et al. 2011), there are now statistically strong data suggesting 
that beaked whales tend to avoid both actual naval MFAS in real anti-
submarine training scenarios as well as sonar-like signals and other 
signals used during controlled sound exposure studies in the same area. 
An unweighted 140 dB re 1 [mu]Pa sound pressure level threshold has 
been adopted by the Navy for takes of all beaked whales (family: 
Ziphiidae).
    If more than one impulsive event involving explosives (i.e., not 
pile driving) occurs within any given 24-hour period within a training 
or testing event, criteria are applied to predict the number of animals 
that may be taken by

[[Page 7106]]

Level B Harassment. For multiple impulsive events (with the exception 
of pile driving) the behavioral threshold used in this analysis is 5 dB 
less than the TTS onset threshold (in sound exposure level). This value 
is derived from observed onsets of behavioral response by test subjects 
(bottlenose dolphins) during non-impulse TTS testing (Schlundt et al. 
2000). Some multiple impulsive events, such as certain naval gunnery 
exercises, may be treated as a single impulsive event because a few 
explosions occur closely spaced within a very short period of time (a 
few seconds). For single impulses at received sound levels below 
hearing loss thresholds, the most likely behavioral response is a brief 
alerting or orienting response. Since no further sounds follow the 
initial brief impulses, Level B take in the form of behavioral 
harassment beyond that associated with potential TTS would not be 
expected to occur. This reasoning was applied to previous shock trials 
(63 FR 66069; 66 FR 22450; 73 FR 43130). Explosive criteria and 
thresholds are summarized in Table 6-3 in the LOA application.
    Since impulse events can be quite short, it may be possible to 
accumulate multiple received impulses at sound pressure levels 
considerably above the energy-based criterion and still not be 
considered a behavioral take. The Navy treats all individual received 
impulses as if they were one second long for the purposes of 
calculating cumulative sound exposure level for multiple impulse 
events. For example, five air gun impulses, each 0.1 second long, 
received at 178 dB sound pressure level would equal a 175 dB sound 
exposure level, and would not be predicted as leading to a take. 
However, if the five 0.1 second pulses are treated as a 5 second 
exposure, it would yield an adjusted value of approximately 180 dB, 
exceeding the threshold. For impulses associated with explosions that 
have durations of a few microseconds, this assumption greatly 
overestimates effects based on sound exposure level metrics such as TTS 
and PTS and behavioral responses. Appropriate weighting values will be 
applied to the received impulse in one-third octave bands and the 
energy summed to produce a total weighted sound exposure level value. 
For impulsive behavioral criteria, the Navy's new weighting functions 
(detailed in the LOA application) are applied to the received sound 
level before being compared to the threshold.

           Table 15--Behavioral Thresholds for Impulsive Sound
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                   Impulsive behavioral threshold for >2
          Hearing group                        pulses/24 hrs
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Low-Frequency Cetaceans..........  167 dB SEL (LFII).
Mid-Frequency Cetaceans..........  167 dB SEL (MFII).
High-Frequency Cetaceans.........  141 dB SEL (HFII).
Phocid Seals (in water)..........  172 dB SEL (PWI).
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Existing NMFS criteria was applied to sounds generated by pile 
driving and airguns (Table 16).

                                Table 16--Thresholds for Pile Driving and Airguns
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                     Underwater vibratory pile driving      Underwater impact pile driving and
                                  criteria  (sound pressure level, dB re     airgun criteria  (sound pressure
                                                 1 [mu]Pa)                        level, dB re 1 [mu]Pa)
         Species groups          -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                            Level B                                 Level B
                                    Level A injury        disturbance       Level A injury        disturbance
                                       threshold           threshold           threshold           threshold
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Cetaceans (whales, dolphins,      180 dB rms........  120 dB rms........  180 dB rms........  160 dB rms.
 porpoises).
Pinnipeds (seals)...............  190 dB rms........  120 dB rms........  190 dB rms........  160 dB rms.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Quantitative Modeling for Impulsive and Non-Impulsive Sound

    The Navy performed a quantitative analysis to estimate the number 
of marine mammals that could be harassed by acoustic sources or 
explosives used during Navy training and testing activities. Inputs to 
the quantitative analysis included marine mammal density estimates; 
marine mammal depth occurrence distributions; oceanographic and 
environmental data; marine mammal hearing data; and criteria and 
thresholds for levels of potential effects. The quantitative analysis 
consists of computer-modeled estimates and a post-model analysis to 
determine the number of potential mortalities and harassments. The 
model calculates sound energy propagation from sonars, other active 
acoustic sources, and explosives during naval activities; the sound or 
impulse received by animat dosimeters representing marine mammals 
distributed in the area around the modeled activity; and whether the 
sound or impulse received by a marine mammal exceeds the thresholds for 
effects. The model estimates are then further analyzed to consider 
animal avoidance and implementation of mitigation measures, resulting 
in final estimates of effects due to Navy training and testing. This 
process results in a reduction of take numbers and is detailed in 
Chapter 6 (section 6.1.5) of the Navy's LOA application.
    A number of computer models and mathematical equations can be used 
to predict how energy spreads from a sound source (e.g., sonar or 
underwater detonation) to a receiver (e.g., dolphin or sea turtle). 
Basic underwater sound models calculate the overlap of energy and 
marine life using assumptions that account for the many variables, and 
often unknown factors that can greatly influence the result. 
Assumptions in previous and current Navy models have intentionally 
erred on the side of overestimation when there are unknowns or when the 
addition of other variables was not likely to substantively change the 
final analysis. For example,

[[Page 7107]]

because the ocean environment is extremely dynamic and information is 
often limited to a synthesis of data gathered over wide areas and 
requiring many years of research, known information tends to be an 
average of a seasonal or annual variation. The Equatorial Pacific El 
Nino disruption of the ocean-atmosphere system is an example of dynamic 
change where unusually warm ocean temperatures are likely to 
redistribute marine life and alter the propagation of underwater sound 
energy. Previous Navy modeling therefore made some assumptions 
indicative of a maximum theoretical propagation for sound energy (such 
as a perfectly reflective ocean surface and a flat seafloor). More 
complex computer models build upon basic modeling by factoring in 
additional variables in an effort to be more accurate by accounting for 
such things as bathymetry and an animal's likely presence at various 
depths.
    The Navy has developed a set of data and new software tools for 
quantification of estimated marine mammal impacts from Navy activities. 
This new approach is the resulting evolution of the basic model 
previously used by the Navy and reflects a more complex modeling 
approach as described below. Although this more complex computer 
modeling approach accounts for various environmental factors affecting 
acoustic propagation, the current software tools do not consider the 
likelihood that a marine mammal would attempt to avoid repeated 
exposures to a sound or avoid an area of intense activity where a 
training or testing event may be focused. Additionally, the software 
tools do not consider the implementation of mitigation (e.g., stopping 
sonar transmissions when a marine mammal is within a certain distance 
of a ship or range clearance prior to detonations). In both of these 
situations, naval activities are modeled as though an activity would 
occur regardless of proximity to marine mammals and without any 
horizontal movement by the animal away from the sound source or human 
activities (e.g., without accounting for likely animal avoidance). 
Therefore, the final step of the quantitative analysis of acoustic 
effects is to consider the implementation of mitigation and the 
possibility that marine mammals would avoid continued or repeated sound 
exposures.
    The quantified results of the marine mammal acoustic effects 
analysis presented in the Navy's LOA application differ from the 
quantified results presented in the AFTT DEIS/OEIS. Presentation of the 
results in this new manner for MMPA, ESA, and other regulatory analyses 
is well within the framework of the previous NEPA analyses presented in 
the DEIS. The differences are due to three main factors: (1) Changes to 
the tempo or location of certain proposed activities; (2) refinement to 
the modeling inputs for training and testing; and (3) additional post-
model analysis of acoustic effects to include animal avoidance of 
repeated sound sources, avoidance of areas of activity before use of a 
sound source or explosive by sensitive species, and implementation of 
mitigation. The Navy's tempo and location of certain proposed 
activities has been modified in response to new training and testing 
requirements developed in response to the ever-evolving security 
environment requiring an increased use of high frequency mine detection 
sonar for training and testing, an increased use of mid-frequency ASW 
sonobuoys for testing, relocation of countermeasure testing from NSWC 
Panama City to GOMEX, and the elimination of the Submarine Navigation 
Training at Kings Bay, GA. The proposal also includes refinement of the 
modeling inputs, including the addition of modeling results for Surface 
to Surface MISSILEX, which was analyzed but not modeled in the DEIS, 
and the elimination of over-calculation for several activities which 
occur only once every five years. This additional post-model analysis 
of acoustic effects was performed to clarify potential 
misunderstandings of the numbers presented as modeling results in the 
AFTT DEIS/OEIS. Some comments indicated that the readers believed the 
acoustic effects to marine mammals presented in the DEIS/OEIS were 
representative of the actual expected effects, although the AFTT DEIS/
OEIS did not account for animal avoidance of an area prior to 
commencing sound-producing activities, animal avoidance of repeated 
explosive noise exposures, and the protections due to standard Navy 
mitigations. Therefore, the numbers presented in Navy's LOA 
application, which will be reflected in the AFTT FEIS/OEIS, have been 
refined to better quantify the expected effects by fully accounting for 
animal avoidance or movement and implementation of standard Navy 
mitigations. With the application of the post-modeling assessment 
process, the net result of these changes is an overall decrease in 
takes by mortality and Level A takes within the LOA application 
compared with the DEIS, a net reduction in Level B takes for training, 
and a net increase in Level B takes for testing. The Navy has advised 
NMFS that all comments received on the proposed rule that address (1) 
changes to the tempo or location of certain proposed activities; (2) 
refinement to the modeling inputs for training and testing; and (3) 
additional post-model analysis of acoustic effects and implementation 
of mitigation, will be reviewed and addressed by the Navy in its FEIS/
OEIS for AFTT.
    The steps of the quantitative analysis of acoustic effects, the 
values that went into the Navy's model, and the resulting ranges to 
effects are detailed in Chapter 6 of the Navy's LOA application (http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental.htm#applications).

Take Request

    The AFTT DEIS/OEIS considered all training and testing activities 
proposed to occur in the Study Area that have the potential to result 
in the MMPA defined take of marine mammals. The stressors associated 
with these activities included the following:
     Acoustic (sonar and other active non-impulse sources, 
explosives, pile driving, swimmer defense airguns, weapons firing, 
launch and impact noise, vessel noise, aircraft noise)
     Energy (electromagnetic devices)
     Physical disturbance or strikes (vessels, in-water 
devices, military expended materials, seafloor devices)
     Entanglement (fiber optic cables, guidance wires, 
parachutes)
     Ingestion (munitions, military expended materials other 
than munitions)
    The Navy determined, and NMFS agrees, that three stressors could 
potentially result in the incidental taking of marine mammals from 
training and testing activities within the Study Area: (1) Non-
impulsive stressors (sonar and other active acoustic sources), (2) 
impulsive stressors (explosives, pile driving and removal), and (3) 
vessel strikes. Non-impulsive and impulsive stressors have the 
potential to result in incidental takes of marine mammals by 
harassment, injury, or mortality (explosives only). Vessel strikes have 
the potential to result in incidental take from direct injury and/or 
mortality.
    Training Activities--Based on the Navy's model and post-model 
analysis (described in detail in Chapter 6 of its LOA application), 
Table 17 summarizes the Navy's take request for training activities for 
an annual maximum year (a notional 12-month period when all annual and 
non-annual events would occur) and the summation over a 5-year period 
(with consideration of the varying schedule of non-annual activities). 
Table 18 summarizes the

[[Page 7108]]

Navy's take request (Level A and Level B harassment) for training 
activities by species.
    While the Navy does not anticipate any mortalities would occur from 
training activities involving explosives, the Navy requests annual 
authorization for take by mortality of up to 17 small odontocetes 
(i.e., dolphins) to include any combination of such species that may be 
present in the Study Area. In addition, the Navy does not anticipate 
any beaked whale strandings or mortalities from sonar and other active 
sources, but in order to account for unforeseen circumstances that 
could lead to such effects the Navy requests the annual take, by 
mortality, of up to 10 beaked whales in any given year, and no more 
than 10 beaked whales over the 5-year LOA period, as part of training 
activities.
    Vessel strike to marine mammals is not associated with any specific 
training activity but rather a limited, sporadic, and accidental result 
of Navy vessel movement within the Study Area. In order to account for 
the accidental nature of vessel strikes to large whales in general, and 
the potential risk from any vessel movement within the Study Area, the 
Navy requests take authorization in the event a Navy vessel strike does 
occur while conducting training. The Navy's take authorization request 
is based on the probabilities of whale strikes suggested by the data 
from NMFS Northeast Science Center, NMFS Southeast Science Center, the 
Navy, and the calculations detailed in Chapter 6 of the Navy's LOA 
application. The number of Navy and commercial whale strikes for which 
the species has been positively identified suggests that the 
probability of striking a humpback whale in the Study Area is greater 
than striking other species. However, since species identification has 
not been possible in most vessel strike cases, the Navy cannot 
quantifiably predict what species may be taken. Therefore, the Navy 
seeks take authorization by mortality from vessel strike for any 
combined number of marine mammal species to include fin whale, blue 
whale, humpback whale, Bryde's whale, sei whale, minke whale, sperm 
whale, Blainville's beaked whale, Cuvier's beaked whale, Gervais' 
beaked whale, and unidentified whale species. The Navy requests takes 
of large marine mammals over the course of the 5-year regulations from 
training activities as discussed below:
     The take by vessel strike during training activities in 
any given year of no more than three marine mammals total of any 
combination of species including fin whale, blue whale, humpback whale, 
Bryde's whale, sei whale, minke whale, sperm whale, Blainville's beaked 
whale, Cuvier's beaked whale, Gervais' beaked whale, and unidentified 
whale species.
     The take by vessel strike of no more than 10 marine 
mammals from training activities over the course of the five years of 
the AFTT regulations.
    Over a period of 18 years from 1995 to 2012 there have been a total 
of 19 Navy vessel strikes in the Study Area. Eight of the strikes 
resulted in a confirmed death; but in 11 of the 19 strikes, the fate of 
the animal was unknown. It is possible that some of the 11 reported 
strikes resulted in recoverable injury or were not marine mammals at 
all, but another large marine species (e.g., basking shark). However, 
it is prudent to consider that all of the strikes could have resulted 
in the death of a marine mammal. The maximum number of strikes in any 
given year was three strikes, which occurred in 2001 and 2004. The 
highest average number of strikes over any five year period was two 
strikes per year from 2001 to 2005. The average number of strikes for 
the entire 18-year period is 1.055 strikes per year. Since the 
implementation of the Navy's Marine Species Awareness Training in 2007, 
strikes in the Study Area have decreased to an average of 0.5 per year. 
Over the last five years on the east coast, the Navy was involved in 
two strikes, with no confirmed marine mammal deaths as a result of the 
vessel strike. Also as discussed in Chapter 6 of the Navy's LOA 
application, the probability of striking as many as two large whales in 
a single year in the AFTT Study Area is only 19 percent.

                  Table 17--Summary of Annual and 5-Year Take Requests for Training Activities
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                       Annual authorization sought   5-Year authorization sought
       MMPA category                  Source         -----------------------------------------------------------
                                                         Training activities \4\         Training activities
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Mortality..................  Impulsive..............  17 mortalities applicable to  85 mortalities applicable to
                                                       any small odontocete in any   any small odontocete over 5
                                                       given year.                   years.
                             Unspecified............  10 mortalities to beaked      10 mortalities to beaked
                                                       whales in any given year.     whales over 5 years. \1\
                                                       \1\
                             Vessel strike..........  No more than three large      No more than 10 large whale
                                                       whale mortalities in any      mortalities over 5 years.
                                                       given year. \2\               \2\
Level A....................  Impulsive and Non-       351.........................  1,753.
                              Impulsive.
Level B....................  Impulsive and Non-       2,053,473...................  10,263,631.
                              Impulsive.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Ten Ziphiidae beaked whale to include any combination of Blainville's beaked whale, Cuvier's beaked whale,
  Gervais' beaked whale, northern bottlenose whale, and Sowerby's beaked whale, and True's beaked whale (not to
  exceed 10 beaked whales total over the 5-year length of requested authorization).
\2\ For Training: Because of the number of incidents in which the species of the stricken animal has remained
  unidentified, Navy cannot predict that proposed takes (either 3 per year or the 10 over the course of 5 years)
  will be of any particular species, and therefore seeks take authorization for any combination of large whale
  species (e.g., fin whale, humpback whale, minke whale, sei whale, Bryde's whale, sperm whale, blue whale,
  Blainville's beaked whale, Cuvier's beaked whale, Gervais' beaked whale, and unidentified whale species),
  excluding the North Atlantic right whale.


    Table 18--Species-Specific Take Requests From Impulsive and Non-Impulsive Source Effects for All Training
                                                   Activities
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                            Annual \1\               Total over 5-year period
                     Species                     ---------------------------------------------------------------
                                                      Level B         Level A         Level B         Level A
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Mysticetes:

[[Page 7109]]

 
    Blue Whale *................................             147               0             735               0
    Bryde's Whale...............................             955               0           4,775               0
    Minke Whale.................................          60,402              16         302,010              80
    Fin Whale *.................................           4,490               1          22,450               5
    Humpback Whale *............................           1,643               1           8,215               5
    North Atlantic Right Whale *................             112               0             560               0
    Sei Whale *.................................          10,188               1          50,940               5
            Odontocetes--Delphinids:
    Atlantic Spotted Dolphin....................         177,570              12         887,550              60
    Atlantic White-Sided Dolphin................          31,228               3         156,100              15
    Bottlenose Dolphin..........................         284,728               8       1,422,938              40
    Clymene Dolphin.............................          19,588               1          97,938               5
    Common Dolphin..............................         465,014              17       2,325,022              85
    False Killer Whale..........................             713               0           3,565               0
    Fraser's Dolphin............................           2,205               0          11,025               0
    Killer Whale................................          14,055               0          70,273               0
    Melon-Headed Whale..........................          20,876               0         104,380               0
    Pantropical Spotted Dolphin.................          70,968               1         354,834               5
    Pilot Whale.................................         101,252               3         506,240              15
    Pygmy Killer Whale..........................           1,487               0           7,435               0
    Risso's Dolphin.............................         238,528               3       1,192,618              15
    Rough Toothed Dolphin.......................           1,059               0           5,293               0
    Spinner Dolphin.............................          20,414               0         102,068               0
    Striped Dolphin.............................         224,305               7       1,121,511              35
    White-Beaked Dolphin........................           1,613               0           8,027               0
Odontocetes--Sperm Whales:
    Sperm Whale *...............................          14,749               0          73,743               0
Odontocetes--Beaked Whales:
    Blainville's Beaked Whale...................          28,179               0         140,893               0
    Cuvier's Beaked Whale.......................          34,895               0         174,473               0
    Gervais' Beaked Whale.......................          28,255               0         141,271               0
    Northern Bottlenose Whale...................          18,358               0          91,786               0
    Sowerby's Beaked Whale......................           9,964               0          49,818               0
    True's Beaked Whale.........................          16,711               0          83,553               0
Odontocetes--Kogia Species and Porpoises:
    Kogia spp...................................           5,090              15          25,448              75
    Harbor Porpoise.............................         142,811             262         711,727           1,308
Phocid Seals:
    Bearded Seal................................               0               0               0               0
    Gray Seal...................................              82               0             316               0
    Harbor Seal.................................              83               0             329               0
    Harp Seal...................................               4               0              12               0
    Hooded Seal.................................               5               0              25               0
    Ringed Seal **..............................               0               0               0               0
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Predictions shown are for the theoretical maximum year, which would consist of all annual training and one
  Civilian Port Defense activity. Civilian Port Defense training would occur biennially.
* ESA-Listed Species; ** ESA-proposed; PTS: Permanent threshold shift; TTS: Temporary threshold shift.

Testing Activities

    Based on the Navy's model and post-model analysis (described in 
detail in Chapter 6 of its LOA application), Table 19 summarizes the 
Navy's take request for testing activities for an annual maximum year 
(a notional 12-month period when all annual and non-annual events would 
occur) and the summation over a 5-year period (with consideration of 
the varying schedule of non-annual activities). Table 20 summarizes the 
Navy's take request (Level A and Level B harassment) for testing 
activities by species.
    The Navy requests annual authorization for take by mortality of up 
to 11 small odontocetes (i.e., dolphins) to include any combination of 
such species with potential presence in the Study Area as part of 
testing activities using impulsive sources (excluding ship shock 
trials). Over the 5-year periods of the rule, the Navy requests 
authorization for take by mortality of up to 25 marine mammals 
incidental to ship shock trials (10 for aircraft carrier trials and 15 
for guided missile destroyer and Littoral Combat Ship trials).
    The Navy does not anticipate vessel strikes of marine mammals would 
occur during testing activities in the Study Area in any given year. 
Most testing conducted in the Study Area that involves surface ships is 
conducted on Navy ships during training exercises. Therefore, the 
vessel strike take request for training activities covers those 
activities. For the smaller number of testing activities not conducted 
in conjunction with fleet training, the Navy requests a smaller number 
of takes resulting incidental to vessel strike. However, in order to 
account for the accidental nature of vessel strikes to large whales in 
general, and potential risk from any vessel movement within the Study 
Area, the Navy is seeking take authorization in the event a Navy vessel 
strike does occur while conducting

[[Page 7110]]

testing during the five year period of NMFS' final authorization as 
follows:
     The take by vessel strike during testing activities in any 
given year of no more than one marine mammal of any of the following 
species including fin whale, blue whale, humpback whale, Bryde's whale, 
sei whale, minke whale, sperm whale Blainville's beaked whale, Cuvier's 
beaked whale, Gervais' beaked whale, and unidentified whale species.
     The take by vessel strike of no more than one large whale 
from testing activities over the course of the 5-year regulations.

                   Table 19--Summary of Annual and 5-Year Take Requests for Testing Activities
                                          [Excluding ship shock trials]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                       Annual authorization sought   5-Year authorization sought
       MMPA category                  Source         -----------------------------------------------------------
                                                         Testing activities \3\        Testing activities \3\
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Mortality..................  Impulsive..............  11 mortalities applicable to  55 mortalities applicable to
                                                       any small odontocete in any   any small odontocete over 5
                                                       given year \3\.               years.
                             Unspecified............  None........................  None.
                             Vessel strike..........  No more than one large whale  No more than one large whale
                                                       mortality in any given        mortality over 5 years. \2\
                                                       year.\2\
Level A....................  Impulsive and non-       375.........................  1,735.
                              Impulsive.
Level B....................  Impulsive and non-       2,441,640...................  11,559,236.
                              Impulsive.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Ten Ziphiidae beaked whale to include any combination of Blainville's beaked whale, Cuvier's beaked whale,
  Gervais' beaked whale, northern bottlenose whale, and Sowerby's beaked whale, and True's beaked whale (not to
  exceed 10 beaked whales total over the 5-year length of requested authorization).
\2\ For Testing: Because of the number of incidents in which the species of the stricken animal has remained
  unidentified, the Navy cannot predict that the proposed takes (one over the course of 5 years) will be of any
  particular species, and therefore seeks take authorization for any large whale species (e.g., fin whale,
  humpback whale, minke whale, sei whale, Bryde's whale, sperm whale, blue whale, Blainville's beaked whale,
  Cuvier's beaked whale, Gervais' beaked whale, and unidentified whale species), excluding the North Atlantic
  right whale.
\3\ Excluding ship shock trials.


