[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 135 (Monday, July 15, 2013)]
[Notices]
[Pages 42042-42050]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-16878]


-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

RIN 0648-XC486


Taking of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; U.S. 
Marine Corps Training Exercises at Air Station Cherry Point

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

ACTION: Notice; issuance of incidental harassment authorization.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: In accordance with the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) 
regulation, we hereby give notification that we have issued an 
Incidental Harassment Authorization (Authorization) to take marine 
mammals incidental to various training exercises at Marine Corps Air 
Station (MCAS) Cherry Point Range Complex, North Carolina for a period 
of one year. The U.S. Marine Corps' activities are military readiness 
activities pursuant to the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), as 
amended by the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal 
Year 2004.

DATES: Effective June 17, 2013 through June 14, 2014.

ADDRESSES: To obtain an electronic copy of the Authorization, write 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 or download an electronic copy 
at: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental.htm#applications.
    The following associated document is also available at the same 
internet address: The Marine Corps' Environmental Assessment (EA) 
titled, ``Environmental Assessment MCAS Cherry Point Range 
Operations,'' for their federal action of supporting and conducting 
current and emerging training operations. Their EA evaluates the 
effects of the proposed training operations on the human environment 
including impacts to marine mammals and their 2009 Finding of No 
Significant Impact (FONSI) for the activities.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jeannine Cody, National Marine 
Fisheries Service, Office of Protected Resources, (301) 427-8401.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Background

    Section 101(a)(5)(D) of the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, 
as amended (MMPA; 16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.) directs the Secretary of 
Commerce to authorize, upon request, the incidental, but not 
intentional, taking of small numbers of marine mammals of a species or 
population stock, by United States citizens who engage in a specified 
activity (other than commercial fishing) within a specified 
geographical region if, after notice of a proposed authorization to the 
public for review and public comment: (1) We make certain findings; and 
(2) the taking is limited to harassment.
    We shall grant authorization for the incidental taking of small 
numbers of marine mammals if we find that the taking will have a 
negligible impact on the species or stock(s), and will not have an 
unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of the species or 
stock(s) for subsistence uses (where relevant). The authorization must 
set forth the permissible methods of taking; other means of effecting 
the least practicable adverse impact on the species or stock and its 
habitat; and requirements pertaining to the mitigation, monitoring and 
reporting of such taking. We have 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.''
    Section 101(a)(5)(D) of the MMPA established an expedited process 
by which citizens of the United States can apply for an authorization 
to incidentally take small numbers of marine mammals by harassment. 
Section 101(a)(5)(D) of the MMPA establishes a 45-day time limit for 
our review of an application followed by a 30-day public notice and 
comment period on any proposed authorizations for the incidental 
harassment of small numbers of marine mammals. Within 45 days of the 
close of the public comment period, we must either issue or deny the 
authorization and must publish a notice in the Federal Register within 
30 days of our determination to issue or deny the authorization.
    The National Defense Authorization Act of 2004 (NDAA; (Pub. L. 108-
136)) amended section 101(a)(5)(A) of the MMPA by removing the small 
numbers and specified geographic region provisions; revising the 
definition of harassment as it applies to a military readiness 
activity; and explicitly requiring that our determination of ``least 
practicable adverse impact'' include consideration of: (1) Personnel 
safety; (2) the practicality of implementation; and (3) impact on the

[[Page 42043]]

effectiveness of the military readiness activity.
    The NDAA's definition of harassment as it applies to a military 
readiness activity is: (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

    We received a request from the Marine Corps on January 28, 2013, 
requesting that we issue an Incidental Harassment Authorization 
(Authorization) for the take, by Level B harassment only, of small 
numbers of Atlantic bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) incidental 
to air-to-surface and surface-to-surface training exercises conducted 
around two bombing targets within southern Pamlico Sound, North 
Carolina, at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point. We received a 
complete and adequate application on March 19, 2013 and released the 
application for public comment (see ADDRESSES) for consideration of 
issuing an Authorization to the USMC. To date, we have issued two, 1-
year Authorizations to the Marine Corps for the conduct of the same 
activities from 2010 to 2012 (75 FR 72807, November 26, 2010; 77 FR 
January 3, 2012).

Description of the Specified Activity

    The Marine Corps plan to conduct weapon delivery training at two 
bombing targets: Brant Island Target (BT-9) and Piney Island Bombing 
Range (BT-11) within MCAS Cherry Point Range Complex, located within 
Pamlico Sound, North Carolina. The two targets are located at the 
convergence of the Neuse River and Pamlico Sound.
    Training at BT-9 would involve air-to-surface (from aircraft to in-
water targets) and surface-to-surface (from vessels to in-water 
targets) warfare training, including bombing, strafing, special (laser 
systems) weapons; surface fires using non-explosive and explosive 
ordnance; and mine laying exercises (inert). Training at BT-11 would 
involve air- to-surface exercises to provide training in the delivery 
of conventional (non-explosive) and special (laser systems) weapons. 
Surface-to-surface training by small military watercraft would also be 
executed here. The types of ordnances proposed for use at BT-9 and BT-
11 include small arms, large arms, bombs, rockets, missiles, and 
pyrotechnics. All munitions used at BT-11 are inert, practice rounds 
and no live firing would occur at BT-11. Training for any activity may 
occur year-round.
    The Marine Corps requested authorization to harass bottlenose 
dolphins from firing exercises conducted at two bombing targets within 
MCAS Cherry Point Range Complex, located within Pamlico Sound, North 
Carolina at the convergence of the Neuse River and Pamlico Sound. These 
activities include gunnery; mine laying; bombing; or rocket exercises 
and are classified into two categories here based on delivery method: 
(1) Surface-to-surface gunnery and (2) air-to-surface bombing. Active 
sonar is not a component of these specified training exercises.
    Exercises may occur year round, day or night (approximately 15 
percent of training occurs at night). The Marine Corps would conduct 
all inert and live-fire exercises so that all ammunition and other 
ordnances strike and/or fall on the land or water based target or 
within the existing danger zones or water restricted areas.
    Acoustic stimuli (i.e., increased underwater sound) generated 
during the training exercises, may have the potential to cause 
behavioral disturbance for marine mammals in BT-9 and BT-11. This is 
the principal means of marine mammal taking associated with these 
activities. We expect these disturbances to be temporary and result in 
a temporary modification in behavior and/or low-level physiological 
effects (Level B harassment only) of small numbers of certain species 
of marine mammals.
    We have outlined the purpose of the program in a previous notice 
for the proposed Authorization (78 FR 19224, Friday, March 29, 2013). 
Refer to the notice of the proposed Authorization (78 FR 19224, Friday, 
March 29, 2013), the application, and the Marine Corps' EA for a more 
detailed description of the authorized action.
    The amounts of all ordnance to be expended at BT-9 and BT-11 (both 
surface-to-surface and air-to-surface) are 1,225,815 and 1,254,684 
rounds, respectively (see Table 1 and 2).

