[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 233 (Wednesday, December 4, 2013)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 73009-73073]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-27846]



[[Page 73009]]

Vol. 78

Wednesday,

No. 233

December 4, 2013

Part III





 Department of Commerce





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 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration





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50 CFR Parts 216 and 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; Final Rule

Federal Register / Vol. 78 , No. 233 / Wednesday, December 4, 2013 / 
Rules and Regulations

[[Page 73010]]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Parts 216 and 218

[Docket No. 130109022-3936-02]
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: Final rule.

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

SUMMARY: Upon application from the U.S. Navy (Navy), we (the National 
Marine Fisheries Service) are issuing regulations under the Marine 
Mammal Protection Act to govern the unintentional taking of marine 
mammals incidental to training and testing activities conducted in the 
Atlantic Fleet Training and Testing (AFTT) Study Area from November 
2013 through November 2018. These regulations allow us to issue Letters 
of Authorization (LOA) for the incidental take of marine mammals during 
the Navy's specified activities and timeframes, set forth the 
permissible methods of taking, set forth other means of effecting the 
least practicable adverse impact on marine mammal species or stocks and 
their habitat, and set forth requirements pertaining to the monitoring 
and reporting of the incidental take.

DATES: Effective date: December 3, 2013.
    Applicability date: November 14, 2013 through November 13, 2018.

ADDRESSES: To obtain an electronic copy of the Navy's application, our 
Record of Decision, or other referenced documents, visit the internet 
at: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental.htm#applications. 
Documents cited in this notice may also be viewed, by appointment, 
during regular business hours, at the aforementioned 1315 East West 
Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910.

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#applications. The Navy's Final Environmental Impact 
Statement/Overseas Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS/OEIS) for AFTT 
may be viewed at http://www.aftteis.com. Documents cited in this notice 
may also be viewed, by appointment, during regular business hours, at 
the aforementioned address.

Background

    Section 101(a)(5)(A) of the MMPA (16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.) directs 
the Secretary of Commerce to allow, upon request, the incidental, but 
not intentional, taking of small numbers of marine mammals by U.S. 
citizens who engage in a specified activity (other than commercial 
fishing) within a specified geographical region if certain findings are 
made and regulations are issued. We are required to grant authorization 
for the incidental taking of marine mammals if we find that the total 
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). We must also 
set forth the permissible methods of taking and requirements pertaining 
to the mitigation, monitoring, and reporting of such takings. 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) amended section 101(a)(5)(A) of the MMPA by removing the small 
numbers and specified geographical region provisions; and amended the 
definition of ``harassment'' as it applies to a ``military readiness 
activity'' to read as follows (section 3(18)(B) of the MMPA): ``(i) Any 
act that injures or has the significant potential to injure a marine 
mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild [Level A Harassment]; or (ii) 
any act that disturbs or is likely to disturb a marine mammal or marine 
mammal stock in the wild by causing disruption of natural behavioral 
patterns, including, but not limited to, migration, surfacing, nursing, 
breeding, feeding, or sheltering, to a point where such behavioral 
patterns are abandoned or significantly altered [Level B Harassment].''
Summary of Request
    On April 13, 2012, NMFS received an application from the Navy 
requesting 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 NMFS considered the 
application complete. The Navy requests authorization to take marine 
mammals by Level A and Level B harassment and mortality during training 
and testing activities. 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. These activities are considered 
military readiness activities. Marine mammals present in the Study Area 
may be exposed to sound from active sonar and underwater detonations. 
In addition, incidental takes of marine mammals may occur from ship 
strikes. The Navy requests authorization to take 42 marine mammal 
species by Level B harassment and 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 FEIS/OEIS contain acoustic 
thresholds that, in some instances, represent changes from what NMFS 
has used to evaluate the Navy's activities for previous authorizations. 
The revised thresholds, which the Navy developed in coordination with 
NMFS, are based on the evaluation and inclusion of new information from 
recent scientific studies; a detailed explanation of how they were 
derived is provided in the AFTT FEIS/OEIS Criteria and Thresholds 
Technical Report. The revised thresholds are adopted for this 
rulemaking after providing the public with an opportunity for review 
and comment via the proposed rule for this action published on January 
31, 2013 (78 FR 7050).
    Further, more generally, NMFS is committed to the use of the best 
available science. NMFS uses an adaptive transparent process that 
allows for both timely scientific updates and public input into agency 
decisions regarding the use of acoustic research and thresholds. NMFS 
is currently in the process of re-evaluating acoustic

[[Page 73011]]

thresholds based on the best available science, as well as how these 
thresholds are applied under the MMPA to all activity types (not just 
for Navy activities). This re-evaluation could potentially result in 
changes to the acoustic thresholds or their application as they apply 
to future Navy activities. However, it is important to note that while 
changes in acoustic criteria may affect the enumeration of ``takes,'' 
they do not necessarily change the evaluation of population level 
effects or the outcome of the negligible impact analysis. In addition, 
while acoustic criteria may also inform mitigation and monitoring 
decisions, the Navy has a robust adaptive management program that 
regularly addresses new information and allows for modification of 
mitigation and/or monitoring measures as appropriate.

Description of Specified Activities

    The proposed rule (78 FR 7050, January 31, 2013) and AFTT FEIS/OEIS 
include a complete description of the Navy's specified activities that 
are being authorized in this final rule. Sonar use, underwater 
detonations, and ship strike are the stressors most likely to result in 
impacts on marine mammals that could rise to the level of harassment, 
thus necessitating MMPA authorization. Below we summarize the 
description of the specified activities.

Overview of Training Activities

    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 the 
following stressors used in these warfare areas are most likely to 
result in impacts on marine mammals:

 Amphibious warfare (underwater detonations)
 Anti-surface warfare (underwater detonations)
 Anti-submarine warfare (active sonar, underwater detonations)
 Mine warfare (active sonar, underwater detonations)
 Naval special warfare (underwater detonations)

Overview of Testing Activities

    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
    [cir] Anti-surface warfare testing (underwater detonations)
    [cir] Anti-submarine warfare testing (active sonar, underwater 
detonations)
    [cir] Mine warfare testing (active sonar, underwater detonations)
 Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) Testing
    [cir] New ship construction (active sonar, underwater detonations)
    [cir] Shock trials (underwater detonations)
    [cir] Life cycle activities (active sonar, underwater detonations)
    [cir] Range activities (active sonar, underwater detonations)
    [cir] Anti-surface warfare/anti-submarine warfare testing (active 
sonar, underwater detonations)
    [cir] Mine warfare testing (active sonar, underwater detonations)
    [cir] Ship protection systems and swimmer defense testing (active 
sonar)
    [cir] Unmanned vehicle testing (active sonar)
    [cir] Other testing (active sonar)
 Office of Naval Research (ONR) and Naval Research Laboratory 
(NRL) Testing
    [cir] ONR/NRL research, development, test, and evaluation (active 
sonar)

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 loudest 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 and severity 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, 2, and 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 or 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 whether sound is emitted 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 
transmissions, 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 the AFTT FEIS/OEIS.

[[Page 73012]]



   Table 1--Impulsive Training and Testing Source Classes Analyzed for
                            Annual Activities
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                        Net explosive
       Source class        Representative munitions     weight  (lbs)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
E1.......................  Medium-caliber            0.1-0.25 (45.4-
                            projectiles.              113.4 g).
E2.......................  Medium-caliber            0.26-0.5 (117.9-
                            projectiles.              226.8 g).
E3.......................  Large-caliber             >0.5-2.5 (>226.8 g-
                            projectiles.              1.1 kg).
E4.......................  Improved Extended Echo    >2.5-5.0 (1.1-2.3
                            Ranging Sonobuoy.         kg).
E5.......................  5 in. (12.7 cm)           >5-10 (>2.3-4.5
                            projectiles.              kg).
E6.......................  15 lb. (6.8 kg) shaped    >10-20 (>4.5-9.1
                            charge.                   kg).
E7.......................  40 lb. (18.1 kg) demo     >20-60 (>9.1-27.2
                            block/shaped charge.      kg).
E8.......................  250 lb. (113.4 kg) bomb.  >60-100 (>27.2-45.4
                                                      kg).
E9.......................  500 lb. (226.8 kg) bomb.  >100-250 (>45.4-
                                                      113.4 kg).
E10......................  1,000 lb. (453.6 kg)      >250-500 (>113.4-
                            bomb.                     226.8 kg).
E11......................  650 lb. (294.8 kg) mine.  >500-650 (>226.8-
                                                      294.8 kg).
E12......................  2,000 lb. (907.2 kg)      >650-1,000 (>294.8-
                            bomb.                     453.6 kg).
E13......................  1,200 lb. (544.3 kg) HBX  >1,000-1,740
                            charge.                   (>453.6-789.3 kg).
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 for
                            Annual Activities
------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Source class category         Source class           Description
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Low-Frequency (LF): Sources   LF3.................  Low-frequency
 that produce low-frequency   LF4.................   sources greater
 (less than 1 kHz) signals.                          than 200 dB.
                                                    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  MF1.................  Hull-mounted surface
 and non-tactical sources     MF1K................   ship sonar (e.g.,
 that produce mid-frequency                          AN/SQS-53C and AN/
 (1 to 10 kHz) signals.                              SQS-60).
                                                    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):          HF1.................  Hull-mounted
 Tactical and non-tactical    HF2.................   submarine sonar
 sources that produce high-                          (e.g., AN/BQQ-10).
 frequency (greater than 10                         High-Frequency
 kHz but less than 200 kHz)                          Marine Mammal
 signals.                                            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-61).
Anti-Submarine Warfare        ASW1................  Mid-frequency Deep
 (ASW): Tactical sources      ASW2................   Water Active
 such as active sonobuoys                            Distributed System
 and acoustic                                        (DWADS).
 countermeasures systems                            Mid-frequency
 used during the conduct of                          Multistatic Active
 anti-submarine warfare                              Coherent sonobuoy
 training and testing                                (e.g., AN/SSQ-125)--
 activities.                                         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).
Torpedoes (TORP): Source      TORP1...............  Lightweight torpedo
 classes associated with the  ....................   (e.g., MK-46, MK-
 active acoustic signals      TORP2...............   54, or Anti-Torpedo
 produced by torpedoes.                              Torpedo).
                                                    Heavyweight torpedo
                                                     (e.g., MK-48).
Doppler Sonars (DS): Sonars   DS1.................  Low-frequency
 that use the Doppler effect                         Doppler sonar
 to aid in navigation or                             (e.g., Webb
 collect oceanographic                               Tomography Source).
 information.

[[Page 73013]]

 
Forward Looking Sonar (FLS):  FLS2-FLS3...........  High-frequency
 Forward or upward looking                           sources with short
 object avoidance sonars.                            pulse lengths,
                                                     narrow beam widths,
                                                     and focused beam
                                                     patterns used for
                                                     navigation and
                                                     safety of ships.
Acoustic Modems (M): Systems  M3..................  Mid-frequency
 used to transmit data                               acoustic modems
 acoustically through the                            (greater than 190
 water.                                              dB).
Swimmer Detection Sonars      SD1-SD2.............  High-frequency
 (SD): Systems used to                               sources with short
 detect divers and submerged                         pulse lengths, used
 swimmers.                                           for detection of
                                                     swimmers and other
                                                     objects for the
                                                     purposes of port
                                                     security.
Synthetic Aperture Sonars     SAS1................  MF SAS systems.
 (SAS): Sonars in which       SAS2................  HF SAS systems.
 active acoustic signals are  SAS3................  VHF SAS systems.
 post-processed to 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 munitions  weight \1\  (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 class category         Source class           Description
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Low-Frequency (LF): Sources   LF5.................  Low-frequency
 that produce low-frequency                          sources greater
 (less than 1 kHz) signals.                          than 160 dB, but
                                                     less than 180 dB.
Mid-Frequency (MF): Tactical  MF9.................  Active sources
 and non-tactical sources                            (equal to 180 dB
 that produce mid-frequency                          and up to 200 dB)
 (1 to 10 kHz) signals.                              not otherwise
                                                     binned.
High-Frequency (HF):          HF4.................  Mine detection and
 Tactical and non-tactical    HF5.................   classification
 sources that produce high-   HF6.................   sonar (e.g., AN/AQS-
 frequency (greater than 10                          20).
 kHz but less than 180 kHz)                         Active sources
 signals.                                            (greater than 200
                                                     dB) not otherwise
                                                     binned.
                                                    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
 Forward or upward looking                           sources with short
 object avoidance sonars.                            pulse lengths,
                                                     narrow beam widths,
                                                     and focused beam
                                                     patterns used for
                                                     navigation and
                                                     safety of ships.
Sonars (SAS): Sonars in       SAS2................  HF SAS systems.
 which active acoustic
 signals are post-processed
 to form high-resolution
 images of the seafloor.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Authorized Action

Training

    The Navy's training activities in the AFTT Study Area are described 
in Table 5. Detailed information about each activity (stressor, 
training event, description, sound source, duration, and geographic 
location) can be found in Appendix A of the AFTT FEIS/OEIS.

                               Table 5--Training Activities Within the Study Area
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                           Number of events per
         Stressor             Training event         Description          Source class             year
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                          Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Non-Impulsive.............  Tracking Exercise/ Submarine crews         ASW4; MF3; HF1;    102.
                             Torpedo            search, track, and      TORP2.
                             Exercise--Submar   detect submarines.
                             ine (TRACKEX/      Exercise torpedoes
                             TORPEX--Sub).      may be used during
                                                this event.
Non-Impulsive.............  Tracking Exercise/ Surface ship crews      ASW1,3,4;          764.
                             Torpedo            search, track and       MF1,2,3,4,5,11,1
                             Exercise--Surfac   detect submarines.      2; HF1; TORP1.
                             e (TRACKEX/        Exercise torpedoes
                             TORPEX--Surface).  may be used during
                                                this event.
Non-Impulsive.............  Tracking Exercise/ Helicopter crews        ASW4; MF4,5;       432.
                             Torpedo            search, detect and      TORP1.
                             Exercise--Helico   track submarines.
                             pter (TRACKEX/     Recoverable air
                             TORPEX--Helo).     launched torpedoes
                                                may be employed
                                                against submarine
                                                targets.

[[Page 73014]]

 
Non-Impulsive.............  Tracking Exercise/ Maritime patrol         MF5; TORP1.......  752.
                             Torpedo            aircraft crews
                             Exercise--Mariti   search, detect, and
                             me Patrol          track submarines.
                             Aircraft           Recoverable air
                             (TRACKEX/TORPEX--  launched torpedoes
                             MPA).              may be employed
                                                against submarine
                                                targets.
Non-Impulsive.............  Tracking           Maritime patrol         ASW2.............  160.
                             Exercise--Mariti   aircraft crews
                             me Patrol          search, detect, and
                             Aircraft           track submarines with
                             Extended Echo      extended echo ranging
                             Ranging Sonobuoy   sonobuoys.
                             (TRACKEX--MPA      Recoverable air
                             sonobuoy).         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 coordinate
                             Exercise.          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 2,3,4; HF1;    5.
                             Submarine          aircraft, and           MF1,2,3,4,5,6.
                             Warfare Course     submarines coordinate
                             (IAC).             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 integrate   MF1,2,3,4,5,6.
                                                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 Warfare  ASW 2,3,4; HF1;    5.
                             Training Unit      activities conducted    MF1,2,3,4,5,6,12.
                             Exercise           during a COMPTUEX.
                             (COMPTUEX).
Non-Impulsive.............  ASW for Joint      Anti-Submarine Warfare  ASW2,3,4; HF1;     4.
                             Task Force         activities conducted    MF1,2,3,4,5,6,12.
                             Exercise (JTFEX)/  during a JTFEX/
                             Sustainment        SUSTAINEX.
                             Exercise
                             (SUSTAINEX).
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                               Mine Warfare (MIW)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Non-Impulsive.............  Mine               Littoral combat ship    HF4..............  116.
                             Countermeasures    crews detect and
                             Exercise (MCM)--   avoid mines while
                             Ship Sonar.        navigating restricted
                                                areas or channels
                                                using active sonar.
Non-Impulsive.............  Mine               Ship crews and          HF4..............  2,538.
                             Countermeasures-   helicopter aircrews
                             -Mine Detection.   detect mines using
                                                towed and laser mine
                                                detection systems
                                                (e.g., AN/AQS-20,
                                                ALMDS).
Non-Impulsive.............  Coordinated Unit   Helicopters aircrew     HF4..............  8.
                             Level Helicopter   members train as a
                             Airborne Mine      squadron in the use
                             Countermeasure     of airborne mine
                             Exercises.         countermeasures, such
                                                as towed mine
                                                detection and
                                                neutralization
                                                systems.
Non-Impulsive.............  Civilian Port      Maritime security       HF4..............  1 event every other
                             Defense.           operations for                             year.
                                                military and civilian
                                                ports and harbors.
                                                Marine mammal systems
                                                may be used during
                                                the exercise.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                            Other Training Activities
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Non-Impulsive.............  Submarine          Submarine crews locate  HF1; MF3.........  282.
                             Navigational       underwater objects
                             (SUB NAV).         and ships while
                                                transiting in and out
                                                of port.
Non-Impulsive.............  Submarine          Submarine crews train   HF1..............  24.
                             Navigation Under   to operate under ice.
                             Ice                During training and
                             Certification.     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       Pierside and at-sea     MF1,2............  824.
                             Sonar              maintenance of sonar
                             Maintenance.       systems.
Non-Impulsive.............  Submarine Sonar    Pierside and at-sea     MF3..............  220.
                             Maintenance.       maintenance of sonar
                                                systems.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

[[Page 73015]]

 
                                            Amphibious Warfare (AMW)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Impulsive.................  Naval Surface      Surface ship crews use  E5...............  50.
                             Fire Support       large-caliber guns to
                             Exercise--At Sea   support forces
                             (FIREX [At Sea]).  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  Boat crews engage in    E2...............  12.
                             Operations         force protection
                             (MSO)--Anti-       activities by using
                             swimmer Grenades.  anti-swimmer grenades
                                                to defend against
                                                hostile divers (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 with
                             Surface) (Ship)--  ship's medium-caliber
                             Medium-Caliber     guns.
                             (GUNEX [S-S]--
                             Ship).
Impulsive.................  Gunnery Exercise   Ship crews engage       E3; E5...........  294.
                             (Surface-to-       surface targets with
                             Surface) (Ship)--  ship's large-caliber
                             Large-Caliber      guns.
                             (GUNEX [S-S]--
                             Ship).
Impulsive.................  Gunnery Exercise   Small boat crews        E1; E2...........  434.
                             (Surface-to-       engage surface
                             Surface) (Boat)    targets with medium-
                             (GUNEX [S-S]--     caliber guns.
                             Boat Medium-
                             Caliber).
Impulsive.................  Missile Exercise   Surface ship crews      E10..............  20.
                             (Surface-to-       defend against threat
                             Surface)           missiles and other
                             (MISSILEX [S-S]).  surface ships with
                                                missiles.
Impulsive.................  Gunnery Exercise   Fixed-wing and          E1; E2...........  715.
                             (Air-to-Surface)   helicopter aircrews,
                             (GUNEX [A-S]       including embarked
                             Medium-Caliber).   personnel, use medium-
                                                caliber guns to
                                                engage surface
                                                targets.
Impulsive.................  Missile Exercise   Fixed-wing and          E5...............  210.
                             (Air-to-           helicopter aircrews
                             Surface)--Rocket   fire both precision-
                             (MISSILEX [A-S]).  guided missiles and
                                                unguided rockets
                                                against surface
                                                targets.
Impulsive.................  Missile Exercise   Fixed-wing and          E6; E8...........  248.
                             (Air-to-Surface)   helicopter aircrews
                             (MISSILEX [A-S]).  fire both precision-
                                                guided missiles and
                                                unguided rockets
                                                against surface
                                                targets.
Impulsive.................  Bombing Exercise   Fixed-wing aircrews     E8; E9; E10; E12.  930.
                             (Air-to-Surface)   deliver bombs against
                             (BOMBEX [A-S]).    surface targets.
Impulsive.................  Sinking Exercise   Aircraft, ship, and     E3; E5; E8; E9;    1.
                             (SINKEX).          submarine crews         E10; E11; E12.
                                                deliver ordnance on a
                                                seaborne target,
                                                usually a deactivated
                                                ship, which is
                                                deliberately sunk
                                                using multiple weapon
                                                systems.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                          Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Impulsive.................  Tracking           Maritime patrol         E4...............  160.
                             Exercise--Mariti   aircraft crews
                             me Patrol          search, detect, and
                             Aircraft           track submarines with
                             Extended Echo      extended echo ranging
                             Ranging Sonobuoy   sonobuoys.
                             (TRACKEX--MPA      Recoverable air
                             sonobuoy).         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 Warfare  E4...............  6.
                             Training Unit      activities conducted
                             Exercise           during a COMPTUEX.
                             (COMPTUEX).
Impulsive.................  ASW for Joint      Anti-Submarine Warfare  E4...............  4.
                             Task Force         activities conducted
                             Exercise (JTFEX)/  during a JTFEX/
                             Sustainment        SUSTAINEX.
                             Exercise
                             (SUSTAINEX).
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                               Mine Warfare (MIW)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Impulsive.................  Explosive          Personnel disable       E1; E4; E5; E6;    618.
                             Ordnance           threat mines.           E7; E8.
                             Disposal (EOD)/    Explosive charges may
                             Mine               be used.
                             Neutralization.
Impulsive.................  Mine               Ship crews and          E4...............  762.
                             Countermeasures-   helicopter aircrews
                             -Mine              disable mines using
                             Neutralization--   remotely operated
                             Remotely           underwater vehicles.
                             Operated
                             Vehicles.