    Table 20--Species-Specific Take Requests From Impulsive and Non-Impulsive Source Effects for All Testing
                                                   Activities
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                           Annual \1,2\              Total over 5-year period
                     Species                     ---------------------------------------------------------------
                                                      Level B         Level A         Level B         Level A
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Mysticetes:
    Blue Whale*.................................              18               0              82               0
    Bryde's Whale...............................              64               0             304               0
    Minke Whale.................................           7,756              15          34,505              28
    Fin Whale *.................................             599               0           2,784               0
    Humpback Whale *............................             200               0             976               0
    North Atlantic Right Whale *................              87               0             395               0
    Sei Whale *.................................             796               0           3,821               0
Odontocetes--Delphinids:
    Atlantic Spotted Dolphin....................          24,429           1,854         104,647           1,964
    Atlantic White-Sided Dolphin................          10,330             147          50,133             166
    Bottlenose Dolphin..........................          33,708             149         146,863             190
    Clymene Dolphin.............................           2,173              80          10,169              87
    Common Dolphin..............................          52,173           2,203         235,493           2,369
    False Killer Whale..........................             109               0             497               0
    Fraser's Dolphin............................             171               0             791               0
    Killer Whale................................           1,540               2           7,173               2
    Melon-Headed Whale..........................           1,512              28           6,950              30
    Pantropical Spotted Dolphin.................           7,985              71          38,385              92
    Pilot Whale.................................          15,701             153          74,614             163
    Pygmy Killer Whale..........................             135               3             603               3
    Risso's Dolphin.............................          24,356              70         113,682              89
    Rough Toothed Dolphin.......................             138               0             618               0
    Spinner Dolphin.............................           2,862              28          13,208              34
    Striped Dolphin.............................          21,738           2,599          97,852           2,751
    White-Beaked Dolphin........................           1,818               3           8,370               3
Odontocetes--Sperm Whales:
    Sperm Whale *...............................           1,786               5           8,533               6
Odontocetes--Beaked Whales:
    Blainville's Beaked Whale...................           4,753               3          23,561               3
    Cuvier's Beaked Whale.......................           6,144               1          30,472               1
    Gervais' Beaked Whale.......................           4,764               4          23,388               4
    Northern Bottlenose Whale...................          12,096               5          60,409               6
    Sowerby's Beaked Whale......................           2,698               0          13,338               0
    True's Beaked Whale.........................           3,133               1          15,569               1
Odontocetes--Kogia Species and Porpoises:

[[Page 7111]]

 
    Kogia spp...................................           1,163              12           5,536              36
    Harbor Porpoise.............................       2,182,872             216      10,358,300           1,080
Phocid Seals:
    Bearded Seal................................              33               0             161               0
    Gray Seal...................................           3,293              14          14,149              46
    Harbor Seal.................................           8,668              78          38,860             330
    Harp Seal...................................           3,997              14          16,277              30
    Hooded Seal.................................             295               0           1,447               0
    Ringed Seal **..............................             359               0           1,795               0
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Predictions shown are for the theoretical maximum year, which would consist of all annual testing; one CVN
  ship shock trial and two other ship shock trials (DDG or LCS); and Unmanned Underwater Vehicle (UUV)
  Demonstrations at each of three possible sites. One CVN, one DDG, and two LCS ship shock trials could occur
  within the 5-year period. Typically, one UUV Demonstration would occur annually at one of the possible sites.
\2\ Ship shock trials could occur in either the VACAPES (year-round, except a CVN ship shock trial would not
  occur in the winter) or JAX (spring, summer, and fall only) Range Complexes. Actual location and time of year
  of a ship shock trial would depend on platform development, site availability, and availability of ship shock
  trial support facilities and personnel. For the purpose of requesting takes, the maximum predicted effects to
  a species for either location in any possible season are included in the species' total predicted effects.
* ESA-Listed Species; ** ESA-proposed; PTS: Permanent threshold shift; TTS: Temporary threshold shift.

     For one aircraft carrier (CVN) ship shock trial, the Navy requests 
a maximum of 6,591 takes by Level A harassment and 4,607 takes by Level 
B harassment over the 5-year LOA period. Based on no observed 
mortalities during previous ship shock trials, the Navy does not 
anticipate the mortalities predicted by the acoustic analysis, but 
requests authorization for take by mortality of up to 10 small 
odontocetes (any combination of species known to be present in the 
Study Area).
    For the guided missile destroyer (DDG) and two Littoral Combat Ship 
(LCS) ship shock trials (three events total), the Navy requests a 
maximum of 1,188 takes by Level A harassment and 867 takes by Level B 
harassment over the course of the 5-year LOA period. Based on no 
observed mortalities during previous ship shock trials, the Navy does 
not anticipate the mortalities predicted by the acoustic analysis, but 
requests authorization for take by mortality of up to 15 small 
odontocetes (any combination of species known to be present in the 
Study Area).

 Table 21--Summary of Annual and 5-year Take Request for AFTT Ship Shock
                                 Trials
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                            Annual authorization    5-Year authorization
      MMPA  category             sought \1\                sought
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Mortality................  20 mortalities          25 mortalities
                            applicable to any       applicable to any
                            small odontocete in     small odontocete
                            any given year.         over 5 years.
Level A..................  7,383.................  7,779.
Level B..................  5,185.................  5,474.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Up to three ship shock trials could occur in any one year (one CVN
  and two DDG/LCS ship shock trials), with one CVN, one DDG, and two LCS
  ship shock trials over the 5[hyphen]year period. Ship shock trials
  could occur in either the VACAPES (year[hyphen]round, except a CVN
  ship shock trial would not occur in the winter) or JAX (spring,
  summer, and fall only) Range Complexes. Actual location and time of
  year of a ship shock trial would depend on platform development, site
  availability, and availability of ship shock trial support facilities
  and personnel. For the purpose of requesting Level A and Level B
  takes, the maximum predicted effects to a species for either location
  in any possible season are included in the species' total predicted
  effects.

Marine Mammal Habitat

    The Navy's proposed training and testing activities could 
potentially affect marine mammal habitat through the introduction of 
sound into the water column, impacts to the prey species of marine 
mammals, bottom disturbance, or changes in water quality. Each of these 
components was considered in the AFTT DEIS/OEIS and was determined by 
the Navy to have no effect on marine mammal habitat. Based on the 
information below and the supporting information included in the AFTT 
DEIS/OEIS, NMFS has preliminarily determined that the proposed training 
and testing activities would not have adverse or long-term impacts on 
marine mammal habitat.

Important Marine Mammal Habitat

    The only ESA-listed marine mammal with designated critical habitat 
within the AFTT Study Area is for the North Atlantic right whale. Three 
critical habitats--Cape Cod Bay, Great South Channel, and the coastal 
waters of Georgia and Florida--were designated by NMFS in 1994 (59 FR 
28805, June 3, 1994). Recently, in a response to a 2009 petition to 
revise North Atlantic right whale critical habitat, NMFS stated that 
the revision is appropriate and the ongoing rulemaking process would 
continue (75 FR 61690, October 6, 2010).
    New England waters (where the Cape Cod Bay and Great South Channel 
critical habitats are located) are an important feeding habitat for 
right whales, which feed primarily on copepods in this area (largely of 
the genera Calanus and Pseudocalanus). Research suggests that right 
whales must locate and exploit extremely dense patches of zooplankton 
to feed efficiently (Mayo and Marx, 1990). These dense zooplankton 
patches are likely a primary characteristic of the spring, summer and 
fall right whale habitats (Kenney et al., 1986; Kenney et al., 1995). 
While feeding in the coastal

[[Page 7112]]

waters off Massachusetts has been better studied than in other areas, 
right whale feeding has also been observed on the margins of Georges 
Bank, in the Great South Channel, in the Gulf of Maine, in the Bay of 
Fundy, and over the Scotian Shelf. The characteristics of acceptable 
prey distribution in these areas are beginning to emerge (Baumgartner 
and Mate, 2003; Baumgartner and Mate, 2005). NMFS and Provincetown 
Center for Coastal Studies aerial surveys during springs of 1999-2006 
found right whales along the northern edge of Georges Bank, in the 
Great South Channel, in Georges Basin, and in various locations in the 
Gulf of Maine including Cashes Ledge, Platts Bank and Wilkinson Basin. 
The consistency with which right whales occur in such locations is 
relatively high, but these studies also highlight the high interannual 
variability in right whale use of some habitats.
    Since 2004, consistent aerial survey efforts have been conducted 
during the migration and calving season (15 November to 15 April) in 
coastal areas of Georgia and South Carolina, to the north of currently 
defined critical habitat (Glass and Taylor, 2006; Khan and Taylor, 
2007; Sayre and Taylor, 2008; Schulte and Taylor, 2010). Results 
suggest that this region may not only be part of the migratory route 
but also a seasonal residency area. Results from an analysis by Schick 
et al. (2009) suggest that the migratory corridor of North Atlantic 
right whales is broader than initially estimated and that suitable 
habitat exists beyond the 20 nm coastal buffer presumed to represent 
the primary migratory pathway (NMFS, 2008b). Results were based on data 
modeled from two females tagged with satellite-monitored radio tags as 
part of a previous study.
    Three right whale observations (four individuals) were recorded 
during aerial surveys sponsored by the Navy in the vicinity of the 
planned Undersea Warfare Training Range approximately 50 mi. (80 km) 
offshore of Jacksonville, Florida in 2009 and 2010, including a female 
that was observed giving birth (Foley et al., 2011). These sightings 
occurred well outside existing critical habitat for the right whale and 
suggest that the calving area may be broader than currently assumed 
(Foley et al., 2011; U.S. Department of the Navy, 2010). Offshore 
(greater than 30 mi. [48.3 km]) surveys flown off the coast of 
northeastern Florida and southeastern Georgia from 1996 to 2001 
documented 3 sightings in 1996, 1 in 1997, 13 in 1998, 6 in 1999, 11 in 
2000 and 6 in 2001 (within each year, some were repeat sightings of 
previously recorded individuals). Several of the years that offshore 
surveys were flown were some of the lowest count years for calves and 
for numbers of right whales in the southeast recorded since 
comprehensive surveys in the calving grounds were initiated. Therefore, 
the frequency with which right whales occur in offshore waters in the 
southeastern United States remains unclear.
    Activities involving sound or energy from sonar and other active 
acoustic sources will not occur or will be minimized to the maximum 
extent practicable in designated North Atlantic right whale critical 
habitat and would have no effect on the primary constituent elements 
(i.e., water temperature and depth in the southeast and copepods in the 
northeast).

Expected Effects on Habitat

    Training and testing activities may introduce water quality 
constituents into the water column. Based on the analysis of the AFTT 
EIS/OEIS, military expended materials (e.g., undetonated explosive 
materials) would be released in quantities and at rates that would not 
result in a violation of any water quality standard or criteria. High-
order explosions consume most of the explosive material, creating 
typical combustion products. For example, in the case of Royal 
Demolition Explosive, 98 percent of the products are common seawater 
constituents and the remainder is rapidly diluted below threshold 
effect level. Explosion by-products associated with high order 
detonations present no secondary stressors to marine mammals through 
sediment or water. However, low order detonations and unexploded 
ordnance present elevated likelihood of impacts on marine mammals.
    Indirect effects of explosives and unexploded ordnance to marine 
mammals via sediment is possible in the immediate vicinity of the 
ordnance. Degradation products of Royal Demolition Explosive are not 
toxic to marine organisms at realistic exposure levels (Rosen and 
Lotufo 2010). Relatively low solubility of most explosives and their 
degradation products means that concentrations of these contaminants in 
the marine environment are relatively low and readily diluted. 
Furthermore, while explosives and their degradation products were 
detectable in marine sediment approximately 6-12 in. (0.15-0.3 m) away 
from degrading ordnance, the concentrations of these compounds were not 
statistically distinguishable from background beyond 3-6 ft. (1-2 m) 
from the degrading ordnance. Taken together, it is possible that marine 
mammals could be exposed to degrading explosives, but it would be 
within a very small radius of the explosive (1-6 ft. [0.3-2 m]).
    Anthropogenic noise attributable to training and testing activities 
in the Study Area emanates from multiple sources including low-
frequency and hull-mounted mid-frequency active sonar, high-frequency 
and non-hull mounted mid-frequency active sonar, and explosives and 
other impulsive sounds. Such sound sources include improved extended 
echo ranging sonobuoys; anti-swimmer grenades; mine countermeasure and 
neutralization activities; ordnance testing; gunnery, missile, and 
bombing exercises; torpedo testing, sinking exercises; ship shock 
trials; vessels; and aircraft. Sound produced from training and testing 
activities in the Study Area is temporary and transitory. The sounds 
produced during training and testing activities can be widely dispersed 
or concentrated in small areas for varying periods. Any anthropogenic 
noise attributed to training and testing activities in the Study Area 
would be temporary and the affected area would be expected to 
immediately return to the original state when these activities cease. 
Military expended materials resulting from training and testing 
activities could potentially result in minor long-term changes to 
benthic habitat. Military expended materials may be colonized over time 
by benthic organisms that prefer hard substrate and would provide 
structure that could attract some species of fish or invertebrates. 
Overall, the combined impacts of sound exposure, explosions, vessel 
strikes, and military expended materials resulting from the proposed 
activities would not be expected to have measurable effects on 
populations of marine mammal prey species.
    Equipment used by the Navy within the Study Area, including ships 
and other marine vessels, aircraft, and other equipment, may also 
introduce materials into the marine environment. All equipment is 
properly maintained in accordance with applicable Navy or legal 
requirements. All such operating equipment meets federal water quality 
standards, where applicable.

Effects on Marine Mammal Prey

    Invertebrates--Prey sources such as marine invertebrates could 
potentially be impacted by sound stressors as a result of the proposed 
activities. However, most marine invertebrates' ability to sense sounds 
is very limited. In most cases, marine invertebrates would not respond 
to impulsive and non-impulsive sounds, although they may detect and 
briefly respond to

[[Page 7113]]

nearby low-frequency sounds. These short-term responses would likely be 
inconsequential to invertebrate populations. Explosions and pile 
driving would likely kill or injure nearby marine invertebrates. 
Vessels also have the potential to impact marine invertebrates by 
disturbing the water column or sediments, or directly striking 
organisms (Bishop, 2008). The propeller wash (water displaced by 
propellers used for propulsion) from vessel movement and water 
displaced from vessel hulls can potentially disturb marine 
invertebrates in the water column and is a likely cause of zooplankton 
mortality (Bickel et al., 2011). The localized and short-term exposure 
to explosions or vessels could displace, injure, or kill zooplankton, 
invertebrate eggs or larvae, and macro-invertebrates. Therefore, 
mortality or long-term consequences for a few animals is unlikely to 
have measurable effects on overall stocks or populations. Long-term 
consequences to marine invertebrate populations would not be expected 
as a result of exposure to sounds or vessels in the Study Area.
    Fish--If fish are exposed to explosions and impulsive sound 
sources, they may show no response at all or may have a behavioral 
reaction. Occasional behavioral reactions to intermittent explosions 
and impulsive sound sources are unlikely to cause long-term 
consequences for individual fish or populations. Animals that 
experience hearing loss (PTS or TTS) as a result of exposure to 
explosions and impulsive sound sources may have a reduced ability to 
detect relevant sounds such as predators, prey, or social 
vocalizations. It is uncertain whether some permanent hearing loss over 
a part of a fish's hearing range would have long-term consequences for 
that individual. It is possible for fish to be injured or killed by an 
explosion. Physical effects from pressure waves generated by underwater 
sounds (e.g., underwater explosions) could potentially affect fish 
within proximity of training or testing activities. The shock wave from 
an underwater explosion is lethal to fish at close range, causing 
massive organ and tissue damage and internal bleeding (Keevin and 
Hempen, 1997). At greater distance from the detonation point, the 
extent of mortality or injury depends on a number of factors including 
fish size, body shape, orientation, and species (Keevin and Hempen, 
1997; Wright, 1982). At the same distance from the source, larger fish 
are generally less susceptible to death or injury, elongated forms that 
are round in cross-section are less at risk than deep-bodied forms, and 
fish oriented sideways to the blast suffer the greatest impact (Edds-
Walton and Finneran, 2006; O'Keeffe, 1984; O'Keeffe and Young, 1984; 
Wiley et al., 1981; Yelverton et al., 1975). Species with gas-filled 
organs have higher mortality than those without them (Continental Shelf 
Associates Inc., 2004; Goertner et al., 1994).
    Fish not killed or driven from a location by an explosion might 
change their behavior, feeding pattern, or distribution. Changes in 
behavior of fish have been observed as a result of sound produced by 
explosives, with effect intensified in areas of hard substrate (Wright, 
1982). Stunning from pressure waves could also temporarily immobilize 
fish, making them more susceptible to predation. The abundances of 
various fish and invertebrates near the detonation point could be 
altered for a few hours before animals from surrounding areas 
repopulate the area; however these populations would likely be 
replenished as waters near the detonation point are mixed with adjacent 
waters. Repeated exposure of individual fish to sounds from underwater 
explosions is not likely and most acoustic effects are expected to be 
short-term and localized. Long-term consequences for fish populations 
would not be expected.
    Vessels and in-water devices do not normally collide with adult 
fish, most of which can detect and avoid them. Exposure of fishes is to 
vessel strike stressors is limited to those fish groups that are large, 
slow-moving, and may occur near the surface, such as sturgeon, ocean 
sunfish, whale sharks, basking sharks, and manta rays. With the 
exception of sturgeon, these species are distributed widely in offshore 
portions of the Study Area. Any isolated cases of a Navy vessel 
striking an individual could injure that individual, impacting the 
fitness of an individual fish. Vessel strikes would not pose a risk to 
most of the other marine fish groups, because many fish can detect and 
avoid vessel movements, making strikes rare and allowing the fish to 
return to their normal behavior after the ship or device passes. As a 
vessel approaches a fish, they could have a detectable behavioral or 
physiological response (e.g., swimming away and increased heart rate) 
as the passing vessel displaces them. However, such reactions are not 
expected to have lasting effects on the survival, growth, recruitment, 
or reproduction of these marine fish groups at the population level.

Marine Mammal Avoidance

    Marine mammals may be temporarily displaced from areas where Navy 
training is occurring, but the area should be utilized again after the 
activities have ceased. Avoidance of an area can help the animal avoid 
further acoustic effects by avoiding or reducing further exposure. The 
intermittent or short duration of many activities should prevent 
animals from being exposed to stressors on a continuous basis. In areas 
of repeated and frequent acoustic disturbance, some animals may 
habituate or learn to tolerate the new baseline or fluctuations in 
noise level. While some animals may not return to an area, or may begin 
using an area differently due to training and testing activities, most 
animals are expected to return to their usual locations and behavior.

Other Expected Effects

    Other sources that may affect marine mammal habitat were considered 
and potentially include the introduction of fuel, debris, ordnance, and 
chemical residues into the water column. The effects of each of these 
components were considered in the Navy's AFTT DEIS/OEIS. Based on the 
detailed review within the AFTT EIS/OEIS, there would be no effects to 
marine mammals resulting from loss or modification of marine mammal 
habitat including water and sediment quality, food resources, vessel 
movement, and expendable material.

Analysis and Negligible Impact Preliminary Determination

    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.'' In making a negligible impact determination, 
NMFS considers:
    (1) The number of anticipated mortalities;
    (2) The number and nature of anticipated injuries;
    (3) The number, nature, and intensity, and duration of Level B 
harassment; and
    (4) The context in which the takes occur.
    As mentioned previously, NMFS estimates that 42 species of marine 
mammals could be potentially affected by Level A or Level B harassment 
over the course of the five-year period. In addition, 16 species could 
potentially be lethally taken over the course of the five-year period 
from explosives and 11

[[Page 7114]]

species could potentially be lethally taken from ship strikes over the 
course of the five-year period.
    Pursuant to NMFS' regulations implementing the MMPA, an applicant 
is required to estimate the number of animals that will be ``taken'' by 
the specified activities (i.e., takes by harassment only, or takes by 
harassment, injury, and/or death). This estimate informs the analysis 
that NMFS must perform to determine whether the activity will have a 
``negligible impact'' on the affected species or stock. Level B 
(behavioral) harassment occurs at the level of the individual(s) and 
does not assume any resulting population-level consequences, though 
there are known avenues through which behavioral disturbance of 
individuals can result in population-level effects (e.g., pink-footed 
geese (Anser brachyrhynchus) in undisturbed habitat gained body mass 
and had about a 46-percent reproductive success compared with geese in 
disturbed habitat (being consistently scared off the fields on which 
they were foraging) which did not gain mass and has a 17-percent 
reproductive success). A negligible impact finding is based on the lack 
of likely adverse effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival 
(i.e., population-level effects). 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, 
the number of estimated mortalities, and effects on habitat. Generally 
speaking, and especially with other factors being equal, the Navy and 
NMFS anticipate more severe effects from takes resulting from exposure 
to higher received levels (though this is in no way a strictly linear 
relationship throughout species, individuals, or circumstances) and 
less severe effects from takes resulting from exposure to lower 
received levels.
    The Navy's specified activities have been described based on best 
estimates of the number of activity hours, items, or detonations that 
the Navy would conduct. There may be some flexibility in the exact 
number of hours, items, or detonations may vary from year to year, but 
totals would not exceed the 5-year totals. Furthermore, the Navy's take 
request is based on their model and post-model analysis. The requested 
number of Level B takes does not equate to the number of individual 
animals the Navy expects to harass (which is lower), but rather to the 
instances of take (i.e., exposures) that may occur. Depending on the 
location, duration, and frequency of activities, along with the 
distribution and movement of marine mammals, individual animals may be 
exposed multiple times to impulse or non-impulse sounds at or above the 
Level B harassment threshold. However, the Navy is currently unable to 
estimate the number of individuals that may be taken during training 
and testing activities. The model results are over- estimates of the 
number of takes that may occur to a smaller number of individuals. 
While the model shows that an increased number of takes may occur 
(compared to the 2009 rulemakings for AFAST and the east coast range 
complexes), the types and severity of individual responses to training 
and testing activities are not expected to change.
    Taking the above into account, considering the sections discussed 
below, and dependent upon the implementation of the proposed mitigation 
measures, NMFS has preliminarily determined that Navy's proposed 
training and testing exercises would have a negligible impact on the 
marine mammal species and stocks present in the Study Area.