               Table 1--Level of Live and Inert Munitions That Could Be Expended at BT-9 2013-2014
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                  Estimated
                                                                                  number of
                                                             Estimated total  explosive rounds    Net explosive
                  Estimated munitions \1\                     No. of rounds       having an        weight (lb)
                                                                                impact on the
                                                                                    water
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Small arms rounds excluding .50 cal.......................           525,610                NA                NA
Small arms--.50 Cal.......................................           568,515                NA                NA
Large arms rounds--40 mm (live)...........................             5,000             5,000            0.1199
Large arms rounds--40 mm (inert)..........................           117,051                NA                NA
Rocket--2.57'' (live).....................................                48                48               4.8
Rockets--5.0'' (live).....................................                20                20              15.0
Rockets--2.75'' and 5'' (inert)...........................               876                NA               N/A
Bombs and G911 grenades (live)............................                 0                NA               0.5
Bombs and grenades (inert)................................             4,199                NA                NA
Missile--TOW..............................................                 0                NA                NA
Missile--Hellfire.........................................                 0                NA                NA
Pyrotechnics..............................................             4,496               N/A                NA
                                                           -----------------------------------------------------
    Total.................................................         1,225,815  ................               N/A
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Munitions may be expended from aircraft or small boats.


[[Page 42044]]


  Table 2--Level of Munitions That Could Be Expended at BT-11 2013-2014
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                Proposed
                                                                 total
                    Proposed munitions \1\                     number of
                                                                 rounds
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Small arms rounds excluding .50 cal..........................    610,957
Small arms--.50 Cal..........................................    366,775
Large arms rounds--20 mm through 81 mm (inert)...............    240,334
Rockets--2.75'' and 5'' (inert)..............................      5,592
Bombs and grenades (inert)...................................     22,114
Pyrotechnics.................................................      8,912
                                                              ----------
  Total......................................................  1,254,684
------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Munitions may be expended from aircraft or small boats.

Comments and Responses

    We published a notice of receipt of the Marine Corps' application 
and proposed Authorization in the Federal Register on Friday, March 29, 
2013 (78 FR 19224). During the 30-day public comment period, we 
received comments from the Marine Mammal Commission (Commission) and 
four private citizens. These comments are online at: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental.htm. Following are the comments 
and our responses.
    Comment 1: The Commission recommended that we require the Marine 
Corps to: (1) Describe in detail the method by which it determined the 
zones of exposure for gunnery exercises that use large arms; and (2) 
specify if multiple types of rounds or ordnance would be used within a 
single exercise and describe in detail how it determined the zones of 
exposure for those exercises prior to issuing the incidental harassment 
authorization.
    Response: The Marine Corps' application, as well as subsequent 
responses provided to the Commission describe how they derived safety 
zones for gunnery exercises. The method to estimate the number of 
marine mammals potentially taken by the specified activities is based 
on dolphin density, the amount and type of ordnance proposed, and 
distances to our harassment threshold criteria.
    Briefly, the Marine Corps estimate the zones of exposure based on 
impulse, peak pressure, and sound exposure level thresholds (based on 
our explosive harassment criteria). During a gunnery exercise using 
large arms rounds, a person can fire munitions as individual rounds 
spaced in time, or rapid fire as a burst of individual rounds. Due to 
the tight spacing in time, the Marine Corps treats the individual 
rounds within a burst as a single detonation.
    (1) For the energy metrics, they calculate the impact area of a 
burst using a source energy spectrum that is the source spectrum for a 
single detonation scaled by the number of rounds in a burst.
    (2) For the pressure metrics, they calculate the impact area for a 
burst as equal to the impact area of a single round.
    (3) For all metrics, the cumulative impact area of an event 
consisting of (N) bursts is the product of the impact area of a single 
burst and the number of bursts, as would be the case if the bursts are 
sufficiently spaced in time or location as to insure that each burst is 
affecting a different set of marine wildlife. Last, they model each 
explosive event for potential impacts to a derived density of marine 
mammals within the influence area. They sum the results of all 
individual events over the year to obtain their take estimate.
    Comment 2: The Commission also requested that we require the Marine 
Corps to implement a plan to evaluate the effectiveness of all of its 
mitigation and monitoring measures before initiating or, at the very 
latest, in conjunction with the exercises covered by the incidental 
harassment authorization (i.e., night vision technology, remote-camera 
system, visual observations during range sweeps and cold passes).
    Response: We have worked closely with the Marine Corps over the 
past two Authorization cycles to develop proper mitigation, monitoring, 
and reporting requirements designed to minimize and detect impacts from 
the specified activities. In order to ensure that we can make the 
findings necessary for issuance of an Authorization, we have worked 
with the Marine Corps to develop comprehensive and acceptable 
mitigation, monitoring, and reporting requirements including a Marine 
Mammal and Protected Species Monitoring Plan (Plan). We have determined 
that the current Plan and required monitoring and mitigation measures 
within the Authorization are adequate to satisfy the requirements of 
the MMPA.
    Comment 3: The Commission also requested that we require the Marine 
Corps to use the passive acoustic monitoring system to supplement its 
visual observations as soon as practicable.
    Response: The Marine Corps has contracted Duke University to 
develop and test a real-time passive acoustic monitoring system that 
will allow automated detection of bottlenose dolphin whistles. Duke 
University performed the work in two phases. First developing an 
automated signal detector (a software program) to recognize the 
whistles of dolphins at BT-9 and BT-11 and second assembling and 
deploying a prototype for real time monitoring. Phase II is currently 
in progress and the success of this effort will help direct future 
monitoring initiatives and activities within the MCAS Cherry Point 
Range Complex. The passive acoustic monitoring unit remains in 
prototype until the contractors have completed all testing and the 
Marine Corps are able to establish a baseline of information to develop 
standard operating procedures for future activities.
    Comment 4: The Commission recommends the NMFS require the USMC to 
use either direct strike or dynamic Monte Carlo models to determine the 
probability of ordnance strike.
    Response: The Commission recommended ``direct strike or dynamic 
Monte Carlo methods'' while noting that the result of using a new risk 
probability model would likely provide negligible changes from the 
model described in the application. Because any change would be 
negligible, we do not agree that this alternative method of modeling is 
necessary for purposes of issuing an MMPA incidental take authorization 
at this time.