[[Page 73016]]

 
Impulsive.................  Civilian Port      Maritime security       E2; E4...........  1 event every other
                             Defense.           operations for                             year.
                                                military and civilian
                                                ports and harbors.
                                                Marine mammal systems
                                                may be used during
                                                the exercise.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Testing

    The Navy's testing activities are described in Tables 6 and 7.

                   Table 6--Naval Air Systems Command Testing Activities Within the Study Area
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                           Number of events per
         Stressor             Testing event          Description          Source class             year
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                          Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Non-Impulsive.............  Anti-Submarine     This event is similar   TORP1............  242.
                             Warfare Torpedo    to 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       This event is similar   MF4,5............  428.
                             Test--Helicopter.  to 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       This event is similar   ASW2; MF5,6......  75.
                             Test--Maritime     to the training event
                             Patrol Aircraft.   anti-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        Towed Minehunting
                             Sonar System       Sonar System to
                             Test.              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.

[[Page 73017]]

 
                                           Anti-Surface Warfare (ASUW)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Impulsive.................  Air to Surface     This event is similar   E6; E10..........  239.
                             Missile Test.      to 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   E1...............  165.
                             Gunnery Test.      to 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          E5...............  332.
                                                evaluates 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.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                          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       This event is similar   E3...............  428.
                             Test--Helicopter.  to 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       This event is similar   E3; E4...........  75.
                             Test--Maritime     to the training event
                             Patrol Aircraft.   anti-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           An MH-60S helicopter    E11..............  237.
                             Projectile-based   uses a laser-based
                             Mine Clearance     detection system to
                             System.            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.

[[Page 73018]]

 
Impulsive.................  Airborne Towed     Tests of the Airborne   E11..............  72.
                             Minesweeping       Towed Minesweeping
                             Test.              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 events per
         Stressor             Testing event          Description          Source class             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          countermeasure
                             Warfare 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 demonstrate  M3; HF1; MF3,10..  12.
                             Trials--Anti-      capability of
                             Submarine          underwater
                             Warfare Testing.   surveillance and
                                                communications
                                                systems.
Non-Impulsive.............  Anti-submarine     Ships and their         ASW1,3; MF4,5,12;  24.
                             Warfare Mission    supporting platforms    TORP1.
                             Package Testing.   (e.g., helicopters,
                                                unmanned aerial
                                                vehicles) detect,
                                                localize, and
                                                prosecute submarines.
Non-Impulsive.............  Mine               Ships conduct mine      HF4..............  8.
                             Countermeasure     countermeasure
                             Mission Package    operations.
                             Testing.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                              Life Cycle Activities
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Non-Impulsive.............  Surface Ship       Pierside and at-sea     ASW3; MF1, 9,10;   16.
                             Sonar 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 submarine
                             Maintenance.       systems occurs
                                                periodically
                                                following major
                                                maintenance periods
                                                and for routine
                                                maintenance.
Non-Impulsive.............  Combat System      All combat systems are  MF1..............  12.
                             Ship               tested to ensure they
                             Qualification      are functioning in a
                             Trial (CSSQT)--    technically
                             In-port            acceptable manner and
                             Maintenance        are operationally
                             Period.            ready to support at-
                                                sea CSSQT events.
Non-Impulsive.............  Combat System      Tests ships ability to  HF4; MF1,2,4,5;    9.
                             Ship               track and defend        TORP1.
                             Qualification      against undersea
                             Trial (CSSQT)--    targets.
                             Undersea Warfare
                             (USW).
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                             NAVSEA Range Activities
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                          Naval Surface Warfare Center, Panama City Division (NSWC PCD)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Non-Impulsive.............  Unmanned           Testing and             HF5,6,7; LF5;      1 per 5 year period.
                             Underwater         demonstrations of       FLS2; MF9; SAS2.
                             Vehicles           multiple Unmanned
                             Demonstration.     Underwater Vehicles
                                                and associated
                                                acoustic, optical,
                                                and magnetic systems.
Non-Impulsive.............  Mine Detection     Air, surface, and       HF1,4; MF1K; SAS2  81.
                             and                subsurface vessels
                             Classification     detect and classify
                             Testing.           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.

[[Page 73019]]

 
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           Unmanned Underwater     FLS2; HF 5,6,7;    88.
                             Underwater         Vehicles are deployed   LF5; MF9; SAS2.
                             Vehicle Testing.   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           Unmanned Underwater     HF6,7; LF5; MF10;  123.
                             Underwater         Vehicles are deployed   SAS2.
                             Vehicle Testing.   to evaluate
                                                hydrodynamic
                                                parameters, to full
                                                mission, multiple
                                                vehicle functionality
                                                assessments.
Non-Impulsive.............  Semi-Stationary    Semi-stationary         ASW3,4; HF 5,6;    154.
                             Equipment          equipment (e.g.,        LF 4,5; MF9,10.
                             Testing.           hydrophones) is
                                                deployed to determine
                                                functionality.
Non-Impulsive.............  Unmanned           Testing and             FLS2; HF5,6,7;     1 per 5 year period.
                             Underwater         demonstrations of       LF5; MF9; SAS2.
                             Vehicle            multiple Unmanned
                             Demonstrations.    Underwater Vehicles
                                                and associated
                                                acoustic, optical,
                                                and magnetic systems.
Non-Impulsive.............  Pierside           Swimmer defense         LF4; MF8; SD1....  6.
                             Integrated         testing ensures that
                             Swimmer Defense    systems can
                             Testing.           effectively detect,
                                                characterize, verify,
                                                and defend against
                                                swimmer/diver threats
                                                in harbor
                                                environments.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                South Florida Ocean Measurement Facility (SFOMF)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Non-Impulsive.............  Signature          Testing of              ASW2; HF1,6; LF4;  18.
                             Analysis           electromagnetic,        M3; MF9.
                             Activities.        acoustic, optical,
                                                and radar signature
                                                measurements of
                                                surface ship and
                                                submarine.
Non-Impulsive.............  Mine Testing.....  Air, surface, and sub-  HF4..............  33.
                                                surface systems
                                                detect, counter, and
                                                neutralize ocean-
                                                deployed mines.
Non-Impulsive.............  Surface Testing..  Various surface         FLS2;              33.
                                                vessels, moored         HF5,6,7;LF5;MF9;
                                                equipment and           SAS2.
                                                materials are tested
                                                to evaluate
                                                performance in the
                                                marine environment.
Non-Impulsive.............  Unmanned           Testing and             FLS2; HF5,6,7;     1 per 5 year period.
                             Underwater         demonstrations of       LF5; MF9; SAS2.
                             Vehicles           multiple Unmanned
                             Demonstrations.    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)         submarine crews         MF1,3,4,5;
                             Testing.           employ inert            TORP1,2.
                                                torpedoes against
                                                submarines or surface
                                                vessels. All
                                                torpedoes are
                                                recovered.
Non-Impulsive.............  Torpedo            Air, surface, or        TORP1; TORP2.....  2.
                             (Explosive)        submarine crews
                             Testing.           employ explosive
                                                torpedoes against
                                                artificial targets or
                                                deactivated ships.
Non-Impulsive.............  Countermeasure     Towed sonar arrays and  ASW3; HF5; TORP    3.
                             Testing.           anti-torpedo torpedo    1,2.
                                                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;     15.
                             Testing.           ensure systems are      MF3.
                                                fully functional in
                                                an open ocean
                                                environment.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

[[Page 73020]]

 
                                           Mine Warfare (MIW) Testing
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Non-Impulsive.............  Mine Detection     Air, surface, and       HF4..............  66.
                             and                subsurface vessels
                             Classification     detect and classify
                             Testing.           mines and mine-like
                                                objects.
Non-Impulsive.............  Mine               Air, surface, and       HF4; M3..........  14.
                             Countermeasure/    subsurface vessels
                             Neutralization     neutralize threat
                             Testing.           mines that would
                                                otherwise restrict
                                                passage through an
                                                area.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                            Shipboard Protection Systems and Swimmer Defense Testing
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Non-Impulsive.............  Pierside           Swimmer defense         LF4; MF8; SD1....  3.
                             Integrated         testing ensures that
                             Swimmer Defense    systems can
                             Testing.           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.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                            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 per 5 year period.
                             Sea Trials--Gun    systems are tested
                             Testing--Medium-   using non-explosive
                             Caliber.           and explosive rounds.
Impulsive.................  Surface Warfare    Ships defense against   E1...............  5.
                             Mission Package--  surface targets with
                             Gun Testing--      medium-caliber guns.
                             Medium Caliber.
Impulsive.................  Surface Warfare    Ships defense against   E3...............  5.
                             Mission Package--  surface targets with
                             Gun Testing--      large-caliber guns.
                             Large Caliber.
Impulsive.................  Surface Warfare    Ships defense against   E6...............  15.
                             Mission Package--  surface targets with
                             Missile/Rocket     medium range missiles
                             Testing.           or rockets.
Impulsive.................  Mine               Ships conduct mine      E4...............  8.
                             Countermeasure     countermeasure
                             Mission Package    operations.
                             Testing.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                Ship Shock Trials
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Impulsive.................  Aircraft Carrier   Explosives are          E17..............  1 per 5 year period.
                             Full Ship Shock    detonated underwater
                             Trial.             against surface ships.
Impulsive.................  DDG 1000 Zumwalt   Explosives are          E16..............  1 per 5 year period.
                             Class Destroyer    detonated underwater
                             Full Ship Shock    against surface ships.
                             Trial.
Impulsive.................  Littoral Combat    Explosives are          E16..............  2 per 5 year period.
                             Ship Full Ship     detonated underwater
                             Shock Trial.       against surface ships.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                             NAVSEA Range Activities
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                          Naval Surface Warfare Center, Panama City Division (NSWC PCD)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Impulsive.................  Mine               Air, surface, and       E4...............  15.
                             Countermeasure/    subsurface vessels
                             Neutralization     neutralize threat
                             Testing.           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.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

[[Page 73021]]

 
                           Additional Activities at Locations Outside of NAVSEA Ranges
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                        Anti-Surface Warfare (ASUW)/Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Testing
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Impulsive.................  Torpedo            Air, surface, or        E8; E11..........  2.
                             (Explosive)        submarine crews
                             Testing.           employ explosive
                                                torpedoes against
                                                artificial targets or
                                                deactivated ships.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                           Mine Warfare (MIW) Testing
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Impulsive.................  Mine               Air, surface, and       E4; E8...........  14.
                             Countermeasure/    subsurface vessels
                             Neutralization     neutralize threat
                             Testing.           mines that would
                                                otherwise restrict
                                                passage through an
                                                area.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                            Other Testing Activities
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Impulsive.................  At-Sea Explosives  Explosives are          E5...............  4.
                             Testing.           detonated at sea.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Vessels

    Representative Navy vessel types, lengths, and speeds used in both 
training and testing activities are shown in Table 8. While these 
speeds are representative, some vessels operate outside of these speeds 
due to unique training 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.

 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
         Vessel type (>18 m)           (m) for length, metric tons (mt) for     Typical operating speed (knots)
                                            mass, and knots for speed)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Aircraft Carrier....................  Aircraft Carrier (CVN) length: 333 m    10 to 15.
                                       beam: 41 m draft: 12 m displacement:
                                       81,284 mt max. speed: 30+ knots.
Surface Combatants..................  Cruiser (CG) length: 173 m beam: 17 m   10 to 15.
                                       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 Ship (LHA, LHD)      10 to 15.
                                       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 Ship (MCM)         5 to 8.
                                       length: 68 m beam: 12 m draft: 4 m
                                       displacement: 1,333 max. speed: 14
                                       knots.
Submarines..........................  Attack Submarine (SSN) length: 115 m    8 to 13.
                                       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 Ship (T-AOE)        8 to 12.
                                       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
                                       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 (LCU) length:    3 to 5.
                                       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.
Support Craft/Other Specialized High  MK V Special Operations Craft length:   Variable.
 Speed.                                25 m beam: 5 m displacement: 52 mt
                                       max. speed: 50 knots.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


[[Page 73022]]

Duration and Location

    The description of the location of authorized activities has not 
changed from what was provided in the proposed rule (78 FR 7050, 
January 31, 2013; page 7066) and AFTT FEIS/OEIS (http://www.aftteis.com). For a complete description, please see those 
documents. Training and testing activities will be conducted in the 
AFTT Study Area from November 2013 through November 2018. 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) Range Complex; 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. The Study Area also includes 
channels and transit routes to ports and facilities associated with 
ports and shipyards.

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, of 
which 39 are cetacean species (8 mysticetes and 31 odontocetes) and six 
are pinnipeds. To address a public comment on population structure, and 
consistent with NMFS most recent Stock Assessment Report, a single 
species may include multiple stocks recognized for management purposes 
(e.g., bottlenose dolphin), while other species are grouped into a 
single stock due to limited species-specific information (e.g., beaked 
whales belonging to the genus Mesoplodon). However, when there is 
sufficient information available, the Navy's take estimates and NMFS' 
negligible impact determination are based on stock-specific numbers. 
Eight marine mammal species are listed under the Endangered Species Act 
(ESA; 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.): bowhead whale, North Atlantic right 
whale, humpback whale, sei whale, fin whale, blue whale, sperm whale, 
and ringed seal.
    The Description of Marine Mammals in the Area of the Specified 
Activities section has not changed from what was in the proposed rule 
(78 FR 7050, January 31, 2013; pages 7066-7073). Table 9 of the 
proposed rule provided a list of marine mammals with possible or 
confirmed occurrence within the AFTT Study Area, including stock, 
abundance, and status. Although not repeated in this final rule, we 
have reviewed these data, determined them to be the best available 
scientific information for the purposes of the rulemaking, and consider 
this information part of the administrative record for this action.
    The Navy's LOA application, proposed rule (78 FR 7050, January 31, 
2013), and the AFTT FEIS/OEIS include a complete description of 
information on the status, distribution, abundance, vocalizations, 
density estimates, and general biology of marine mammal species.

Potential Effects of Specified Activities on Marine Mammals

    For the purpose of MMPA authorizations, NMFS' effects assessments 
serve five 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); 
(2) to prescribe other means of effecting the least practicable adverse 
impact on such species or stock and its habitat (i.e., mitigation); (3) 
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); (4) 
to determine whether the specified activity would have an unmitigable 
adverse impact on the availability of the species or stock(s) for 
subsistence uses; and (5) to prescribe requirements pertaining to 
monitoring and reporting.
    In the Potential Effect of Specified Activities on Marine Mammals 
section of the proposed rule, we included a qualitative discussion of 
the different ways that Navy training and testing activities may 
potentially affect marine mammals without consideration of mitigation 
and monitoring measures (78 FR 7050, January 31, 2013; pages 7077-
7092). Marine mammals may experience: direct physiological effects 
(e.g., threshold shift and non-acoustic injury); acoustic masking; 
impaired communication; stress responses; behavioral disturbance; 
stranding; behavioral responses from vessel movement; and injury or 
death from vessel collisions. NMFS made no changes to the information 
contained in that section of the proposed rule, and it adopts that 
discussion for purposes of this final rule.
    NMFS is constantly evaluating new science and how to best 
incorporate it into our decisions. This process involves careful 
consideration of new data and how it is best interpreted within the 
context of a given management framework. Since publication of the 
proposed rule, studies have been published regarding behavioral 
responses that are relevant to the proposed activities and energy 
sources: Moore and Barlow, 2013, DeRuiter et al., 2013, and Goldbogen 
et al., 2013, among others. These articles are specifically addressed 
in the Comments and Responses section of this document. Each of these 
articles is about the importance of context (e.g., behavioral state of 
the animals, distance from the sound source, etc.) in evaluating 
behavioral responses of marine mammals to acoustic sources. In 
addition, New et al., (2013) was released after publication of the 
proposed rule. This study uses energetic models to investigate the 
survival and reproduction of beaked whales. The model suggests that 
impacts to habitat quality may affect adult female beaked whales' 
ability to reproduce; and therefore, a reduction in energy intake over 
a long period of time may have the potential to impact reproduction. 
However, the AFTT Study Area continues to support high densities of 
beaked whales and there is no data to suggest a decline in this 
population.
    Also since the publication of the proposed rule, the Final report 
of the Independent Scientific Review Panel investigating potential 
contributing factors to a 2008 mass stranding of melon-headed whales 
(Peponocephala electra) in Antsohihy, Madagascar was released. This 
report suggests that the operation of high-powered 12kHz multi-beam 
echosounders was a plausible and likely initial trigger that caused a 
large group of melon-headed whales to leave their typical habitat and 
then ultimately strand as a result of secondary factors such as 
malnourishment and

[[Page 73023]]

dehydration. The report indicates that the risk of this particular 
convergence of factors and ultimate outcome is likely very low, but 
recommends that the potential be considered in environmental planning 
(for example, through rapid response contingency plans). Because of the 
association between tactical MFA sonar use and a small number of marine 
mammal strandings, the Navy and NMFS have been considering and 
addressing the potential for strandings in association with Navy 
activities for years. In addition to a suite of mitigation intended to 
more broadly minimize impacts to marine mammals, the Navy and NMFS have 
a detailed Stranding Response Plan that outlines reporting, 
communication, and response protocols intended both to minimize the 
impacts of, and enhance the analysis of, any potential stranding in 
areas where the Navy operates.