Behavioral Harassment

    As discussed previously in this document, marine mammals can 
respond to sound in many different ways, a subset of which qualifies as 
harassment (see Behavioral Harassment Section). As also discussed 
earlier, the take estimates do take into account the fact that marine 
mammals will likely avoid strong sound sources to one extent or 
another. Although an animal that avoids the sound source will likely 
still be taken in some instances (such as if the avoidance results in a 
missed opportunity to feed, interruption of reproductive behaviors, 
etc.) in other cases avoidance may result in fewer instances of take 
than were estimated or in the takes resulting from exposure to a lower 
received level than was estimated, which could result in a less severe 
response. For sonar and other active acoustic sources, the Navy 
provided information (Tables 22 and 23) estimating the percentage of 
behavioral harassment that would occur within the 6-dB bins (without 
considering mitigation or avoidance). As mentioned above, an animal's 
exposure to a higher received level is more likely to result in a 
behavioral response that is more likely to adversely affect the health 
of the animal. As the table illustrates, the vast majority (~79%, at 
least for hull-mounted sonar, which is responsible for most of the 
sonar takes) of calculated takes for mid-frequency sonar result from 
exposures between 150dB and 162dB. Less than 0.5% of the takes are 
expected to result from exposures above 180dB.

                                                       Table 22--Non-Impulsive Ranges in 6 dB Bins and Percentage of Behavioral Harassment
                                                                                    [Low-frequency cetaceans]
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                Sonar Bin MF1 (e.g., SQS-53; ASW   Sonar Bin MF4 (e.g., AQS-22;    Sonar Bin MF5 (e.g., SSQ-62;    Sonar Bin HF4 (e.g., SQQ-32;
                                                                       Hull-mounted Sonar)              ASW Dipping Sonar)                 ASW Sonobuoy)                    MIW Sonar)
                                                               ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                   Percentage of                   Percentage of                   Percentage of                   Percentage of
                  Received level in 6-dB Bins                                       behavioral                      behavioral                      behavioral                      behavioral
                                                                  Distance over     harassments    Distance over    harassments    Distance over    harassments    Distance over    harassments
                                                                  which levels     occurring at    which levels    occurring at    which levels    occurring at    which levels    occurring at
                                                                   occur  (m)      given levels     occur  (m)     given levels     occur  (m)     given levels     occur  (m)     given levels
                                                                                     (percent)                       (percent)                       (percent)                       (percent)
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
120 <= SPL<126................................................   179,213-147,800            0.00   60,983-48,317            0.00   19,750-15,275            0.00     3,338-2,438            0.00
126 <= SPL<132................................................   147,800-136,575            0.00   48,317-18,300            0.09    15,275-9,825            0.11     2,438-1,463            0.04
132 <= SPL<138................................................   136,575-115,575            0.12   18,300-16,113            0.20     9,825-5,925            2.81     1,463-1,013            0.78
138 <= SPL<144................................................    115,575-74,913            2.60   16,113-11,617            4.95     5,925-2,700           18.73       1,013-788            4.16
144 <= SPL<150................................................     74,913-66,475            2.94    11,617-5,300           31.26     2,700-1,375           26.76         788-300           40.13
150 <= SPL<156................................................     66,475-37,313           34.91     5,300-2,575           29.33       1,375-388           40.31         300-150           23.87
156 <= SPL<162................................................     37,313-13,325           43.82     2,575-1,113           23.06         388-100           10.15         150-100           13.83
162 <= SPL<168................................................      13,325-7,575            8.98       1,113-200           10.60         100-<50            1.13         100-<50           17.18
168 <= SPL<174................................................       7,575-3,925            4.59         200-100            0.39             <50            0.00             <50            0.00
174 <= SPL<180................................................       3,925-1,888            1.54         100-<50            0.12             <50            0.00             <50            0.00
180 <= SPL<186................................................         1,888-400            0.48             <50            0.00             <50            0.00             <50            0.00

[[Page 7115]]

 
186 <= SPL<192................................................           400-200            0.02             <50            0.00             <50            0.00             <50            0.00
192 <= SPL<198................................................           200-100            0.00             <50            0.00             <50            0.00             <50            0.00
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


                                                       Table 23--Non-Impulsive Ranges in 6 dB Bins and Percentage of Behavioral Harassment
                                                                                    [Mid-frequency cetaceans]
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                Sonar Bin MF1 (e.g., SQS-53; ASW   Sonar Bin MF4 (e.g., AQS-22;    Sonar Bin MF5 (e.g., SSQ-62;    Sonar Bin HF4 (e.g., SQQ-32;
                                                                       Hull-mounted Sonar)              ASW Dipping Sonar)                 ASW Sonobuoy)                    MIW Sonar)
                                                               ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                   Percentage of                   Percentage of                   Percentage of                   Percentage of
                  Received level in 6-dB Bins                                       behavioral                      behavioral                      behavioral                      behavioral
                                                                  Distance over     harassments    Distance over    harassments    Distance over    harassments    Distance over    harassments
                                                                  which levels     occurring at    which levels    occurring at    which levels    occurring at    which levels    occurring at
                                                                   occur  (m)      given levels     occur  (m)     given levels     occur  (m)     given levels     occur  (m)     given levels
                                                                                     (percent)                       (percent)                       (percent)                       (percent)
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
120 <= SPL < 126..............................................   179,525-147,875            0.00   61,433-48,325            0.00   20,638-16,350            0.00     4,388-4,050            0.00
126 <= SPL < 132..............................................   147,875-136,625            0.00   48,325-18,350            0.09   16,350-10,883            0.07     4,050-3,150            0.01
132 <= SPL < 138..............................................   136,625-115,575            0.12   18,350-16,338            0.18    10,883-7,600            1.68     3,150-2,163            0.38
138 <= SPL < 144..............................................    115,575-74,938            2.58   16,338-11,617            5.11     7,600-3,683           18.02     2,163-1,388            2.97
144 <= SPL < 150..............................................     74,938-66,525            2.92    11,617-5,425           30.08     3,683-1,738           31.66     1,388-1,013            7.15
150 <= SPL < 156..............................................     66,525-37,325           34.71     5,425-2,625           30.03       1,738-425           39.81       1,013-725           18.55
156 <= SPL < 162..............................................     37,325-13,850           43.02     2,625-1,125           23.44         425-150            6.94         725-250           53.79
162 <= SPL < 168..............................................      13,850-7,750            9.77       1,125-200           10.58         150-<50            1.82         250-150            9.62
168 <= SPL < 174..............................................       7,750-4,088            4.70         200-100            0.38             <50            0.00         150-100            4.40
174 <= SPL < 180..............................................       4,088-1,888            1.69         100-<50            0.11             <50            0.00         100-<50            3.13
180 <= SPL < 186..............................................         1,888-450            0.47             <50            0.00             <50            0.00             <50            0.00
186 <= SPL < 192..............................................           450-200            0.02             <50            0.00             <50            0.00             <50            0.00
192 <= SPL < 198..............................................           200-100            0.00             <50            0.00             <50            0.00             <50            0.00
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
ASW: anti-submarine warfare; MIW: mine warfare; m: meter; SPL: sound pressure level.

    Although the Navy has been monitoring to discern the effects of 
sonar and other active acoustic sources on marine mammals since 
approximately 2006, and research on the effects of sonar and other 
active acoustic sources is advancing, our understanding of exactly how 
marine mammals in the Study Area will respond to sonar and other active 
acoustic sources is still limited. The Navy has submitted reports from 
more than 60 major exercises conducted in the HRC and SOCAL, and off 
the Atlantic Coast, that indicate no behavioral disturbance was 
observed. One cannot conclude from these results that marine mammals 
were not harassed from sonar and other active acoustic sources, as a 
portion of animals within the area of concern were not seen (especially 
those more cryptic, deep-diving species, such as beaked whales or Kogia 
spp.) and the full series of behaviors that would more accurately show 
an important change is not typically seen (i.e., only the surface 
behaviors are observed). Plus, some of the non-biologist lookouts might 
not be well-qualified to characterize behaviors. However, one can say 
that the animals that were observed did not respond in any of the 
obviously more severe ways, such as panic, aggression, or anti-predator 
response.

Diel Cycle

    As noted previously, many animals perform vital functions, such as 
feeding, resting, traveling, and socializing on a diel cycle (24-hr 
cycle). Behavioral reactions to noise exposure (when taking place in a 
biologically important context, such as disruption of critical life 
functions, displacement, or avoidance of important habitat) are more 
likely to be significant if they last more than one diel cycle or recur 
on subsequent days (Southall et al., 2007). Consequently, a behavioral 
response lasting less than one day and not recurring on subsequent days 
is not considered severe unless it could directly affect reproduction 
or survival (Southall et al., 2007).
    In the previous section, we discussed the fact that potential 
behavioral responses to sonar and other active acoustic sources that 
fall into the category of harassment could range in severity. By 
definition, for military readiness activities, takes by behavioral 
harassment involve the disturbance or likely disturbance of a marine 
mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild by causing disruption of 
natural behavioral patterns (such as migration, surfacing, nursing, 
breeding, feeding, or sheltering) to a point where such behavioral 
patterns are abandoned or significantly altered. These reactions would, 
however, be more of a concern if they were expected to last over 24 
hours or be repeated in subsequent days. However, vessels with hull-
mounted active sonar are typically moving at speeds of 10-15 knots, 
which would make it unlikely that the same animal would remain in the 
immediate vicinity of the ship for the entire duration of the exercise. 
Animals may be exposed to sonar and other active acoustic sources for 
more than one day or on successive days. However, because neither the 
vessels nor the animals are stationary, significant long-term effects 
are not expected.
    Most planned explosive exercises are of a short duration (1-6 
hours). Although explosive exercises may sometimes be conducted in the 
same general areas repeatedly, because of their short duration and the 
fact that

[[Page 7116]]

they are in the open ocean and animals can easily move away, it is 
similarly unlikely that animals would be exposed for long, continuous 
amounts of time.

TTS

    As mentioned previously, TTS can last from a few minutes to days, 
be of varying degree, and occur across various frequency bandwidths, 
all of which determine the severity of the impacts on the affected 
individual, which can range from minor to more severe. The TTS 
sustained by an animal is primarily classified by three 
characteristics:
    (1) Frequency--Available data (of mid-frequency hearing specialists 
exposed to mid- or high-frequency sounds; Southall et al., 2007) 
suggest that most TTS occurs in the frequency range of the source up to 
one octave higher than the source (with the maximum TTS at [frac12] 
octave above). The more powerful MF sources used have center 
frequencies between 3.5 and 8 kHz and the other unidentified MF sources 
are, by definition, less than 10 kHz, which suggests that TTS induced 
by any of these MF sources would be in a frequency band somewhere 
between approximately 2 and 20 kHz. There are fewer hours of HF source 
use and the sounds would attenuate more quickly, plus they have lower 
source levels, but if an animal were to incur TTS from these sources, 
it would cover a higher frequency range (sources are between 10 and 100 
kHz, which means that TTS could range up to 200 kHz; however, HF 
systems are typically used less frequently and for shorter time periods 
than surface ship and aircraft MF systems, so TTS from these sources is 
even less likely). TTS from explosives would be broadband. Vocalization 
data for each species was provided in the Navy's LOA application.
    (2) Degree of the shift (i.e., how many dB is the sensitivity of 
the hearing reduced by)--Generally, both the degree of TTS and the 
duration of TTS will be greater if the marine mammal is exposed to a 
higher level of energy (which would occur when the peak dB level is 
higher or the duration is longer). The threshold for the onset of TTS 
was discussed previously in this document. An animal would have to 
approach closer to the source or remain in the vicinity of the sound 
source appreciably longer to increase the received SEL, which would be 
difficult considering the lookouts and the nominal speed of an active 
sonar vessel (10-15 knots). In the TTS studies, some using exposures of 
almost an hour in duration or up to 217 SEL re 1 [micro]Pa\2\sec, most 
of the TTS induced was 15 dB or less, though Finneran et al. (2007) 
induced 43 dB of TTS with a 64-sec exposure to a 20 kHz source. 
However, MFAS emits a 1-second ping 2 times/minute and incurring those 
levels of TTS is highly unlikely.
    (3) Duration of TTS (recovery time)--In the TTS laboratory studies, 
some using exposures of almost an hour in duration or up to 217 SEL re 
1 [micro]Pa\2\sec, almost all individuals recovered within 1 day (or 
less, often in minutes), though in one study (Finneran et al., 2007), 
recovery took 4 days.
    Based on the range of degree and duration of TTS reportedly induced 
by exposures to non-pulse sounds of energy higher than that to which 
free-swimming marine mammals in the field are likely to be exposed 
during training exercises using sonar and other active acoustic sources 
in the Study Area, it is unlikely that marine mammals would ever 
sustain a TTS from MFAS that alters their sensitivity by more than 20 
dB for more than a few days (and any incident of TTS would likely be 
far less severe due to the short duration of the majority of the 
exercises and the speed of a typical vessel), if that. Also, for the 
same reasons discussed in the Diel Cycle section, and because of the 
short distance within which animals would need to approach the sound 
source, it is unlikely that animals would be exposed to the levels 
necessary to induce TTS in subsequent time periods such that their 
recovery is impeded. Additionally, though the frequency range of TTS 
that marine mammals might sustain would overlap with some of the 
frequency ranges of their vocalization types, the frequency range of 
TTS from MFAS (the source from which TTS would most likely be sustained 
because the higher source level make it more likely that an animal 
would be exposed to a higher received level) would not usually span the 
entire frequency range of one vocalization type, much less span all 
types of vocalizations. If impaired, marine mammals would implement 
behaviors to compensate (see Acoustic Masking or Communication 
Impairment Section), though these compensations may incur energetic 
costs.

Acoustic Masking or Communication Impairment

    Masking only occurs during the time of the signal (and potential 
secondary arrivals of indirect rays), versus TTS, which continues 
beyond the duration of the signal. Standard MFAS nominally pings every 
50 seconds for hull-mounted sources. For the sources for which we know 
the pulse length, most are significantly shorter than hull-mounted 
active sonar, on the order of several microseconds to tens of 
microseconds. For hull-mounted active sonar, though some of the 
vocalizations that marine mammals make are less than one second long, 
there is only a 1 in 50 chance that they would occur exactly when the 
ping was received, and when vocalizations are longer than one second, 
only parts of them are masked. Alternately, when the pulses are only 
several microseconds long, the majority of most animals' vocalizations 
would not be masked. Masking effects from sonar and other active 
acoustic sources are expected to be minimal. If masking or 
communication impairment were to occur briefly, it would be in the 
frequency range of MFAS, which overlaps with some marine mammal 
vocalizations; however, it would likely not mask the entirety of any 
particular vocalization or communication series because the signal 
length, frequency, and duty cycle of the sonar signal does not 
perfectly mimic the characteristics of any marine mammal's 
vocalizations.

PTS, Injury, or Mortality

    NMFS believes that many marine mammals would deliberately avoid 
exposing themselves to the received levels of sound necessary to induce 
injury by moving away from or at least modifying their path to avoid a 
close approach. Additionally, in the unlikely event that an animal 
approaches the sound source at a close distance, NMFS believes that the 
mitigation measures (i.e., shutdown/powerdown zones for sonar and other 
active acoustic sources) would typically ensure that animals would not 
be exposed to injurious levels of sound. As discussed previously, the 
Navy utilizes both aerial (when available) and passive acoustic 
monitoring (during all ASW exercises) in addition to Lookouts on 
vessels to detect marine mammals for mitigation implementation.
    If a marine mammal is able to approach a surface vessel within the 
distance necessary to incur PTS, the likely speed of the vessel 
(nominal 10-15 knots) would make it very difficult for the animal to 
remain in range long enough to accumulate enough energy to result in 
more than a mild case of PTS. As mentioned previously and in relation 
to TTS, the likely consequences to the health of an individual that 
incurs PTS can range from mild to more serious dependent upon the 
degree of PTS and the frequency band it is in, and many animals are 
able to compensate for the shift, although it may include energetic 
costs.
    Recovery from a threshold shift (i.e., partial hearing loss) can 
take a few minutes to a few days, depending on the severity of the 
initial shift. PTS would not fully recover. Threshold shifts do

[[Page 7117]]

not necessarily affect all hearing frequencies equally, so some 
threshold shifts may not interfere with an animal hearing biologically 
relevant sounds. It is uncertain whether some permanent hearing loss 
over a part of a marine mammal's hearing range would have long-term 
consequences for that individual, although many mammals lose hearing 
ability as they age. Mitigation measures would further reduce the 
predicted impacts. Long-term consequences to populations would not be 
expected.
    As discussed previously, marine mammals (especially beaked whales) 
could potentially respond to MFAS at a received level lower than the 
injury threshold in a manner that indirectly results in the animals 
stranding. The exact mechanisms of this potential response, behavioral 
or physiological, are not known. When naval exercises have been 
associated with strandings in the past, it has typically been when 
three or more vessels are operating simultaneously, in the presence of 
a strong surface duct, and in areas of constricted channels, semi-
enclosed areas, and/or steep bathymetry. Based on the number of 
occurrences where strandings have been definitively associated with 
military active sonar versus the number of hours of active sonar 
training that have been conducted, we suggest that the probability is 
small that this will occur. Lastly, an active sonar shutdown protocol 
for strandings involving live animals milling in the water minimizes 
the chances that these types of events turn into mortalities.
    Onset mortality and onset slight lung injury criteria use 
conservative thresholds to predict the onset of effect as discussed 
section ``Take Criteria.'' The thresholds are based upon newborn calf 
masses, and therefore these effects are over-estimated by the acoustic 
model assuming most animals within the population are larger than a 
newborn calf. The threshold for onset mortality and onset slight lung 
injury is the impulse at which one percent of animals exposed would be 
expected to actually be injured or killed, with the likelihood of the 
effect increasing with proximity to the explosion. Considering these 
factors, these impacts would rarely be expected to actually occur. 
Nevertheless, it is possible for marine mammals to be injured or killed 
by an explosion. Small odontocetes are the marine mammal group most 
likely to be injured or killed by explosives (although mitigation 
measures are in place to prevent this, and only 3 deaths have been 
documented from explosives and these occurred prior to a modification 
in mitigation to improve protection during the use of time-delay firing 
devices). Most odontocete species have populations in the tens of 
thousands, so that even if a few individuals in the population were 
removed, long-term consequences for the population would not be 
expected.
    While NMFS does not expect any mortalities from impulsive sources 
to occur, we propose to authorize takes by mortality of a limited 
number of small odontocetes from training and testing activities. Based 
on previous vessel strikes in the Study Area, NMFS also proposes to 
authorize takes by mortality of a limited number of marine mammals from 
vessel strikes. As described previously, although we have a good sense 
of how many marine mammals the Navy may strike over the course of five 
years (and it is much smaller than 10 large marine mammals and one 
large marine mammal as a result of training and testing, respectively), 
the species distribution is unpredicatable. Thus, we have analyzed the 
possibility that all the large whale takes requested in one year may be 
of the same species. However, if this happened to any given species in 
a given year--the number of takes authorized of that same species over 
the other 4 years of the rule is highly limited (for example, no more 
than the following number of ESA-listed marine mammals in any given 
year: three humpback whales, two fin whales, one sei whale, one blue 
whale, and one sperm whale from training activities). Over the last 
five years on the east coast, the Navy was involved in two ship 
strikes, with no confirmed marine mammal deaths as a result. The number 
of mortalities from vessel strikes are not expected to be an increase 
over the past decade, but are being addressed under this proposed 
incidental take authorization for the first time.

Species Specific Analysis

    In the discussions below, the ``acoustic analysis'' refers to the 
Navy's model results and post-model analysis. The Navy performed a 
quantitative analysis to estimate the number of marine mammals that 
could be harassed by acoustic sources or explosives used during Navy 
training and testing activities. Inputs to the quantitative analysis 
included marine mammal density estimates; marine mammal depth 
occurrence distributions; oceanographic and environmental data; marine 
mammal hearing data; and criteria and thresholds for levels of 
potential effects. Marine mammal densities used in the model may 
overestimate actual densities when species data is limited and for 
species with seasonal migrations (e.g., North Atlantic right whales, 
humpbacks, blue whales, fin whales, sei whales). The quantitative 
analysis consists of computer modeled estimates and a post-model 
analysis to determine the number of potential mortalities and 
harassments. The model calculates sound energy propagation from sonars, 
other active acoustic sources, and explosives during naval activities; 
the sound or impulse received by animat dosimeters representing marine 
mammals distributed in the area around the modeled activity; and 
whether the sound or impulse received by a marine mammal exceeds the 
thresholds for effects. The model estimates are then further analyzed 
to consider animal avoidance and implementation of mitigation measures, 
resulting in final estimates of effects due to Navy training and 
testing. It is important to note that the Navy's take estimates 
represent the total number of takes and not the number of individuals 
taken, as a single individual may be taken multiple times over the 
course of a year.
    Although this more complex computer modeling approach accounts for 
various environmental factors affecting acoustic propagation, the 
current software tools do not consider the likelihood that a marine 
mammal would attempt to avoid repeated exposures to a sound or avoid an 
area of intense activity where a training or testing event may be 
focused. Additionally, the software tools do not consider the 
implementation of mitigation (e.g., stopping sonar transmissions when a 
marine mammal is within a certain distance of a ship or range clearance 
prior to detonations). In both of these situations, naval activities 
are modeled as though an activity would occur regardless of proximity 
to marine mammals and without any horizontal movement by the animal 
away from the sound source or human activities (e.g., without 
accounting for likely animal avoidance). The initial model results 
overestimate the number of takes (as described previously), primarily 
by behavioral disturbance. The final step of the quantitative analysis 
of acoustic effects is to consider the implementation of mitigation and 
the possibility that marine mammals would avoid continued or repeated 
sound exposures. NMFS provided input to the Navy on this process and 
the Navy's qualitative analysis is described in detail in Chapter 6 of 
their LOA application (http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental.htm#applications).