Description of Marine Mammals in the Area of the Specified Activity

    Forty marine mammal species occur within the nearshore and offshore 
waters of North Carolina; however, the majority of these species are 
solely oceanic in distribution. Of the 40 species, only one marine 
mammal species, the bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus), routinely 
frequents Pamlico Sound. The endangered West Indian manatee (Trichechus 
manatus), under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 
rarely occurs in the area (Lefebvre et al, 2001; DoN 2003).
    Based on the best available data, the Marine Corps does not expect 
to encounter the following species because of these species rare and/or 
extralimital occurrence in the survey area including the North Atlantic 
right whale (Eubalaena glacialis); Atlantic spotted dolphin (Stenella 
frontalis) and common dolphin (Delphinus delphis). Of the 40 species 
that may be encountered, most are oceanic in distribution and do not 
venture into the shallow, brackish waters of southern Pamlico Sound. No 
suitable habitat exists for large whale species in the shallow Pamlico 
Sound or bombing target vicinity. Accordingly, we did not

[[Page 42045]]

consider these other species in greater detail. The specified activity 
has the potential to affect only one marine mammal species under our 
jurisdiction: The bottlenose dolphin. We refer the public to the 
previous Federal Register notice for the proposed Authorization (78 FR 
19224, Friday, March 29, 2013) where we present information on this 
species.

Potential Effects of the Specified Activity on Marine Mammals

    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].
    We have determined that Level B harassment to marine mammals 
(specifically bottlenose dolphins) could occur incidental to noise and 
detonations from munitions firing (all military readiness activities) 
at the bombing targets. These military readiness activities will result 
in increased noise levels, explosions, and munitions debris within 
bottlenose dolphin habitat. In the absence of planned mitigation and 
monitoring measures, it is possible that injury or mortality of 
bottlenose dolphins could occur; however, due to the implementation of 
the planned measures, we do not anticipate that harassment would rise 
to the level of injury (Level A harassment), serious injury, or 
mortality. Therefore, the Authorization solely authorizes Level B 
(behavioral) harassment incidental to the Marine Corp's training 
activities. We anticipate that bottlenose dolphins may undergo 
temporary threshold shift, masking, stress response, and altered 
behavioral patterns (e.g., traveling, resting, opportunistic foraging). 
The notice for the proposed Authorization (78 FR 19224, Friday, March 
29, 2013) provided complete description of these impacts. In addition, 
we refer the reader to our proposed and final rulemaking for the Navy 
Cherry Point Range Complex (74 FR 11057, March 16, 2009 and 74 FR 
28370, June 15, 2009 for a full assessment of marine mammal responses 
and disturbances when exposed to anthropogenic sound.

Potential Effects of the Specified Activity on Marine Mammal Habitat

    We provided a detailed discussion of the potential effects of this 
action on marine mammal habitat in the notice for the proposed 
Authorization (78 FR 19224, Friday, March 29, 2013). Detonations of 
live ordnance would result in temporary changes to the water 
environment. Munitions would hit the targets and not explode in the 
water. However, because the targets are over the water (i.e., a ship's 
hull on a shoal), in water explosions could occur. An underwater 
explosion from these weapons could send a shock wave and blast noise 
through the water, release gaseous by-products, create an oscillating 
bubble, and cause a plume of water to shoot up from the water surface. 
However, these effects would be temporary and not expected to last more 
than a few seconds.
    Similarly, no long term impacts with regard to hazardous 
constituents are expected to occur. MCAS Cherry Point has an active 
Range Environmental Vulnerability Assessment (REVA) program in place to 
monitor impacts to habitat from its activities. One goal of REVA is to 
determine the horizontal and vertical concentration profiles of heavy 
metals, explosives constituents, perchlorate nutrients, and dissolved 
salts in the sediment and seawater surrounding BT-9 and BT-11. The 
Marine Corps has sampled the explosive constituents (e.g., 
trinitrotoluene (TNT), cyclotrimethylenetrinitramine (RDX), and 
hexahydro-trinitro-triazine (HMX) in the sediment or water sample 
surrounding the BTs as described in Hazardous Constituents [Subchapter 
3.2.7.2] of the MCAS Cherry Point Range Operations EA. At present, they 
have not detected these constituents in the sediment or water. Metals 
were not present above toxicity screening values. Perchlorate was 
detected in a few sediment samples above the detection limit (0.21 
ppm), but below the reporting limit (0.6 ppm). The ongoing REVA would 
continue to evaluate potential munitions constituent migration from 
operational range areas to off-range areas and MCAS Cherry Point.
    While we anticipate that the specified activity may result in 
marine mammals avoiding certain areas due to temporary ensonification, 
this impact to habitat and prey resources is temporary and reversible 
and considered in notice for the proposed Authorization (78 FR 19224, 
Friday, March 29, 2013), as behavioral modification. The main impact 
associated with the proposed activity would be temporarily elevated 
noise levels and the associated direct effects on marine mammals, 
previously discussed.