Mitigation

    In order to issue regulations and LOAs 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.'' NMFS duty under this ``least practicable 
adverse impact'' standard is to prescribe mitigation reasonably 
designed to minimize, to the extent practicable, any adverse 
population-level impacts, as well as habitat impacts. While population-
level impacts can be minimized by reducing impacts on individual marine 
mammals, not all takes translate to population level impacts. NMFS' 
objective under the ``least practicable adverse impact'' standard is to 
design mitigation targeting those impacts on individual marine mammals 
that are most likely to lead to adverse population-level effects.
    The NDAA of 2004 amended the MMPA as it relates to military 
readiness activities and the ITA 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 Navy's LOA application are considered military 
readiness activities.
    NMFS reviewed the proposed activities and the suite of 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 mammal species and stocks, which includes a careful balancing 
of the degree to which the mitigation measures are expected to reduce 
the likelihood and/or magnitude of adverse impacts to marine mammal 
species or stocks and their habitat with the likely effect of the 
measures 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 their 
LOA application.
    NMFS described the Navy's proposed mitigation measures in detail in 
the proposed rule (78 FR 7050, January 31, 2013; pages 7092-7098). 
These required mitigation measures, summarized below, have not changed 
with the exception of the extension of the boundary in the eastern Gulf 
of Mexico planning awareness area to further protect a population of 
Bryde's whale that has been exclusively observed in that area year-
round. NMFS worked with the Navy in the development of the Navy's 
initial proposed measures, which have been informed through years of 
experience and monitoring. As described in the mitigation conclusions 
below and in responses to comments, and the AFTT FEIS/OEIS, additional 
measures were considered and analyzed, but ultimately not chosen for 
implementation. Below is a summary of the mitigation measures initially 
proposed by the Navy. For additional details regarding the Navy's 
mitigation measures, see Chapter 5 in the AFTT FEIS/OEIS.
     At least one lookout during applicable training and 
testing activities requiring mitigation;
     Mitigation zones during impulsive and non-impulsive 
sources to avoid or reduce the potential for onset of the lowest level 
of injury, PTS, out to the predicted maximum range (Tables 11 and 12);
     Mitigation zones of 457 meters (1,500 ft) around whales 
and 183 meters (600 ft) around all other marine mammals (except bow 
riding dolphins) during vessel movement;
     A mitigation zone of 229 meters (750 ft) around marine 
mammals during use of towed in-water devices from a manned platform;
     Mitigation zones during non-explosive gunnery exercises, 
missile exercises, and bombing exercises to avoid or reduce the 
potential for a direct strike from munitions;
     Mitigation measures within pre-defined mitigation areas.

                                        Table 11--Predicted Ranges to TTS, PTS, and Recommended Mitigation Zones
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                      Representative source     Predicted average      Predicted average      Predicted maximum         Recommended
         Activity category                  (bin) \1\             range to TTS            range to PTS           range to PTS         mitigation zone
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                   Non-Impulsive Sound
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Low-Frequency and Hull-Mounted Mid-  SQS-53 ASW hull-        3,821 yd. (3.5 km) for  100 yd. (91 m) for     Not Applicable.......  6 dB power down at
 Frequency Active Sonar.              mounted sonar (MF1).    one ping.               one ping.                                     1,000 yd. (914 m); 4
                                                                                                                                    dB power down at 500
                                                                                                                                    yd. (457 m); and
                                                                                                                                    shutdown at 200 yd.
                                                                                                                                    (183 m).
                                     Low-frequency sonar     3,821 yd. (3.5 km) for  100 yd. (91 m) for     Not Applicable.......  200 yd. (183 m) \2\.
                                      \2\ (LF4).              one ping.               one ping.
High-Frequency and Non-Hull Mounted  AQS-22 ASW dipping      230 yd. (210 m) for     20 yd. (18 m) for one  Not Applicable.......  200 yd. (183 m).
 Mid-Frequency Active Sonar.          sonar (MF4).            one ping.               ping.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                              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).

[[Page 73024]]

 
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                                                          NEW dependent (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. (914 m).
 Mines Using Time-Delay Firing
 Devices.
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 Using a 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).
 Using a Surface Target.              at the surface \3\).
Missile Exercises (Including         Maverick missile (E9).  949 yd. (868 m).......  398 yd. (364 m)......  699 yd. (639 m)......  900 yd. (823 m).
 Rockets) up to 250 lb. NEW Using a
 Surface Target.
Missile Exercises Using 251-500 lb.  Harpoon missile (E10).  1,832 yd. (1.7 km)....  731 yd. (668 m)......  1,883 yd. (1.7 km)...  2,000 yd. (1.8 km).
 NEW Using a 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).                                                                                        \2\.
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 \2\.
                                      the MK-84 2,000 lb.
                                      bomb (E12).
At-Sea Explosive Testing...........  Various sources of 10   525 yd. (480 m).......  204 yd. (187 m)......  649 yd. (593 m)......  1,600 yd. (1.4 km)
                                      lb. NEW and less (E5                                                                          \2\.
                                      at various depths
                                      \3\).
Ordnance Testing--Line Charge        Numerous 5-lb. charges  434 yd. (397 m).......  156 yd. (143 m)......  563 yd. (515 m)......  900 yd. (823 m) \2\.
 Testing.                             (E4).
Ship Shock Trials in JAX Range       10,000-lb. charge       5.8 nm................  2.7 nm...............  4.8 nm...............  3.5 nm \4\.
 Complex.                             (HBX).
                                     40,000-lb. charge       9.2 nm................  3.6 nm...............  6.4 nm...............  3.5 nm \4\.
                                      (HBX).
Ship Shock Trials in VACAPES Range   10,000-lb. charge       9 nm..................  2 nm.................  4.7 nm...............  3.5 nm \4\.
 Complex.                             (HBX).
                                     40,000-lb. charge       10.3 nm...............  3.7 nm...............  7.6 nm...............  3.5 nm \4\.
                                      (HBX).
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
ASW: anti-submarine warfare; HBX: high blast explosive; JAX: Jacksonville; km: kilometer; lb.: pound; m: meter;
NEW: net explosive weight; nm: nautical mile; PTS: permanent threshold shift; TTS: temporary threshold shift;
VACAPES: Virginia Capes; yd.: yard.
\1\ 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.
\2\ Recommended mitigation zones are larger than the modeled injury zones to account for multiple types of sources or charges being used.
\3\ The representative source bin E5 has different range to effects depending on the depth of activity occurrence (at the surface or at various depths).
\4\ See Section 5.3.2.1.2.15 (Ship Shock Trials) in the FEIS/EIS regarding ship shock trial mitigation zones.


[[Page 73025]]


                                      Table 12--Predicted Ranges 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 control firing          Mine countermeasure and neutralization  activities using diver-placed charges under positive
                                                                              devices\1\                                                                                          control \2\
Charge size net explosive weight -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
             (Bins)               Predicted average range  Predicted average range  Predicted maximum range   Recommended mitigation  Predicted average range  Predicted average range  Predicted maximum range   Recommended mitigation
                                           to TTS                   to PTS                   to PTS                    zone                    to TTS                   to PTS                   to PTS                    zone
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
2.6-5 lb. (E4)..................  434 yd. (397 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) \3\..............  1,670 yd. (1.5 km).....  581 yd. (531 m)........  964 yd. (882 m)........  1,200 yd. (1.1 km).....  1,532 yd. (1.4 km).....  473 yd. (432 m)........  789 yd. (721 m)........  800 yd. (732 m).
61-100 lb. (E8) \4\.............  878 yd. (802 m)........  383 yd. (351 m)........  996 yd. (911 m)........  1,600 yd. (1.4 km).....  969 yd. (886 m)........  438 yd. (400 m)........  850 yd. (777 m)........  850 yd. (777 m).
251-500 lb. (E10)...............  1,832 yd. (1.7 km).....  731 yd. (668 m)........  1,883 yd. (1.7 km).....  2,000 yd. (1.8 km).....  .......................  .......................  .......................  Not Applicable.
501-650 lb. (E11)...............  1,632 yd. (1.5 km).....  697 yd. (637 m)........  2,021 yd. (1.8 km).....  2,100 yd. (1.9 km).....  .......................  .......................  .......................  Not Applicable.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
km: kilometer; lb.: pound; m: meter; PTS: permanent threshold shift; TTS: temporary threshold shift; yd.: yard.
\1\ These mitigation zones are applicable to all mine countermeasure and neutralization activities conducted in all locations specified in Tables 2.8-1 through 2.8-3 in the FEIS/OEIS.
\2\ 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).
\3\ The E7 bin was only modeled in shallow-water locations, so there is no difference for the diver-placed charges category.
\4\ 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.


[[Page 73026]]

Time-Delay Firing Devices

    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 be terminated once the fuse is initiated due to human 
safety concerns. During activities using up to a 20 lb. NEW (bin E6) 
detonation, the Navy will have four lookouts and two small rigid hull 
inflatable boats (two lookouts positioned in each of the two boats) 
monitoring a 1,000-yd (914-m) mitigation zone. In addition, when 
aircraft are used, the pilot or member of the aircrew will serve as an 
additional lookout. The Navy will monitor the mitigation zone for 30 
minutes before, during, and 30 minutes after the activity to ensure 
that the area is clear of marine mammals and time-delay firing device 
events will only be conducted during daylight hours.

Vessel Strike

    (1) Naval vessels will maneuver to keep at least 500 yds (457 m) 
away from any observed whale in the vessel's path and avoid approaching 
whales head-on. These requirements do not apply if a vessel's safety is 
threatened, such as when change of course will create an imminent and 
serious threat to a person, vessel, or aircraft, and to the extent 
vessels are restricted in their ability to maneuver. Restricted 
maneuverability includes, but is not limited to, situations when 
vessels are engaged in dredging, submerged activities, launching and 
recovering aircraft or landing craft, minesweeping activities, 
replenishment while underway and towing activities that severely 
restrict a vessel's ability to deviate course. Vessels will take 
reasonable steps to alert other vessels in the vicinity of the whale. 
Given rapid swimming speeds and maneuverability of many dolphin 
species, naval vessels would maintain normal course and speed on 
sighting dolphins unless some condition indicated a need for the vessel 
to maneuver.
    (2) If a large whale surfaces within 500 yds (457 m) of a Navy 
vessel (or if a vessel is within this distance of a large whale for any 
other reason), the vessel should exercise caution, increase vigilance, 
and consider slower speed if operationally supportable and does not 
interfere with safety of navigation until the vessel has moved beyond a 
500 yds (457 m) radius of the observed whale, or any subsequently 
observed whales (whales often travel in pairs within several body 
lengths of one another (fin/blue) and humpbacks in feeding 
aggregations).
    (3) North Atlantic right whale Dynamic Management Areas (DMAs)--
NMFS has established a program whereby temporary zones, called Dynamic 
Management Areas (DMAs), can be established quickly in locations 
throughout the species' range when right whales are observed outside of 
the geographic extend or effected period of Seasonal Management Areas 
(SMAs). DMAs are established when reliable sightings are obtained 
(derived primarily from systematic aircraft surveys for marine mammals 
using trained observers) of three of more right whales in U.S. waters 
within a 75 nm\2\ (138.9 km\2\) area, such that right whale density is 
>=0.04 right whales/nm\2\. Additional (15 nm2) areas are then 
delineated around the sighting location to account for potential whale 
movement and are incorporated into a single polygon that encompasses 
both the sighting location and its surrounding zone. Each DMA is 
established immediately (i.e., within 24 hours) upon confirmation of 
right whale sighting locations and automatically set to expire 15 days 
after the initial date. If whales remain in the area, the DMA may be 
extended for an additional 15 days. Maritime communities, including the 
Navy, are notified of the existence of a DMA via: NOAA Weather Radio; 
U.S. Coast Guard notice to mariners; an email distribution list; 
postings on the NMFS Office of Protected Resources ship strike Web site 
and the Northeast Fisheries Science Center's web-based interactive 
right whale sighting system; and an automatic return message via email 
is sent to mariners who seek information on whale-sighting locations. 
Mariners are requested, but not required, to either navigate around 
DMAs or travel through them at 10 knots or less. If a DMA is created 
the Navy will consider whether to either navigate around the area or 
travel through at slow safe speed consistent with mission training and 
safety of navigation. The Navy will receive notification regarding the 
creation of a DMA as well as information pertaining to its location, 
size, and duration through the U.S. Coast Guard's Notice to Mariners.

Cetacean and Sound Mapping

    NMFS Office of Protected Resources routinely considers available 
information about marine mammal habitat use to inform discussions with 
applicants regarding potential spatio-temporal limitations on their 
activities that might help effect the least practicable adverse impact 
on species or stocks and their habitat (e.g., Humpback Whale Cautionary 
Area in Hawaii). 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 some BIAs in Hawaii 
(which were considered in the Comments and Responses section of the 
final rule for the Hawaii Southern California Training and Testing 
(HSTT) Study Area). The BIAs in other regions, such as the Atlantic and 
West Coast of the continental U.S. are preliminary and are being 
prepared for submission to a peer-reviewed journal for review. NMFS and 
the Navy have discussed the draft BIAs, what Navy activities take place 
in these areas (in the context of what their effects on marine mammals 
might be or whether additional mitigation is necessary), and what 
measures could be implemented to reduce impacts in these areas (in the 
context of their potential to reduce marine mammal impacts and their 
practicability). As a result of the Navy's Biological Assessment and 
Operational Assessment, the Navy is extending the boundary of the 
eastern Gulf of Mexico planning awareness area (an area in which major 
training exercises are limited) to further protect a resident 
population of Bryde's whales that has been observed exclusively in that 
area year-round. As we learn more about marine mammal density, 
distribution, and habitat use (and the BIAs are updated), NMFS and the 
Navy will continue to reevaluate appropriate time-area measures through 
the

[[Page 73027]]

Adaptive Management process outlined in these regulations.

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 previous incidental take authorizations (ITAs). The Stranding 
Response Plans specifically intended to outline applicable requirements 
in the event that a marine mammal stranding is reported in the east 
coast Range Complexes and AFTT 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 and the revised plans 
will be made available here: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental.htm#applications. Modifications to the Stranding Response 
Plan may also be made through the adaptive management process.

Mitigation Conclusions

    NMFS has carefully evaluated the Navy's proposed suite of 
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 required mitigation measures is expected to 
reduce the likelihood and/or magnitude of adverse impacts to marine 
mammal species or stocks and their habitat; the proven or likely 
efficacy of the measures; and the practicability of the suite of 
measures for 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. NMFS may consider the practicability 
of implementing a particular mitigation measure if the best available 
science indicates that the measure (either alone or in combination with 
other mitigation measures) has a reasonable likelihood of accomplishing 
or contributing to the accomplishment of one or more of the goals 
listed below, which, in turn, would be expected to lessen the 
likelihood and/or magnitude of adverse impacts on marine mammal species 
or stocks and their habitat:
    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 active sonar, 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 active sonar, 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 active sonar, 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 that the Navy's proposed mitigation measures (especially 
when the adaptive management component is taken into consideration (see 
Adaptive Management, below)), along with the additions detailed in the 
Mitigation section above, 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.

Monitoring

    Section 101(a)(5)(A) of the MMPA states that in order to issue an 
ITA for an activity, 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:
     An increase in the probability of detecting marine 
mammals, both within the mitigation zone (thus allowing for more 
effective implementation of the mitigation) and in general to generate 
more data to contribute to the analyses mentioned below.
     An increase in our understanding of how many marine 
mammals are likely to be exposed to levels of active sonar (or in-water 
explosives or other stimuli) that we associate with specific adverse 
effects, such as behavioral harassment, TTS, or PTS.
     An increase in our understanding of how marine mammals 
respond to active sonar (at specific received levels), in-water 
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:
    [cir] Behavioral observations in the presence of active sonar 
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).
    [cir] Physiological measurements in the presence of active sonar 
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).
    [cir] Pre-planned and thorough investigation of stranding events 
that occur coincident to naval activities.

[[Page 73028]]

    [cir] Distribution and/or abundance comparisons in times or areas 
with concentrated active sonar versus times or areas without sonar.
     An increased knowledge of the affected species.
     An increase in our understanding of the effectiveness of 
certain mitigation and monitoring measures.
    NMFS described an overview of Navy monitoring and research, 
highlighted recent findings, and the Navy's proposed new approach to 
monitoring in the proposed rule (78 FR 7050, January 31, 2013; pages 
7098-7100). Below is a summary of the Navy's Integrated Comprehensive 
Monitoring Program (ICMP) and the Navy's Strategic Planning Process for 
Marine Species Monitoring.
    Integrated Comprehensive Monitoring Program (ICMP)--The Navy's 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 through the 
adaptive management and strategic planning processes to periodically 
assess progress and reevaluate 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 top-level goals. 
Monitoring will 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 surveys) will not be a specific requirement. The adaptive 
management process and reporting requirements will 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. Details of the current ICMP are available here: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental.htm#applications; or at the 
Navy's marine species monitoring Web site: http://www.navymarinespeciesmonitoring.us/.
    Strategic Planning Process for Marine Species Monitoring--The Navy 
also developed the Strategic Planning Process for Marine Species 
Monitoring, which establishes the guidelines and processes necessary to 
develop, evaluate, and fund individual projects based on objective 
scientific study questions. The process uses an underlying framework 
designed around top-level goals, a conceptual framework incorporating a 
progression of knowledge, and in consultation with the Scientific 
Advisory Group and other regional experts. The Strategic Planning 
Process for Marine Species Monitoring will 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. This process will 
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. The Strategic Planning Process for Marine Species Monitoring 
is also available on our Web site: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental.htm#applications; or at the Navy's marine species monitoring 
Web site: http://www.navymarinespeciesmonitoring.us/.

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 training and testing 
activities within the AFTT Study Area. The Navy's annual exercise and 
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' 
summary of the Navy's monitoring reports was included in the proposed 
rule (78 FR 7050, January 31, 2013; pages 7098-7102).