[[Page 7118]]

North Atlantic Right Whale

    North Atlantic right whales may be exposed to sonar or other active 
acoustic stressors associated with training and testing activities 
throughout the year. Exposures may occur in feeding grounds off the New 
England coast, on migration routes along the east coast, and on calving 
grounds in the southeast off the coast of Florida and Georgia; however, 
mitigation areas would be established in these areas with specific 
measures to further reduce impacts to North Atlantic right whales. 
Acoustic modeling predicts that North Atlantic right whales could be 
exposed to sound that may result in 60 TTS and 51 behavioral reactions 
per year from annually recurring training activities. The majority of 
these impacts are predicted within the JAX Range Complex where animals 
spend winter months calving. Annually recurring testing activities 
could expose North Atlantic right whales to sound that may result in 11 
TTS and 66 behavioral reactions per year. These impacts are predicted 
in Rhode Island inland waters and within the Northeast Range Complexes. 
North Atlantic right whales may be exposed to sound or energy from 
explosions associated with training activities throughout the year. The 
acoustic analysis predicts one TTS exposure to a North Atlantic right 
whale annually from recurring training activities, but no impacts on 
North Atlantic right whales due to annually recurring testing 
activities or ship shock trials. Testing activities that use explosives 
would not occur in the North Atlantic right whale mitigation areas, 
although the sound and energy from explosions associated with testing 
activities may be detectable within the mitigation areas.
    The Navy and NMFS do not anticipate that a North Atlantic right 
whale would be struck by a vessel during training or testing activities 
because of the extensive measures in place to reduce the risk of a 
vessel strike to the species. For example, the Navy would receive 
information about recent North Atlantic right whale sightings before 
transiting through or conducting training or testing activities in the 
mitigation areas. During transits, vessels would exercise extreme 
caution and proceed at the slowest speed that is consistent with 
safety, mission, training, and operations. In the southeast North 
Atlantic right whale mitigation area, vessels will reduce speed when 
the observe a North Atlantic right whale, when they are within 5 nm (9 
km) of a sighting reported in the past 12 hours, or when operating at 
night or during periods of poor visibility. The Navy would also 
minimize to the maximum extent practicable north-south transits through 
the southeast North Atlantic right whale mitigation area. Similar 
measures to reduce the risk of ship strikes would be implemented in the 
northeast and mid-Atlantic mitigation areas.
    Due to the importance of North Atlantic right whale critical 
habitat for feeding and reproductive activities, takes that occur in 
those areas may have more severe effects than takes that occur while 
whales are just transiting and not involved in feeding or reproductive 
behaviors. To address these potentially more severe effects, NMFS and 
the Navy have included mitigation measures to minimize impacts (both 
number and severity) in both the northeast and southeast designated 
right whale critical habitat as well as the migratory corridor which 
connects them. Additional mitigation measures pertaining to training 
and testing activities within the mitigation areas are described below.
    In the southeast North Atlantic right whale mitigation area, no 
training activities using sonar or other active acoustic sources would 
occur with the exception of object detection/navigational sonar 
training and maintenance activities for surface ships and submarines 
while entering/exiting Mayport, Florida. Training activities involving 
helicopter dipping sonar would occur off of Mayport, Florida within the 
right whale mitigation area; however, the majority of active sonar 
activities would occur outside the southeast mitigation area. In the 
northeast North Atlantic right whale mitigation area, hull-mounted 
sonar would not be used. However, a limited number of torpedo exercises 
would be conducted in August and September when many North Atlantic 
right whales have migrated south out of the area. Of course, North 
Atlantic right whales can be found outside of designated mitigation 
areas and sound from nearby activities may be detectable within the 
mitigation areas. Acoustic modeling predictions consider these 
potential circumstances.
    Training activities that use explosives, with the exception of 
training with explosive sonobuoys, are not conducted in the southeast 
North Atlantic right whale mitigation area. Training activities that 
use explosives would not occur in the northeast North Atlantic right 
whale mitigation area. Although, the sound and energy from explosions 
associated with training activities may be detectable within the 
mitigation areas.
    The western North Atlantic minimum stock size is based on a census 
of individual whales identified using photo-identification techniques. 
Review of the photo-identification recapture database in July 2010 
indicated that 396 individually recognized whales in the catalogue were 
known to be alive in 2007. This value is a minimum and does not include 
animals alive prior to 2007, but not recorded in the individual 
sightings database as seen during December 1, 2004 to July 6, 2010 
(note that matching of photos taken during 2008-2010 was not complete 
at the time the data were received). It also does not include some 
calves known to be born during 2007, or any other individual whales 
seen during 2007, but not yet entered into the catalogue. In addition, 
this estimate has no associated coefficient of variation.
    Acoustic analysis indicates that no North Atlantic right whales 
will be exposed to sound levels likely to result in Level A harassment. 
In addition, modeling predicts no potential for serious injury or 
mortality to North Atlantic right whales. Moreover, NMFS believes that 
Navy Lookouts would detect right whales and implement the appropriate 
mitigation measure before an animal could approach to within a distance 
necessary to result in injury. Any takes that do occur would likely be 
short term and at a lower received level and would likely not affect 
annual rates of recruitment or survival.

Humpback Whale

    The acoustic analysis predicts that humpback whales could be 
exposed to sound associated with training activities that may result in 
1 PTS, 1,128 TTS and 514 behavioral reactions per year. The majority of 
these impacts are predicted in the JAX, Navy Cherry Point, VACAPES, and 
Northeast Range Complexes. Further, the analysis predicts that humpback 
whales could be exposed to sound associated with testing activities 
that may result in 94 TTS and 100 behavioral reactions per year as a 
result of annually recurring testing activities. Humpback whales may be 
exposed to sound or energy from explosions associated with training and 
testing activities throughout the year. The acoustic analysis predicts 
that humpback whales could be exposed to sound or energy from 
explosions that may result in 1 TTS per year as a result of annually 
recurring training activities and 1 TTS to a humpback whale due to ship 
shock trials over a 5-year period. All predicted impacts would be to 
the Gulf of Maine stock because this is the only humpback whale stock 
present within the Study Area.
    Research and observations show that if mysticetes are exposed to 
sonar or

[[Page 7119]]

other active acoustic sources they may react in a number of ways 
depending on the characteristics of the sound source, their experience 
with the sound source, and whether they are migrating or on seasonal 
grounds (i.e., breeding or feeding). Reactions may include alerting, 
breaking off feeding dives and surfacing, diving or swimming away, or 
no response at all. Additionally, migrating animals may ignore a sound 
source, or divert around the source if it is in their path. In the 
ocean, the use of sonar and other active acoustic sources is transient 
and is unlikely to repeatedly expose the same population of animals 
over a short period. Around heavily trafficked Navy ports and on fixed 
ranges, the possibility is greater for animals that are resident during 
all or part of the year to be exposed multiple times to sonar and other 
active acoustic sources. A few behavioral reactions per year, even from 
a single individual, are unlikely to produce long-term consequences for 
that individual or the population. Furthermore, the implementation of 
mitigation measures and sightability of humpback whales (due to their 
large size) would further reduce the potential impacts.
    Mysticetes exposed to the sound from explosions may react in a 
number of ways which may include alerting; startling; breaking off 
feeding dives and surfacing; diving or swimming away; or showing no 
response at all. Occasional behavioral reactions to intermittent 
explosions are unlikely to cause long-term consequences for individual 
mysticetes or populations. Furthermore, the implementation of 
mitigation measures and sightability of humpback whales (due to their 
large size) would further reduce the potential impacts in addition to 
reducing the potential for injury.
    The Navy estimates it may strike and take, by injury or mortality, 
an average of two marine mammals per year as a result of training 
activities, with a maximum of three in any given year. Of the ESA-
listed species in the Study Area, the Navy anticipates no more than 
three humpback whales would be struck over a 5-year period based on the 
percentages that those species have been involved in vessel collisions. 
The Navy provided a detailed analysis of strike data in section 6.1.9 
of its LOA application. Marine mammal mortalities were not previously 
analyzed by NMFS in the 2009 rulemakings for AFAST and the east coast 
range complexes. However, between 1995 and 2012, there have been 19 
Navy vessel strikes in the Study Area. Eight of the strikes resulted in 
a confirmed death, but in 11 of the 19 strikes the fate of the animal 
was undetermined. The mortalities from vessel strike are not expected 
to be an increase over the past decade, but rather NMFS proposes to 
authorize these takes for the first time in the AFTT Study Area.
    Of the 19 reported Navy vessel strikes since 1995, only one strike 
was attributed to a testing event in 2001. Therefore, for testing 
events that will not occur on a training platform, the Navy estimates 
it could potentially take one marine mammal by injury or mortality over 
the course of the 5-year AFTT regulations. A number of the reported 
whale strikes were unidentified to species; therefore, the Navy cannot 
quantifiably predict that the proposed takes will be of any particular 
species.
    Important feeding areas for humpbacks are located in the Northeast. 
Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary contains some of this 
important area and the Navy does not plan to conduct any activities 
within Stellwagen Bank. The Navy has designated several planning 
awareness areas (PAAs) based on locations of high productivity that 
have been correlated with high concentrations of marine mammals, 
including important feeding areas in the Northeast, and would avoid 
conducting major training exercises involving active sonar in PAAs.

Sei Whale

    The acoustic analysis predicts that sei whales could be exposed to 
sound associated with training activities that may result in 1 PTS, 
6,604 TTS, and 3,582 behavioral reactions per year from annually 
recurring training activities. The majority of these impacts are 
predicted in the VACAPES, Navy Cherry Point, and JAX Range Complexes, 
with a relatively small percent predicted in the GOMEX and Northeast 
Range Complexes and in areas outside of OPAREAS and range complexes. 
Sei whales could be exposed to sound associated with testing activities 
that may result in 439 TTS and 316 behavioral reactions per year as a 
result of annually recurring testing activities. Sei whales may be 
exposed to sound and energy from explosions associated with training 
and testing activities throughout the year. The acoustic analysis 
predicts that one sei whale could be exposed annually to sound from 
explosions associated with training activities that may cause TTS and 
one sei whale could exhibit a behavioral reaction. Annually recurring 
testing activities involving explosives may result in 1 TTS for a sei 
whale per year and 7 TTS due to exposure to explosive sound and energy 
from ship shock trials over a 5-year period. All predicted impacts 
would be to the Nova Scotia stock because this is the only sei whale 
stock present within the Study Area.
    Research and observations show that if mysticetes are exposed to 
sonar or other active acoustic sources they may react in a number of 
ways depending on the characteristics of the sound source, their 
experience with the sound source, and whether they are migrating or on 
seasonal grounds (i.e., breeding or feeding). Reactions may include 
alerting, breaking off feeding dives and surfacing, diving or swimming 
away, or no response at all. Additionally, migrating animals may ignore 
a sound source, or divert around the source if it is in their path. In 
the ocean, the use of sonar and other active acoustic sources is 
transient and is unlikely to repeatedly expose the same population of 
animals over a short period. Around heavily trafficked Navy ports and 
on fixed ranges, the possibility is greater for animals that are 
resident during all or part of the year to be exposed multiple times to 
sonar and other active acoustic sources. A few behavioral reactions per 
year, even from a single individual, are unlikely to produce long-term 
consequences for that individual or the population. Furthermore, the 
implementation of mitigation measures and sightability of sei whales 
(due to their large size) would further reduce the potential impacts.
    Mysticetes exposed to the sound from explosions may react in a 
number of ways, which may include alerting; startling; breaking off 
feeding dives and surfacing; diving or swimming away; or showing no 
response at all. Occasional behavioral reactions to intermittent 
explosions are unlikely to cause long-term consequences for individual 
mysticetes or populations. Furthermore, the implementation of 
mitigation measures and sightability of sei whales (due to their large 
size) would further reduce the potential impacts in addition to 
reducing the potential for injury.
    The Navy estimates it may strike and take, by injury or mortality, 
an average of two marine mammals per year as a result of training 
activities, with a maximum of three in any given year. Of the ESA-
listed species in the Study Area, the Navy anticipates no more than one 
sei whale would be struck over a 5-year period based on the percentages 
that those species have been involved in vessel collisions.
    Of the 19 reported Navy vessel strikes since 1995, only one strike 
was attributed to a testing event in 2001. Therefore, for testing 
events that will not occur on a training platform, the

[[Page 7120]]

Navy estimates it could potentially take one marine mammal by injury or 
mortality over the course of the 5-year AFTT regulations. A number of 
the reported whale strikes were unidentified to species; therefore, the 
Navy cannot quantifiably predict that the proposed takes will be of any 
particular species.
    No areas of specific importance for reproduction or feeding for sei 
whales have been identified in the AFTT Study Area. Sei whales in the 
North Atlantic belong to three stocks: Nova Scotia; Iceland-Denmark 
Strait; and Northeast Atlantic. The Nova Scotia stock occurs in the 
U.S. Atlantic waters. The best available abundance estimate for the 
Nova Scotia stock is 386 individuals.

Fin Whale

    The acoustic analysis predicts that fin whales could be exposed to 
sound associated with training activities that may result in 1 PTS, 
2,880 TTS and 1,608 behavioral reactions per year. The majority of 
these impacts are predicted in the VACAPES, Navy Cherry Point, and JAX 
Range Complexes, with a relatively small percent of impacts predicted 
in the GOMEX and Northeast Range Complexes. Fin whales could be exposed 
to sound associated with testing activities that may result in 263 TTS 
and 282 behavioral reactions per year as a result of annually recurring 
testing activities. The majority of these impacts are predicted within 
the Northeast Range Complexes with lesser impacts in the VACAPES, Navy 
Cherry Point, JAX, and GOMEX Range Complexes. Fin whales may be exposed 
to sound or energy from explosions associated with training and testing 
activities throughout the year. The acoustic analysis predicts one TTS 
and one behavioral response for fin whales annually from training 
activities, 1 TTS to fin whales per year from annually recurring 
testing activities, and 6 TTS per 5-year period due to ship shock 
trials. All predicted impacts would be to the Western North Atlantic 
stock because this is the only fin whale stock present within the Study 
Area.
    Research and observations show that if mysticetes are exposed to 
sonar or other active acoustic sources they may react in a number of 
ways depending on the characteristics of the sound source, their 
experience with the sound source, and whether they are migrating or on 
seasonal grounds (i.e., breeding or feeding). Reactions may include 
alerting, breaking off feeding dives and surfacing, diving or swimming 
away, or no response at all. Additionally, migrating animals may ignore 
a sound source, or divert around the source if it is in their path. In 
the ocean, the use of sonar and other active acoustic sources is 
transient and is unlikely to repeatedly expose the same population of 
animals over a short period. Around heavily trafficked Navy ports and 
on fixed ranges, the possibility is greater for animals that are 
resident during all or part of the year to be exposed multiple times to 
sonar and other active acoustic sources. A few behavioral reactions per 
year, even from a single individual, are unlikely to produce long-term 
consequences for that individual or the population. Furthermore, the 
implementation of mitigation measures and sightability of fin whales 
(due to their large size) would further reduce the potential impacts.
    Mysticetes exposed to the sound from explosions may react in a 
number of ways, which may include alerting; startling; breaking off 
feeding dives and surfacing; diving or swimming away; or showing no 
response at all. Occasional behavioral reactions to intermittent 
explosions are unlikely to cause long-term consequences for individual 
mysticetes or populations. Furthermore, the implementation of 
mitigation measures and sightability of fin whales (due to their large 
size) would further reduce the potential impacts in addition to 
reducing the potential for injury.
    The Navy estimates it may strike and take, by injury or mortality, 
an average of two marine mammals per year as a result of training 
activities, with a maximum of three in any given year. Of the ESA-
listed species in the Study Area, the Navy anticipates no more than two 
fin whales would be struck over a 5-year period based on the 
percentages that those species have been involved in vessel collisions.
    Of the 19 reported Navy vessel strikes since 1995, only one strike 
was attributed to a testing event in 2001. Therefore, for testing 
events that will not occur on a training platform, the Navy estimates 
it could potentially take one marine mammal by injury or mortality over 
the course of the 5-year AFTT regulations. A number of the reported 
whale strikes were unidentified to species; therefore, the Navy cannot 
quantifiably predict that the proposed takes will be of any particular 
species.
    New England waters are considered a major feeding ground for fin 
whales, and there is evidence the females continually return to this 
area (Waring et al., 2010). The Navy has designated PAAs in the 
Northeast that include some of these important feeding areas and would 
avoid conducting major training exercises involving active sonar in 
PAAs. Fin whales in the North Atlantic belong to the western North 
Atlantic stock. The best abundance estimate for the western North 
Atlantic stock of fin whales is 3,985.

Blue Whale

    Blue whales may be exposed to sonar or other active acoustic 
stressors associated with training and testing activities throughout 
the year. The acoustic analysis predicts that blue whales could be 
exposed to sound associated with training activities that may result in 
97 TTS and 50 behavioral reactions per year. The majority of these 
impacts are predicted in the VACAPES, Navy Cherry Point, and JAX Range 
Complexes, with a relatively small percent of impacts predicted in the 
GOMEX and Northeast Range Complexes. The acoustic analysis predicts 
that 10 TTS and 6 behavioral reactions may result from annual testing 
activities that use sonar and other active acoustic sources per year as 
a result of annually recurring testing activities. Blue whales may be 
exposed to sound or energy from explosions associated with training and 
testing activities throughout the year; however, the acoustic analysis 
predicts that no individuals would be impacted. All predicted impacts 
would be to the Western North Atlantic stock because this is the only 
blue whale stock present within the Study Area.
    Research and observations show that if mysticetes are exposed to 
sonar or other active acoustic sources they may react in a number of 
ways depending on the characteristics of the sound source, their 
experience with the sound source, and whether they are migrating or on 
seasonal grounds (i.e., breeding or feeding). Reactions may include 
alerting, breaking off feeding dives and surfacing, diving or swimming 
away, or no response at all. Additionally, migrating animals may ignore 
a sound source, or divert around the source if it is in their path. In 
the ocean, the use of sonar and other active acoustic sources is 
transient and is unlikely to repeatedly expose the same population of 
animals over a short period. Around heavily trafficked Navy ports and 
on fixed ranges, the possibility is greater for animals that are 
resident during all or part of the year to be exposed multiple times to 
sonar and other active acoustic sources. A few behavioral reactions per 
year, even from a single individual, are unlikely to produce long-term 
consequences for that individual or the population. Furthermore, the 
implementation of mitigation measures and sightability of blue whales 
(due to their large size) would further reduce the potential impacts.

[[Page 7121]]

    Mysticetes exposed to the sound from explosions may react in a 
number of ways, which may include alerting; startling; breaking off 
feeding dives and surfacing; diving or swimming away; or showing no 
response at all. Occasional behavioral reactions to intermittent 
explosions are unlikely to cause long-term consequences for individual 
mysticetes or populations. Furthermore, the implementation of 
mitigation measures and sightability of blue whales (due to their large 
size) would further reduce the potential impacts in addition to 
reducing the potential for injury.
    The Navy estimates it may strike and take, by injury or mortality, 
an average of two marine mammals per year as a result of training 
activities, with a maximum of three in any given year. Of the ESA-
listed species in the Study Area, the Navy anticipates no more than one 
blue whale would be struck over a 5-year period based on the 
percentages that those species have been involved in vessel collisions.
    Of the 19 reported Navy vessel strikes since 1995, only one strike 
was attributed to a testing event in 2001. Therefore, for testing 
events that will not occur on a training platform, the Navy estimates 
it could potentially take one marine mammal by injury or mortality over 
the course of the 5-year AFTT regulations. A number of the reported 
whale strikes were unidentified to species; therefore, the Navy cannot 
quantifiably predict that the proposed takes will be of any particular 
species.
    No areas of specific importance for reproduction or feeding for 
blue whales have been identified in the AFTT Study Area. Blue whales in 
the western North Atlantic are classified as a single stock. The photo 
identification catalogue count of 440 recognizable individuals from the 
Gulf of St. Lawrence is considered a minimum population estimate for 
the western North Atlantic stock.

Minke Whale

    The acoustic analysis predicts that minke whales could be exposed 
to sound associated with training activites that may result in 10 PTS, 
40,866 TTS, and 19,497 behavioral reactions per year. The majority of 
these impacts are predicted in the VACAPES, Navy Cherry Point, and JAX 
Range Complexes, with a relatively small percent of effects predicted 
in the Northeast and GOMEX Range Complexes. The acoustic analysis 
predicts that minke whales could be exposed to sound that may result in 
1 PTS, 3,571 TTS, and 3,100 behavioral reactions per year as a result 
of annually recurring testing activities. Minke whales may be exposed 
to sound or energy from explosions associated with training and testing 
activities throughout the year. The acoustic analysis predicts that 
minke whales could be exposed to sound annually from training 
activities that may result in 9 behavioral responses, 30 TTS, 4 PTS, 1 
GI tract injury, and 1 slight lung injury (see Table 6-26 for predicted 
numbers of effects). As with mysticetes overall, effects are primarily 
predicted within the VACAPES Range Complex, followed by JAX, and Navy 
Cherry Point Range Complexes. Minke whales could be exposed to sound 
and energy from annual testing activities involving explosives that may 
result in 4 behavioral responses, 11 TTS, and 2 PTS, in addition to 41 
TTS, 11 slight lung injury, and 3 mortalities due to exposure to 
explosive sound and energy from ship shock trials over a 5-year period. 
Based on conservativeness of the onset mortality criteria and impulse 
modeling and past observations of no marine mammal mortalities 
associated with ship shock trials, the predicted minke whale 
mortalities for CVN Ship Shock Trial are considered overestimates and 
highly unlikely to occur. All predicted effects on minke whales would 
be to the Canadian East Coast stock because this is the only stock 
present within the Study Area.
    Research and observations show that if mysticetes are exposed to 
sonar or other active acoustic sources they may react in a number of 
ways depending on the characteristics of the sound source, their 
experience with the sound source, and whether they are migrating or on 
seasonal grounds (i.e., breeding or feeding). Reactions may include 
alerting, breaking off feeding dives and surfacing, diving or swimming 
away, or no response at all. Additionally, migrating animals may ignore 
a sound source, or divert around the source if it is in their path. In 
the ocean, the use of sonar and other active acoustic sources is 
transient and is unlikely to repeatedly expose the same population of 
animals over a short period. Around heavily trafficked Navy ports and 
on fixed ranges, the possibility is greater for animals that are 
resident during all or part of the year to be exposed multiple times to 
sonar and other active acoustic sources. A few behavioral reactions per 
year, even from a single individual, are unlikely to produce long-term 
consequences for that individual or the population. Furthermore, the 
implementation of mitigation measures and sightability of minke whales 
(due to their large size) would further reduce the potential impacts.
    Mysticetes exposed to the sound from explosions may react in a 
number of ways, which may include alerting; startling; breaking off 
feeding dives and surfacing; diving or swimming away; or showing no 
response at all. Occasional behavioral reactions to intermittent 
explosions are unlikely to cause long-term consequences for individual 
mysticetes or populations. Furthermore, the implementation of 
mitigation measures and sightability of minke whales (due to their 
large size) would further reduce the potential impacts in addition to 
reducing the potential for injury.

Bryde's Whale

    The acoustic analysis predicts that Bryde's whales could be exposed 
to sound associated with training activities that may result in 629 TTS 
and 326 behavioral reactions. The majority of these impacts are 
predicted in the VACAPES, Navy Cherry Point, and JAX Range Complexes, 
with a relatively small percent of effects predicted in the Northeast 
Range Complex. Bryde's whales could be exposed to sound that may result 
in 39 TTS and 21 behavioral reactions per year as a result of annually 
recurring testing activities. Bryde's whales may be exposed to sound or 
energy from explosions associated with training and testing activities 
throughout the year; however, the acoustic analysis predicts that no 
individuals would be impacted. All predicted effects on Bryde's whales 
would be to the Gulf of Mexico Oceanic stock because this is the only 
stock present within the Study Area.