Summary of Previous Monitoring

    The Marine Corps complied with the mitigation and monitoring 
required under the previous authorizations (2010-2012). In accordance 
with the 2010-11 IHA, USMC submitted a final monitoring report, which 
described the activities conducted and observations made. USMC did not 
record observations of any marine mammals during training exercises. 
The only recorded observations--which were of bottlenose dolphins--were 
on two occasions by maintenance vessels engaged in target maintenance. 
No marine mammals were observed during range sweeps, air to ground 
activities, surface to surface activities (small boats), or ad hoc via 
range cameras. We refer the reader to the notice for the proposed 
Authorization (78 FR 19224, Friday, March 29, 2013) for a full 
discussion of the previous monitoring results. The Marine Corps will 
submit a monitoring report for the 2012 training season which expired 
on December 31, 2012, to us by June 31, 2013. We will post the 
monitoring report on our Web site http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental.htm#applications.

Mitigation

    In order to issue an incidental take authorization under section 
101(a)(5)(D) of the MMPA, we must set forth the permissible methods of 
taking pursuant to such activity, and other means of effecting the 
least practicable adverse impact on such species or stock and its 
habitat, paying particular attention to rookeries, mating grounds, and 
areas of similar significance, and the availability of such species or 
stock for taking for certain subsistence uses.
    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 
activities described in the Marine Corp's application are military 
readiness activities.
    We have evaluated the applicant's proposed mitigation measures and 
considered other measures in the context of ensuring that we prescribe 
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

[[Page 42046]]

consideration of the following factors in relation to one another: (1) 
The manner in which, and the degree to which, the successful 
implementation of the measure is expected to minimize adverse impacts 
to marine mammals; (2) the proven or likely efficacy of the specific 
measure to minimize adverse impacts as planned; and (3) 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. We have 
determined that the mitigation measures described provide the means of 
effecting the least practicable adverse impacts on marine mammal 
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.
    The Marine Corps, in collaboration with us, has worked to identify 
potential practicable and effective mitigation measures, which include 
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 ``military-
readiness activity.'' These mitigation measures include:
    (1) Range Sweeps: The VMR-1 squadron, stationed at MCAS Cherry 
Point, includes three specially equipped HH-46D helicopters. The 
primary mission of these aircraft, known as PEDRO, is to provide search 
and rescue for downed 2nd Marine Air Wing aircrews. On-board are a 
pilot, co-pilot, crew chief, search and rescue swimmer, and a medical 
corpsman. Each crew member has received extensive training in search 
and rescue techniques, and is therefore particularly capable at 
spotting objects floating in the water.
    PEDRO crew would conduct a range sweep the morning of each exercise 
day prior to the commencement of range operations. The primary goal of 
the pre-exercise sweep is to ensure that the target area is clear of 
fisherman, other personnel, and protected species. The sweeps occur at 
100-300 meters above the water surface, at airspeeds between 60-100 
knots. The path of the sweep runs down the western side of BT-11, 
circles around BT-9 and then continues down the eastern side of BT-9 
before leaving. The sweep typically takes 20-30 minutes to complete. 
The PEDRO crew communicates directly with range personnel and can 
provide immediate notification to range operators. The PEDRO aircraft 
would remain in the area of a sighting until clear if possible or as 
mission requirements dictate.
    If the crew sights marine mammals during a range sweep, they would 
collect sighting data and enter it into the U.S. Marine Corps sighting 
database, web-interface, or report generator. They would relay this 
information to the training Commander. Sighting data includes the 
following (collected to the best of the observer's ability): (1) 
Species identification; (2) group size; (3) the behavior of marine 
mammals (e.g., milling, travel, social, foraging); (4) location and 
relative distance from the BT; (5) date, time and visual conditions 
(e.g., Beaufort sea state, weather) associated with each observation; 
(6) direction of travel relative to the BT; and (7) duration of the 
observation.
    (2) Cold Passes: All aircraft participating in an air-to-surface 
exercise would be required to perform a ``cold pass'' immediately prior 
to ordnance delivery at the BTs both day and night. That is, prior to 
granting a ``First Pass Hot'' (use of ordnance), pilots would be 
directed to perform a low, cold (no ordnance delivered) first pass 
which serves as a visual sweep of the targets prior to ordnance 
delivery to determine if unauthorized civilian vessels or personnel, or 
protected species, are present. They conduct the cold pass with the 
aircraft (helicopter or fixed-winged) flying straight and level at 
altitudes of 200-3000 feet over the target area. The viewing angle is 
approximately 15 degrees. A blind spot exists to the immediate rear of 
the aircraft. Based upon prevailing visibility, a pilot can see more 
than one mile forward upon approach. The aircrew and range personnel 
make every attempt to ensure clearance of the area via visual 
inspection and remotely operated camera operations (see Monitoring and 
Reporting section). The Range Controller may deny or approve the First 
Pass Hot clearance as conditions warrant.
    (3) Delay of Exercises: The Marine Corps would consider an active 
range ``fouled'' and not available for use if a marine mammal is 
present within 1,000 yards (914 m) of the target area at BT-9 or 
anywhere within Rattan Bay (BT-11). Therefore, if they observe a marine 
mammal within 1,000 yards (914 m) of the target at BT-9 or anywhere 
within Rattan Bay at BT-11 during the cold pass or from range camera 
detection, they would delay training until the marine mammal moves 
beyond and on a path away from 1,000 yards (914 m) from the BT-9 target 
or out of Rattan Bay at BT-11. This mitigation applies to both air-to-
surface and surface-to-surface exercises.
    (4) Range Camera Use: To increase the safety of persons or property 
near the targets, Range Operation and Control personnel monitor the 
target area through two tower mounted safety and surveillance cameras. 
The remotely operated range cameras are high resolution and, according 
to range personnel, allow a clear visual of a duck floating near the 
target. The cameras allow viewers to see animals at the surface and 
breaking the surface, but not underwater. The camera system has night 
vision (IR) capabilities with resolution levels almost as good as 
during daytime. Lenses on the camera system have a focal length of 250 
mm to 1500 mm, with view angle of (2.2[deg] x 1.65[deg] in wide-view) 
and (0.55[deg] x 41[deg] in narrow-view) respectively. Using the night-
time capabilities, with a narrow view, an observer could identify a 1 x 
1 meter target out to three kilometers.
    Again, in the event that a marine mammal is sighted within 1000 
yards (914 m) of the BT-9 target, or anywhere within Rattan Bay, the 
target would be declared fouled. Operations may commence in the fouled 
area after the animal(s) have moved 1000 yards (914 m) from the BT-9 
target and/or out of Rattan Bay.
    (5) Vessel Operation: All vessels used during training operations 
would abide by the Service's Southeast Regional Viewing Guidelines 
designed to prevent harassment to marine mammals (http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/education/southeast/).
    (6) Stranding Network Coordination: The Marine Corps would 
coordinate with the local NMFS Stranding Coordinator for any unusual 
marine mammal behavior and any stranding, beached live/dead, or 
floating marine mammals that may occur at any time during training 
activities or within 24 hours after completion of training.