Monitoring for the AFTT Study Area

    2014 will be a transitional year for Navy monitoring so that 
ongoing data collection from the Navy's current east coast rulemakings 
can be completed. Therefore, monitoring in 2014 will be a combination 
of previously funded FY-13 ``carry-over'' projects and new FY-14 
project starts. A more detailed description of the Navy's planned 
projects starting in 2014 (and some continuing from previous years) is 
available on NMFS' Web site (www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental.htm#applications). The Navy will update the status of its 
monitoring program and funded projects through their Navy Marine 
Species Monitoring Web site: http://www.navymarinespeciesmonitoring.us/. NMFS will provide one public 
comment period on the Navy's monitoring program during the 5-year 
regulations. At this time, the public will have an opportunity (likely 
in the second year) to comment specifically on the Navy's AFTT 
monitoring projects and data collection to date, as well as planned 
projects for the remainder of the regulations.
    Through the adaptive management process (including annual 
meetings), the Navy will coordinate with NMFS and the Marine Mammal 
Commission (the Commission) to review and provide input for projects 
that will meet the scientific objectives that are used to guide 
development of individual monitoring projects. The adaptive management 
process will continue to serve as the primary venue for both NMFS and 
the Commission to provide input on the Navy's monitoring program, 
including ongoing work, future priorities, and potential new projects. 
The Navy will submit annual monitoring reports to NMFS as part of the 
AFTT rulemaking and LOA requirements. Each annual report will contain a 
section describing the adaptive management process and summarize the 
Navy's anticipated monitoring projects for the next reporting year. 
Following annual report submission to NMFS, the final rule language 
mandates a 3-month NMFS review prior to each report being finalized. 
This will provide ample time for NMFS and the Commission to comment on 
the next year's planned projects as well as ongoing regional projects 
or proposed new projects. Comments will be received by the Navy prior 
to the annual adaptive management meeting to facilitate a meaningful 
and productive discussion. NMFS and the Commission will also have the 
opportunity for involvement at monitoring program science review 
meetings and/or regional Scientific Advisory Group meetings. This will 
help keep NMFS and the Commission informed and able to understand the 
scientific considerations and limitations involved with planning and 
executing various monitoring projects.

[[Page 73029]]

Adaptive Management

    Although substantial improvements have been made in our 
understanding of the effects of Navy training and testing activities 
(e.g., sonar, underwater detonations) on marine mammals, 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.
    The reporting requirements associated with this rule are designed 
to provide NMFS with monitoring data from the previous year to allow us 
to consider whether any changes are appropriate. NMFS, the Navy, and 
the Commission will meet to discuss the monitoring reports, Navy R&D 
developments, current science, and whether mitigation or monitoring 
modifications are appropriate. The use of adaptive management allows 
NMFS to consider new information from different sources to determine 
(with input from the Navy regarding practicability) on an annual or 
biennial basis if mitigation or monitoring measures should be modified 
(including additions or deletions). Mitigation measures could be 
modified if new data suggests that such modifications would have a 
reasonable likelihood of reducing adverse effects to marine mammal 
species and their habitat 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, exercise and testing reports, as required by MMPA 
authorizations; (2) compiled results of Navy funded 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.

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. The proposed rule contains the 
proposed reporting requirements for the Navy (78 FR 7050, January 31, 
2013; page 7102). Since then, the Navy has expanded upon those reports 
to include specific language for testing activities, which is detailed 
in the regulatory text at the end of this document. Reports from 
individual monitoring events, results of analyses, publications, and 
periodic progress reports for specific monitoring projects will be 
posted to the Navy's Marine Species Monitoring web portal: http://www.navymarinespeciesmonitoring.us and NMFS' Web site: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental.htm#applications. There are 
several different reporting requirements that are further detailed in 
the regulatory text at the end of this document and summarized below.

General Notification of Injured or Dead Marine Mammals

    Navy personnel will ensure that NMFS (the appropriate 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 or testing 
exercise utilizing sonar or underwater explosive detonations. The Navy 
will provide NMFS with species identification or a 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 contains further reporting requirements for 
specific circumstances (http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental.htm#applications).

Vessel Strike

    Since the proposed rule, NMFS has added the following language to 
address monitoring and reporting measures specific to vessel strike. 
Most of this language comes directly from the Stranding Response Plan. 
This section has also been included in the regulatory text at the end 
of this document. In the event that a Navy vessel strikes a whale, the 
Navy shall do the following: Report to NMFS (pursuant to the 
established Communication Protocol) the:
     Species identification (if known);
     Location (latitude/longitude) of the animal (or location 
of the strike if the animal has disappeared);
     Whether the animal is alive or dead (or unknown); and
     The time of the strike.
    As soon as feasible, the Navy shall report to or provide to NMFS, 
the:
     Size, length, and description (critical if species is not 
known) of animal;
     An estimate of the injury status (e.g., dead, injured but 
alive, injured and moving, blood or tissue observed in the water, 
status unknown, disappeared, etc.);
     Description of the behavior of the whale during event, 
immediately after the strike, and following the strike (until the 
report is made or the animal is no longer sighted);
     Vessel class/type and operational status;
     Vessel length;
     Vessel speed and heading; and
     To the best extent possible, obtain a photo or video of 
the struck animal, if the animal is still in view.

Within 2 weeks of the strike, provide NMFS:

     A detailed description of the specific actions of the 
vessel in the 30-minute timeframe immediately preceding the strike, 
during the event, and immediately after the strike (e.g., the speed and 
changes in speed, the direction and changes in direction, other 
maneuvers, sonar use, etc., if not classified); and
     A narrative description of marine mammal sightings during 
the event and immediately after, and any information as to sightings 
prior to the strike, if available.

Use established Navy shipboard procedures to make a camera available to 
attempt to capture photographs following a ship strike.

    NMFS and the Navy will coordinate to determine the services the 
Navy may provide to assist NMFS with the investigation of the strike. 
The response and support activities to be provided by the Navy are 
dependent on resource availability, must be consistent with military 
security, and must be logistically feasible without compromising Navy 
personnel safety. Assistance requested and provided may vary based on 
distance of strike from shore, the nature of the vessel that hit the 
whale, available nearby Navy resources, or other factors.

Annual Monitoring and Exercise and Testing Reports

    As noted above, reports from individual monitoring events, results 
of analyses, publications, and periodic progress reports for specific 
monitoring projects will be posted to the Navy's Marine Species 
Monitoring web portal and NMFS' Web site 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, will be summarized in an annual report.
    In the past, each annual report has summarized data for a single 
year. At

[[Page 73030]]

the Navy's suggestion, the annual reports under this final rule will 
take a cumulative approach in that each report will compare data from 
that year to all previous years. For example, the third annual report 
will include data from the third year and compare it to data from the 
first and second years. This will provide an ongoing cumulative look at 
the Navy's results and eliminate the need for a comprehensive 
monitoring and exercise summary report (as included in the proposed 
rule). A draft of the annual report will be submitted to NMFS for 
review in April of each year. NMFS will review the report and provide 
comments to be addressed by the Navy within 3 months.

Ship Shock Trials

    The reporting requirements will be developed in conjunction with 
the individual test-specific mitigation plan for each ship shock trial. 
This will allow both Navy and NMFS to take into account specific 
information regarding location, assets, species, and seasonality.

Comments and Responses

    On January 31, 2013, NMFS published a proposed rule (78 FR 7050) in 
response to the Navy's request to take marine mammals incidental to 
military readiness activities in the AFTT Study Area and solicited 
comments, information, and suggestions concerning the proposed rule. 
NMFS received over 900 comment letters from state agencies, 
environmental non-governmental organizations, the Commission, and 
interested members of the public. Comments specific to section 
101(a)(5)(A) of the MMPA and NMFS' analysis of impacts to marine 
mammals are summarized, sorted into general topic areas, and addressed 
below and/or throughout the final rule. Comments specific to the FEIS/
OEIS, which NMFS participated in developing as a cooperating agency and 
adopted, or that were also submitted to the Navy during the DEIS/OEIS 
public comment period are addressed in Appendix E (Public 
Participation) of the FEIS/OEIS. Last, some commenters presented 
technical comments on the general behavioral risk function that are 
largely identical to those submitted during the comment period for the 
AFAST proposed rule, the predecessor to the AFTT rule. The behavioral 
risk function remains unchanged since then, and here we incorporate our 
responses to those initial technical comments (74 FR 4844, Behavior 
Harassment Threshold section, pp. 4865-4867). Full copies of the 
comment letters may be accessed at http://www.regulations.gov.

Monitoring and Reporting

    Comment 1: The Commission recommended that we require the Navy to 
use passive and active acoustics to supplement visual monitoring during 
implementation of mitigation measures for all activities that could 
cause Level A harassment or mortality. Specifically, the Commission 
questioned why passive and active acoustic monitoring used during the 
Navy's Surveillance Towed Array Sensory System Low Frequency Active 
(SURTASS LFA) activities is not applied here.
    Response: The Navy requested Level A take of marine mammals for 
impulse and non-impulse sources during training and testing based on 
its acoustic analysis. The Navy also requested take of marine mammals 
by mortality for impulse sources, unspecified sources (impulse or non-
impulse), and vessel strike. While it is impractical for the Navy to 
conduct passive acoustic monitoring during all training and testing 
activities, the Navy has engineered the use of passive acoustic 
detection for monitoring purposes, taking into consideration where the 
largest impacts could potentially occur, and the effectiveness and 
practicality of installing or using these devices. The Navy will use 
passive acoustic monitoring to supplement visual observations during 
Improved Extended Echo Ranging (IEER) sonobuoy activities, explosive 
sonobuoys using 0.6-2.5 pound (lb) net explosive weight, torpedo 
(explosive) testing, and sinking exercises, to detect marine mammal 
vocalizations. However, it is important to note that passive acoustic 
detections do not provide range or bearing to detected animals, and 
therefore cannot provide locations of these animals. Passive acoustic 
detections will be reported to lookouts to increase vigilance of the 
visual surveillance.
    The active sonar system used by SURTASS LFA is unique to the 
platforms that use SURTASS LFA. Moreover, this system requires the 
platforms that carry SURTASS LFA to travel at very slow speeds for the 
system to be effective. For both of these reasons it is not possible 
for the Navy to use this system for the platforms analyzed in the AFTT 
FEIS/OEIS.
    NMFS believes that the Navy's suite of mitigation measures (which 
include mitigation zones that exceed or meet the predicted maximum 
distance to PTS) will typically ensure that animals will not be exposed 
to injurious levels of sound. To date, the post-explosive monitoring 
reports submitted by the Navy for the East Coast Range Complexes and 
Gulf of Mexico do not show any evidence of injured marine mammals.
    Comment 2: The Commission recommended that NMFS require the Navy to 
submit a proposed monitoring plan for public review and comment prior 
to issuance of final regulations.
    Response: NMFS provided an overview of the Navy's Integrated 
Comprehensive Monitoring Program (ICMP) in the proposed rule (78 FR 
7050, January 31, 2013). While the ICMP does not specify actual 
monitoring field work or projects, it does establish top-level goals 
that have been developed by the Navy and NMFS. As explained in the 
proposed rule, detailed and specific studies will be developed as the 
ICMP is implemented and funding is allocated.
    Since the proposed rule was published, the Navy has provided a more 
detailed short-term plan for the first year of the rule. 2014 will be a 
transitional year with ongoing data collection straddling the shift 
from Phase I (metric-based) to Phase II Compliance Monitoring. 
Therefore, monitoring in 2014 will be a combination of previously 
funded FY-13 ``carry-over'' projects from Phase I and new FY-14 project 
starts under the vision for Phase II monitoring. A more detailed 
description of the Navy's planned projects starting in 2014 (and some 
continuing from previous years) are available on NMFS' Web site 
(www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental.htm#applications).
    Additionally, NMFS will provide one public comment period on the 
Navy's monitoring program during the 5-year regulations. At this time, 
the public will have an opportunity (likely in the second year) to 
comment specifically on the Navy's AFTT monitoring projects and data 
collection to date, as well as planned projects for the remainder of 
the regulations. The public will also have the opportunity to review 
the Navy's monitoring reports, which will be posted and available for 
download every year from the Navy's marine species monitoring Web site: 
http://www.navymarinespeciesmonitoring.us/. Details of already funded 
AFTT monitoring projects and new start projects are available through 
the Navy's marine species monitoring Web site: http://www.navymarinespeciesmonitoring.us/. The Navy will update the status of 
their monitoring projects through the marine species monitoring site, 
which serves as a public portal for information regarding all aspects 
of the Navy's monitoring program, including background and guidance 
documents, access to reports,

[[Page 73031]]

and specific information on current monitoring projects.
    Through the adaptive management process (including annual 
meetings), the Navy will coordinate with NMFS and the Commission to 
review and revise, if required, the list of intermediate scientific 
objectives that are used to guide development of individual monitoring 
projects. As described previously in the Monitoring section of this 
document, NMFS and the Commission will also have the opportunity to 
attend annual monitoring program science review meetings and/or 
regional Scientific Advisory Group meetings.
    The Navy will continue to submit annual monitoring reports to NMFS, 
which describe the results of the adaptive management process and 
summarize the Navy's anticipated monitoring projects for the next 
reporting year. NMFS will have a 3-month review period to comment on 
the next year's planned projects, ongoing regional projects, and 
proposed new project starts. NMFS' comments will be submitted to the 
Navy prior to the annual adaptive management meeting to facilitate a 
meaningful and productive discussion between NMFS, the Navy, and the 
Commission.
    Comment 3: One commenter shared concerns about how sequestration 
will affect the Navy's marine mammal monitoring program and research 
efforts.
    Response: The Navy is required to comply with the terms of the 
regulations and LOAs regardless of sequestration.
    Comment 4: One commenter suggested that Navy lookouts should be 
dedicated solely to the observation of marine mammals and turtles.
    Response: The Navy has lookouts stationed onboard ships whose 
primary duty is to detect objects in the water, estimate the distance 
from the ship, and identify them as any number of inanimate or animate 
objects that are significant to a Navy exercise or as a marine mammal 
so that the mitigation measure can be implemented. Navy lookouts 
undergo extensive training to learn these skills and the Navy's Marine 
Species Awareness Training is used to make them more aware of marine 
mammal species and behaviors. However, because lookouts must be able to 
detect and identify multiple objects in the water to ensure the safety 
of the ship, they are not expected to solely observe for marine mammals 
and sea turtles.
    Comment 5: NRDC recommended that the Navy use all available range 
assets for marine mammal monitoring.
    Response: NMFS has worked with the Navy over the years to help 
develop the most effective mitigation protocols using the platforms and 
assets that are available for monitoring. The required mitigation 
measures in this document represent the maximum level of effort (e.g., 
numbers of lookouts and passive sonobuoys) that the Navy can commit to 
observing mitigation zones given the number of personnel that will be 
involved and the number and type of assets and resources available. The 
Navy has determined that it is impractical to increase visual and 
passive acoustic observations for the purpose of mitigation.
    The National Defense Authorization Act of 2004 amended the MMPA as 
it relates to military readiness activities (which these Navy 
activities are) 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.'' As explained in 
Chapter 5 of the AFTT FEIS/OEIS, it is impractical for the Navy to 
increase the level of marine mammal monitoring. The Navy has a limited 
number of resources (e.g., personnel and other assets) and the 
monitoring requirements in this rulemaking represent the maximum level 
of effort that the Navy can commit to marine mammal monitoring.

Mitigation

    Comment 6: One commenter believes that using lookouts as the 
primary strategy for limiting potential impacts from Navy activities is 
inadequate.
    Response: NMFS disagrees. Navy Lookouts are a vital aspect of this 
strategy for limiting potential impacts from Navy activities. Lookouts 
are qualified and experienced observers of the marine environment. All 
Lookouts take part in Marine Species Awareness Training so that they 
are better prepared to spot marine mammals. Their duties require that 
they report all objects sighted in the water to the Office of the Deck 
(OOD) and all disturbances that may be indicative of a threat to the 
vessel and its crew. Lookouts are on duty at all times, day and night, 
when a ship or surfaced submarine is moving through the water. Visual 
detections of marine mammals would be communicated immediately to a 
watch station for information disseminations and appropriate mitigation 
action. NMFS has carefully considered Navy's use of Lookouts and 
determined that in combination with the use of planning awareness areas 
to minimize impacts in areas of higher concern, the Stranding Response 
Plans, special measures to minimize impacts to North Atlantic right 
whales and the other mitigation measures identified, the Navy's 
mitigation plan will effect the least practicable adverse impacts on 
marine mammal species or stocks and their habitat.
    Comment 7: One commenter asked that the Navy stay away from areas 
of high marine mammal density during their training and testing.
    Response: Avoiding all areas of high marine mammal density for the 
purpose of mitigation would be impractical with respect to 
implementation of military readiness activities, would result in 
unacceptable impacts on readiness, and would increase safety risks to 
personnel for the following reasons: areas where training and testing 
activities are scheduled to occur are carefully selected to provide 
safety and allow realism of events, and the varying environmental 
conditions of these areas maximize the training realism and testing 
effectiveness; activity locations inevitably overlap with a wide array 
of marine mammal habitats, and limiting activities to avoid all of 
those areas would adversely impact the effectiveness of the training or 
testing activity, which would result in an unacceptable adverse risk to 
personnel safety and the ability to achieve mission goals.
    However, the Navy has designated several Planning Awareness Areas 
(PAAs), in which activities are limited, based on areas of high 
productivity that have been correlated with high concentrations of 
marine mammals (e.g., persistent oceanographic features such as 
upwellings associated with the Gulf Stream front where it is deflected 
off the east coast near the Outer Banks of North Carolina), and areas 
of steep bathymetric contours that are frequented by deep-diving marine 
mammals (e.g., beaked whales and sperm whales). As part of the MMPA 
process and a result of public input, NMFS and the Navy considered 
additional available information related to known feeding and 
reproductive areas for certain species, as well as resident 
populations, and as a result of this process, the Navy has extended the 
boundary in the eastern Gulf of Mexico PAA to further protect a 
population of Bryde's whale that has been exclusively observed in that 
area year-round.
    Comment 8: The Commission requested that NMFS require the Navy to 
cease use of sound sources and not reinitiate them for (1) at least 15 
minutes if small odontocetes or pinnipeds enter the mitigation zone and