Sperm Whale

    Sperm whales may be exposed to sonar or other active acoustic 
stressors associated with training and testing activities throughout 
the year. The acoustic analysis predicts that sperm whales could be 
exposed to sound associated with training activities that may result in 
435 TTS and 14,311 behavioral reactions annually from annually 
recurring training activities; and a maximum of one behavioral 
reactions from each biennial training activity civilian port defense. 
Sperm whales could be exposed to sound from annually recurring testing 
activities that may result in 584 TTS and 1,101 behavioral reactions 
per year. Sperm whales may be exposed to sound and energy from 
explosions associated with training and testing activities throughout 
the year. The acoustic analysis predicts one TTS and one behavioral 
response for sperm whales

[[Page 7122]]

per year from explosions associated with training activities, one sperm 
whale behavioral response for per year due to annually recurring 
testing activities, and up to 20 TTS, 6 slight lung injuries, and 2 
mortalities for sperm whales over a 5-year period as a result of ship 
shock trials in the VACAPES or JAX Range Complex. Based on 
conservativeness of the onset mortality criteria and impulse modeling 
and past observations of no marine mammal mortalities associated with 
ship shock trials, the predicted sperm whale mortalities for CVN ship 
shock trial are considered overestimates and highly unlikely to occur. 
Predicted effects on sperm whales within the Gulf of Mexico are 
presumed to primarily impact the Gulf of Mexico Oceanic stock, whereas 
the majority of impacts predicted offshore of the east coast would 
impact the North Atlantic stock.
    Research and observations show that if sperm whales are exposed to 
sonar or other active acoustic sources they may react in a number of 
ways depending on their experience with the sound source and what 
activity they are engaged in at the time of the acoustic exposure. 
Sperm whales have shown resilience to acoustic and human disturbance, 
although they may react to sound sources and activities within a few 
kilometers. Sperm whales that are exposed to activities that involve 
the use of sonar and other active acoustic sources may alert, ignore 
the stimulus, avoid the area by swimming away or diving, or display 
aggressive behavior. Some (but not all) sperm whale vocalizations might 
overlap with the MFAS/HFAS TTS frequency range, which could potentially 
temporarily decrease an animal's sensitivity to the calls of 
conspecifics or returning echolocation signals. However, as noted 
previously, NMFS does not anticipate TTS of a long duration or severe 
degree to occur as a result of exposure to sonar and other active 
acoustic sources. The majority of Level B takes are expected to be in 
the form of mild responses. The implementation of mitigation measures 
and the large size of sperm whales (i.e., increased sightability) are 
expected to prevent any significant behavioral reactions. Therefore, 
long-term consequences for individuals or populations would not be 
expected.
    The Navy estimates it may strike and take, by injury or mortality, 
an average of two marine mammals per year as a result of training 
activities, with a maximum of three in any given year. Of the ESA-
listed species in the Study Area, the Navy anticipates no more than one 
sperm whale would be struck over a 5-year period based on the 
percentages that those species have been involved in vessel collisions.
    Of the 19 reported Navy vessel strikes since 1995, only one strike 
was attributed to a testing event in 2001. Therefore, for testing 
events that will not occur on a training platform, the Navy estimates 
it could potentially take one marine mammal by injury or mortality over 
the course of the 5-year AFTT regulations. A number of the reported 
whale strikes were unidentified to species; therefore, the Navy cannot 
quantifiably predict that the proposed takes will be of any particular 
species.
    The region of the Mississippi River Delta (Desoto Canyon) has been 
recognized for high densities of sperm whales and may represent an 
important calving and nursing or feeding area for these animals. Sperm 
whales typically exhibit a strong affinity for deep waters beyond the 
continental shelf, though in the area of the Mississippi Delta they 
also occur on the outer continental shelf break. However, there is a 
PAA designated immediately seaward of the continental shelf associated 
with the Mississippi Delta, in which the Navy plans to conduct no more 
than one major exercise and which they plan to take into consideration 
in the planning of unit-level exercises. Therefore, NMFS does not 
expect that impacts will be focuses, extensive, or severe in the sperm 
whale calving area.
    Sperm whales within the Study Area belong to one of three stocks: 
North Atlantic; Gulf of Mexico Oceanic; or Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin 
Islands. The best abundance estimate for sperm whales in the western 
North Atlantic is 4,804. The best abundance estimate for sperm whales 
in the northern Gulf of Mexico is 1,665.

Pygmy and Dwarf Sperm Whales

    Pygmy and dwarf sperm whales may be exposed to sonar or other 
active acoustic stressors associated with training and testing 
activities throughout the year. The acoustic analysis predicts that 
pygmy and dwarf sperm whales could be exposed to sound that may result 
in 13 PTS, 4,914 TTS, and 169 behavioral reactions from annually 
recurring training activities; and a maximum of 1 TTS from the biennial 
training activity civilian port defense. The majority of predicted 
impacts on these species are within the JAX and GOMEX Range Complexes. 
Pygmy and dwarf sperm whales could be exposed to sound that may result 
in 5 PTS, 1,061 TTS and 29 behavioral reactions per year from annually 
recurring activities. Pygmy and dwarf sperm whales may be exposed to 
sound and energy from explosions associated with training and testing 
activities throughout the year. The acoustic analysis predicts that 
pygmy and dwarf sperm whales could be exposed to sound from annual 
training activities involving explosions that may result in 1 
behavioral response, 5 TTS, and 2 PTS (see Table 6-26 in the LOA 
application for predicted numbers of effects). The majority of these 
exposures occur within the VACAPES and GOMEX Range Complexes. Pygmy or 
dwarf sperm whales could be exposed to energy or sound from underwater 
explosions that may result in 1 behavioral response, 2 TTS, and 1 PTS 
per year as a result of annually recurring testing activities. These 
impacts could happen anywhere throughout the Study Area where testing 
activities involving explosives occur. Additionally, the acoustic 
analysis predicts 6 TTS, 1 PTS, and 3 slight lung injury to a Kogia 
species over a 5-year period due to ship shock trials either in the 
VACAPES or JAX Range Complex. Predicted effects on pygmy and dwarf 
sperm whales within the Gulf of Mexico are presumed to primarily impact 
the Gulf of Mexico stocks, whereas the majority of effects predicted 
offshore of the east coast would impact the Western North Atlantic 
stocks.
    Research and observations on Kogia species are limited. However, 
these species tend to avoid human activity and presumably anthropogenic 
sounds. Pygmy and dwarf sperm whales may startle and leave the 
immediate area of the anti-submarine warfare training exercise. 
Significant behavioral reactions seem more likely than with most other 
odontocetes, however it is unlikely that animals would receive multiple 
exposures over a short time period allowing animals time to recover 
lost resources (e.g., food) or opportunities (e.g., mating). Therefore, 
long-term consequences for individual Kogia or their respective 
populations are not expected.
    No areas of specific importance for reproduction or feeding for 
Kogia species have been identified in the AFTT Study Area. Kogia 
species are separated into two stocks within the Study Area: The 
Western North Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico Oceanic. The best estimate 
for both species in the U.S. Atlantic is 395 individuals. The best 
estimate for both species in the northern Gulf of Mexico is 453.

Beaked Whales

    Beaked whales (six species total) may be exposed to sonar or other 
active acoustic stressors associated with training and testing 
activities

[[Page 7123]]

throughout the year. The acoustic analysis predicts that beaked whales 
could be exposed to sound that may result in 781 TTS and 135,573 
behavioral reactions per year from annually recurring training 
activities; and a maximum of 8 behavioral reactions from each biennial 
training activity civilian port defense. Beaked whales could be exposed 
to sound that may result in 592 TTS and 32,695 behavioral reactions per 
year from annually recurring testing activities. The majority of these 
impacts happen within the Northeast Range Complexes, with lesser 
effects in the VACAPES, Navy Cherry Point, JAX, Key West and GOMEX 
Range Complexes. Beaked whales may be exposed to sound and energy from 
explosions associated with training and testing activities throughout 
the year; however, acoustic modeling predicts that no beaked whales 
would be impacted from annually recurring training and testing 
activities. The acoustic analysis predicts 7 TTS and 15 slight lung 
injuries to beaked whale species over a 5-year period due to ship shock 
trials. Predicted effects on beaked whales within the Gulf of Mexico 
are presumed to primarily impact the Gulf of Mexico stocks, whereas the 
majority of effects predicted offshore of the east coast would impact 
the Western North Atlantic stocks.
    The Navy designated several planning awareness areas based on 
locations of high productivity that have been correlated with high 
concentrations of marine mammals and areas with steep bathymetric 
contours that are frequented by deep diving marine mammals such as 
beaked whales. For activities involving active sonar, the Navy would 
avoid planning major exercises in the planning awareness areas where 
feasible. In addition, to the extent operationally feasible, the Navy 
would not conduct more than one of the four major training exercises or 
similar scale events per year in the Gulf of Mexico planning awareness 
area. The best abundance estimate for the undifferentiated complex of 
beaked whales (Ziphius and Mesoplodon species) in the northwest 
Atlantic is 3,513. The best abundance estimate available for Cuvier's 
beaked whales in the northern Gulf of Mexico is 65. The best abundance 
estimate available for Mesoplodon species is a combined estimate for 
Blainville's beaked whale and Gervais' beaked whale in the oceanic 
waters of the Gulf of Mexico is 57. The current abundance estimate for 
the northern bottlenose whale in the eastern North Atlantic is 40,000, 
but population estimates for this species along the eastern U.S. coast 
are unknown.
    Research and observations show that if beaked whales are exposed to 
sonar or other active acoustic sources they may startle, break off 
feeding dives, and avoid the area of the sound source to levels of 157 
dB (McCarthy et al., 2011). However, in research done at the Navy's 
instrumented tracking range in the Bahamas, animals leave the immediate 
area of the anti-submarine warfare training exercise, but return within 
a few days after the event ends. At the Bahamas range, populations of 
beaked whales appear to be stable. The analysis also indicates that no 
exposures to sound levels likely to result in Level A harassment would 
occur. However, while the Navy's model did not quantitatively predict 
any mortalities of beaked whales, the Navy requests a limited number of 
takes by mortality given the sensitivities these species may have to 
anthropogenic activities. Almost 40 years of conducting similar 
exercises in the AFTT Study Area without observed incident indicates 
that injury or motality are not expected to occur as a result of Navy 
activities.
    Some beaked whale vocalizations might overlap with the MFAS/HFAS 
TTS frequency range (2-20 kHz), which could potentially temporarily 
decrease an animal's sensitivity to the calls of conspecifics or 
returning echolocation signals. However, NMFS does not anticipate TTS 
of a long duration or severe degree to occur as a result of exposure to 
sonar and other active acoustic sources. No beaked whales are predicted 
to be exposed to sound levels associated with PTS or injury.
    As discussed previously, scientific uncertainty exists regarding 
the potential contributing causes of beaked whale strandings and the 
exact behavioral or physiological mechanisms that can potentially lead 
to the ultimate physical effects (stranding and/or death) that have 
been documented in a few cases. Although NMFS does not expect injury or 
mortality of any of these species to occur as a result of the training 
exercises involving the use of sonar and other active acoustic sources, 
there remains the potential for the operation of sonar and other active 
acoustic sources to contribute to the mortality of beaked whales. 
Consequently, NMFS proposes to authorize mortality and we consider the 
10 potential mortalities from across the seven species potentially 
effected over the course of 5 years in our negligible impact 
determination (NMFS only intends to authorize a total of 10 beaked 
whale mortality takes, but since they could be of any of the species, 
we consider the effects of 10 mortalities of any of the six species).

Dolphins and Small Whales

    Delphinids (dolphins and small whales) may be exposed to sonar or 
other active acoustic stressors associated with training and testing 
activities throughout the year. The acoustic analysis predicts that 
annually recurring training activities could expose 17 species of 
delphinids (Atlantic spotted dolphin, Atlantic white-sided dolphin, 
bottlenose dolphin, clymene dolphin, common dolphin, false killer 
whale, Fraser's dolphin, killer whale, melon-headed whale, pantropical 
spotted dolphin, pilot whale, pygmy killer whale, Risso's dolphin, 
rough-toothed dolphin, spinner dolphin, striped dolphin, and white-
beaked dolphin) to sound that may result in 132,026 TTS and 1,542,713 
behavioral reactions per year; and a maximum of 7 TTS and 592 
behavioral reactions from each biennial training activity civilian port 
defense. The high take numbers are due in part to an increase in 
expended materials. However, many of these species generally travel in 
large pods and should be visible from a distance in order to implement 
mitigation measures and reduce potential impacts. In addition, the 
majority of takes are anticipated to be by behavioral harassment in the 
form of mild responses. Behavioral responses can range from alerting, 
to changing their behavior or vocalizations, to avoiding the sound 
source by swimming away or diving. Annually recurring testing 
activities involving sonar and other active acoustic sources could 
expose delphinids to sound that may result in 63,784 TTS and 113,169 
behavioral reactions per year. Delphinids may be exposed to sound and 
energy from explosions associated with training and testing activities 
throughout the year. The acoustic analysis predicts that delphinids 
could be exposed to sound that may result in mortality, injury, 
temporary hearing loss and behavioral responses (see Table 6-26 in the 
LOA application for predicted numbers of effects). A total of 15 
mortalities, 41 slight lung injuries, and 1 gastrointestinal tract 
injury, 13 PTS, 174 TTS, 91 behavioral responses are predicted per year 
for delphinids from explosions associated with training activities. The 
acoustic analysis of annually recurring testing activities predicts 
that delphinids could be exposed to sound that may result in 10 
mortalities, 39 slight lung injuries, 1 PTS, 124 TTS, and 53 behavioral 
responses per year (see Table 6-27 in

[[Page 7124]]

the LOA application for predicted numbers of effects). These predicted 
impacts would occur primarily in the VACAPES Range Complex, as well as 
the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Panama City Division Testing Range, 
but a few impacts could occur throughout the Study Area. While the Navy 
does not anticipate delphinid mortalities from underwater detonations 
during mine neutralization activities involving time-delay diver placed 
charges, there is a possibility of a marine mammal approaching too 
close to an underwater detonation when there is insufficient time to 
delay or stop without jeopardizing human safety. During ship shock 
trials, the acoustic analysis predicts that delphinids could be exposed 
to sound that may result in 5,386 TTS, 7,743 slight lung injuries, and 
527 mortalities over a 5-year period, which would take place in either 
the VACAPES or JAX Range Complex (Tables 6-25 and 6-26 in the LOA 
application). Based on conservativeness of the onset mortality criteria 
and impulse modeling, past observations of no marine mammal mortalities 
associated with ship shock trials, and implementation of mitigation, 
the mortality results predicted by the acoustic analysis are over-
estimated are not expected to occur. Therefore, the Navy conservatively 
estimates that 10 small odontocetes mortalities could occur during the 
CVN Ship Shock Trial and 5 small odontocetes mortalities could occur 
due to each DDG or LCS Ship Shock Trial. The majority of these 
exposures would occur within the VACAPES and GOMEX Range Complexes. 
Bottlenose dolphins may be exposed to sound and energy from pile 
driving associated with training activities throughout the year. The 
acoustic analysis predicts that bottlenose dolphins could be exposed to 
sound that may result in up to 747 behavioral responses per year. These 
exposures occur within the VACAPES and Cherry Point Range Complexes. 
Most delphinid species are separated into two stocks within the Study 
Area: The Western North Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. Predicted effects 
on delphinids within the Gulf of Mexico are presumed to primarily 
impact the Gulf of Mexico stocks, whereas the majority of effects 
predicted offshore of the east coast would impact the Western North 
Atlantic stocks. Bottlenose dolphins are divided into one Oceanic and 
many Coastal stocks along the east coast. The majority of exposures to 
bottlenose dolphins are likely to the Oceanic stock with the exception 
of nearshore and in-port events that could expose animals in Coastal 
stocks.
    Table 9 provides the abundance estimates for the different dolphin 
stocks. No areas of specific importance for reproduction or feeding for 
dolphins have been identified in the AFTT Study Area.

Harbor Porpoises

    Harbor porpoises may be exposed to sonar or other active acoustic 
stressors associated with training and testing activities throughout 
the year. The acoustic analysis predicts that harbor porpoises could be 
exposed to sound that may result in 62 PTS, 20,161 TTS, and 120,895 
behavioral reactions from annually recurring training activities; and a 
maximum of 432 TTS and 725 behavioral reactions from the biennial 
training activity civilian port defense. Annual testing activities 
could expose harbor porpoises to level of sonar and other active 
acoustic source sound resulting in 99 PTS, 78,250 TTS, and 1,964,774 
behavioral responses per year. The high take numbers are due in part to 
an increase in expended materials. In addition, the majority of takes 
are anticipated to be by behavioral harassment in the form of mild 
responses. Behavioral responses can range from alerting, to changing 
their behavior or vocalizations, to avoiding the sound source by 
swimming away or diving. Predicted impacts on these species are within 
the VACAPES and Northeast Range Complexes primarily within inland 
waters and along the Northeast U.S. Continental Shelf Large Marine 
Ecosystem. The behavioral response function is not used to estimate 
behavioral responses by harbor porpoises; rather, a single threshold is 
used. Because of this very low behavioral threshold (120 dB re 1 
[micro]Pa) for harbor porpoises, animals at distances exceeding 200 km 
in some cases are predicted to have a behavioral reaction in this 
acoustic analysis. Although this species is known to be more sensitive 
to these sources at lower received levels, it is not known whether 
animals would actually react to sound sources at these ranges, 
regardless of the received sound level. Harbor porpoises may be exposed 
to sound and energy from explosions associated with training and 
testing activities throughout the year. The acoustic analysis predicts 
that harbor porpoises could be exposed to sound that may result in 94 
behavioral responses, 497 TTS, 177 PTS, 1 gastrointestinal tract 
injury, 21 slight lung injuries, and 2 mortalities annually; and 7 TTS 
and 1 PTS biannually for civilian port defense activities (see Table 6-
26 and Table 6-28 in the LOA application for predicted numbers of 
effects). The acoustic analysis predicts that harbor porpoises could be 
exposed to sound that may result in 484 behavioral responses, 348 TTS, 
110 PTS, 7 slight lung injuries, and 1 mortality per year due to 
annually recurring testing activities. The acoustic analysis predicts 
no impacts on harbor porpoises as a result of ship shock trials. 
Predicted impacts on this species are mostly in the VACAPES Range 
Complex, with a few impacts in the Northeast Range Complex, generally 
within the Northeast U.S. Continental Shelf Large Marine Ecosystem.
    Research and observations of harbor porpoises show that this 
species is wary of human activity and will avoid anthropogenic sound 
sources in many situations at levels down to 120 dB. This level was 
determined by observing harbor porpoise reactions to acoustic deterrent 
and harassment devices used to drive away animals from around fishing 
nets and aquaculture facilities. Avoidance distances were on the order 
of a kilometer or more, but it is unknown if animals would react 
similarly if the sound source was located at a greater distance of tens 
or hundreds of kilometers. Since a large proportion of testing 
activities happen within harbor porpoise habitat in the northeast, 
predicted effects on this species are greater relative to other marine 
mammals. Nevertheless, it is not known whether or not animals would 
actually react to sound sources at these ranges, regardless of the 
received sound level. Harbor porpoises may startle and leave the 
immediate area of the testing event, but may return after the activity 
has ceased. Therefore, these animals could avoid more significant 
impacts, such as hearing loss, injury, or mortality. Significant 
behavioral reactions seem more likely than with most other odontocetes, 
especially at closer ranges (within a few kilometers). Since these 
species are typically found in nearshore and inshore habitats, resident 
animals that are present throughout the year near Navy ports of fixed 
ranges in the northeast could receive multiple exposures over a short 
period of time year round. Animals that do not exhibit a significant 
behavioral reaction would likely recover from any incurred costs, which 
reduce the likelihood of long-term consequences, such as reduced 
fitness, for the individual or population.
    All harbor porpoises within the Study Area belong to the Gulf of 
Maine/Bay of Fundy Stock and therefore, all predicted impacts would be 
to this stock. No areas of specific importance for reproduction or 
feeding for harbor porpoises have

[[Page 7125]]

been identified in the AFTT Study Area. The best abundance estimate for 
the Gulf of Maine/Bay of Fundy stock is 89,054 individuals.

Pinnipeds

    Predicted effects on pinnipeds from annual training activities from 
sonar and other active acoustic sources indicate that three species 
(gray, harbor, and hooded seals) could be exposed to sound that may 
result in 77 behavioral reactions per year from annually recurring 
training activities and a maximum of 94 behavioral reactions per event 
for the biennial training activity, civilian port defense. Predicted 
effects on pinnipeds from annual testing activities from sonar and 
other active acoustic sources indicate that exposure to sound may 
result in 73 PTS, 7,494 TTS, and 6,489 behavioral reactions per year. 
These predicted impacts would occur almost entirely within the 
Northeast Range Complexes. Pinnipeds may be exposed to sound and energy 
from explosions associated with training and testing activities 
throughout the year. The acoustic analysis predicts 2 TTS and 1 
behavioral reaction per year from explosions associated with annually 
recurring training activities and 15 behavioral responses, 15 TTS, and 
2 PTS per year from explosions associated with annually recurring 
testing activities. The model predicts no impacts to pinnipeds from 
exposure to explosive energy and sound associated with ship shock 
trials. The predicted impacts would occur in the Northeast Range 
Complexes within the Northeast U.S. Continental Shelf Large Marine 
Ecosystem.
    Research and observations show that pinnipeds in the water are 
tolerant of anthropogenic noise and activity. If seals are exposed to 
sonar or other active acoustic sources and explosives they may not 
react at all until the sound source is approaching within a few hundred 
meters and then may alert, ignore the stimulus, change their behaviors, 
or avoid the immediate area by swimming away or diving. Significant 
behavioral reactions would not be expected in most cases and long-term 
consequences for individual seals or populations are unlikely. Overall, 
predicted effects are low and the implementation of mitigation measures 
would further reduce potential impacts. Therefore, occasional 
behavioral reactions to intermittent anthropogenic noise are unlikely 
to cause long-term consequences for individual animals or populations.
    No areas of specific importance for reproduction or feeding for 
pinnipeds have been identified in the AFTT Study Area. The acoustic 
analysis predicts that no pinnipeds will be exposed to sound levels or 
explosive detonations likely to result in mortality. Best estimates for 
the hooded and harp seals are 592,100 and 6.9 million, respectively. 
The best estimate for the western north Atlantic stock of harbor seals 
is 99,340. There is no best estimate available for gray seal, but a 
survey of the Canadian population ranged between 208,720 and 223,220. 
The North Atlantic Marine Mammal Commission Scientific Committee 
derived a rough estimate of the abundance of ringed seals in the 
northern extreme of the AFTT Study Area of approximately 1.3 million. 
There are no estimates available for bearded seals in the western 
Atlantic, the best available global population is 450,000 to 500,000, 
half of which inhabit the Bering and Chukchi Seas.

Preliminary Determination

    Based on the analysis contained herein of the likely effects of the 
specified activity on marine mammals and their habitat and dependent 
upon the implementation of the mitigation and monitoring measures, NMFS 
preliminarily finds that the total taking from Navy training and 
testing exercises in the AFTT Study Area will have a negligible impact 
on the affected species or stocks. NMFS has proposed regulations for 
these exercises that prescribe the means of effecting the least 
practicable adverse impact on marine mammals and their habitat and set 
forth requirements pertaining to the monitoring and reporting of that 
taking.