Monitoring and Reporting

    In order to issue an Authorization for an activity, section 
101(a)(5)(D) of the MMPA states that we 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 Incidental Harassment Authorizations must include the 
suggested means of accomplishing the necessary monitoring and reporting 
that will result in increased knowledge of the species and of the level 
of taking or impacts on populations of marine mammals that are expected 
to be present.

[[Page 42047]]

    Monitoring measures prescribed by us should accomplish one or more 
of the following general goals: (a) An increase in our understanding of 
how many marine mammals are likely to be exposed to munitions noise and 
explosions that we associate with specific adverse effects, such as 
behavioral harassment, threshold shift; (b) an increase in our 
understanding of how individual marine mammals respond (behaviorally or 
physiologically) to gunnery and bombing exercises (at specific received 
levels) expected to result in take; (c) an increase in our 
understanding of how anticipated takes of 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); (d) an increased knowledge of the affected species; (e) an 
increase in our understanding of the effectiveness of certain 
mitigation and monitoring measures; (f) a better understanding and 
record of the manner in which the authorized entity complies with the 
Authorization; and (g) 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.
    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 
expected to be present within the action area are as follows:
    (1) Protected Species Observer Training: Pilots, operators of small 
boats, and other personnel monitoring for marine mammals would be 
required to take the Marine Species Awareness Training (Part 1 and 2), 
provided by the U.S. Navy. This training would make personnel 
knowledgeable of marine mammals, protected species, and visual cues 
related to the presence of marine mammals and protected species.
    (2) Weekly and Post-Exercise Monitoring: The Marine Corps would 
conduct post-exercise monitoring the morning following an exercise, 
unless an exercise occurs on a Friday, in which case the post-exercise 
sweep would take place the following Monday. Weekly monitoring events 
would include a maximum of five pre-exercise and four post-exercise 
sweeps. The maximum number of days that would elapse between pre- and 
post-exercise monitoring events would be approximately three days, and 
would normally occur on weekends. If marine mammals are observed during 
this monitoring, sighting data identical to those collected by PEDRO 
crew would be recorded.
    (3) Long-Term Monitoring: The Marine Corps has awarded Duke 
University Marine Lab (Duke) a contract to obtain abundance, group 
dynamics (e.g., group size, age census), behavior, habitat use, and 
acoustic data on the bottlenose dolphins which inhabit Pamlico Sound, 
specifically those around BT-9 and BT-11. Duke began conducting boat-
based surveys and passive acoustic monitoring of bottlenose dolphins in 
Pamlico Sound in 2000 (Read et al., 2003) and specifically at BT-9 and 
BT-11 in 2003 (Mayer, 2003). To date, boat-based surveys indicate that 
bottlenose dolphins may be resident to Pamlico Sound and use BT 
restricted areas on a frequent basis. Passive acoustic monitoring (PAM) 
provides more detailed insight into how dolphins use the two ranges, by 
monitoring for their vocalizations year-round, regardless of weather 
conditions or darkness. In addition to these surveys, Duke scientists 
are testing a real-time passive acoustic monitoring system at BT-9 that 
will allow automated detection of bottlenose dolphin whistles, 
providing yet another method of detecting dolphins prior to training 
operations. Although it is unlikely this PAM system would be active for 
purposes of implementing mitigation measures before an exercise prior 
to expiration of the proposed Authorization, it could be operational 
for future MMPA incidental take authorizations and would be evaluated 
for effectiveness at the appropriate time.
    (4) Reporting: The Marine Corps will submit a report to us within 
90 days after expiration of the Authorization or, if a subsequent 
incidental take authorization is requested, within 120 days prior to 
expiration of the Authorization. The report will summarize the type and 
amount of training exercises conducted, all marine mammal observations 
made during monitoring, and if mitigation measures were implemented. 
The report will also address the effectiveness of the monitoring plan 
in detecting marine mammals.