[[Page 73032]]

are not observed to leave; and (2) relevant time periods based on the 
maximum dive times of mysticetes or large- or medium-sized odontocetes 
if they enter the mitigation zone and are not observed to leave. Other 
commenters also suggested that activities should not resume until the 
animal is observed to exit the mitigation zone or the target has been 
repositioned more than 366 meters away from the last marine mammal 
sighting; and that monitoring the mitigation zone for 30 minutes, 
before, during, and after the activity is insufficient for deep-diving 
species.
    Response: Section 5.3 of the AFTT FEIS/OEIS details the mitigation 
measures in place for each type of activity. These mitigation measures 
are also provided in the regulatory text at the end of this document. 
In summary, depending on the specific activity type and following the 
shutdown or delay of any acoustic activities, the Navy may resume 
activities if any one of the following conditions are met: (1) The 
animal is observed exiting the mitigation zone; (2) the animal is 
thought to have exited the mitigation zone based on a determination of 
its course and speed and the relative motion between the animal and the 
source; (3) the mitigation zone has been clear from any additional 
sightings for a period of 30 minutes (or 10 minutes for certain types 
of aircraft); or (4) the intended target location has been repositioned 
more than 400 yd (366 m) away from the location of the last sighting; 
(5) the ship has transited more than 140 yd (128 m) (large-caliber 
gunnery exercises) or 2,000 yd (1.8 km) (active sonar) beyond the 
location of the last sighting; or (6) dolphins are bow riding and there 
are no other marine mammal sightings within the mitigation zone.
    The Commission expressed concern regarding the Navy's ability to 
determine the relative position of an animal. Understanding relative 
motion is a critical skill for Navy personnel, who receive training in 
target and contact tracking, target and contact interception, multi-
ship maneuvering drills, etc. While an animal may occasionally act 
unpredictably, it is more likely that the animal will be seen leaving 
the mitigation zone or Navy personnel will be able to track the 
animal's location.
    With regard to maximum dive times, NMFS disagrees that the 
clearance time should be lengthened for deep-diving species for the 
following reasons: (1) Just because an animal can dive for longer than 
30 minutes does not mean that they always do, so a longer delay would 
only potentially add value in instances when animals had remained 
underwater for more than 30 minutes; (2) The animal would need to have 
stayed in the immediate vicinity of the sound source for more than 30 
minutes. Considering the maximum area that both the vessel and the 
animal could cover in an hour, it is improbable that this would 
randomly occur. For example, during a 1-hour dive by a beaked whale or 
sperm whale, a mid-frequency active sonar ship moving at a nominal 
speed of 10 knots could transit up to 10 nautical miles from its 
original location. Additionally, the times when marine mammals are 
diving deep (i.e., the times when they are under the water for longer 
periods of time) are the same times that a large portion of their 
motion is in the vertical direction, which means that they are far less 
likely to keep pace with a horizontally moving vessel. Moreover, 
considering that many animals have been shown to avoid both acoustic 
sources and ships without acoustic sources, it is improbable that a 
deep-diving cetacean (as opposed to a dolphin that might bow ride) 
would choose to remain in the immediate vicinity of the acoustic 
source; (3) Visual observers are not always able to differentiate 
species to the degree that would be necessary to implement this 
measure; and (4) Increasing clearance time is not operationally 
feasible for Navy activities that require aircraft surveillance because 
of fuel limitations. NMFS does not believe that increasing the 
clearance time based on maximum dive times will add to the protection 
of marine mammals in the vast majority of cases, and therefore, we have 
not required it.
    Comment 9: The Commission recommended that NMFS require the Navy to 
either (1) adjust the size of the mitigation zone for mine 
neutralization activities using the average swim speed of the fastest 
swimming marine mammal occurring in the area where time-delay firing 
devices will be used and ensure that the zone is adequately monitored; 
or (2) authorize all model-estimated takes for Level A harassment and 
mortality for mine neutralization activities in which divers use time-
delay firing devices.
    Response: The Navy proposed a mitigation zone of 1,000 yards for 
all charge sizes (5, 10, and 20 lb) and for a maximum time-delay of 10 
minutes. This is the maximum distance that lookouts in two small boats 
can realistically monitor. The use of more than two boats for 
monitoring during time-delay firing device events is impractical due to 
the Navy's limited personnel resources. The Navy's proposed mitigation 
zone covers the potential for mortality up to a 9-minute time delay 
(but not 10-minute). The proposed mitigation zone also covers the 
potential for injury up to a 5-minute time-delay for 10 and 20 lb 
charges, and a 6-minute time-delay for 5 lb charges, but not for time 
delays greater than 6 minutes for any charge size. As a result of the 
mitigation zone restriction and the Commission's recommendation, and 
based on the Navy's modeling results and mitigation effectiveness, the 
Navy has requested 6 mortalities and 48 Level A injuries for any 
training or testing event (not just underwater detonations), in case of 
an unavoidable incident.
    Comment 10: Several commenters suggested that the proposed 
mitigation measures were inadequate because observers do not always 
detect marine mammals and cannot see as far as sound travels.
    Response: It is the duty of Navy lookouts to detect marine mammals 
in the water and estimate the distance from the ship so that the 
mitigation measures (shut-down, power-down, etc.) can be implemented. 
Navy Lookouts undergo extensive training to learn these skills and the 
Marine Species Awareness Training is used to augment this general 
training with information specific to marine mammals. However, the 
mitigation measures the Navy is implementing are designed primarily to 
avoid and minimize the likelihood of mortality and injury, which are 
associated with acoustic exposures above a certain level, and therefore 
it is not necessary to see as far as sound travels to successfully 
implement the mitigation measures.
    Comment 11: Several commenters requested that the proposed 
activities be limited to periods of good visibility, avoid biologically 
sensitive areas, establish meaningful buffer zones, and improve and 
expand mitigation methods.
    Response: The Navy explained in Chapter 5 of the AFTT FEIS/OEIS 
that avoiding or reducing active sonar at night and during periods of 
low visibility for the purpose of mitigation would result in an 
unacceptable impact on readiness. In summary, the Navy must train in a 
variety of conditions (including at night and in low-visibility) to 
adequately train for military operations. However, certain activities, 
such as those involving explosives greater than 20 lb net explosive 
weight, are currently conducted during daylight hours only.
    Planning Awareness Areas (PAAs) and Mitigation Areas for North 
Atlantic right whales are already in place for the Navy's training and 
testing activities.

[[Page 73033]]

Several PAAs have been designated by the Navy based on locations of 
high productivity 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. In addition, the Cetacean Density and Distribution 
Mapping Working Group 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 or 
be range-limited. These areas, called Biologically Important Areas 
(BIAs) are useful for planning and impact assessment. As a result of 
the Navy's Biological Assessment and Operational Assessment of 
potential mitigation measures, including draft BIAs, the Navy 
recommends extending the boundary of the eastern Gulf of Mexico 
planning awareness area to further protect a population of Bryde's 
whale that has been exclusively observed in that area year-round.
    The Navy developed mitigation zones to avoid or reduce the 
potential for onset of the lowest level of injury, PTS, out to the 
predicted maximum range. 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. For low-frequency and hull-
mounted mid-frequency active sonar, the Navy will implement a 6 dB 
power down at 1,000 yards (914 m), a 4 dB power down at 500 yards (457 
m), and shutdown at 200 yards (183 m). Both powerdown criteria exceed 
the predicted average and maximum ranges to PTS. NMFS believes that 
these mitigation zone distances will help avoid the potential for onset 
of PTS in marine mammals and reduce the potential for TTS.
    Comment 12: One commenter states that the Navy should not use 
active sonar and only use passive sonar. In addition, the commenter 
believes that testing should be conducted in another water environment 
such as a pool, river, lake, stream, or estuary.
    Response: As stated in the Navy's AFTT FEIS/OEIS, the Navy uses 
sonar systems and other acoustic sensors in support of a variety of 
mission requirements. Primary uses include detection of and defense 
against submarines (anti-submarine warfare) and mines (mine warfare); 
safe navigation and effective communications; and oceanographic 
surveys. Active sonar emits sound waves that travel through the water, 
reflect off objects, and return to the receiver. Passive sonar uses 
listening equipment, such as an underwater microphone (hydrophone) and 
receiving sensors on ships, submarine, aircraft, and autonomous 
vehicles, to pick up underwater sounds. Although passive sonar can 
indicate the presence, character, and direction of ships and 
submarines, it has become increasingly ineffective at detecting modern, 
quieter submarines. Therefore, Navy training and testing activities 
must include active sonar in order to ensure safety of ships and crew 
and meet its statutory mission.
    With respect to training in other water environments, the Navy 
indicated in its AFTT FEIS/OEIS that the ranges used for training and 
testing have evolved over decades because these geographic areas allow 
for the entire spectrum of training and testing to occur. In addition, 
no other locations match the unique attributes found in the AFTT Study 
Area, and no other potential locations where land ranges, OPAREAs, 
undersea terrain and ranges, testing ranges, and military airspace 
combine to provide the venues necessary for the training and testing 
realism and effectiveness required to train and certify naval forces.
    Comment 13: Several commenters recommended that the Navy use more 
than one lookout during all training and testing activities.
    Response: The Navy will have more than one lookout for several 
higher risk training and testing activities or where the ensonified 
area is larger, such as while using low-frequency and hull-mounted mid-
frequency active sonar, mine countermeasure and neutralization 
activities, sinking exercises, and ship shock trials. For the reasons 
stated below, the Navy cannot use more than one lookout for all 
training and testing activities. However, a minimum of one lookout 
would always be required. The National Defense Authorization Act of 
2004 amended the MMPA as it relates to military readiness activities 
(which these Navy activities are) 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.'' As 
explained in Chapter 5 of the AFTT FEIS/OEIS, it is impractical for the 
Navy to increase visual observations for the purpose of mitigation 
beyond the amounts that have already been established in coordination 
with NMFS. The Navy has a limited number of resources (e.g., personnel 
and other assets) and the mitigation requirements in this rulemaking 
represent the maximum level of effort that the Navy can commit to 
observing mitigation zones. Also, the use of additional lookouts in 
association with lower risk activities with smaller ensonified areas 
would be not be expected to provide as much protective value as is 
provided for the activities mentioned above.
    Comment 14: Several commenters suggested that the Navy limit their 
activities to periods of good visibility. More specifically, NRDC 
suggested that all weapons firing in missile, bombing, and sinking 
exercises involving detonations exceeding 20 lb. net explosive weight 
take place during the period 1 hour after sunrise to 30 minutes before 
sunset.
    Response: The Navy explained in Chapter 5 of the AFTT FEIS/OEIS 
that avoiding or reducing active sonar at night and during periods of 
low visibility for the purpose of mitigation would result in an 
unacceptable impact on readiness. In summary, the Navy must train and 
test in a variety of conditions (including at night and in low-
visibility) to adequately train for military operations and ensure that 
systems and equipment operate as intended. However, certain activities, 
such as those involving explosives greater than 20 lb net explosive 
weight, are currently conducted during daylight hours only. The Navy 
does not anticipate impacts to the training or testing programs, as 
long as training or testing requirements do not change; however, the 
Navy needs to retain the ability to conduct these activities at night 
if emergent requirements dictate the need for this capability.
    The Navy will use passive acoustic monitoring to supplement visual 
observations during Improved Extended Echo Ranging (IEER) sonobuoy 
activities, explosive sonouboys using 0.6-2.5 pound net explosive 
weight, torpedo (explosive) testing, and sinking exercises, to detect 
marine mammal vocalizations. However, it is important to note that 
passive acoustic detections do not provide range or bearing to detected 
animals, and therefore cannot provide locations of these animals. 
Passive acoustic detections will be reported to lookouts to increase 
vigilance of the visual surveillance.
    Comment 15: One commenter suggested that Navy training and testing 
activities could be significantly reduced

[[Page 73034]]

while still maintaining military readiness.
    Response: The Navy has identified the level of training and testing 
requirements that are necessary to meet its legally mandated 
requirements. NMFS' must decide whether to authorize the take of marine 
mammals incidental to an applicant's proposed action based on the 
factors contained in the MMPA; NMFS does not permit or authorize the 
underlying action itself. In this case, NMFS has determined that the 
Navy's training and testing activities will have a negligible impact on 
the affected species or stocks and has met all other statutory 
requirements, therefore, we plan to issue the requested MMPA 
authorization.
    Comment 16: NRDC and other commenters recommended an expansion of 
the Navy's mitigation zones during the use of MFAS to reflect 
international best practice (4 km) or the standard prescribed by the 
California Coastal Commission (2 km).
    Response: The Navy developed mitigation zones to avoid or reduce 
the potential for onset of the lowest level of injury, PTS, out to the 
predicted maximum range. For low-frequency and hull-mounted mid-
frequency active sonar, the Navy will implement a 6 dB power down at 
1,000 yards (914 m), a 4 dB power down at 500 yards (457 m), and 
shutdown at 200 yards (183 m). Both powerdown criteria exceed the 
predicted average and maximum ranges to PTS. NMFS believes that these 
mitigation zone distances will help avoid the potential for onset of 
PTS in marine mammals and reduce the potential for TTS. These shutdown 
zones, combined with other mitigation measures, are expected to effect 
the least practicable adverse impact on marine mammal species or stocks 
and their habitat.
    Furthermore, the Navy developed mitigation zones represent the 
maximum area the Navy can observe based on the platform of observation, 
number of personnel that will be involved, and the number and types of 
assets and resources available. Increasing the size of observed 
mitigation zones for the purposes of mitigation would be impractical 
with regard to implementation of military readiness activities and 
result in an unacceptable impact on readiness.
    Comment 17: NRDC recommended that the Navy use sonar and other 
active acoustic sources at the lowest practicable source level.
    Response: The Navy utilizes sonar and other active acoustic sources 
to support a variety of missions. Primary uses of sonar include 
detection of and defense against submarines (anti-submarine warfare) 
and mines (mine warfare); safe navigation and effective communications; 
and oceanographic surveys. The source levels must be adequate to 
perform these tasks, but mitigation measures (e.g., powerdown and 
shutdown) will be implemented if marine mammals are within or 
approaching established zones. The Navy will submit annual exercise and 
testing reports to NMFS that summarize exercise activities related to 
their activities. These reports will be made available to the public 
via NMFS' Web site and the U.S. Navy Marine Species Monitoring web 
portal.
    Comment 18: NRDC suggested that the Navy delay or relocate 
activities when beaked whales are detected through passive acoustic 
monitoring, even if potentially occurring beyond the established 
mitigation zone.
    Response: This recommendation is impractical for the Navy because 
operators of passive acoustic systems may not be able to identify 
whether a vocalization is from a beaked whale. However, all passive 
acoustic detections will be reported to lookouts to increase vigilance 
of the visual surveillance.
    Comment 19: NRDC suggested that the Navy use gliders or other 
platforms for pre-activity monitoring to avoid significant aggregations 
of marine mammals and delay or relocate activities when significant 
aggregations of marine mammals are detected within the vicinity of an 
exercise.
    Response: The development of passive acoustic detectors on gliders 
and other platforms is still in the research and development stages 
under funding from the Office of Naval Research and the Navy's new 
Living Marine Resources programs. While promising, many of the various 
technologies are still being tested and not ready for transition to 
compliance monitoring where a higher degree of performance is needed. 
Gliders, even if able to report in real-time, or even delayed near 
real-time, would only be able to document the presence of marine 
mammals, not the marine mammal distance from the glider or individual 
animal movement. In many places Navy activity occurs there are almost 
near constant small odontocete passive acoustic detections. Finally, 
gliders would only provide an indication that animals are in the area, 
but these same animals could easily move substantial distances over the 
course of just a few hours. In some cases, use of gliders in and around 
where Navy submarines also operate is an underwater safety hazard to 
the submarine and to the glider. Gliders and other passive acoustic 
platforms, therefore, are more appropriate for broad area searches 
within Navy ranges to document marine mammal seasonal occurrence, but 
are not practical as a mitigation tool.
    The Navy will implement mitigation measures for all marine mammals, 
regardless of species, if they approach or enter a mitigation zone, 
which were calculated to help avoid the potential for onset of PTS and 
reduce the potential for TTS. Additionally, the Navy has already 
identified and limited activity in the PAAs, which were developed based 
on areas of high productivity 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.
    Comment 20: NRDC suggested that the Navy use simulated geography 
and planning of ship tracks to reduce or eliminate chokepoint exercises 
in near-coastal environments, particularly within canyons and channels 
or other important habitat. Similarly, NRDC suggested the use of 
dedicated aerial monitors during chokepoint exercises, major exercises, 
and near-coastal exercises.
    Response: For decades, the Navy has been using simulated electronic 
depictions of land in some of its at-sea exercises. However, the types 
of exercises the commenter refers to are critical to realistic and 
effective training due to the unique sound propagation characteristics 
and they cannot be replicated by simulated geography. The Navy will 
implement mitigation for all training and testing activities to 
minimize any potential effects.
    Specific aerial monitoring is not typically feasible given the 
limited duration of typical monitoring flights (less than 4 hours). In 
addition, there are significant flight safety considerations and 
airspace restrictions during major exercises when larger groups of 
military aircraft are present in high numbers at various altitudes.
    It is important to note that the Navy does have a particular set of 
monitoring measures (intended to help reduce the chance of a stranding) 
that would be applied if circumstances are thought to make a stranding 
more likely (e.g., steep bathymetry, multiple vessels in a single area 
over an extended period of time, constricted channels or embayments). 
However, there are no areas with these