Subsistence Harvest of Marine Mammals

    NMFS has preliminarily determined that the issuance of 5-year 
regulations and subsequent LOAs for Navy training and testing exercises 
in the AFTT Study Area would not have an unmitigable adverse impact on 
the availability of the affected species or stocks for subsistence use, 
since there are no such uses in the specified area.

ESA

    There are six marine mammal species under NMFS jurisdiction 
included in the Navy's incidental take request that are listed as 
endangered under the ESA with confirmed or possible occurrence in the 
Study Area: blue whale, humpback whale, fin whale, sei whale, sperm 
whale, and North Atlantic right whale. The Navy will consult with NMFS 
pursuant to section 7 of the ESA, and NMFS will also consult internally 
on the issuance of LOAs under section 101(a)(5)(A) of the MMPA for AFTT 
activities. Consultation will be concluded prior to a determination on 
the issuance of the final rule and an LOA.

NMSA

    Some Navy activities may potentially affect resources within 
National Marine Sanctuaries. The Navy will continue to analyze 
potential impacts to sanctuary resources and has provided the analysis 
in Navy's Draft Environmental Impact Statement/Overseas Environmental 
Impact Statement for AFTT to NOAA's Office of National Marine 
Sanctuaries. Navy will initiate consultation with NOAA's Office of 
National Marine Sanctuaries pursuant to the requirements of the 
National Marine Sanctuaries Act as warranted by ongoing analysis of the 
activities and their effects on sanctuary resources.

NEPA

    NMFS has participated as a cooperating agency on the AFTT DEIS/
OEIS, which was published on May 11, 2012. The AFTT DEIS/OEIS is posted 
on NMFS' Web site: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental.htm#applications. NMFS intends to adopt the Navy's final 
EIS/OEIS (FEIS/OEIS), if adequate and appropriate. Currently, we 
believe that the adoption of the Navy's FEIS/OEIS will allow NMFS to 
meet its responsibilities under NEPA for the issuance of regulations 
and LOAs for AFTT. If the Navy's FEIS/OEIS is deemed inadequate, NMFS 
would supplement the existing analysis to ensure that we comply with 
NEPA prior to the issuance of the final rule or LOA.

Classification

    The Office of Management and Budget has determined that this 
proposed rule is not significant for purposes of Executive Order 12866.
    Pursuant to the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), the Chief Counsel 
for Regulation of the Department of Commerce has certified to the Chief 
Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration that this 
proposed rule, if adopted, would not have a significant economic impact 
on a substantial number of small entities. The RFA requires federal 
agencies to prepare an analysis of a rule's impact on small entities 
whenever the agency is required to publish a notice of proposed 
rulemaking. However, a federal agency may certify, pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 
605(b), that the action will not have a significant economic impact on 
a substantial number of small entities. The Navy is the sole entity 
that will be affected by this rulemaking, not a small governmental 
jurisdiction, small

[[Page 7126]]

organization, or small business, as defined by the RFA. Any 
requirements imposed by an LOA issued pursuant to these regulations, 
and any monitoring or reporting requirements imposed by these 
regulations, would be applicable only to the Navy. NMFS does not expect 
the issuance of these regulations or the associated LOAs to result in 
any impacts to small entities pursuant to the RFA. Because this action, 
if adopted, would directly affect the Navy and not a small entity, NMFS 
concludes the action would not result in a significant economic impact 
on a substantial number of small entities.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 218

    Exports, Fish, Imports, Incidental take, Indians, Labeling, Marine 
mammals, Navy, Penalties, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, 
Seafood, Sonar, Transportation.

    Dated: January 23, 2013.
Alan D. Risenhoover,
Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, performing the functions and 
duties of the Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs.

    For reasons set forth in the preamble, 50 CFR part 218 is proposed 
to be amended as follows:

PART 218--REGULATIONS GOVERNING THE TAKING AND IMPORTING OF MARINE 
MAMMALS

0
1. The authority citation for part 218 continues to read as follows:

    Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.

0
2. Subpart I is added to part 218 to read as follows:

Subpart I--Taking and Importing Marine Mammals; U.S. Navy's Atlantic 
Fleet Training and Testing (AFTT)
Sec.
218.80 Specified activity and specified geographical region.
218.81 Effective dates and definitions.
218.82 Permissible methods of taking.
218.83 Prohibitions.
218.84 Mitigation.
218.85 Requirements for monitoring and reporting.
218.86 Applications for Letters of Authorization.
218.87 Letters of Authorization.
218.88 Renewal of Letters of Authorization.
218.99 Modifications to Letters of Authorization.

Subpart I--Taking and Importing Marine Mammals; U.S. Navy's 
Atlantic Fleet Training and Testing (AFTT)


Sec.  218.80  Specified activity and specified geographical region.

    (a) Regulations in this subpart apply only to the U.S. Navy for the 
taking of marine mammals that occurs in the area outlined in paragraph 
(b) of this section and that occurs incidental to the activities 
described in paragraph (c) of this section.
    (b) The taking of marine mammals by the Navy is only authorized if 
it occurs within the AFTT Study Area, which is comprised of established 
operating and warning areas across the North Atlantic Ocean and the 
Gulf of Mexico (see Figure 1-1 in the Navy's application). In addition, 
the Study Area also includes U.S. Navy pierside locations where sonar 
maintenance and testing occurs within the Study Area, and areas on the 
high seas that are not part of the range complexes, where training and 
testing may occur during vessel transit.
    (c) The taking of marine mammals by the Navy is only authorized if 
it occurs incidental to the following activities within the designated 
amounts of use identified in paragraphs (c)(5) through (c)(11) of this 
section:
    (1) Training events:
    (i) Amphibious Warfare:
    (A) Fire Support Exercise (FIREX) at Sea--up to 50 per year.
    (B) Elevated Causeway System (ELCAS)--up to 1 event per year.
    (ii) Anti-Surface Warfare:
    (A) Gunnery Exercise (GUNEX) (Surface-to-Surface) Ship--Medium-
caliber--up to 827 events per year.
    (B) GUNEX (Surface-to-Surface) Ship--Large-caliber--up to 294 
events per year.
    (C) GUNEX (Surface-to-Surface) Boat--Medium-caliber--up to 434 
events per year.
    (D) Missile Exercise (MISSILEX) (Surface-to-Surface)--up to 20 
events per year.
    (E) GUNEX (Air-to-Surface)--up to 715 events per year.
    (F) MISSILEX (Air-to-Surface) Rocket--up to 210 events per year.
    (G) MISSILEX (Air-to-Surface)--up to 248 events per year.
    (H) Bombing Exercise (BOMBEX) (Air-to-Surface)--up to 930 events 
per year.
    (I) Sinking Exercise (SINKEX)--up to 1 event per year.
    (J) Maritime Security Operations (MSO)--Anti-swimmer Grenades--up 
to 12 events per year.
    (iii) Anti-Submarine Warfare:
    (A) Tracking Exercise/Torpedo Exercise (TRACKEX/TORPEX)-Submarine--
up to 102 events per year.
    (B) TRACKEX/TORPEX-Surface- up to 764 events per year.
    (C) TRACKEX/TORPEX-Helicopter--up to 432 events per year.
    (D) TRACKEX/TORPEX-Maritime Patrol Aircraft--up to 752 events per 
year.
    (E) TRACKEX-Maritime Patrol Aircraft Extended Echo Ranging 
Sonobuoys--up to 160 events per year.
    (iv) Major Training Events:
    (A) Anti-Submarine Warfare Tactical Development Exercise--up to 4 
events in per year.
    (B) Composite Training Unit Exercise--up to 5 events per year.
    (C) Joint Task Force Exercise/Sustainment Exercise--up to 4 events 
per year.
    (D) Integrated Anti-Submarine Warfare Course--up to 5 events per 
year.
    (E) Group Sail--up to 20 events per year.
    (v) Mine Warfare:
    (A) Mine Countermeasures Exercise-MCM Sonar-Ship--up to 116 events 
per year.
    (B) Mine Countermeasures--Mine Detection--up to 2,538 events per 
year.
    (C) Mine Neutralization-Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD)--up to 
618 events per year.
    (D) Mine Neutralization--Remotely Operated Vehicle--up to 508 
events per year.
    (E) Coordinated Unit Level Helicopter Airborne Mine Countermeasure 
Exercises--up to 8 events per year.
    (F) Civilian Port Defense--up to 1 event every other year.
    (vi) Other Training Activities:
    (A) Submarine Navigation--up to 284 events per year.
    (B) Submarine Navigation Under Ice Certification--up to 24 events 
per year.
    (C) Surface Ship Object Detection--up to 144 events per year.
    (D) Surface Ship Sonar Maintenance--up to 824 events per year.
    (D) Submarine Sonar Maintenance--up to 220 events per year.
    (2) Naval Air Systems Command Testing Events:
    (i) Anti-Surface Warfare (ASUW):
    (A) Air-to-Surface Missile Test--up to 239 events per year.
    (B) Air-to-Surface Gunnery Test--up to 165 events per year.
    (C) Rocket Test--up to 332 events per year.
    (ii) Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW):
    (A) Anti-Submarine Warfare Torpedo Test--up to 242 events per year.
    (B) Kilo Dip--up to 43 events per year.
    (C) Sonobuoy Lot Acceptance Test--up to 39 events per year.
    (D) Anti-Submarine Warfare Tracking Test--Helicopter--up to 428 
events per year.
    (E) Anti-Submarine Warfare Tracking Test--Maritime Patrol 
Aircraft--up to 75 events per year.
    (iii) Mine Warfare (MIW):

[[Page 7127]]

    (A) Airborne Towed Minehunting Sonar System Test--up to155 events 
per year.
    (B) Airborne Mine Neutralization System Test--up to 165 events per 
year.
    (C) Airborne Projectile-based Mine Clearance System--up to 237 
events per year.
    (D) Airborne Towed Minesweeping Test--up to 72 events per year.
    (3) Naval Sea Systems Command Testing Events:
    (i) New Ship Construction:
    (A) Surface Combatant Sea Trials--Pierside Sonar Testing--up to 12 
events per year.
    (B) Surface Combatant Sea Trials--ASW Testing--up to 10 events per 
year.
    (C) Submarine Sea Trials--Pierside Sonar Testing--up to 6 events 
per year.
    (D) Submarine Sea Trials--ASW Testing--up to 12 events per year.
    (D) Mission Package Testing--ASW--up to 24 events per year.
    (E) Mission Package Testing--Mine Countermeasures--up to 8 events 
per year.
    (ii) Life Cycle Activities:
    (A) Surface Ship Sonar Testing/Maintenance--up to 16 events per 
year.
    (B) Submarine Sonar Testing/Maintenance--up to 28 events per year.
    (C) Combat System Ship Qualification Trial (CSSQT)--In-Port 
Maintenance Period--up to 12 events per year.
    (D) Combat System Ship Qualification (CSSQT)--Undersea Warfare 
(USW)--up to 9 events per year.
    (iii) NAVSEA Range Activities:
    (A) Unmanned Underwater Vehicles Demonstration--up to 3 events per 
5 year period.
    (B) Mine Detection and Classification Testing--up to 81 events per 
year.
    (C) Stationary Source Testing--up to 11 events per year.
    (D) Special Warfare Testing--up to 110 events per year.
    (E) Unmanned Underwater Vehicle Testing--up to 211 events per year.
    (F) Torpedo Testing (non-explosive)--up to 30 events per year.
    (G) Towed Equipment Testing--up to 33 events per year.
    (H) Semi-Stationary Equipment Testing--up to 154 events per year.
    (I) Pierside Integrated Swimmer Defense Testing--up to 6 events per 
year.
    (J) Signature Analysis Activities--up to 18 events per year.
    (K) Mine Testing--up to 33 events per year.
    (L) Surface Testing--up to 33 events per year.
    (M) Mine Countermeasure/Neutralization Testing--up to 15 events per 
year.
    (N) Ordnance Testing--up to 37 events per year.
    (iv) Additional Activities Outside of NAVSEA Ranges:
    (A) Torpedo (non-explosive) Testing--up to 26 events per year.
    (B) Torpedo (explosive) Testing--up to 4 events per year.
    (C) Countermeasure Testing--up to 3 events per year.
    (D) Pierside Sonar Testing--up to 23 events per year.
    (E) At-sea Sonar Testing--up to 15 events per year.
    (F) Mine Detection and Classification Testing--up to 66 events per 
year.
    (G) Mine Countermeasure/Neutralization Testing--up to 28 events per 
year.
    (H) Pierside Integrated Swimmer Defense Testing--up to 3 events per 
year.
    (I) Unmanned Vehicle Deployment and Payload Testing--up to 111 
events per year.
    (J) Special Warfare Testing--up to 4 events per year.
    (K) Aircraft Carrier Sea Trials--Gun Testing--Medium Caliber--up to 
410 events per year.
    (L) Surface Warfare Mission Package--Gun Testing--Medium Caliber--
up to 5 events per year.
    (M) Surface Warfare Mission Package--Gun Testing--Large Caliber--up 
to 5 events per year.
    (N) Surface Warfare Mission Package--Missile/Rocket Testing--up to 
15 events per year.
    (O) Mine Countermeasure Mission Package Testing--up to 8 events per 
year.
    (P) Aircraft Carrier Full Ship Shock Trial--1 event per 5 year 
period
    (Q) DDG 1000 Zumwalt Class Destroyer Full Ship Shock Trial--1 event 
per 5 year period.
    (R) Littoral Combat Ship Full Ship Shock Trial--up to 2 events per 
5 year period.
    (S) At-sea Explosives Testing--up to 4 events per year.
    (4) Active Acoustic Sources Used During Annual Training:
    (i) Mid-frequency (MF) Source Classes:
    (A) MF1--up to 9,844 hours per year.
    (B) MF1K--up to 163 hours per year.
    (C) MF2--up to 3,150 hours per year.
    (D) MF2K--up to 61 hours per year.
    (E) MF3--up to 2,058 hours per year.
    (F) MF4--up to 927 hours per year.
    (G) MF5--up to 14,556 sonobuoys per year.
    (H) MF11--up to 800 hours per year.
    (I) MF12--up to 687 hours per year.
    (ii) High-frequency (HF) and Very High-frequency (VHF) Source 
Classes:
    (A) HF1--up to 1,676 hours per year.
    (B) HF4--up to 8,464 hours per year.
    (iii) Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Source Classes:
    (A) ASW1--up to 128 hours per year.
    (B) ASW2--up to 2,620 sonobuoys per year.
    (C) ASW3--up to 13,586 hours per year.
    (D) ASW4--up to 1,365 devices per year.
    (iv) Torpedoes (TORP) Source Classes:
    (A) TORP1--up to 54 torpedoes per year.
    (B) TORP2--up to 80 torpedoes year.
    (5) Active Acoustic Sources Used During Annual Testing:
    (i) LF:
    (A) LF4--up to 254 hours per year.
    (B) LF5--up to 370 hours per year.
    (ii) MF:
    (A) MF1--up to 220 hours per year.
    (B) MF1K--up to 19 hours per year.
    (C) MF2--up to 36 hours per year.
    (D) MF3--up to 434 hours per year.
    (E) MF4--up to 776 hours per year.
    (F) MF5--up to 4,184 sonobuoys per year.
    (G) MF6--up to 303 items per year.
    (H) MF8--up to 90 hours per year.
    (I) MF9--up to 13,034 hours per year.
    (J) MF10--up to 1,067 hours per year.
    (K) MF12--up to 144 hours per year.
    (iii) HF and VHF:
    (A) HF1--up to 1,243 hours per year.
    (B) HF3--up to 384 hours per year.
    (C) HF4--up to 5,572 hours per year.
    (D) HF5--up to 1,206 hours per year.
    (E) HF6--up to 1,974 hours per year.
    (F) HF7--up to 366 hours per year.
    (iv) ASW:
    (A) ASW1--up to 96 hours per year.
    (B) ASW2--up to 2,743 sonobuoys per year.
    (C) ASW2--up to 274 hours per year.
    (D) ASW3--up to 948 hours per year.
    (E) ASW4--up to 483 devices per year.
    (v) TORP:
    (A) TORP1--up to 581 torpedoes per year.
    (B) TORP2--up to 521 torpedoes per year.
    (vi) Acoustic Modems (M):
    (A) M3--up to 461 hours per year.
    (B) [Reserved]
    (vii) Swimmer Detection Sonar (SD):
    (A) SD1 and SD2--up to 230 hours per year.
    (B) [Reserved]
    (viii) Forward Looking Sonar (FLS):
    (A) FLS2 and FLS3--up to 365 hours per year.
    (B) [Reserved]
    (ix) Synthetic Aperture Sonar (SAS):
    (A) SAS1--up to 6 hours per year.
    (B) SAS2--up to 3,424 hours per year.
    (6) Explosive Sources Used During Annual Training:
    (i) Explosive Classes:
    (A) E1 (0.1 to 0.25 lb NEW)--up to 124,552 detonations per year.
    (B) E2 (1.26 to 0.5 lb NEW)--up to 856 detonations per year.

[[Page 7128]]

    (C) E3 (0.6 to 2.5 lb NEW)--up to 3,132 detonations per year.
    (D) E4 (>2.5 to 5 lb NEW)--up to 2,190 detonations per year.
    (E) E5 (>5 to 10 lb NEW)--up to 14,370 detonations per year.
    (F) E6 (>10 to 20 lb NEW)--up to 500 detonations per year.
    (G) E7 (>20 to 60 lb NEW)--up to 322 detonations per year.
    (H) E8 (>60 to 100 lb NEW)--up to 77 detonations per year.
    (I) E9 (>100 to 250 lb NEW)--up to 2 detonations per year.
    (J) E10 (>250 to 500 lb NEW)--up to 8 detonations per year.
    (K) E11 (>500 to 650 lb NEW)--up to 1 detonations per year.
    (L) E12 (>650 to 1,000 lb NEW)--up to 133 detonations per year.
    (ii) [Reserved]
    (7) Explosive Sources Used During Annual Testing:
    (i) Explosive Classes:
    (A) E1 (0.1 to 0.25 lb NEW)--up to 25,501 detonations per year.
    (B) E2 (0.26 to 0.5 lb NEW)--up to 0 detonations per year.
    (C) E3 (0.6 to 2.5 lb NEW)--up to 2,912 detonations per year.
    (D) E4 (>2.5 to 5 lb NEW)--up to 1,432 detonations per year.
    (E) E5 (>5 to 10 lb NEW)--up to 495 detonations per year.
    (F) E6 (>10 to 20 lb NEW)--up to 54 detonations per year.
    (G) E7 >20 to 60 lb NEW)--up to 0 detonations per year.
    (H) E8 (>60 to 100 lb NEW)--up to 11 detonations per year.
    (I) E9 (>100 to 250 lb NEW)--up to 0 detonations per year.
    (J) E10 (>250 to 500 lb NEW)--up to 10 detonations per year.
    (K) E11 (>500 to 650 lb NEW)--up to 27 detonations per year.
    (L) E12 (>650 to 1,000 lb NEW)--up to 0 detonations per year.
    (M) E13 (>1,000 to 1,740 lb NEW)--up to 0 detonations per year.
    (N) E14(>1,714 to 3,625 lb NEW)--up to 4 detonations per year.
    (ii) [Reserved]
    (8) Active Acoustic Source Used During Non-Annual Training
    (i) HF4--up to 192 hours
    (ii) [Reserved]
    (9) Active Acoustic Sources Used During Non-Annual Testing
    (i) LF5--up to 240 hours
    (ii) MF9--up to 480 hours
    (iii) HF5--up to 240 hours
    (iv) HF6--up to 720 hours
    (v) HF7--up to 240 hours
    (vi) FLS2 and FLS3--up to 240 hours
    (vii) SAS2--up to 720 hours
    (10) Explosive Sources Used During Non-Annual Training
    (i) E2(0.26 to 0.5 lbs NEW)--up to 2
    (ii) E4 (2.6 to 5 lbs NEW)--up to 2
    (11) Explosive Sources Used During Non-Annual Training
    (i) E1 (0.1 to 0.25 lbs NEW)--up to 600
    (ii) E16 (7,251 to 14,500 lbs NEW)--up to 12
    (iii) E17 (14,501 to 58,000 lbs NEW)--up to 4


Sec.  218.81  Effective dates and definitions.

    (a) Regulations are effective January 25, 2013 through January 25, 
2018.
    (b) The following definitions are utilized in these regulations:
    (1) Uncommon Stranding Event (USE)--A stranding event that takes 
place during a major training exercise (MTE) and involves any one of 
the following:
    (i) Two or more individuals of any cetacean species (not including 
mother/calf pairs), unless of species of concern listed in paragraph 
(b)(1)(ii) of this section found dead or live on shore within a 2-day 
period and occurring within 30 miles of one another.
    (ii) A single individual or mother/calf pair of any of the 
following marine mammals of concern: beaked whale of any species, Kogia 
spp., Risso's dolphin, melon-headed whale, pilot whale, North Atlantic 
right whale, humpback whale, sperm whale, blue whale, fin whale, or sei 
whale.
    (iii) A group of two or more cetaceans of any species exhibiting 
indicators of distress.
    (2) Shutdown--The cessation of MFAS/HFAS operation or detonation of 
explosives within 14 nautical miles of any live, in the water, animal 
involved in a USE.


Sec.  218.82  Permissible methods of taking.