General Notification of Injured or Dead Marine Mammals

    The Marine Corps will systematically observe training operations 
for injured or disabled marine mammals. In addition, the Marine Corps 
would monitor the principal marine mammal stranding networks and other 
media to correlate analysis of any dolphin strandings that could 
potentially be associated with Cherry Point training operations.
    Marine Corps personnel will ensure that we are notified immediately 
or as soon as clearance procedures allow if an injured, stranded, or 
dead marine mammal is found during or shortly after, and in the 
vicinity of, any training operations. The Marine Corps will provide us 
with species 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).
    In the event that an injured, stranded, or dead marine mammal is 
found by Marine Corps personnel that is not in the vicinity of, or 
found during or shortly after operations, the Marine Corps personnel 
will report the same information as listed above as soon as 
operationally feasible and clearance procedures allow.

General Notification of a Ship Strike

    In the event of a vessel strike, at any time or place, the Marine 
Corps shall do the following:
     Immediately report to us the species identification (if 
known), location (lat/long) of the animal (or the strike if the animal 
has disappeared), and whether the animal is alive or dead (or unknown);
     Report to us as soon as operationally feasible the size 
and length of the animal, an estimate of the injury status (e.g., dead, 
injured but alive, injured and moving, unknown, etc.), vessel class/
type and operational status;
     Report to us the vessel length, speed, and heading as soon 
as feasible; and
     Provide us a photo or video, if equipment is available.

Estimated Take by Incidental Harassment

    The following provides the Marine Corps' model for take of dolphins 
from explosives (without consideration of mitigation and the 
conservative assumption that all explosives would land in the water and 
not on the targets or land) and potential for direct hits and our 
analysis of potential harassment from small vessel and aircraft 
operations.
    The method to estimate the number of marine mammals potentially 
taken by the specified activities is based on bottlenose dolphin 
density, the amount and type of ordnance proposed, and distances to our 
harassment threshold criteria. We refer the reader to the notice for 
the proposed Authorization (78 FR 19224, Friday, March 29, 2013) for a

[[Page 42048]]

description of the acoustic criteria for underwater detonations (Table 
3).

                         Table 3--Effects, Criteria, and Thresholds for Impulsive Sounds
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
             Effect                   Criteria             Metric             Threshold             Effect
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Mortality......................  Onset of Extensive  Goertner modified   indexed to 30.5     Mortality.
                                  Lung Injury.        positive impulse.   psi-msec (assumes
                                                                          100 percent small
                                                                          animal at 26.9
                                                                          lbs).
Injurious Physiological........  50 percent          Energy flux         1.17 in-lb/in\2\    Level A.
                                  Tympanic Membrane   density.            (about 205 dB re
                                  Rupture.                                1 microPa\2\-sec).
Injurious Physiological........  Onset Slight Lung   Goertner modified   indexed to 13 psi-  Level A.
                                  Injury.             positive impulse.   msec (assumes 100
                                                                          percent small
                                                                          animal at 26.9
                                                                          lbs).
Non-injurious Physiological....  TTS...............  Greatest energy     182 dB re 1         Level B.
                                                      flux density        microPa\2\-sec.
                                                      level in any \1/
                                                      3\-octave band
                                                      (>100 Hertz (Hz)
                                                      for toothed
                                                      whales and >10 Hz
                                                      for baleen
                                                      whales)--for
                                                      total energy over
                                                      all exposures.
Non-injurious Physiological....  TTS...............  Peak pressure over  23 psi............  Level B.
                                                      all exposures.
Non-injurious Behavioral.......  Multiple            Greatest energy     177 dB re 1         Level B.
                                  Explosions          flux density        microPa\2\-sec.
                                  Without TTS.        level in any \1/
                                                      3\-octave (>100
                                                      Hz for toothed
                                                      whales and >10 Hz
                                                      for baleen
                                                      whales)--for
                                                      total energy over
                                                      all exposures
                                                      (multiple
                                                      explosions only).
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Take From Explosives

    The Marine Corps conservatively modeled that all explosives would 
detonate at a 1.2 m (3.9 ft) water depth despite the training goal of 
hitting the target, resulting in an above water or on land explosion. 
For sources that are detonated at shallow depths, it is frequently the 
case that the explosion may breech the surface with some of the 
acoustic energy escaping the water column. The source levels presented 
in the table above have not been adjusted for possible venting nor does 
the subsequent analysis take this into account. Properties of explosive 
sources used at BT-9, including net explosive weight (NEW), peak one-
third-octave (OTO) source level, the approximate frequency at which the 
peak occurs, and rounds per burst are described in Table 9. Refer to 
Table 10 for distances to our harassment threshold levels from these 
sources.

                                 Table 4--Source Weights and Peak Source Levels
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                              Frequency of peak     Rounds per
           Source type                     NEW              Peak OTO SL             OTO SL             burst
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
2.75-inch Rocket.................  4.8 pounds (lbs)...  223.9 dB re:         ~ 1500 Hertz (Hz)..               1
                                                         1[mu]Pa.
5-inch Rocket....................  15.0 lbs...........  228.9 dB re:         ~ 1000 Hz..........               1
                                                         1[mu]Pa.
40 mm............................  0.1199 lbs.........  227.8 dB re:         ~ 1100 Hz..........               5
                                                         1[mu]Pa.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


                    Table 5--Distances to Our Harassment Thresholds From Explosive Ordnances
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                      Behavioral
                                   disturbance (177      TTS (23 psi)      Level A (13 psi-   Mortality (31 psi-
                                      dB energy)                                 msec)                ms)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
2.75-inch Rocket HE.............  326.6 meter (m)     172 m (564 ft)....  47 m (154 ft).....  27 m (89 ft).
                                   (1,071 feet (ft)).
5'' Rocket HE...................  397.7 m 1,034 ft..  255 m (837 ft)....  61 m (200 ft).....  39 m (128 ft).
40 mm HE........................  144 m (472 ft)....  N/A...............  10 m (33 ft)......  5 m (16 ft).
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    In order to calculate take, the Marine Corps considered the 
distances to which animals could be harassed along with dolphin 
density. They used the density estimate from Read et al. (2003) to 
calculate take from munitions firing (0.183/square kilometer (km\2\)) 
and based take calculations for munitions firing on 100 percent water 
detonation. Because the goal of training is to hit the targets and not 
the water, we consider these take estimates based on 100 percent water 
detonation of munitions to be conservative.
    Based on dolphin density and amount of munitions expended, there is 
very low potential for Level A harassment, serious injury, and 
mortality and monitoring and mitigation measures are anticipated to 
further negate this potential. Accordingly, we are not proposing to 
issue these levels of take. In total, from firing of explosive 
ordnances, the Marine Corps has requested, and we propose to issue, the 
incidental take of 25 bottlenose

[[Page 42049]]

dolphins from Level B harassment (Table 6).