[[Page 73035]]

features included in the AFTT Study Area.
    Comment 21: NRDC stated that the Navy did not account for 
reverberation in its modeling and also suggested the use of additional 
powerdowns when significant surface ducting conditions coincide with 
other conditions that elevate risk (such as during exercises involving 
the use of multiple systems or in beaked whale habitat).
    Response: The Navy's propagation model used for all non-impulsive 
modeling accommodates surface and bottom boundary interactions 
(including reverberation), but does not account for side reflections 
that would be a factor in a highly reverberant environment, such as a 
depression or canyon, or in a man-made structure, such as a dredged 
harbor. The details of the Navy's propagation model are provided in a 
technical report (``Determination of acoustic effects on marine mammals 
and sea turtles for the Atlantic Training and Testing EIS/OEIS,'' 
aftteis.com).
    Based on the lessons learned from five beaked whale stranding 
events, all of which took place outside of the AFTT Study Area, and 
occurred over approximately a decade, exposure of beaked whales to mid-
frequency active sonar in the presence of certain conditions (e.g., 
multiple units using tactical sonar, steep bathymetry, constricted 
channels, strong surface ducts, etc.) may result in strandings, 
potentially leading to mortality. Although these physical features are 
not present on the Atlantic Coast of the U.S. or in the Gulf of Mexico 
in the aggregate, scientific uncertainty exists regarding what other 
factors, or combination of factors, may contribute to beaked whale 
strandings.
    To minimize risk to beaked whales, during exercise planning, 
several conditions will be considered: (1) Areas of at least 1000 m 
depth near a shoreline where there is rapid change in bathymetry on the 
order of 1000-6000 m occurring across a relatively short horizontal 
distance (e.g., 5 nm); (2) cases for which multiple ships or submarines 
(>=3) are operating active sonar in the same area over extended periods 
of time (>=6 hours) in close proximity (<=10 nm apart); (3) an area 
surrounded by land masses, separated by less than 35 nm and at least 10 
nm in length, or an embayment, wherein operations involving multiple 
ships/subs (>=3) employing active sonar near land may produce sound 
directed toward the channel or embayment that may cut off the lines of 
egress for marine mammals; and (4) though not as dominant a condition 
as bathymetric features, the historical presence of a strong surface 
duct (i.e., mixed layer of constant water temperature extending from 
the sea surface to 100 or more feet).
    If a major exercise must occur in an area where the above 
conditions exist in the aggregate, these conditions must be fully 
analyzed in environmental planning documentation. The Navy will 
increase vigilance by undertaking the following additional protective 
measure: a dedicated aircraft (Navy asset or contracted aircraft) will 
undertake reconnaissance of the embayment or channel ahead of the 
exercise participants to detect marine mammals that may be in the area 
exposed to active sonar. Where practical, the advance survey should 
occur within about 2 hours prior to sonar use and periodic surveillance 
should continue for the duration of the exercise. Any unusual 
conditions (e.g., presence of marine mammals, groups of species milling 
out of habitat, and any stranded animals) shall be reported to the 
Officer in Tactical Command, who should give consideration to delaying, 
suspending, or altering the activity. All mitigation zone power down 
requirements described in the Mitigation section will apply. Finally, 
the post-exercise report must include specific reference to any event 
conducted in areas where the above conditions exist, with exact 
location and time/duration of the event and noting results of surveys 
conducted.
    Comment 22: NRDC suggested the suspension or postponement of 
chokepoint exercises during surface ducting conditions and scheduling 
of such exercises during daylight hours.
    Response: See responses to Comments 14, 20, 21, and 34.
    Comment 23: NRDC suggested the use of aerial surveys and ship-based 
surveys before, during, and after major exercises.
    Response: As proposed, and detailed in the AFTT FEIS/OEIS, the Navy 
will implement pre-exercise aerial observation as a mitigation measure 
for Improved Extended Echo Ranging (IEER) sonobuoys and explosive buoys 
using 0.6-2.5 pound net explosive weight, mine countermeasure and 
neutralization activities using positive control firing devices 
involving explosives in bin E11 (501-650 pound net explosive weight), 
and sinking exercises. Aerial monitoring will continue throughout the 
duration of these exercises. This amount of monitoring represents the 
maximum level of effort that the Navy can commit to observing 
mitigation zones given the number of personnel and assets available. 
Surveys before, during, and after major exercises would require an 
inordinate amount of resources that are not available and would have a 
significant impact on readiness.
    In addition to the monitoring required to implement mitigation, the 
Navy is also committed to a robust marine mammal monitoring program 
designed to answer specific questions about the effects of the Navy's 
activities on marine mammals. The Navy uses visual surveys (by trained 
protected species observers; from aircraft and vessels), passive 
acoustic monitoring devices, and tagging as some of the methods to best 
detect and evaluate any effects. See the Navy's monitoring reports at 
http://www.navymarinespeciesmonitoring.us/.
    Comment 24: NRDC suggested the use of NMFS-certified observers for 
marine mammal detection and several commenters requested further 
information on the Navy's lookout effectiveness study. More 
specifically, NRDC suggested that the Navy complete a lookout 
effectiveness study comparing the abilities of Navy vessel-based 
lookouts and third-party protected species observers. If Navy lookouts 
are significantly less likely to detect marine mammals, NRDC recommends 
the use of NMFS-certified lookouts or other monitoring enhancements.
    Response: The Navy has determined that the use of third-party 
observers (e.g., NMFS-certified protected species observers) in air or 
on surface platforms in addition to existing Navy lookouts for the 
purposes of mitigation is impractical for the following reasons: the 
use of third-party observers would compromise security for some 
activities involving active sonar due to the requirement to provide 
advance notification of specific times and locations of Navy platforms; 
reliance on the availability of third-party personnel could impact 
training and testing flexibility; the presence of additional aircraft 
in the vicinity of naval activities would raise safety concerns; and 
there is limited space aboard Navy vessels. Furthermore, Navy personnel 
are extensively trained in spotting items on or near the water surface 
and receive more hours of training than many third-party personnel.
    The Navy undertakes monitoring of marine mammals during training 
and testing activities and has mitigation procedures designed to 
minimize risk to these animals. One key component of this monitoring 
and mitigation is the shipboard lookouts (also known as watchstanders), 
who are part of the standard operating procedure that ships use to 
detect objects (including marine mammals) within a specific area around 
the ship during events. The lookouts are an element of the Navy's 
monitoring plan, as required by NMFS and

[[Page 73036]]

specified in the LOAs. The goal is to detect marine mammals entering 
ranges of 200, 500, and 1,000 yd (183, 457, and 914 m) around the 
vessel, which correspond to distances at which various mitigation 
actions should be performed. In addition to the lookouts, officers on 
the bridge search visually and sonar operators listen for marine mammal 
vocalizations. All of these observers together are referred to as the 
observation team.
    In 2010, the Navy initiated a study designed to evaluate the 
effectiveness of the Navy lookout team. The University of St. Andrews, 
Scotland, under contract to the Navy, developed an initial data 
collection protocol for use during the study. Between 2010 and 2012, 
trained Navy marine mammal observers collected data during nine field 
trials as part of a ``proof of concept'' phase. The goal of the proof 
of concept phase was to develop a statistically valid protocol for 
quantitatively analyzing the effectiveness of lookouts during Navy 
training exercises. Field trials were conducted in the HRC, SOCAL Range 
Complex, and Jacksonville Range Complex onboard one frigate, one 
cruiser, and seven destroyers. Preliminary analysis of the proof of 
concept data is ongoing. The Navy is also working to finalize the data 
collection process for use during the next phase of the study. While 
data was collected as part of this proof of concept phase, those data 
are not fairly comparable because protocols were being changed and 
assessed, nor are those data statistically significant. Therefore, it 
is improper to use these data to draw any conclusions on the 
effectiveness of Navy lookouts at this time.
    In addition, given the distance from shore and especially the 
dynamic and moving nature of major training events (MTEs) where sonar 
platforms can be widely dispersed and then move on to another area, 
aerial or ship-based civilian monitoring concurrent to MTEs would not 
be logistically practical or safe. Before and after surveys would only 
duplicate similar marine mammal sightings that have already been 
conducted under the previous Navy rulemakings. During the period from 
2009 to 2012, the Navy has visually surveyed a great expanse of ocean 
within the AFAST Study Area and Gulf of Mexico Range Complex with 
marine mammal sightings described in annual monitoring reports as well 
as posted electronically on public online data portals. While 
contributing to the body of science on marine mammal occurrence, these 
broad area surveys are less informative for monitoring of Navy impacts 
to marine mammals. The Navy's revised monitoring plan consists of more 
focused objective-oriented studies to address both species-specific 
occurrence and determine impact or lack of impact from training and 
testing activities.
    Comment 25: NRDC recommended that the Navy comply with underwater 
detonation and gunnery exercise mitigation measures as set forth in 
NMFS' final rule for the Southern California (SOCAL) Range Complex.
    Response: The mitigation measures for underwater detonation and 
gunnery exercises in NMFS' final rule for the SOCAL Range Complex have 
been carried over to AFTT and HSTT (i.e., mitigation zones around the 
intended target, monitoring before and during the exercise, avoidance 
of sighted marine mammals). There have been some slight modifications 
to the time-delay firing device (TDFD) mitigation to account for 
resource limitations in the number of available boats and lookouts.
    Comment 26: NRDC recommended the use of dedicated aerial monitoring 
for all Navy explosive activities using time-delay firing devices and/
or all activities involving explosives greater than 20 lb. net 
explosive weight.
    Response: Time-delay firing device events can occur over several 
hours and the exact detonation time is dependent on multiple variables 
including, but not limited to, weather, background traffic, training 
requirements, delays for mitigation, etc., that make it impractical and 
unsafe to have aircraft surveys. Time-delay firing device events also 
typically occur near commercial and military airspace that would pose a 
serious risk to the survey and non-survey aircraft.
    Mitigation during explosive events (greater than 20 lb. net 
explosive weight) already includes the use of available aircraft for 
mitigation monitoring. However, these activities can occur offshore and 
over several hours duration, making a dedicated aerial survey platform 
unsafe and impractical. The Navy has mitigation zones in place designed 
to minimize potential effects from all explosive activities.
    Comment 27: NRDC suggested avoidance and reduction in the use of 
time-delay firing devices in favor of explosives with positive 
controls.
    Response: The Navy has explained their use of time-delay firing 
devices in previous documents (LOA application for the Silver Strand 
Training Complex, LOA application for the Hawaii Range Complex, the 
VACAPES LOA renewal, and the AFTT FEIS/OEIS). The Navy relies on both 
time-delay and positive control to initiate underwater detonations, 
depending on the training event and objectives. The Navy has cited 
time-delay firing devices as the simplest, safest, least expensive, 
most operationally acceptable method of initiating an underwater 
detonation. They are preferred due to their light weight, low magnetic 
signature, and reduced risk of accidental detonation from nearby radios 
or other electronics. Time-delay firing devices allow sufficient time 
for personnel to swim outside of the detonation plume radius and human 
safety buffer zone after the timer is set. The Navy considers it 
critical that personnel qualify annually with necessary time-delay 
certification, maintain proficiency, and train to face real-world 
scenarios that require the use of time-delay firing devices. However, 
the Navy does strive to use positive control detonation whenever 
feasible depending on the training need. Within the SSTC portion of 
HSTT for instance, during the last year of the 86 completed underwater 
detonations with charge weights between 10-20 lb net explosive weight, 
only two TDFDs were used; the remaining 84 detonations used positive 
control.
    Time-delay firing devices raised concern in 2011, when three or 
four long-beaked common dolphins were killed in an explosion during an 
underwater detonation training event. About 5 minutes remained on a 
time-delay fuse when a pod of long-beaked common dolphins was observed, 
but attempts to guide the dolphins away from the area were 
unsuccessful. Following the event, the Navy worked with NMFS to develop 
a more robust monitoring and mitigation plan to ensure that marine 
mammal mortality and injury would not occur during activities that 
involve time-delay firing devices. NMFS incorporated additional 
mitigation and monitoring measures into the appropriate authorizations. 
Those additions are being carried over to the AFTT rule, with some 
modifications to the mitigation zone and number of observers due to the 
impracticality of the initial changes. As detailed in the proposed 
rule, NMFS believes that the Navy's modifications will still reduce the 
potential for injury and mortality because (1) the mitigation zone 
exceeds the predicted ranges to TTS and PTS; (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; (4) monitoring 30 minutes 
before, during, and 30 minutes after the activity would still take 
place;

[[Page 73037]]

and (5) time-delay firing device activities are only conducted during 
daylight hours.
    Comment 28: NRDC suggested that the Navy should evaluate before 
each major exercise whether reductions in sonar are possible, given the 
readiness status of the strike groups involved.
    Response: The Navy only uses active sonar for validated training 
requirements, so this type of pre-exercise evaluation is unnecessary.
    Comment 29: NRDC recommended that the Navy establish a plan and 
timetable for maximizing synthetic training in order to reduce the use 
of active sonar training.
    Response: As described in section 2.5.1.3 of the AFTT FEIS/OEIS, 
the Navy currently uses computer simulation for training and testing 
whenever possible. Computer simulation can provide familiarity and 
complement live training; however, it cannot provide the fidelity and 
level of training necessary to prepare naval forces for deployment.
    The Navy is required to provide a ready and capable force. In doing 
so, the Navy must operationally test major platforms, systems, and 
components of these platforms and systems in realistic combat 
conditions before full-scale production can occur. Substituting 
simulation for live training and testing fails to meet the Navy's 
statutory requirement to properly prepare forces for National defense.
    Comment 30: NRDC recommended that specific mitigation requirements 
be prescribed for individual classes (or sub-classes) of training and 
testing activities in order to maximize mitigation given varying sets 
of operational needs.
    Response: NMFS has already worked with the Navy to develop 
mitigation by activity type to reduce potential impacts on marine 
mammals. The regulatory text of this document details the different 
types of mitigation required for different activities.
    Comment 31: NRDC recommended that the Navy submit timely, regular 
reports to NMFS, state coastal management authorities, and the public 
to describe and verify use of mitigation measures during training and 
testing activities.
    Response: The Navy will be required to submit annual reports and 
the unclassified portions of these reports will be made available to 
the public through NMFS' Web site. The reports will include a 
description of the mitigation measures implemented during major 
training exercises and will also include an evaluation of the 
effectiveness of any mitigation measure implemented.
    Comment 32: Several commenters recommended additional mitigation, 
including exclusion zones and time-area closures, and suggested that 
NMFS did not provide any additional mitigation to the Navy's proposed 
measures in order to reduce impacts on marine mammals.
    Response: Exclusion zones (termed ``mitigation zones'' in the 
proposed rule and this document) are already in place for the Navy's 
training and testing activities. Training and testing activities 
require continuous access to large areas consisting potentially of 
thousands of square miles of ocean and air space to provide naval 
personnel the ability to train with and develop competence and 
confidence in their capabilities and their entire suite of weapons and 
sensors. Exercises may change mid-stream based on evaluators' 
assessment of performance and other conditions including weather or 
mechanical issues. These preclude use of a time-area closure scheme for 
access to water space.
    NMFS has been heavily involved in developing the Navy's suite of 
mitigation measures since 2007. Many of the Navy's proposed mitigation 
measures were a result of NMFS' input over the past 5 years. It is also 
important to note that the NDAA of 2004 amended the MMPA to require the 
consideration of personnel safety, practicality of implementation, and 
impact on the effectiveness of the ``military readiness activity'' when 
determining the ``least practicable adverse impact.'' Mitigation 
measures that the Navy considered, but could not implement, are 
included in the FEIS/OEIS.
    Finally, NMFS did require additional measures beyond those 
initially proposed by the Navy in its application, including both the 
expansion of the Gulf of Mexico PAA to further protect the resident 
population of Bryde's whales as well as the 500-yd mitigation zone for 
whales around all vessels.
    Comment 33: Several commenters suggested that the Navy's activities 
should be moved to pelagic sea depths, away from continental shelves 
and islands to reduce impacts on marine mammals.
    Response: As stated in the AFTT FEIS/OEIS, the Navy has eliminated 
from consideration alternative training and testing locations because 
there are no other potential locations where land ranges, OPAREAs, 
undersea terrain and ranges, testing ranges, and military airspace 
combine to provide the venues necessary for the training and testing 
realism and effectiveness required to train and certify naval forces 
ready for combat operations. Training and testing in shallow water is 
an essential component to maintaining military readiness. Sound 
propagates differently in shallow water and operators must learn to 
train in this environment. Additionally, submarines have become quieter 
through the use of improved technology and have learned to hide in the 
higher ambient noise levels of the shallow coastal waters. In real 
world events, it is likely that sailors would be working in, and 
therefore must train in, and use systems that have been tested in, 
these types of environments.
    However, the Navy has already reduced impacts in shallow areas by 
limiting activities in PAAs (as described elsewhere), and the ESA and 
MMPA permitting processes have resulted in additional mitigation 
measures, including geographic constraints within the AFTT study area 
to further protect a resident population of Bryde's whale in the Gulf 
of Mexico. In addition, following the implementation of the rule and 
issuance of LOAs, the adaptive management process will also provide a 
mechanism for considering if modifications to mitigation measures are 
necessary in the future.
    Comment 34: NRDC recommended that the Navy avoid or reduce their 
activities during months with historically significant surface ducting 
conditions.
    Response: The Navy's activities must be conducted during all months 
and in a variety of conditions in order for the Navy to meet its 
mission. Training schedules are driven by deployment requirements, 
which are established by the Department of Defense and the President. 
These schedules are dynamic based on real world events, ship 
availability, and numerous other factors that prevent the Navy from 
being confined to certain months. Similarly, Navy testing schedules are 
driven by Fleet maintenance, repair, and modernization needs; and the 
delivery of Navy ships, aircraft, and systems to support these training 
and deployment requirement, and cannot be confined to certain months. 
Therefore, the Navy's MMPA permit must support year round training and 
cannot be reduced during certain months.
    Comment 35: NRDC recommended that the Navy delay activities or 
implement powerdowns during significant surface ducting conditions.
    Response: Avoiding or reducing active sonar during strong surface 
ducts for the purpose of mitigation would increase safety risks to 
personnel, be impractical with regard to implementation of military 
readiness activities, and result in unacceptable

[[Page 73038]]

impacts on readiness for the following reasons: The Navy must train in 
the same manner as it will fight. Anti-submarine warfare can require a 
significant amount of time to develop the ``tactical picture,'' or an 
understanding of the battle space (e.g., area searched or unsearched, 
identifying false contacts, and understanding the water conditions). 
Training in surface ducting conditions is a critical component to 
military readiness because sonar operators need to learn how sonar 
transmissions are altered due to surface ducting, how submarines may 
take advantage of them, and how to operate sonar effectively in this 
environment. Furthermore, avoiding surface ducting would be impractical 
to implement because ocean conditions contributing to surface ducting 
change frequently, and surface ducts can be of varying duration. 
Surface ducting can also lack uniformity and may or may not extend over 
a large geographic area, making it difficult to determine where to 
reduce power and for what periods.
    Comment 36: NRDC recommended that the Navy plan their ship tracks 
to avoid embayments and provide escape routes for marine mammals.
    Response: As noted in the response to Comment 35 above, the Navy 
does have a particular set of monitoring measures (intended to help 
reduce the chance of a stranding) that would be applied if 
circumstances are thought to make a stranding more likely (e.g., steep 
bathymetry, constricted channels, etc.). However, there are no areas 
with these features in aggregate included in the AFTT Study Area.
    Comment 37: NRDC recommended that the Navy be required to implement 
mitigation prescribed by state regulators, by the courts, by other 
navies or research centers, or from past Navy actions.
    Response: NMFS and the Navy have worked together on developing a 
comprehensive suite of mitigation measures to reduce the impacts from 
Navy training and testing activities on marine mammal species or stocks 
and their habitat. During the process of developing mitigation 
measures, NMFS and the Navy considered all potentially applicable 
mitigation measures. NMFS has determined that the Navy's proposed 
mitigation measures, along with the Planning Awareness Areas, Stranding 
Response Plan, and Adaptive Management are adequate 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 
justification for this conclusion is discussed in the Mitigation 
Conclusions section of the proposed rule (78 FR 7050, January 31, 2013; 
page 7098).