    (a) Under Letters of Authorization (LOAs) issued pursuant to Sec.  
218.87, the Holder of the Letter of Authorization may incidentally, but 
not intentionally, take marine mammals within the area described in 
Sec.  218.80, provided the activity is in compliance with all terms, 
conditions, and requirements of these regulations and the appropriate 
LOA.
    (b) The activities identified in Sec.  218.80(c) must be conducted 
in a manner that minimizes, to the greatest extent practicable, any 
adverse impacts on marine mammals and their habitat.
    (c) The incidental take of marine mammals under the activities 
identified in Sec.  218.80(c) is limited to the following species, by 
the identified method of take and the indicated number of times:
    (1) Level B Harassment for all Training Activities:
    (i) Mysticetes:
    (A) Blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus)--735 (an average of 147 per 
year)
    (B) Bryde's whale (Balaenoptera edeni)--4,775 (an average of 955 
per year)
    (C) Fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus)--22,450 (an average of 4,490 
per year)
    (D) North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis)--560 (an 
average of 112 per year)
    (E) Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae)--8,215 (an average of 
1,643 per year)
    (F) Minke whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata)--302,010 (an average 
of 60,402 per year)
    (G) Sei whale (Balaenoptera borealis)--50,940 (an average of 10,188 
per year)
    (ii) Odontocetes:
    (A) Atlantic spotted dolphin (Stenella frontalis)--887,550 (an 
average of 177,570 per year)
    (B) Atlantic white-sided dolphin (Lagenorhynchus acutus)--156,100 
(an average of 31,228)
    (C) Blainville's beaked whale (Mesoplodon densirostris)--140,893 
(28,179 per year)
    (D) Bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus)--1,422,938 (284,728 per 
year)
    (E) Clymene dolphin (Stenella clymene)--97,938 (19,588 per year)
    (F) Common dolphin (Delphinus spp.)--2,325,022 (465,014 per year)
    (G) Cuvier's beaked whale (Ziphius cavirostris)--174,473 (34,895 
per year)
    (H) False killer whale (Pseudorca crassidens)--3,565 (an average of 
713 per year)
    (I) Fraser's dolphin (Lagenodelphis hosei)--11,025 (2,205 per year)
    (J) Gervais' beaked whale (Mesoplodon europaeus)--141,271 (28,255 
per year)
    (K) Harbor porpoise (Phocoena phocoena)--711,727 (142,811 per year)
    (L) Killer whale (Orcinus orca)--70,273 (14,055 per year)
    (M) Kogia spp.--25,448 (5,090 per year)
    (N) Melon-headed whale (Peponocephala electra)--104,380 (20,876 per 
year)
    (O) Northern bottlenose whale (Hyperoodon ampullatus)--91,786 
(18,358 per year)
    (P) Pantropical spotted dolphin (Stenella attenuata)--354,834 
(70,968 per year)
    (Q) Pilot whale (Globicephala spp.)--506,240 (101,252 per year)
    (R) Pygmy killer whale (Feresa attenuata)--7,435 (1,487 per year)
    (S) Risso's dolphin (Grampus griseus)--1,192,618 (238,528 per year)
    (T) Rough-toothed dolphin (Steno bredanensis)--5,293 (1,059 per 
year)

[[Page 7129]]

    (U) Sowerby's beaked whale (Mesoplodon bidens)--49,818 (9,964 per 
year)
    (V) Sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus)--73,743 (14,749 per year)
    (W) Spinner dolphin (Stenella longirostris)--102,068 (20,414 per 
year)
    (X) Striped dolphin (Stenella coerulealba)--1,121,511 (224,305 per 
year)
    (Y) True's beaked whale (Mesoplodon mirus)--83,553 (16,711 per 
year)
    (Z) White-beaked dolphin (Lagenorhynchus albirostris)--8,027 (1,613 
per year)
    (iii) Pinnipeds:
    (A) Gray seal (Halichoerus grypus)--316 (82 per year)
    (B) Harbor seal (Phoca vitulina)--329 (83 per year)
    (C) Harp seal (Pagophilus groenlanica)--12 (4 per year)
    (D) Hooded seal (Cystophora cristata)--25 (5 per year)
    (2) Level A Harassment for all Training Activities:
    (i) Mysticetes:
    (A) Minke whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata)--80 (16 per year)
    (B) Fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus)--5 (1 per year)
    (C) Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae)--5 (1 per year)
    (D) Sei whale (Balaenoptera borealis)--5 (1 per year)
    (ii) Odontocetes:
    (A) Atlantic spotted dolphin (Stenella frontalis)--60 (12 per year)
    (B) Atlantic white-sided dolphin (Lagenorhynchus acutus)--15 (3 per 
year)
    (C) Bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus)--40 (8 per year)
    (D) Clymene dolphin (Stenella clymene)--5 (1 per year)
    (E) Common dolphin (Delphinus spp.)--85 (17 per year)
    (F) Harbor porpoise (Phocoena phocoena)--1,308 (262 per year)
    (G) Kogia spp.--75 (15 per year)
    (H) Pantropical spotted dolphin (Stenella attenuata)--5 (1 per 
year)
    (I) Pilot whale (Globicephala spp.)--15 (3 per year)
    (J) Risso's dolphin (Grampus griseus)--15 (3 per year)
    (K) Striped dolphin (Stenella coerulealba)--35 (7 per year)
    (3) Mortality for all Training Activities:
    (i) No more than 85 mortalities (17 per year) applicable to any 
small odontocete species from an impulse source.
    (ii) No more than 10 beaked whale mortalities (2 per year).
    (iii) No more than 10 large whale mortalities (no more than 3 in 
any given year) from vessel strike.
    (4) Level B Harassment for all Testing Activities:
    (i) Mysticetes:
    (A) Blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus)--82 (18 per year)
    (B) Bryde's whale (Balaenoptera edeni)--304 (64 per year)
    (C) Fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus)--2,784 (599 per year)
    (D) North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis)--395 (87 per 
year)
    (E) Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae)--976 (200 per year)
    (F) Minke whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata)--34,505 (7,756 per 
year)
    (G) Sei whale (Balaenoptera borealis)--3,821 (796 per year)
    (ii) Odontocetes:
    (A) Atlantic spotted dolphin (Stenella frontalis)--104,647 (24,429 
per year)
    (B) Atlantic white-sided dolphin (Lagenorhynchus acutus)--50,133 
(10,330 per year)
    (C) Blainville's beaked whale (Mesoplodon densirostris)--23,561 
(4,753 per year)
    (D) Bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus)--146,863 (33,708 per 
year)
    (E) Clymene dolphin (Stenella clymene)--10,169 (2,173 per year)
    (F) Common dolphin (Delphinus spp.)--235,493 (52,546 per year)
    (G) Cuvier's beaked whale (Ziphius cavirostris)--30,472 (6,144 per 
year)
    (H) False killer whale (Pseudorca crassidens)--497 (an average of 
109 per year)
    (I) Fraser's dolphin (Lagenodelphis hosei)--791 (171 per year)
    (J) Gervais' beaked whale (Mesoplodon europaeus)--23,388 (4,764 per 
year)
    (K) Harbor porpoise (Phocoena phocoena)--10,358,300 (2,182,872 per 
year)
    (L) Killer whale (Orcinus orca)--7,173 (1,540 per year)
    (M) Kogia spp.--5,536 (1,163 per year)
    (N) Melon-headed whale (Peponocephala electra)--6,950 (1,512 per 
year)
    (O) Northern bottlenose whale (Hyperoodon ampullatus)--60,409 
(12,096 per year)
    (P) Pantropical spotted dolphin (Stenella attenuata)--38,385 (7,985 
per year)
    (Q) Pilot whale (Globicephala spp.)--74,614 (15,701 per year)
    (R) Pygmy killer whale (Feresa attenuata)--603 (135 per year)
    (S) Risso's dolphin (Grampus griseus)--113,682 (24,356 per year)
    (T) Rough-toothed dolphin (Steno bredanensis)--618 (138 per year)
    (U) Sowerby's beaked whale (Mesoplodon bidens)--13,338 (2,698 per 
year)
    (V) Sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus)--8,533 (1,786 per year)
    (W) Spinner dolphin (Stenella longirostris)--13,208 (2,862 per 
year)
    (X) Striped dolphin (Stenella coerulealba)--97,852 (21,738 per 
year)
    (Y) True's beaked whale (Mesoplodon mirus)--15,569 (3,133 per year)
    (Z) White-beaked dolphin (Lagenorhynchus albirostris)--8,370 (1,818 
per year)
    (iii) Pinnipeds:
    (A) Bearded seal (Erignathus barbatus)--161 (33 per year)
    (B) Gray seal (Halichoerus grypus)--14,149 (3,293 per year)
    (C) Harbor seal (Phoca vitulina)--38,860 (8,668 per year)
    (D) Harp seal (Pagophilus groenlanica)--16,277 (3,997 per year)
    (E) Hooded seal (Cystophora cristata)--1,447 (295 per year)
    (F) Ringed seal (Pusa hispida)--1,795 (359 per year)
    (5) Level A Harassment for all Testing Activities:
    (i) Mysticetes:
    (A) Minke whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata)--28 (15 per year)
    (B) [Reserved]
    (ii) Odontocetes:
    (A) Atlantic spotted dolphin (Stenella frontalis)--1,964 (1,854 per 
year)
    (B) Atlantic white-sided dolphin (Lagenorhynchus acutus)--166 (147 
per year)
    (C) Bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus)--190 (149 per year)
    (D) Clymene dolphin (Stenella clymene)--87 (80 per year)
    (E) Common dolphin (Delphinus spp.)--2,369 (2,203 per year)
    (F) Harbor porpoise (Phocoena phocoena)--1,080 (216 per year)
    (G) Killer whale (Orcinus orca)--2 (2 per year)
    (H) Kogia spp.--36 (12 per year)
    (I) Melon-headed whale (Peponocephala electra)--30 (28 per year)
    (J) Pantropical spotted dolphin (Stenella attenuata)--92 (71 per 
year)
    (K) Pilot whale (Globicephala spp.)--163 (153 per year)
    (L) Pygmy killer whale (Feresa attenuata)--3 (3 per year)
    (M) Risso's dolphin (Grampus griseus)--89 (70 per year)
    (N) Spinner dolphin (Stenella longirostris)--34 (28 per year)
    (O) Striped dolphin (Stenella coerulealba)--2,751 (2,599 per year)
    (P) White-beaked dolphin (Lagenorhynchus albirostris)--3 (3 per 
year)
    (iii) Pinnipeds:
    (A) Gray seal (Halichoerus grypus)--46 (14 per year)
    (B) Harbor seal (Phoca vitulina)--330 (78 per year)
    (C) Harp seal (Pagophilus groenlanica)--30 (14 per year)

[[Page 7130]]

    (6) Mortality for all Testing Activities:
    (i) No more than 55 mortalities (11 per year) applicable to any 
small odontocete species from an impulse source.
    (ii) No more than 1 large whale mortalities (no more than 1 in any 
given year) from vessel strike.
    (iii) Nor more than 25 mortalities (no more than 20 in any given 
year) applicable to any small odontocete species from Ship Shock 
trials.


Sec.  218.83  Prohibitions.

    Notwithstanding takings contemplated in Sec.  218.82 and authorized 
by an LOA issued under Sec.  216.106 of this chapter and Sec.  218.87, 
no person in connection with the activities described in Sec.  218.80 
may:
    (a) Take any marine mammal not specified in Sec.  218.82(c);
    (b) Take any marine mammal specified in Sec.  218.82(c) other than 
by incidental take as specified in Sec.  218.82(c);
    (c) Take a marine mammal specified in Sec.  218.82(c) 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 these regulations or an LOA issued under Sec.  216.106 
of this chapter and Sec.  218.87.


Sec.  218.84  Mitigation.

    (a) When conducting training and testing activities, as identified 
in Sec.  218.80, the mitigation measures contained in the LOA issued 
under Sec.  216.106 of this chapter and Sec.  218.87 must be 
implemented. These mitigation measures include, but are not limited to:
    (1) Lookouts--The following are protective measures concerning the 
use of lookouts.
    (i) Lookouts positioned on surface ships will be dedicated solely 
to diligent observation of the air and surface of the water. Their 
observation objectives will include, but are not limited to, detecting 
the presence of biological resources and recreational or fishing boats, 
observing buffer zones, and monitoring for vessel and personnel safety 
concerns.
    (ii) Lookouts positioned in aircraft or on boats will, to the 
maximum extent practicable and consistent with aircraft and boat safety 
and training and testing requirements, comply with the observation 
objectives described above in paragraph (a)(1)(i) of this section.
    (iii) Lookout measures for non-impulsive sound:
    (A) With the exception of vessels less than 65 ft (20 m) in length 
and the Littoral Combat Ship (and similar vessels which are minimally 
manned), ships using low-frequency or hull-mounted mid-frequency active 
sonar sources associated with anti-submarine warfare and mine warfare 
activities at sea will have two Lookouts at the forward position of the 
vessel. For the purposes of this rule, low-frequency active sonar does 
not include surface towed array surveillance system low-frequency 
active sonar.
    (B) While using low-frequency or hull-mounted mid-frequency active 
sonar sources associated with anti-submarine warfare and mine warfare 
activities at sea, vessels less than 65 ft (20 m) in length and the 
Littoral Combat Ship (and similar vessels which are minimally manned) 
will have one Lookout at the forward position of the vessel due to 
space and manning restrictions.
    (C) Ships conducting active sonar activities while moored or at 
anchor (including pierside testing or maintenance) will maintain one 
Lookout.
    (D) Ships or aircraft conducting non-hull-mounted mid-frequency 
active sonar, such as helicopter dipping sonar systems, will maintain 
one Lookout.
    (E) Surface ships or aircraft conducting high-frequency or non-
hull-mounted mid-frequency active sonar activities associated with 
anti-submarine warfare and mine warfare activities at sea will have one 
Lookout.
    (iv) Lookout measures for explosives and impulsive sound:
    (A) Aircraft conducting activities with IEER sonobuoys and 
explosive sonobuoys with 0.6 to 2.5 lbs net explosive weight will have 
one Lookout.
    (B) Surface vessels conducting anti-swimmer grenade activities will 
have one Lookout.
    (C) During general mine countermeasure and neutralization 
activities using up to a 500-lb net explosive weight detonation (bin 
E10 and below), vessels greater than 200 ft will have two Lookouts, 
while vessels less than 200 ft will have one Lookout.
    (D) General mine countermeasure and neutralization activities using 
a 501 to 650-lb net explosive weight detonation (bin E11), will have 
two Lookouts. One Lookout will be positioned in an aircraft and one in 
a support vessel.
    (E) Mine neutralization activities involving diver-placed charges 
using up to 100-lb net explosive weight detonation (E8) conducted with 
a positive control device will have a total of two Lookouts. One 
Lookout will be positioned in each of the two support vessels. When 
aircraft are used, the pilot or member of the aircrew will serve as an 
additional Lookout. All divers placing the charges on mines will 
support the Lookouts while performing their regular duties. The divers 
placing the charges on mines will report all marine mammal sightings to 
their dive support vessel.
    (F) When mine neutralization activities using diver-placed charges 
with up to a 20-lb net explosive weight detonation (bin E6) are 
conducted with a time-delay firing device, four Lookouts will be used. 
Two Lookouts will be positioned in each of two small rigid hull 
inflatable boats. When aircraft are used, the pilot or member of the 
aircrew will serve as an additional Lookout. The divers placing the 
charges on mines will report all marine mammal sightings to their dive 
support vessel.
    (G) Surface vessels conducting line charge testing will have one 
Lookout
    (H) Surface vessels or aircraft conducting small- and medium-
caliber gunnery exercises will have one Lookout.
    (I) Surface vessels or aircraft conducting large-caliber gunnery 
exercises will have one Lookout.
    (J) Surface vessels or aircraft conducting missile exercises 
against surface targets will have one Lookout.
    (K) Aircraft conducting bombing exercises will have one Lookout.
    (L) During explosive torpedo testing, one Lookout will be used and 
positioned in an aircraft.
    (M) During sinking exercises, two Lookouts will be used. One 
Lookout will be positioned in an aircraft and one on a surface vessel.
    (N) Prior to commencement, during, and after ship shock trials 
using up to 10,000 lb HBX charges, the Navy will have Lookouts or 
trained marine species observers positioned either in an aircraft or on 
multiple surface vessels. If vessels are the only available platform, a 
sufficient number will be used to provide visual observation of the 
mitigation zone comparable to that achieved by aerial surveys.
    (O) Prior to commencement and after ship shock trials using up to 
40,000 lb HBX charges, the Navy will have a minimum of two Lookouts or 
trained marine species observers positioned in an aircraft. During ship 
shock trials using up to 40,000 lb HBX charges, the Navy will have a 
total of four Lookouts or trained marine species observers. Two 
Lookouts will be positioned in an aircraft and two Lookouts will be 
positioned on a surface vessel.
    (P) Each surface vessel supporting at-sea explosive testing will 
have at least one lookout.
    (Q) During pile driving, one lookout will be used and positioned on 
the platform that will maximize the potential for marine mammal 
sightings

[[Page 7131]]

(e.g., the shore, an elevated causeway, or on a ship).
    (R) Surface vessels conducting explosive and non-explosive large-
caliber gunnery exercises will have one lookout. This may be the same 
lookout used during large-caliber gunnery exercises with a surface 
target.
    (v) Lookout measures for physical strike and disturbance:
    (A) While underway, surface ships will have at least one lookout.
    (B) During activities using towed in-water devices, one lookout 
will be used.
    (C) Activities involving non-explosive practice munitions (e.g., 
small-, medium-, and large-caliber gunnery exercises) using a surface 
target will have one lookout.
    (D) During activities involving non-explosive bombing exercises, 
one lookout will be used.
    (2) Mitigation Zones--The following are protective measures 
concerning the implementation of mitigation zones.
    (i) Mitigation zones will be measured as the radius from a source 
and represent a distance to be monitored.
    (ii) Visual detections of marine mammals within a mitigation zone 
will be communicated immediately to a watch station for information 
dissemination and appropriate action.
    (iii) Mitigation zones for non-impulsive sound:
    (A) When marine mammals are visually detected, the Navy shall 
ensure that low-frequency and hull-mounted mid-frequency active sonar 
transmission levels are limited to at least 6 dB below normal operating 
levels if any detected marine mammals are within 1,000 yd (914 m) of 
the sonar dome (the bow).
    (B) The Navy shall ensure that low-frequency and hull-mounted mid-
frequency active sonar transmissions are limited to at least 10 dB 
below the equipment's normal operating level if any detected marine 
mammals are within 500 yd (457 m) of the sonar dome.
    (B) The Navy shall ensure that low-frequency and hull-mounted mid-
frequency active sonar transmissions are ceased if any visually 
detected marine mammals are within 200 yd (183 m) of the sonar dome. 
Transmissions will not resume until the marine mammal has been seen to 
leave the area, has not been detected for 30 minutes, or the vessel has 
transited more than 2,000 yd beyond the location of the last detection.
    (C) When marine mammals are visually detected, the Navy shall 
ensure that high-frequency and non-hull-mounted mid-frequency active 
sonar transmission levels are ceased if any visually detected marine 
mammals are within 200 yd (183 m) of the source. Transmissions will not 
resume until the marine mammal has been seen to leave the area, has not 
been detected for 30 minutes, or the vessel has transited more than 
2,000 yd beyond the location of the last detection.
    (D) Special conditions applicable for dolphins and porpoises only: 
If, after conducting an initial maneuver to avoid close quarters with 
dolphins or porpoises, the Officer of the Deck concludes that dolphins 
or porpoises are deliberately closing to ride the vessel's bow wave, no 
further mitigation actions are necessary while the dolphins or 
porpoises continue to exhibit bow wave riding behavior.
    (E) Prior to start up or restart of active sonar, operators shall 
check that the mitigation zone radius around the sound source is clear 
of marine mammals.
    (iv) Mitigation zones for explosive and impulsive sound:
    (A) A mitigation zone with a radius of 600 yd (549 m) shall be 
established for IEER sonobuoys (bin E4).
    (B) A mitigation zone with a radius of 350 yd (320 m) shall be 
established for explosive sonobuoys using 0.6 to 2.5 lb net explosive 
weight (bin E3).
    (C) A mitigation zone with a radius of 200 yd (183 m) shall be 
established for anti-swimmer grenades (bin E2).
    (D) A mitigation zone ranging from 350 yd (320 m) to 850 yd (777 
m), dependent on charge size, shall be established for mine 
countermeasure and neutralization activities using diver placed 
positive control firing devices. Mitigation zone distances are 
specified for charge size in Table 11-2 of the Navy's application.
    (E) A mitigation zone with a radius of 1,000 yd (915 m) shall be 
established for mine neutralization diver placed mines using time-delay 
firing devices (bin E6).
    (F) A mitigation zone with a radius of 900 yd (823 m) shall be 
established for ordnance testing (line charge testing) (bin E4).
    (G) A mitigation zone with a radius of 200 yd (183 m) shall be 
established for small- and medium-caliber gunnery exercises with a 
surface target (bin E2).
    (H) A mitigation zone with a radius of 600 yd (549 m) shall be 
established for large-caliber gunnery exercises with a surface target 
(bin E5).
    (I) A mitigation zone with a radius of 900 yd (823 m) shall be 
established for missile exercises with up to 250 lb net explosive 
weight and a surface target (bin E9).
    (J) A mitigation zone with a radius of 2,000 yd (1.8 km) shall be 
established for missile exercises with 251 to 500 lb net explosive 
weight and a surface target (E10).
    (K) A mitigation zone with a radius of 2,500 yd (2.3 km) shall be 
established for bombing exercises (bin E12).
    (L) A mitigation zone with a radius of 2,100 yd (1.9 km) shall be 
established for torpedo (explosive) testing (bin E11).
    (M) A mitigation zone with a radius of 2.5 nautical miles shall be 
established for sinking exercises (bin E12).
    (N) A mitigation zone with a radius of 1,600 yd (1.4 km) shall be 
established for at-sea explosive testing (bin E5).
    (O) A mitigation zone with a radius of 60 yd (55 m) shall be 
established for elevated causeway system pile driving.
    (P) A mitigation zone with a radius of 3.5 nautical miles shall be 
established for a shock trial.
    (v) Mitigation zones for vessels and in-water devices:
    (A) A mitigation zone of 500 yd (457 m) for observed whales and 200 
yd (183 m) for all other marine mammals (except bow riding dolphins) 
shall be established for all vessel movement, providing it is safe to 
do so.
    (B) A mitigation zone of 250 yd (229 m) shall be established for 
all towed in-water devices, providing it is safe to do so.
    (vi) Mitigation zones for non-explosive practice munitions:
    (A) A mitigation zone of 200 yd (183 m) shall be established for 
small, medium, and large caliber gunnery exercises using a surface 
target.
    (B) A mitigation zone of 1,000 yd (914 m) shall be established for 
bombing exercises.
    (3) Protective Measures Specific to North Atlantic Right Whales.
    (i) North Atlantic Right Whale Calving Habitat off the Southeast 
United States.
    (A) The Southeast Right Whale Mitigation Area is defined by a 5 nm 
(9.3 km) buffer around the coastal waters between 31-15 N. lat. and 30-
15 N. lat. extending from the coast out 15 nm (27.8 km), and the 
coastal waters between 30-15 N. lat. to 28-00 N. lat. from the coast 
out to 5 nm (9.3 km).
    (B) Between November 15 and April 15, the following activities are 
prohibited within the Southeast Right Whale Mitigation Area:
    (1) High-frequency and non-hull mounted mid-frequency active sonar 
(except helicopter dipping)
    (2) Missile activities (explosive and non-explosive)
    (3) Bombing exercises (explosive and non-explosive)
    (4) Underwater detonations
    (5) Improved extended echo ranging sonobuoy exercises
    (6) Torpedo exercises (explosive)
    (7) Small-, medium-, and large-caliber gunnery exercises

[[Page 7132]]