      Table 6--Number of Dolphins Potentially Taken From Exposure to Explosives Based on Threshold Criteria
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                  Level A--
                                              Level B--                        Injurious (205
              Ordnance type                  Behavioral     Level B--TTS (23        dB re        Mortality (30.5
                                              (177dB re           psi)        1microPa\2\-s or        psi)
                                           1microPa\2\-s)                          13 psi)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
2.75 Rocket HE...............              0.71              0.99              0.05              0.01
5 Rocket HE..................              0.41              0.64              0.05              0.01
40 mm HE................................              9.46             11.07              0.16               0.0
                                         -----------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total...............................             10.58             12.71              0.26              0.02
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Take From Direct Hit

    As described in the notice for the proposed Authorization (78 FR 
19224, Friday, March 29, 2013), we estimate that the potential risk of 
a direct hit to an animal in the target area is discountable. The 
probability of hitting a bottlenose dolphin at the BTs can be derived 
as follows: Probability = dolphin's dorsal surface area times the 
density of dolphins. The estimated dorsal surface area of a bottlenose 
dolphin is 1.425 m\2\ (or the average length of 2.85 m times the 
average body width of 0.5 m). Thus, using Read et al. (2003)'s density 
estimate of 0.183 dolphins/km\2\, without consideration of mitigation 
and monitoring implementation, the probability of a dolphin being hit 
within BT-9 is 2.61 x 10-\7\ and within BT-11 is 9.4 x 
10-\8\. Using the proposed levels of ordnance expenditures 
at each in-water BT (78 FR 19224, Friday, March 29, 2013) and taking 
into account that only 36 percent of the ordnance deployed at BT-11 is 
over water, as described in the application, the estimated potential 
number of ordnance strikes on a marine mammal per year is 0.263 at BT-9 
and 0.034 at BT-11. It would take approximately three years of ordnance 
deployment at the BTs before it would be likely or probable that one 
bottlenose dolphin would be struck by deployed inert ordnance. Again, 
these estimates are without consideration to proposed monitoring and 
mitigation measures.
    The Marine Corps proposed three methods of exercise monitoring 
(i.e., PEDRO, cold pass, and range cameras). When considering the 
implementation of the mitigation and monitoring measures, the chance of 
a marine mammal being taken by direct hit is discountable.

Take From Vessel and Aircraft Presence

    Interactions with vessels are not a new experience for bottlenose 
dolphins in Pamlico Sound. Pamlico Sound is heavily used by 
recreational, commercial (fishing, daily ferry service, tugs, etc.), 
and military (including the Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard) vessels 
year-round. The NMFS' Southeast Regional Office has developed marine 
mammal viewing guidelines to educate the public on how to responsibly 
view marine mammals in the wild and avoid causing a take (http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/education/southeast). The guidelines recommend 
that vessels should remain a minimum of 50 yards from a dolphin, 
operate vessels in a predictable manner, avoid excessive speed or 
sudden changes in speed or direction in the vicinity of animals, and 
not to pursue, chase, or separate a group of animals. The Marine Corps 
would abide by these guidelines to the fullest extent practicable. The 
Marine Corps would not engage in high speed exercises should a marine 
mammal be detected within the immediate area of the BTs prior to 
training commencement and would never closely approach, chase, or 
pursue dolphins. Detection of marine mammals would be facilitated by 
personnel monitoring on the vessels and those marking success rate of 
target hits and monitoring of remote camera on the BTs (see Monitoring 
and Reporting section).
    Based on the description of the action, the other activities 
regularly occurring in the area, the species that may be exposed to the 
activity and their observed behaviors in the presence of vessel 
traffic, and the implementation of measures to avoid vessel strikes, we 
determined that it is unlikely that the operation of vessels during 
surface-to-surface maneuvers will result in the take of any marine 
mammals, in the form of either behavioral harassment, injury, serious 
injury, or mortality.
    Aircraft would move swiftly through the area and would typically 
fly approximately 914 m (2,998.7 ft) from the water's surface before 
dropping unguided munitions and above 4,572 m (2.8 miles) for 
precision-guided munitions bombing. While the aircraft may approach as 
low as 152 m (500 ft) to drop a bomb this is not the norm and would 
never been done around marine mammals. Regional whale watching 
guidelines advise aircraft to maintain a minimum altitude of 300 m 
(1,000 ft) above all marine mammals, including small odontocetes, and 
to not circle or hover over the animals to avoid harassment. Our 
approach regulations limit aircraft from flying below 300 m (1,000 ft) 
over a humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) in Hawaii, a known 
calving ground, and limit aircraft from flying over North Atlantic 
right whales closer than 460 m (1,509 ft). Given that Marine Corps 
aircraft would not fly below 300 m (984 ft) on the approach, would not 
engage in hovering or circling the animals, and would not drop to the 
minimal altitude of 152 m (500 ft) if a marine mammal is in the area, 
we believe it unlikely that the operation of aircraft, as described 
above, will result in take of bottlenose dolphins in Pamlico Sound in 
any manner.