Acoustic Thresholds

    Comment 38: The Commission recommended that NMFS require the Navy 
to adjust all acoustic and explosive thresholds for low-, mid-, and 
high-frequency cetaceans by the appropriate amplitude factor (e.g., 
16.5 or 19.4 dB), if the Type II weighting functions from Figure 6 of 
Finneran and Jenkins (2012) are to be used.
    Response: The acoustic and explosive thresholds were adjusted based 
on weighting the exposures from the original research from which the 
thresholds were derived with the Type II weighing functions. The 
weighted threshold is not derived by a simple amplitude shift.
    The high-frequency cetacean onset TTS threshold is based on the 
onset-TTS threshold derived from data in Lucke et al. (2009) for 
impulsive exposures. This threshold was subsequently adjusted in 
Finneran and Jenkins (2012) to reflect Type II high-frequency cetacean 
weighting. Therefore, a simple 19.4 dB adjustment to the thresholds 
presented in Southall et al. (2007) is not appropriate.
    At the time the acoustic criteria and thresholds were developed, no 
direct measurements of TTS due to non-impulsive sound exposures were 
available for any high-frequency cetacean; therefore, the relationship 
between onset-TTS sound exposure level (SEL)-based thresholds (Type II 
weighted) for mid-frequency cetaceans exposed to impulsive and non-
impulsive sounds (beluga data) was used to derive the onset-TTS 
threshold for high-frequency cetaceans exposed to non-impulsive sounds 
(6-dB difference). The derived high-frequency cetacean non-impulsive 
onset TTS threshold is consistent with data recently published by 
Kastelein, et al. (2012) on TTS measured after exposing a harbor 
porpoise to non-impulsive sounds.
    Comment 39: The Commission requested an explanation of why data 
from Kastak et al. (2005) was used as the basis for explosive 
thresholds in pinnipeds and for the extrapolation process and factors 
used as the basis for associated TTS thresholds.
    Response: The same offset between impulsive and non-impulsive TTS 
found for the only species where both types of sound were tested 
(beluga) was used to convert the Kastak et al. (2005) data (which used 
non-impulsive tones) to an impulsive threshold. This method is 
explained in Finneran and Jenkins (2012) and Southall et al. (2007).
    Comment 40: The Commission recommended that NMFS require the Navy 
to provide the predicted average and maximum ranges for all impact 
criteria (behavioral response, TTS, PTS, onset slight lung injury, 
onset slight gastrointestinal injury, and onset mortality), all 
activities, and all functional hearing groups.
    Response: The Navy discusses range to effects in sections 
3.4.3.1.8.1 and 3.4.3.1.9.1 of the AFTT FEIS/OEIS. The active acoustic 
tables in section 3.4.3.1.8.1 illustrate the ranges to PTS, TTS, and 
behavioral response. The active acoustic tables for PTS and TTS show 
ranges for all functional hearing groups and the tables for behavioral 
response show ranges for low-, mid-, and high-frequency cetaceans. The 
active acoustic source class bins used to assess range to effects 
represent some of the most powerful sonar sources and are often the 
dominant source in an activity. The explosives table in section 
3.4.3.1.9.1 illustrates the range to effects for onset mortality, onset 
slight lung injury, onset slight gastrointestinal tract injury, PTS, 
TTS, and behavioral response. The explosives table shows ranges for all 
functional hearing groups. The source class bins used for explosives 
range from the smallest to largest amount of net explosive weight. 
These ranges represent conservative estimates (i.e., longer ranges) 
based on assuming all impulses are 1-second in duration. In fact, most 
impulses are much shorter and contain less energy. Therefore, these 
ranges provide realistic maximum distances over which the specific 
effects would be possible.
    NMFS believes that these representative sources provide adequate 
information to analyze potential effects on marine mammals. Because the 
Navy conducts training and testing in a variety of environments having 
variable acoustic propagation conditions, variations in acoustic 
propagation conditions are considered in the Navy's acoustic modeling 
and the quantitative analysis of acoustic impacts. Average ranges to 
effect are provided in the AFTT FEIS/OEIS to show the reader typical 
zones of impact around representative sources.
    Comment 41: One commenter suggested, based on Kastelein et al. 
(2012), that using SEL may sometimes underestimate the amount of TTS 
experienced by a marine mammal.
    Response: The basic assumption of using the SEL metric with TTS

[[Page 73039]]

thresholds is that the equal energy hypothesis (EEH) holds true in all 
situations (i.e., if the SELs of two sources are similar, a sound from 
a lower level source with a longer exposure duration may have similar 
risks to a sound from a higher level source with a shorter exposure 
duration). It is known from marine mammal and terrestrial mammal data 
that this is not always the case, especially in situations of long 
exposure periods with lower sound pressure levels. However, the EEH 
also does not account for any possible recovery between intermittent 
exposures and that non-impulsive, intermittent sources typically 
require higher SELs to induce TTS compared to continuous exposures of 
the same duration (Mooney et al., 2009; Finneran et al., 2010). 
Additionally, Kastelein et al. (2012b) expose animals to continuous 
durations of 7.5 minutes and longer, which do not necessarily reflect 
exposure durations expected for the majority of Navy sources.
    Comment 42: One commenter claimed that a statement in the proposed 
rule suggested that NMFS believes that data from bottlenose dolphins 
and beluga whales represent the full diversity of mid-frequency 
cetaceans.
    Response: The commenter is referring to a paper by Finneran and 
Jenkins (2012) titled ``Criteria and thresholds for U.S. Navy acoustic 
and explosive effects analysis.'' The authors do not claim that 
bottlenose dolphins and belugas encompass the full diversity of mid-
frequency odontocetes. Rather, they state that these two species are 
diverse. Because both species showed similar TTS thresholds, and 
because TTS data has not been collected for other mid-frequency 
cetaceans, the TTS thresholds for bottlenose dolphins and belugas were 
applied to all mid-frequency cetaceans.
    Comment 43: One commenter suggested that low-frequency cetaceans 
should be split into two groups because the blue and fin whales (and 
possibly sei whales) are more low-frequency specialists than others.
    Response: NMFS does not plan on splitting low-frequency cetaceans 
into two groups. Although there is some variation among the 13 species 
of marine mammals identified in the proposed rule as ``low frequency'' 
cetaceans, these species all fall within the ``low frequency'' 
functional hearing group identified by Southall et al. (2007) where 
functional hearing is estimated to occur between approximately 7 Hz and 
22 kHz.
    Comment 44: One commenter referred specifically to the criteria and 
thresholds used for TTS as described in a paper by Finneran and Jenkins 
(2012) ``Criteria and Thresholds for Navy Acoustic Effects Analysis 
Technical Report.'' The commenter believes that scientific literature 
is at odds with the conclusions made in the Navy document and referred 
to the following quote on page 18 of the technical report, ``This means 
the (Type I) weighted exposure SEL for harbor seals under water is 183 
dB re 1 [mu]Pa\2\[middot]s.'' However, Kastelein et al. (2012a) note 
for harbor seals that ``[while] TTS onset (6 dB) is predicted to occur 
at 183 dB re 1 [mu]Pa\2\[middot]s . . . [i]n the present study, 
statistically significant TTS, at ca. 2.5 dB, began to occur at SELs of 
~170 [136 dB SPL, 60 min.] and 178 dB re 1 [mu]Pa\2\[middot]s [148 dB 
SPL, 15 min.], but actual TTS onset is probably at lower SELs.'' The 
Kastelein et al. (2012a) study used two young (4-5 yr. old) female 
harbor seals, whereas the 183 dB figure originates from a study (Kastak 
et al. 2005) using one male that was 14 years old. Kastelein et al. 
(2012a) found that even for the same seal, ``thresholds changed 
[hearing became slightly less sensitive (3 dB) for 4 kHz test signals 
and slightly more sensitive (2 dB) for 5.7 kHz test signals] over time 
in the control sessions.'' The commenter claims the authors caution 
that ``[m]odeling TTS from exposure SPLs and duration (as done by 
Finneran et al. 2010) would require more data points, e.g., at lower 
and higher exposure SPLs, to find the SPL and duration thresholds at 
which TTS starts. It would be risky to fit a formula to the 14 SEL data 
points found in the present study because the TTS results of the two 
seals differ, and because this study shows that harbor seals' TTSs may 
reach asymptote after certain exposure durations.'' The highest TTS in 
the Kastelein et al. (2012a) study was 10 dB produced by 148 dB re 1 
[mu]Pa at 120 and 240 min. exposures. The authors also stressed that 
the TTS may have an ecological impact, ``. . . reduc[ing] the 
audibility of ecologically and socially important sounds for seals. For 
example, a TTS of 6 dB would halve the distance at which the seal 
suffering that TTS would be able to detect another seal, a vociferous 
fish, or a predator acoustically . . .''
    Response: There are some distinct differences between the Kastelein 
et al. 2012a study and Kastak et al. 2005, from which the current 
pinniped TTS onset criterion was derived, including differences 
associated with the sex and age of individuals tested, different 
background noise levels, and differences in experimental procedure, as 
well as different center frequency of exposure stimuli. It should be 
noted that a threshold shift of 6 dB is considered the minimum 
threshold shift clearly larger than any day-to-day or session-to-
session variation in a subject's normal hearing ability (Schlundt et 
al. 2000; Finneran et al. 2000; Finneran et al. 2002). Southall et al. 
2007 also defined TTS onset as a 6 dB shift in threshold. Similarly, 
for humans, NIOSH (1998) regards the range of audiometric testing 
variability to be approximately 5 dB. Additionally, despite Kastelein 
et al. 2012a indicating possible ecological impacts associated with 
TTS, they also say ``Recovery from small TTSs (up to 10 dB), such as 
those caused by the sound exposures in the present study, is very fast 
(within 60 min). Reduced hearing for such a short period probably has 
little effect on the total foraging period of a seal, as long as TTS 
occurs infrequently.''
    It should also be noted that the Navy's acoustic analysis indicated 
that predicted TTS in harbor seals was typically caused by higher sound 
pressure levels (greater than 160 dB re 1[mu]Pa) over much shorter 
total durations (on the order of a few seconds) than the exposure 
regime used by Kastelein et al. (2012a). Therefore, the most 
appropriate dataset of Kastelein et al. (2012a) to derive a TTS 
threshold for harbor seals that is relevant to the way Navy sound 
sources are used is the dataset that uses the highest exposure level 
(i.e., 148 dB re 1[mu]Pa). According to Figure 9 of Kastelein et al. 
(2012a) a 6-dB hearing threshold shift (i.e., a reliably detectable 
TTS) would occur at a sound exposure level of approximately 182-183 dB 
re 1[mu]Pa\2\[middot]s. Therefore, the Kastelein et al. (2012a) results 
agree with the harbor seal TTS-inducing sound levels found by Kastak et 
al. (2005) and the phocid seal TTS thresholds currently used by the 
Navy in its acoustic analysis as described in Finneran and Jenkins 
(2012).
    Comment 45: One commenter referred specifically to the criteria and 
thresholds used for behavioral effects as described in a paper by 
Finneran and Jenkins (2012) ``Criteria and Thresholds for Navy Acoustic 
Effects Analysis Technical Report.'' The commenter referred to the 
following quote on page 22 of the technical report, ``The BRF 
[Behavioral Response Function] relies on the assumption that sound 
poses a negligible risk to marine mammals if they are exposed to SPL 
below a certain ``basement'' value.'' The commenter referred to the 
basement value of 120 dB, but claims that the reasoning and literature 
interpretation behind the basement value is weak. The commenter then 
provided NMFS with examples

[[Page 73040]]

from other studies in support of their argument. For example, they 
referred to a study by Miller et al. (2012) involving controlled 
exposures of naval sonar to killer whales, pilot whales, and sperm 
whales. They scored responses based on behavioral severity scores of 1-
3 (not likely to influence vital rates; 4-6 (could affect vital rates), 
to 7-9 (likely to influence vital rates). In 83% of LFAS (1-2 kHz) 
exposure sessions, the response was at a maximum severity of 4 or 
greater (could or likely to affect vital rates). Behavioral severity 
scores of 5, 6, and 7 occurred with RLs of just 90-99 dB in killer 
whales. Since many responses occurred at RLs below 120 dB, Miller et 
al. (2012) postulate that killer whales may be particularly sensitive 
``. . . with some groups responding strongly to sonar at received SPLs 
just loud enough to be audible.'' The commenter claims that, in sperm 
whales, behavioral severity scores of 4 and 6 happened at RLs of 120-
129 dB. Miller et al. (2012) note that ``. . . there is little 
indication in our results of a dose-response pattern in which higher 
severity changes are less common at lower received levels and more 
common at higher received levels. Instead, we scored behavioral 
responses to have occurred across a wide range of received levels. 
Seven scored responses to sonar started at received SPLs of < 110 dB 
re: 1 [mu]Pa''. They add that ``. . . though there was an overall 
tendency for increased risk of a severe behavioral response above 120 
to 130 dB re: 1 [mu]Pa received SPLmax, our results do imply that any 
signal audible to the animal can represent some risk of a behavioral 
response at any severity level between 0 and 7.'' LFAS (1-2 kHz) 
exposure resulted in both a greater number and more severe scored 
responses than for MFAS (6-7 kHz), despite the behavioral and 
electrophysiological audiograms of 3 killer whales showing 10-40 dB 
less sensitivity at 1-2 kHz than 6-7 kHz. Taxonomically similar species 
also didn't react more similarly to naval sonar, leading Miller et al. 
(2012) to caution that ``. . . great care [must be applied] during the 
extrapolation of results from experimental studies on a particular 
species to other closely related species.''
    Response: Behavioral responses can be complex and highly variable 
and may be influenced strongly by the context of exposure (e.g., sound 
source within a close proximity of a few kilometers) and exposure 
history of the individual, among several of other factors, including 
distance from the source, as has been discussed by Southall et al. 
(2007), Southall et al. (2012), and Ellison et al. (2011), among 
others. These responses were observed in animals that were being 
followed and approached by multiple ships, including the one with the 
sound source. However, no control was conducted that measured the 
response of animals to the presence of multiple ships without a sonar 
source. Killer whales in particular have demonstrated avoidance 
behavioral and other severe behavioral responses to being surrounded by 
multiple vessels (e.g. Erbe 2002, Kruse 1991, and Noren et al. 2009). 
There are several advantages associated with playback studies, like 
Miller et al. 2012 (i.e., highly controlled exposure, baseline 
behavioral data before exposure is available, etc.). However, an 
important consideration is that these situations may not always 
accurately reflect how an individual would behaviorally respond to an 
actual sound source that is often either much further away at 
comparable received levels or whose movement is independent from an 
individual's movement (i.e., not intentionally approaching an 
individual). For example, DeRuiter et al. 2013 recently observed that 
beaked whales (considered a particularly sensitive species) exposed to 
playbacks of U.S. tactical mid-frequency sonar from 89 to 127 dB at 
close distances responded notably (i.e., alter dive patterns), while 
individuals did not behaviorally respond when exposed to the similar 
received levels from actual U.S. tactical mid-frequency sonar operated 
at much further distances. Miller et al. 2012 even points out that 
``the approach of the vessel from a starting distance of 6 to 8 km 
probably led to a more intense exposure than would be typical for 
actual exercises, where the motion of sonar vessels is independent of 
whale location. All of these factors make the experiments a realistic 
though possibly worse than normal scenario for sonar exposures from 
real navy activities.'' Similarly, we addressed Tyack et al. (2011) in 
the proposed rule (78 FR 7050, January 31, 2013), which indicates that 
beaked whales responded to mid-frequency signals at levels below 140 
dB. In summary, a greater sample size is needed before robust and 
definitive conclusions can be drawn.
    Comment 46: One commenter suggested that NMFS is inconsistent in 
applying behavioral response data from a few individuals to all mid-
frequency cetaceans, but not applying behavioral response data from 
harbor porpoises to all high-frequency cetaceans. Another commenter 
further suggested that instead of distinguishing sensitive species and 
identifying separate thresholds, NMFS should instead include the data 
from the more sensitive species into the general threshold, thus 
lowering it. Last, one commenter suggests that the 140-dB threshold for 
beaked whales is not low enough because Tyack et al., 2011 shows that 
some beaked whales are taken below 140 dB.
    Response: NMFS's approach is consistent and appropriate for 
sensitive species. NMFS believes that the behavioral response data used 
to inform the behavioral response curve is the best data to generally 
predict behavioral responses across odontocetes. However, two 
exceptions to the use of the general behavioral response curve, for 
particularly sensitive species, have been established based on the best 
available science. A lower behavioral response threshold of 120 dB SPL 
is used for harbor porpoises because data suggest that this particular 
species is likely sensitive to a wide range of anthropogenic sounds at 
lower received levels, at least for initial exposures. There are no 
data to indicate whether other or all high-frequency cetaceans are as 
sensitive to anthropogenic sound as harbor porpoises are and therefore 
the general odontocete curve is applied to other high-frequency 
species. Similarly, beaked whales are considered particularly sensitive 
both because of their involvement in several strandings associated with 
MFAS exercises in certain circumstances and because of additional newer 
information showing certain behavioral responses at lower levels (Tyack 
et al., 2011) and therefore NMFS and the Navy have utilized a lower 
behavioral response threshold of 140 dB.
    Regarding the suggestion that the data from Tyack et al., 2011 
support the use of a behavioral threshold below 140 dB, NMFS disagrees. 
While Tyack et al., 2011 does report tagged whales ceasing clicking 
when exposed to levels slightly below 140dB, it also reports that some 
beaked whales exposed above 140dB did not stop clicking, and further 
asserts that ``our results support a similar criterion of about 140dB 
SPL for beaked whale exposure to mid-frequency sounds.'' More 
importantly, as noted above, DeRuiter et al. 2013 recently reported on 
the importance of context (for example the distance of a sound source 
from the animal) in predicting behavioral responses as supported by 
observations that beaked whales exposed to playbacks of U.S. tactical 
mid-frequency sonar (such as those used in Tyack et al., 2011) from 89 
to 127 dB at close distances responded notably (i.e., alter dive 
patterns), while