    (C) Prior to transiting or training in the Southeast Right Whale 
Mitigation Area, ships shall contact Fleet Area Control and 
Surveillance Facility, Jacksonville, to obtain the latest whale 
sightings and other information needed to make informed decisions 
regarding safe speed and path of intended movement. Submarines shall 
contact Commander, Submarine Force United States Atlantic Fleet for 
similar information.
    (D) The following specific mitigation measures apply to activities 
occurring within the Southeast Right Whale Mitigation Area:
    (1) When transiting within the Southeast Right Whale Mitigation 
Area, vessels shall exercise extreme caution and proceed at a slow safe 
speed. The speed shall be the slowest safe speed that is consistent 
with mission, training, and operations.
    (2) Speed reductions (adjustments) are required when a North 
Atlantic right whale is sighted by a vessel, when the vessel is within 
9 km (5 nm) of a sighting reported within the past 12 hours, or when 
operating at night or during periods of poor visibility.
    (3) Vessels shall avoid head-on approaches to North Atlantic right 
whales(s) and shall maneuver to maintain at least 457 m (500 yd) of 
separation from any observed whale if deemed safe to do so. These 
requirements do not apply if a vessel's safety is threatened, such as 
when a change of course would create an imminent and serious threat to 
a person, vessel, or aircraft, and to the extent vessels are restricted 
in their ability to maneuver.
    (4) Vessels shall minimize to the extent practicable north-south 
transits through the Southeast Right Whale Mitigation Area. If transit 
in a north-south direction is required during training or testing 
activities, the Navy shall implement the measures described above.
    (5) Ship, surfaced subs, and aircraft shall report any North 
Atlantic right whale sightings to Fleet Area Control and Surveillance 
Facility, Jacksonville, by the most convenient and fastest means. The 
sighting report shall include the time, latitude/longitude, direction 
of movement and number and description of whale (i.e., adult/calf)
    (ii) North Atlantic Right Whale Foraging Habitat off the Northeast 
United States.
    (A) The Northeast Right Whale Mitigation Area consists of two 
areas: the Great South Channel and Cape Cod Bay. The Great South 
Channel is defined by the following coordinates: 41-40 N. Lat., 69-45 
W. Long.; 41-00 N. Lat., 69-05 W. Long.; 41-38 N. Lat., 68-13 W. Long.; 
and 42-10 N. Lat., 68-31 W. Long. Cape Cod Bay is defined by the 
following coordinates: 42-04.8 N. Lat., 70-10 W. Long.; 42-10 N. Lat., 
70-15 W. Long.; 42-12 N. Lat., 70-30 W. Long.; 41-46.8 N. Lat., 70-30 
W. Long.; and on the south and east by the interior shoreline of Cape 
Cod.
    (B) Year-round, the following activities are prohibited within the 
Northeast Right Whale Mitigation Area:
    (1) Improved extended echo ranging sonobuoy exercises in or within 
5.6 km (3 nm) of the mitigation area.
    (2) Bombing exercises (explosive and non-explosive)
    (3) Underwater detonations
    (4) Torpedo exercises (explosive)
    (C) Prior to transiting or training in the Northeast Right Whale 
Mitigation Area, ships and submarines shall contact the Northeast Right 
Whale Sighting Advisory System to obtain the latest whale sightings and 
other information needed to make informed decisions regarding safe 
speed and path of intended movement.
    (D) The following specific mitigation measures apply to activities 
occurring within the Northeast Right Whale Mitigation Area:
    (1) When transiting within the Northeast Right Whale Mitigation 
Area, vessels shall exercise extreme caution and proceed at a slow safe 
speed. The speed shall be the slowest safe speed that is consistent 
with mission, training, and operations.
    (2) Speed reductions (adjustments) are required when a North 
Atlantic right whale is sighted by a vessel, when the vessel is within 
9 km (5 nm) of a sighting reported within the past week, or when 
operating at night or during periods of poor visibility.
    (3) When conducting TORPEXs, the following additional speed 
restrictions shall be required: during transit, surface vessels and 
submarines shall maintain a speed of no more than 19 km/hour (10 
knots); during torpedo firing exercises, vessel speeds should, where 
feasible, not exceed 10 knots; when a submarine is used as a target, 
vessel speeds should, where feasible, not exceed 18 knots; when surface 
vessels are used as targets, vessels may exceed 18 knots for a short 
period of time (e.g., 10-15 minutes).
    (4) Vessels shall avoid head-on approaches to North Atlantic right 
whales(s) and shall maneuver to maintain at least 457 m (500 yd) of 
separation from any observed whale if deemed safe to do so. These 
requirements do not apply if a vessel's safety is threatened, such as 
when a change of course would create an imminent and serious threat to 
a person, vessel, or aircraft, and to the extent vessels are restricted 
in their ability to maneuver.
    (5) Non-explosive torpedo testing shall be conducted during 
daylight hours only in Beaufort sea states of 3 or less to increase the 
probability of marine mammal detection.
    (6) Non-explosive torpedo testing activities shall not commence if 
concentrations of floating vegetation (Sargassum or kelp patties) are 
observed in the vicinity.
    (7) Non-explosive torpedo testing activities shall cease if a 
marine mammal is visually detected within the immediate vicinity of the 
activity. The tests may recommence when any one of the following 
conditions are met: the animal is observed exiting the immediate 
vicinity of the activity; the animal is thought to have exited the 
immediate vicinity based on its course and speed; or the immediate 
vicinity of the activity has been clear from any additional sightings 
for a period of 30 minutes.
    (iii) North Atlantic Right Whale Mid-Atlantic Migration Corridor
    (A) The Mid-Atlantic Right Whale Mitigation Area consists of the 
following areas:
    (1) Block Island Sound: the area bounded by 40-51-53.7 N. Lat., 70-
36-44.9 W. Long.; and 41-20-14.1 N. Lat., 70-49-44.1 W. Long.
    (2) New York and New Jersey: 37 km (20 nm) seaward of the line 
between 40-29-42.2 N. Lat., 73-55-57.6 W. Long.
    (3) Delaware Bay: 38-52-27.4 N. Lat., 75-01-32.1 W. Long.
    (4) Chesapeake Bay: 37-00-36.9 N. Lat., 75-57-50.5 W. Long.
    (5) Morehead City, North Carolina: 34-41-32 N. Lat., 76-40-08.3 W. 
Long.
    (6) Wilmington, North Carolina, through South Carolina, and to 
Brunswick, Georgia: within a continuous area 37 km (20 nm) from shore 
and west back to shore bounded by 34-10-30 N. Lat., 77-49-12 W. Long.; 
33-56-42 N. Lat., 77-31-30 W. Long.; 33-36-30 N. Lat., 77-47-06 W. 
Long.; 33-28-24 N. Lat., 78-32-30 W. Long.; 32-59-06 N. Lat., 78-50-18 
W. Long.; 31-50 N. Lat., 80-33-12 W. Long.; 31-27 N. Lat., 80-51-36 W. 
Long.
    (B) Between November 1 and April 30, when transiting within the 
Mid-Atlantic Right Whale Mitigation Area, vessels shall exercise 
extreme caution and proceed at a slow safe speed. The speed shall be 
the slowest safe speed that is consistent with mission, training, and 
operations.
    (iv) Planning Awareness Areas.
    (A) The Navy shall avoid planning exercises involving the use of 
active sonar in the specified planning

[[Page 7133]]

awareness areas (PAAs--see Figure 11-1 in the Navy's LOA application) 
where feasible. Should national security require the conduct of more 
than five major exercises (C2X, JTFEX, SEASWITI, or similar scale 
event) in these areas (meaning all or a portion of the exercise) per 
year, the Navy shall provide NMFS with prior notification and include 
the information in any associated after-action or monitoring reports.
    (4) Stranding Response Plan.
    (i) The Navy shall abide by the current Stranding Response Plan for 
Major Navy Training Exercises in the Study Area, to include the 
following measures:
    (A) Shutdown Procedures--When an Uncommon Stranding Event (USE--
defined in Sec.  218.71(b)(1)) occurs during a Major Training Exercise 
(MTE) in the AFTT Study Area, the Navy shall implement the procedures 
described below.
    (1) The Navy shall implement a shutdown (as defined Sec.  
218.81(b)(2)) when advised by a NMFS Office of Protected Resources 
Headquarters Senior Official designated in the AFTT Study Area 
Stranding Communication Protocol that a USE involving live animals has 
been identified and that at least one live animal is located in the 
water. NMFS and the Navy will maintain a dialogue, as needed, regarding 
the identification of the USE and the potential need to implement 
shutdown procedures.
    (2) Any shutdown in a given area shall remain in effect in that 
area until NMFS advises the Navy that the subject(s) of the USE at that 
area die or are euthanized, or that all live animals involved in the 
USE at that area have left the area (either of their own volition or 
herded).
    (3) If the Navy finds an injured or dead animal floating at sea 
during an MTE, the Navy shall notify NMFS immediately or as soon as 
operational security considerations allow. The Navy shall provide NMFS 
with species or description of the animal(s), the condition of the 
animal(s), including carcass condition if the animal(s) is/are dead, 
location, time of first discovery, observed behavior (if alive), and 
photo or video (if available). Based on the information provided, NFMS 
will determine if, and advise the Navy whether a modified shutdown is 
appropriate on a case-by-case basis.
    (4) In the event, following a USE, that qualified individuals are 
attempting to herd animals back out to the open ocean and animals are 
not willing to leave, or animals are seen repeatedly heading for the 
open ocean but turning back to shore, NMFS and the Navy shall 
coordinate (including an investigation of other potential anthropogenic 
stressors in the area) to determine if the proximity of mid-frequency 
active sonar training activities or explosive detonations, though 
farther than 14 nautical miles from the distressed animal(s), is likely 
contributing to the animals' refusal to return to the open water. If 
so, NMFS and the Navy will further coordinate to determine what 
measures are necessary to improve the probability that the animals will 
return to open water and implement those measures as appropriate.
    (B) Within 72 hours of NMFS notifying the Navy of the presence of a 
USE, the Navy shall provide available information to NMFS (per the AFTT 
Study Area Communication Protocol) regarding the location, number and 
types of acoustic/explosive sources, direction and speed of units using 
mid-frequency active sonar, and marine mammal sightings information 
associated with training activities occurring within 80 nautical miles 
(148 km) and 72 hours prior to the USE event. Information not initially 
available regarding the 80-nautical miles (148-km), 72-hour period 
prior to the event will be provided as soon as it becomes available. 
The Navy will provide NMFS investigative teams with additional relevant 
unclassified information as requested, if available.
    (ii) [Reserved]
    (b) [Reserved]


Sec.  218.85  Requirements for monitoring and reporting.

    (a) As outlined in the AFTT Study Area Stranding Communication 
Plan, the Holder of the Authorization must notify NMFS immediately (or 
as soon as clearance procedures allow) if the specified activity 
identified in Sec.  218.80 is thought to have resulted in the mortality 
or injury of any marine mammals, or in any take of marine mammals not 
identified in Sec.  218.81.
    (b) The Holder of the LOA must conduct all monitoring and required 
reporting under the LOA, including abiding by the AFTT Monitoring Plan.
    (c) General Notification of Injured or Dead Marine Mammals--Navy 
personnel shall ensure that NMFS (regional stranding coordinator) is 
notified immediately (or as soon as clearance procedures allow) if an 
injured or dead marine mammal is found during or shortly after, and in 
the vicinity of, an Navy training or testing activity utilizing mid- or 
high-frequency active sonar, or underwater explosive detonations. The 
Navy shall provide NMFS with species identification or description of 
the animal(s), the condition of the animal(s) (including carcass 
condition if the animal is dead), location, time of first discovery, 
observed behaviors (if alive), and photo or video (if available). The 
Navy shall consult the Stranding Response Plan to obtain more specific 
reporting requirements for specific circumstances.
    (d) Annual AFTT Monitoring Plan Report--The Navy shall submit an 
annual report describing the implementation and results of the AFTT 
Monitoring Plan, described in this section. Data collection methods 
will be standardized across range complexes and study areas to allow 
for comparison in different geographic locations. Although additional 
information will be gathered, the protected species observers 
collecting marine mammal data pursuant to the AFTT Monitoring Plan 
shall, at a minimum, provide the same marine mammal observation data 
required in this section. The AFTT Monitoring Plan may be provided to 
NMFS within a larger report that includes the required Monitoring Plan 
reports from multiple range complexes and study areas.
    (e) Annual AFTT Exercise Report--The Navy shall submit an annual 
AFTT Exercise Report. This report shall contain information identified 
in paragraphs (e)(1) through (5) of this section.
    (1) MFAS/HFAS Major Training Exercises--This section shall contain 
the following information for Major Training Exercises conducted in the 
AFTT Study Area:
    (i) Exercise Information (for each MTE):
    (A) Exercise designator.
    (B) Date that exercise began and ended.
    (C) Location.
    (D) Number and types of active sources used in the exercise.
    (E) Number and types of passive acoustic sources used in exercise.
    (F) Number and types of vessels, aircraft, etc., participating in 
exercise.
    (G) Total hours of observation by watchstanders.
    (H) Total hours of all active sonar source operation.
    (I) Total hours of each active sonar source bin.
    (J) Wave height (high, low, and average during exercise).
    (ii) Individual marine mammal sighting info (for each sighting in 
each MTE).
    (A) Location of sighting.
    (B) Species (if not possible, indication of whale/dolphin/
pinniped).
    (C) Number of individuals.
    (D) Calves observed (y/n).

[[Page 7134]]

    (E) Initial Detection Sensor.
    (F) Indication of specific type of platform observation made from 
(including, for example, what type of surface vessel, i.e., FFG, DDG, 
or CG).
    (G) Length of time observers maintained visual contact with marine 
mammal.
    (H) Wave height (in feet).
    (I) Visibility.
    (J) Sonar source in use (y/n).
    (K) Indication of whether animal is <200 yd, 200 to 500 yd, 500 to 
1,000 yd, 1,000 to 2,000 yd, or >2,000 yd from sonar source in 
paragraph (e)(1)(ii)(J) of this section.
    (L) Mitigation Implementation--Whether operation of sonar sensor 
was delayed, or sonar was powered or shut down, and how long the delay 
was.
    (M) If source in use (see paragraph (e)(1)(ii)(J) of this section) 
is hull-mounted, true bearing of animal from ship, true direction of 
ship's travel, and estimation of animal's motion relative to ship 
(opening, closing, parallel).
    (N) Observed behavior--Watchstanders shall report, in plain 
language and without trying to categorize in any way, the observed 
behavior of the animals (such as animal closing to bow ride, 
paralleling course/speed, floating on surface and not swimming, etc.).
    (iii) An evaluation (based on data gathered during all of the MTEs) 
of the effectiveness of mitigation measures designed to avoid exposing 
animals to mid-frequency active sonar. This evaluation shall identify 
the specific observations that support any conclusions the Navy reaches 
about the effectiveness of the mitigation.
    (2) ASW Summary--This section shall include the following 
information as summarized from both MTEs and non-major training 
exercises (i.e., unit-level exercises, such as TRACKEXs):
    (i) Total annual hours of each sonar source bin.
    (ii) Cumulative Impact Report--To the extent practicable, the Navy, 
in coordination with NMFS, shall develop and implement a method of 
annually reporting non-major training exercises utilizing hull-mounted 
sonar. The report shall present an annual (and seasonal, where 
practicable) depiction of non-major training exercises geographically 
across the AFTT Study Area. The Navy shall include (in the AFTT annual 
report) a brief annual progress update on the status of development 
until an agreed-upon (with NMFS) method has been developed and 
implemented.
    (3) SINKEXs--This section shall include the following information 
for each SINKEX completed that year:
    (i) Exercise information (gathered for each SINKEX):
    (A) Location.
    (B) Date and time exercise began and ended.
    (C) Total hours of observation by watchstanders before, during, and 
after exercise.
    (D) Total number and types of explosive source bins detonated.
    (E) Number and types of passive acoustic sources used in exercise.
    (F) Total hours of passive acoustic search time.
    (G) Number and types of vessels, aircraft, etc., participating in 
exercise.
    (H) Wave height in feet (high, low, and average during exercise).
    (I) Narrative description of sensors and platforms utilized for 
marine mammal detection and timeline illustrating how marine mammal 
detection was conducted.
    (ii) Individual marine mammal observation (by Navy lookouts) 
information (gathered for each marine mammal sighting):
    (A) Location of sighting.
    (B) Species (if not possible, indicate whale, dolphin, or 
pinniped).
    (C) Number of individuals.
    (D) Whether calves were observed.
    (E) Initial detection sensor.
    (F) Length of time observers maintained visual contact with marine 
mammal.
    (G) Wave height.
    (H) Visibility.
    (I) Whether sighting was before, during, or after detonations/
exercise, and how many minutes before or after.
    (J) Distance of marine mammal from actual detonations (or target 
spot if not yet detonated).
    (K) Observed behavior--Watchstanders will report, in plain language 
and without trying to categorize in any way, the observed behavior of 
the animal(s) (such as animal closing to bow ride, paralleling course/
speed, floating on surface and not swimming etc.), including speed and 
direction.
    (L) Resulting mitigation implementation--Indicate whether explosive 
detonations were delayed, ceased, modified, or not modified due to 
marine mammal presence and for how long.
    (M) If observation occurs while explosives are detonating in the 
water, indicate munition type in use at time of marine mammal 
detection.
    (4) IEER Summary--This section shall include an annual summary of 
the following IEER information:
    (i) Total number of IEER events conducted in the AFTT Study Area.
    (ii) Total expended/detonated rounds (buoys).
    (iii) Total number of self-scuttled IEER rounds.
    (5) Explosives Summary--To the extent practicable, the Navy will 
provide the information described below for all of their explosive 
exercises. Until the Navy is able to report in full the information 
below, they will provide an annual update on the Navy's explosive 
tracking methods, including improvements from the previous year.
    (i) Total annual number of each type of explosive exercises (of 
those identified as part of the ``specified activity'' in this subpart) 
conducted in the AFTT Study Area.
    (ii) Total annual expended/detonated rounds (missiles, bombs, etc.) 
for each explosive source bin.
    (f) Sonar Exercise Notification--The Navy shall submit to the NMFS 
Office of Protected Resources (specific contact information to be 
provided in LOA) either an electronic (preferably) or verbal report 
within fifteen calendar days after the completion of any major exercise 
(COMPTUEX, JTFEX, SEASWITI or similar scale event) indicating:
    (1) Location of the exercise.
    (2) Beginning and end dates of the exercise.
    (3) Type of exercise (e.g., COMPTUEX, JTFEX, SEASWITI or similar 
scale event).
    (g) AFTT Study Area 5-yr Comprehensive Report--The Navy shall 
submit to NMFS a draft report that analyzes and summarizes all of the 
multi-year marine mammal information gathered during ASW and explosive 
exercises for which annual reports are required (Annual AFTT Exercise 
Reports and AFTT Monitoring Plan reports). This report will be 
submitted at the end of the fourth year of the rule (November 2018), 
covering activities that have occurred through June 1, 2018.
    (h) Comprehensive National ASW Report--By June 2019, the Navy shall 
submit a draft Comprehensive National Report that analyzes, compares, 
and summarizes the active sonar data gathered (through January 1, 2019) 
from the watchstanders in accordance with the Monitoring Plans for 
HSTT, AFTT, MITT, and NWTT.
    (i) The Navy shall respond to NMFS' comments and requests for 
additional information or clarification on the AFTT Comprehensive 
Report, the draft National ASW report, the Annual AFTT Exercise Report, 
or the Annual AFTT Monitoring Plan report (or the multi-Range Complex 
Annual Monitoring Plan Report, if that is how the Navy chooses to 
submit the information) if submitted within 3 months of receipt. These

[[Page 7135]]

reports will be considered final after the Navy has addressed NMFS' 
comments or provided the requested information, or three months after 
the submittal of the draft if NMFS does not provide comment.


Sec.  218.86  Applications for Letters of Authorization.

    To incidentally take marine mammals pursuant to the regulations in 
this subpart, the U.S. citizen (as defined by Sec.  216.106 of this 
chapter) conducting the activity identified in Sec.  218.80(c) (the 
U.S. Navy) must apply for and obtain either an initial LOA in 
accordance with Sec.  218.87 or a renewal under Sec.  218.88.


Sec.  218.87  Letters of Authorization.

    (a) An LOA, unless suspended or revoked, will be valid for a period 
of time not to exceed the period of validity of this subpart.
    (b) Each LOA will set forth:
    (1) Permissible methods of incidental taking;
    (2) Means of effecting the least practicable adverse impact on the 
species, its habitat, and on the availability of the species for 
subsistence uses (i.e., mitigation); and
    (3) Requirements for mitigation, monitoring and reporting.
    (c) Issuance and renewal of the LOA will be based on a 
determination that the total number of marine mammals taken by the 
activity as a whole will have no more than a negligible impact on the 
affected species or stock of marine mammal(s).


Sec.  218.88  Renewal of Letters of Authorization.

    (a) A Letter of Authorization issued under Sec.  216.106 of this 
chapter and Sec.  218.87 for the activity identified in Sec.  218.80(c) 
will be renewed based upon:
    (1) Notification to NMFS that the activity described in the 
application submitted under this sectionwill be undertaken and that 
there will not be a substantial modification to the described work, 
mitigation, or monitoring undertaken during the upcoming period of 
validity;
    (2) Timely receipt (by the dates indicated in this subpart) of the 
monitoring reports required under Sec.  218.85(c) through (j); and
    (3) A determination by the NMFS that the mitigation, monitoring, 
and reporting measures required under Sec.  218.84 and the LOA issued 
under Sec.  216.106 of this chapter and Sec.  218.87, were undertaken 
and will be undertaken during the upcoming period of validity of a 
renewed Letter of Authorization.
    (b) If a request for a renewal of an LOA issued under this Sec.  
216.106 of this chapter and Sec.  218.87 indicates that a substantial 
modification, as determined by NMFS, 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. Review and comment on renewals of LOAs are restricted to:
    (1) New cited information and data indicating that the 
determinations made in this document are in need of reconsideration; 
and
    (2) Proposed changes to the mitigation and monitoring requirements 
contained in these regulations or in the current LOA.
    (c) A notice of issuance or denial of an LOA renewal will be 
published in the Federal Register.
    (d) NMFS, in response to new information and in consultation with 
the Navy, may modify the mitigation or monitoring measures in 
subsequent LOAs if doing so creates a reasonable likelihood of more 
effectively accomplishing the goals of mitigation and monitoring. Below 
are some of the possible sources of new data that could contribute to 
the decision to modify the mitigation or monitoring measures:
    (1) Results from the Navy's monitoring from the previous year 
(either from the AFTT Study Area or other locations).
    (2) Compiled results of Navy-funded research and development (R&D) 
studies (presented pursuant to the ICMP (Sec.  218.85(d)).
    (3) Results from specific stranding investigations (either from the 
AFTT Study Area or other locations, and involving coincident mid- or 
high-frequency active sonar or explosives training or not involving 
coincident use).
    (4) Results from the Long Term Prospective Study.
    (5) Results from general marine mammal and sound research (funded 
by the Navy (or otherwise).


Sec.  218.89  Modifications to Letters of Authorization.

    (a) Except as provided in paragraph (b) of this section, no 
substantive modification (including withdrawal or suspension) to the 
LOA by NMFS, issued pursuant to Sec.  216.106 of this chapter and Sec.  
218.87 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 an LOA under 
Sec.  218.88, 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 Sec.  218.82(c), an LOA issued 
pursuant to Sec.  216.106 of this chapter and Sec.  218.87 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.

[FR Doc. 2013-01817 Filed 1-25-13; 11:15 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P