Negligible Impact Analysis and Determination

    Pursuant to our 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 we must perform to determine whether the activity will have a 
``negligible impact'' on the species or stock. We have 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.'' 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 and manner of takes, alone, is not enough 
information

[[Page 42050]]

on which to base a negligible impact determination. We must also 
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.), or any of 
the other variables mentioned in the first paragraph (if known), as 
well as the number and nature of estimated Level A takes, the number of 
estimated mortalities, and effects on habitat.
    The Marine Corps has conducted gunnery and bombing training 
exercises at BT-9 and BT-11 for several years and, to date, the 
monitoring reports indicate that no dolphin injury, serious injury, or 
mortality has been attributed to these military training exercises. The 
Marine Corps has a history of notifying the NMFS stranding network when 
any injured or stranded animal comes ashore or is spotted by personnel 
on the water. Therefore, stranded animals have been examined by 
stranding responders, further confirming that it is unlikely training 
contributes to marine mammal injuries or deaths. Due to the 
implementation of the aforementioned proposed mitigation measures, no 
take by Level A harassment or serious injury or mortality is 
anticipated nor would any be authorized in the IHA. We are proposing, 
however, to authorize 25 Level B harassment takes associated with 
training exercises.
    The Marine Corps has proposed a 1,000 yard (914 m) safety zone 
around BT-9 despite the fact that the distance to our explosive Level B 
harassment threshold is 228 yards (209 m). They also would consider an 
area fouled if any dolphins are spotted within Raritan Bay (where BT-11 
is located)--triggering a shutdown of activities in that area. The 
Level B harassment takes allowed for in the Authorization would be of 
very low intensity and would likely result in dolphins being 
temporarily behaviorally affected by bombing or gunnery exercises. In 
addition, takes may be attributed to animals not using the area when 
exercises are occurring; however, this is difficult to calculate. 
Instead, we look if the specified activities occur during and within 
habitat important to vital life functions to better inform its 
negligible impact determination.
    Read et al. (2003) concluded that dolphins rarely occur in open 
waters in the middle of North Carolina sounds and large estuaries, but 
instead are concentrated in shallow water habitats along shorelines. 
However, no specific areas have been identified as vital reproduction 
or foraging habitat. Scientific boat based surveys conducted throughout 
Pamlico Sound conclude that dolphins use the areas around the BTs more 
frequently than other portions of Pamlico Sound (Maher, 2003) despite 
the Marine Corps actively training in a manner identical to the 
specified activities described here for years.
    As described in the Affected Species section of this notice, 
bottlenose dolphin stock segregation is complex with stocks overlapping 
throughout the coastal and estuarine waters of North Carolina. It is 
not possible for the Marine Corps to determine to which stock any 
individual dolphin taken during training activities belong as this can 
only be accomplished through genetic testing. However, it is likely 
that many of the dolphins encountered would belong to the Northern or 
Southern North Carolina Estuarine System stocks. These stocks have 
abundance estimates of 950 and 2,454, respectively. We authorize 25 
takes of bottlenose dolphins in total; therefore, this number 
represents 2.6 and 1.0 percent, respectively, of those populations. 
This species is not listed as threatened or endangered under the ESA.
    Based on the analysis contained herein of the likely effects of the 
specified activity on marine mammals and their habitat, and taking into 
consideration the implementation of the mitigation and monitoring 
measures, we find that the specified USMC Air Station Cherry Point BT-9 
and BT-11 training activities would result in the incidental take of 
marine mammals, by Level B harassment only, and that the total taking 
from would have a negligible impact on the affected species or stocks.

Subsistence Harvest of Marine Mammals

    Marine mammals are not taken for subsistence uses within Pamlico 
Sound; therefore, issuance of an IHA to the USMC for MCAS Cherry Point 
training exercises would not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the 
availability of the affected species or stocks for subsistence use.

Endangered Species Act (ESA)

    No ESA-listed marine mammals are known to occur within the action 
area. Therefore, there is no requirement for us to consult under 
Section 7 of the ESA on the issuance of an Authorization under section 
101(a)(5)(D) of the MMPA. However, ESA-listed sea turtles may be 
present within the action area.
    On September 27, 2002, NMFS issued a Biological Opinion (BiOp) on 
Ongoing Ordnance Delivery at Bombing Target 9 (BT-9) and Bombing Target 
11 (BT-11) at Marine Corps Air Station, Cherry Point, North Carolina. 
The BiOp, which is still in effect, concluded that that the USMC's 
proposed action will not result in adverse impacts to any ESA-listed 
marine mammals and is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence 
of the endangered green turtle (Chelonia mydas), leatherback turtle 
(Dermochelys coriacea), Kemp's ridley turtle (Lepidochelys kempii), or 
threatened loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta). The Authorization will 
not result in effects beyond those considered in the 2002 BiOp and we 
do not anticipate the need for further Section 7 consultation for the 
Authorization or the underlying activities proposed by the Marine 
Corps. No critical habitat has been designated for these species in the 
action area; therefore, none will be affected.

National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)

    On February 11, 2009, the Marine Corps issued a Finding of No 
Significant Impact for its Environmental Assessment (EA) on MCAS Cherry 
Point Range Operations. Based on the analysis of the EA, the Marine 
Corps determined that the proposed action will not have a significant 
impact on the human environment. We adopted the Marine Corps' EA and 
signed a Finding of No Significant Impact on August 31, 2010. We have 
again reviewed the proposed application and public comments and 
determined that there are no substantial changes to the proposed action 
or new environmental impacts or concerns. Therefore, we have determined 
that a new or supplemental EA or Environmental Impact Statement is 
unnecessary. The EA referenced above is available for review at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental.htm.

Authorization

    We have issued an Incidental Harassment Authorization to the Marine 
Corps for the take of marine mammals incidental to various training 
exercises at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Cherry Point Range 
Complex, North Carolina, July 1, 2013 through June 30, 2014, provided 
the previously mentioned mitigation, monitoring, and reporting 
requirements are incorporated.

    Dated: July 10, 2013.
Donna S. Wieting,
Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries 
Service.
[FR Doc. 2013-16878 Filed 7-12-13; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P