[[Page 73041]]

individuals did not behaviorally respond when exposed to the similar 
received levels from actual U.S. tactical mid-frequency sonar operated 
at much further distances.
    Behavioral responses of species to sound should not be confused 
with a particular functional hearing group's perception of loudness at 
specific frequencies. Behavioral responses can be highly variable and 
depend on a multitude of species-specific factors (among other factors, 
context, etc.), while hearing abilities are based on anatomy and 
physiology which is more likely to be conserved across similar species 
making extrapolations of auditory abilities more appropriate.
    Comment 47: One commenter cited Melcon et al. 2012 to suggest that 
behavioral responses in marine mammals could occur below 120 dB (NMFS' 
acoustic threshold for Level B harassment from non-impulse sources).
    Response: First, it is important to note that not all marine mammal 
behavioral responses rise to the level of a ``take'' as considered 
under section 101(a)(5)(A) of the MMPA. NMFS' analysis of the Navy's 
activities does not state that marine mammals will not respond 
behaviorally to sounds below 120 dB; rather, the 120 dB level is taken 
as the estimate received level (RL) below which the risk of significant 
change in a biologically important behavior approaches zero for the 
risk assessment for sonar and other active acoustic sources. As stated 
in the proposed rule, the studies that inform the basement value of 120 
dB are from data gathered in the field and related to several types of 
sound sources (of varying similarity to MFAS/HFAS). These sound sources 
include: 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 range and an increasing likelihood 
of avoidance and other behavioral effects in the 120 to 160 dB range. 
It is important to note that contextual variables play a very important 
role in the reported responses and the severity of effects are not 
linear when compared to received level. Melcon et al. (2012) also 
reported that ``probability of D calls given MA sonar decreased 
significantly with increasing received level'' and decreases seemed to 
start at levels around 120 dB. Additionally, whales were found to start 
vocalizing again once sonar ceased. Melcon et al.'s (2012) findings do 
not necessarily apply to every low-frequency cetacean in every scenario 
and results should be considered merely beyond the application to the 
BRF (i.e., within overall analysis) to more accurately determine the 
potential consequences of decreased feeding calls in various scenarios 
with overlapping Navy MFA exercises (e.g., in Melcon et al., 2012 study 
there was an overlap of 9 percent of the total hours analyzed where MFA 
sonar was detected).
    Comment 48: One commenter pointed out the increases in a beluga 
whale's average heart rate during acoustic playbacks (Lyamin et al., 
2011).
    Response: The commenter referenced this paper in the context of 
acoustic criteria and thresholds for behavioral effects. It is 
important to note that this study was done on a beluga whale in 
captivity, captured two months prior to the experiment, and constrained 
to a stretcher. In natural circumstances (i.e., the wild), the animal 
would be able to move away from the sound source. Contextual variables 
such as distance, among numerous other factors, play a large role in 
determining behavioral effects to marine mammals from acoustic sources. 
This study is difficult to directly apply to the anticipated behavioral 
effects of the Navy's impulsive and non-impulsive sound sources on 
marine mammals because there are some distinct differences between the 
sound source used in this study and Navy sources. For one, the 
frequency of the sound source in the Lyamin et al. (2011) study ranged 
from 19 to 108 kHz (trying to test effects in range of best hearing), 
which is outside the frequency range of the majority of Navy sonar 
hours. Additionally, exposures that led to a response in this study 
were of 1-minute continuous duration, which again does not mimic 
exposure durations for the majority of Navy sources.
    Comment 49: One commenter believes that certain studies are at odds 
with the conclusions made by the Navy and NMFS and referred 
specifically to the criteria and thresholds used for behavioral effects 
as described in a paper by Finneran and Jenkins (2012) ``Criteria and 
Thresholds for Navy Acoustic Effects Analysis Technical Report.'' The 
commenter referred to the following quote on page 24 of the technical 
report, ``an (unweighted) SPL of 120 dB re 1[mu]Pa is used for harbor 
porpoises as a threshold to predict behavioral disturbance. In support 
of their position, the commenter referred to text from a study by 
Kastelein et al., (2012c),''[F]or 1-2 kHz sweeps without harmonics, a 
50% startle response rate occurred at mean RLs of 133 dB re 1 [mu]Pa; 
for 1-2 kHz sweeps with strong harmonics at 99 dB re 1 [mu]Pa; for 6-7 
kHz sweeps without harmonics at 101 dB re 1 [mu]Pa.'' Thus, according 
to the commenter, the presence of harmonics in sonar signals increases 
their detectability by harbor porpoises. Moreover, the startle response 
rate increased with increasing mean RL. This study and others show that 
there is no clear-cut relationship between the startle response and 
hearing threshold. To cause no startle response, single emissions (once 
every 3 min) had to be below a mean RL of 112 dB for 1-2 kHz sweeps 
without harmonics, below a mean RL of 80 dB for the same sweeps with 
harmonics, and below a mean RL of 83 dB for 6-7 kHz sweeps without 
harmonics (Kastelein et al., 2012c). Harmonics can be reduced by 
lowering sonar signals' source levels. Harmonics can also be perceived 
to be even louder than the fundamental frequencies of sonars and 
therefore could influence harbor porpoise behavior more (Kastelein et 
al., 2012c).
    Response: All harbor porpoises exposed to (unweighted) sound 
pressure levels equal to or greater than 120 dB are considered 
behaviorally harassed. Since this metric is unweighted, the entire 
frequency content of the signal (including potential harmonics) are 
considered when comparing the received sound level with the behavioral 
threshold. Behavioral responses can be variable, with a number of 
factors affecting the response, including the harmonics associated with 
a sound source, as demonstrated in Kastelein et al., 2012c. The 
presence of harmonics in the 1-2 kHz sweep had two related effects: (1) 
they increased the frequency range of the tonal (made it more high 
frequency); and therefore (2) they made the overall spectrum more 
broadband, with energy over 90 dB re 1 [micro]Pa from about 1-11 kHz, 
rather than the narrowband energy of the sweeps without harmonics 
(Kastelein et al., 2012). However, as Kastelein points out, ``both the 
spectrum and the received level of an underwater noise appear to 
determine the effect the sound has..'', and as harmonics are related to 
the intensity of the sound, in most cases harmonics will not be 
perceived by an animal unless the intensity of the sound is already 
well over background levels. In addition, Kastelein et al. (2012) 
define a startle response as a ``short-latency defensive response that 
protects animals in the brief period (up to a few 100 ms) before 
cognitive evaluation of a situation can take place to allow an adaptive 
response'', and further states

[[Page 73042]]

``After about one strong tail movement, the animal's behavior returned 
to normal. The animal did not avoid the area near the transducer during 
sessions any more than usual.'' Therefore, this startle response did 
not indicate a behavioral disturbance. Furthermore, these sounds were 
below true ambient noise levels (as would be found outside of an 
artificially quiet pool) and are not likely to be produced at those 
levels outside of an artificial environment (e.g., tonals with 
harmonics would be at received levels far above the conservative 120 dB 
level used by NMFS and the Navy).
    Southall et al. 2007 indicate a startle response is ``a brief, 
transient event [that] is unlikely to persist long enough to constitute 
significant disturbance.'' The 120 dB (unweighted) behavioral threshold 
used for harbor porpoises is associated with Level B harassment under 
the MMPA. Thus, the mere presence of a startle response, without any 
further information on whether an animal perceives and behaviorally 
responds to a sound as a threat, is not considered a behavioral 
response that rises to the level of behavioral harassment.
    Comment 50: One commenter referred specifically to the criteria and 
thresholds used for TTS as described in a paper by Finneran and Jenkins 
(2012) ``Criteria and Thresholds for Navy Acoustic Effects Analysis 
Technical Report.'' The commenter referred to the following quote on 
page 20 of the technical report, ``Since no studies have been designed 
to intentionally induce PTS in marine mammals, onset-PTS levels for 
marine mammals must be estimated using available information'' . . . 
``Data from Ward et al. (1958) reveal a linear relationship between TTS 
and SEL with growth rates of 1.5 to 1.6 dB TTS per dB increase in SEL. 
This value for the TTS growth rate is larger than those experimentally 
measured in a dolphin exposed to 3 and 20 kHz tones (Finneran and 
Schlundt, 2010), and so appears to be a protective value to use for 
cetaceans.'' The commenter then cites the following studies in support 
of their belief that recent literature is at odds with the conclusions 
made by the Navy and NMFS. According to the commenter, Kastak et al. 
(2008) and Reichmuth (2009) found that a harbor seal exposed to a 
maximum received sound pressure of 184 dB re 1 [mu]Pa with a duration 
of 60 s (SEL = 202 dB re 1 [mu]Pa2s) a second time, showed 
an initial threshold shift in excess of 48 dB at 5.8 kHz, a half-octave 
above the fatiguing tone (4.1 kHz pure tone). This occurred suddenly 
with no warning, after ``a level of no measurable effect'', following 
progressive gradual increases in noise exposure level, i.e. this was a 
nonlinear response, in contrast to what is written above in the 
``Criteria and Thresholds for U.S. Navy Acoustic and Explosive Effects 
Analysis.'' A permanent threshold shift of 7 to 10 dB remained after 
two years (Reichmuth 2009). Reichmuth notes that `` . . . tonal noise 
exposures, not commonly studied in terrestrial models of hearing, may 
be of particular concern with respect to residual auditory effects.''
    Response: The commenter cites the TTS growth rate used for 
cetaceans; however, the reported TTS growth rate for a pinniped was 
used to develop the onset PTS threshold for all pinnipeds (including 
harbor seals). The onset PTS threshold used in this analysis is lower 
than the SEL reported in Kastak et al. (2008).
    Comment 51: One commenter suggested that TTS should be considered a 
form of injury.
    Response: NMFS developed acoustic criteria that estimate at what 
received level (when exposed to sonar or explosive detonations) TTS 
(Level B harassment) would occur. A number of investigators have 
measured TTS in marine mammals. These studies measured hearing 
thresholds in trained marine mammals before and after exposure to 
intense sound. For example, Ward (1997) suggested that TTS is within 
the normal bounds of physiological variability and tolerance and does 
not represent physical injury. In addition, Southall et al. (2007) 
indicates 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 considers this to be a 
form of Level B harassment rather than Level A harassment (injury). 
NMFS is aware of recent studies by Kujawa and Liberman (2009) and Lin 
et al. (2011). These studies found despite completely reversible 
threshold shifts that leave cochlear sensory cells intact, large 
threshold shifts could cause synaptic level changes and delayed 
cochlear nerve degeneration in mice and guinea pigs, respectively. NMFS 
notes that the high level of TTS that led to the synaptic changes shown 
in these studies, is in the range of the high degree of TTS that 
Southall et al. (2007) used to calculate PTS levels. It is not known 
whether smaller levels of TTS would lead to similar changes. NMFS, 
however, acknowledges the complexity of noise exposure on the nervous 
system, and will re-examine this issue as more data become available.
    Comment 52: With regards to the development of marine mammal 
auditory weighting functions, one commenter believes that there is 
insufficient recognition that at high enough amplitudes, the curves for 
hearing impairment are quite flat across all frequencies (suggesting 
that audiograms are irrelevant at these levels).
    Response: The exposure levels where hearing impairment becomes flat 
across broad auditory frequency ranges are typically associated with 
high risks of permanent hearing loss and where the threshold of pain 
occurs. Auditory weighting functions are being applied to levels where 
the onset of TTS and PTS occur. Additionally, the peak pressure metric 
criteria (part of dual criteria for most sound sources) does not take 
weighting functions into consideration (i.e., this metric is 
unweighted), which offers additional protection from exposure to sounds 
that have the potential to have extremely high amplitudes.

Effects Analysis

    Comment 53: One commenter stated that neither the Navy model nor 
any other model should be used to estimate takes unless and until it 
has been properly validated, which includes a reasonable correlation 
with real world empirical observations.
    Response: The Navy Acoustic Effects Model is currently undergoing 
validation using real world empirical data. Predicted outputs of a 
standard NAEMO modeling run are being compared with a model run using 
in-situ data of marine mammal vocalization behavior, ship tracks, sound 
speed profiles, wind speeds, and sonar transmissions during a Navy 
exercise. Although validation is not yet complete, the Navy is required 
to use the best available science for its analysis. The Navy Acoustic 
Effects Model is considered the best available given that it 
incorporates various recommendations made by the Center for Independent 
Experts review of previous models as well as the latest literature on 
sound propagation and animal densities.
    Comment 54: One commenter states that mortalities are currently 
being grossly underestimated by the Navy.
    Response: NMFS disagrees. Several factors cause the Navy's acoustic 
effects model to overestimate potential effects, including mortalities. 
First, the onset mortality criterion is based on 1 percent of the 
animals receiving an injury that would not be recoverable and lead to

[[Page 73043]]

mortality; therefore, many animals that are predicted to suffer 
mortality under this analysis may actually recover from their injuries. 
Second, the metric used for the threshold of mortality (i.e., acoustic 
mass) is based on the animal's mass. The smaller the animal, the more 
susceptible that individual is to these effects. Under this analysis, 
all individuals of a given species are assigned the weight of that 
species' newborn calf or pup. Since many individuals in a population 
are obviously larger than a calf, the acoustic model overestimates the 
number of animals that may suffer mortality. Third, many explosions 
from ordnances such as bombs and missiles actually occur upon impact 
with above-water targets; however, for this analysis, these sources 
were modeled as exploding at 1 m below the surface. This overestimates 
the amount of explosive and acoustic energy entering the water and; 
therefore, overestimates the effects on marine mammals.
    The Navy also estimated lethal take of large whales from vessel 
strikes and mortalities of beaked whales from strandings. To determine 
the appropriate number of MMPA incidental takes from vessel strikes, 
the Navy assessed the probability of Navy vessels hitting individuals 
of different species of large whales that occur in the AFTT Study Area 
incidental to specified training and testing activities. To do this, 
the Navy considered unpublished ship strike data compiled and provided 
by NMFS, Northeast Science Center and Southeast Science Center (1995-
2012) and information in the LOA application regarding trends in the 
amount of vessel traffic related the their training and testing 
activities in the AFTT Study Area. During this time period, there were 
19 reported ship strikes; therefore, the probability of a collision 
between a Navy vessel and a whale is 1.055 (19 strikes/18 years). This 
value was used as the rate parameter to calculate a series of Poisson 
probabilities (a Poisson distribution is often used to describe random 
occurrences when the probability of an occurrence is small (e.g., count 
data such a cetacean sighting data, or in this case strike data, are 
often described as a Poisson or over-dispersed Poisson distribution). 
The results of this analysis are provided in section 6.1.9.2 in the 
Navy's LOA application for AFTT. The Navy is requesting no more than 10 
large whale injuries or mortalities over 5 years (no more than three 
large whale mortalities in a given year) due to vessel strike during 
training activities and no more than one large whale injury or 
mortality over 5 years due to vessel strike during testing activities. 
However, no more than three injuries or mortalities of any of the 
following species would be authorized to occur in a given year between 
both training and testing activities (two injuries or mortalities from 
training and one injury or mortality from testing): blue whale, fin 
whale, humpback whale, sei whale, and sperm whale. NMFS and the Navy do 
not anticipate this number of injuries or mortalities to occur due to 
vessel strikes; however, because of previously reported ship stikes and 
the need to authorize this form of taking in the unlikely event that it 
occurs, NMFS authorizes the take of no more than 10 large whale 
injuries or mortalities over 5 years (no more than three large whale 
mortalities in a given year) due to vessel strike during training 
activities and no more than one large whale injury or mortality over 5 
years due to vessel strike during testing activities. This is 
considered an overestimate because the analysis estimated that only one 
whale may be struck per year and the Navy has only been involved in two 
strikes, with no confirmed marine mammal deaths, over the last five 
years.
    The Navy has also requested 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, incidental to training activities. NMFS and 
the Navy do not anticipate any beaked whale strandings to occur; 
however, because of a lack of scientific consensus regarding the causal 
link between sonar and stranding events, NMFS cannot conclude with 
certainty the degree to which mitigation measures would eliminate or 
reduce the potential for serious injury or mortality. Therefore, NMFS 
authorizes the take of 10 beaked whales, by mortality, over the 5-year 
LOA period. This is considered an overestimate because mortalities are 
not anticipated and have not previously been reported during the 40 
years the Navy has conducted similar exercises in the AFTT Study Area.
    Comment 55: The Commission requested information regarding how the 
Navy determined takes that occur when multiple source types are used 
simultaneously.
    Response: The Navy treated events involving multiple source types 
(e.g., acoustic vs. explosive) as separate events and did not sum the 
sound exposure levels. In most cases, explosives and sonar are not used 
during the same activities and therefore are unlikely to affect the 
same animals over the same time period.
    The Navy did sum energy for multiple exposures of similar source 
types. For sonar, including use of multiple systems within any 
scenario, energy is accumulated within the following four frequency 
bands: low-frequency, mid-frequency, high-frequency, and very high-
frequency. After the energy has been summed within each frequency band, 
the band with the greatest amount of energy is used to evaluate the 
onset of PTS or TTS. For explosives, including use of multiple 
explosives in a single scenario, energy is summed across the entire 
frequency band. This process is detailed in a technical report titled 
``The Determination of Acoustic Effects on Marine Mammals and Sea 
Turtles'' on the AFTT EIS Web site (http://www.aftteis.com).
    Comment 56: One commenter suggested that species population 
estimates should be based on minimum population estimates.
    Response: NMFS considered the best population estimates when 
assessing impacts to marine mammal populations from Navy activities 
because we believe these provided the most accurate estimate based on 
the best available science.
    Comment 57: One commenter claimed that the Navy's proposed 
activities are likely to result in jeopardy of the continued existence 
of ESA-listed species.
    Response: Pursuant to section 7 of the Endangered Species Act, the 
Navy consulted with NMFS on its proposed action and NMFS consulted 
internally on the issuance of LOAs under section 101(a)(5)(A) of the 
MMPA. The purpose of that consultation was to determine whether the 
proposed action is likely to result in jeopardy of the continued 
existence of a species. In the Biological Opinion, NMFS concluded that 
the issuance of the rule and two LOAs are likely to adversely affect 
but are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of the 
threatened and endangered species under NMFS' jurisdiction and are not 
likely to result in the destruction or adverse modification of critical 
habitat that has been designated for endangered or threatened species 
in the AFTT Study Area. The Biological Opinion for this action is 
available on NMFS' Web site (http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental.html#applications).
    Comment 58: One commenter stated that the Navy's proposed 
activities are not just ``incidental,'' but serious and potentially 
catastrophic.
    Response: In section 101(a)(5)(A) and (D) of the MMPA, incidental 
is defined as an unintentional, but not unexpected, taking. In other 
words, the Navy's activities are considered incidental because they may 
result in the

[[Page 73044]]

unintentional taking of marine mammals. The term incidental does not 
refer to the type or level of impacts that an activity may have on 
marine mammals.
    Comment 59: One commenter suggested that the authorized take 
numbers should reflect the Navy's inability to mitigate for onset of 
TTS during every activity.
    Response: As discussed in the proposed rule (78 FR 7102-7103, 
January 31, 2013), TTS is type of Level B harassment. In the Estimated 
Take of Marine Mammal section, we quantify the effects that might occur 
from the specific training and testing activities that the Navy 
proposes in the AFTT Study Area, which includes the number of takes by 
Level B harassment (behavioral harassment, acoustic masking and 
communication impairment, and TTS). Through this rulemaking, NMFS has 
authorized the Navy to take marine mammals by Level B harassment 
incidental to Navy training and testing activities in the AFTT Study 
Area. In order to issue an incidental take authorization (ITA), we must 
set forth the ``permissible methods of taking pursuant to such 
activity, and other means of effecting the least practical adverse 
impact on such species or stock and its habitat, paying particular 
attention to rookeries, mating grounds, and areas of similar 
significance.'' We have determined that the mitigation measures 
implemented under this rule reduce the potential impacts to marine 
mammals from training and testing activities.
    The Navy developed activity-specific mitigation zones based on the 
Navy's acoustic propagation model. Each recommended mitigation zone is 
intended to avoid or reduce the potential for onset of the lowest level 
of injury, PTS, out to the predicted maximum range. Mitigating to the 
predicted maximum range to PTS consequently 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 TTS. In some instances, the 
Navy recommended mitigation zones that are larger or smaller than the 
predicted maximum range to PTS based on the associated effectiveness 
and operational assessments presented in section 5.3.2 of the AFTT 
FEIS/OEIS. NMFS worked closely with the Navy in the development of the 
recommendations and carefully considered them prior to adopting them in 
this final rule. The mitigation zones contained in this final rule 
represent the maximum area the Navy can effectively observe based on 
the platform of observation, number of personnel that will be involved, 
and the number and type of assets and resources available. As 
mitigation zone sizes increase, the potential for reducing impacts 
decreases. For instance, if a mitigation zone increases from 1,000 to 
4,000 yd. (914 to 3,658 m), the area that must be observed increases 
sixteen-fold. The mitigation measures contained in this final rule 
balance the need to reduce potential impacts with the Navy's ability to 
provide effective observations throughout a given mitigation zone. 
Implementation of mitigation zones is most effective when the zone is 
appropriately sized to be realistically observed. The Navy does not 
have the resources to maintain additional Lookouts or observer 
platforms that would be needed to effectively observe mitigation zones 
of increased size.
    Comment 60: One commenter cited Madsen et al. (2006) to suggest 
that airgun use could cause whales to stop feeding.
    Response: NMFS referenced Madsen et al. (2006) in the behavioral 
disturbance (specifically, foraging) section of the proposed rule. 
However, airguns used during Navy testing are small (up to 60 in\3\) 
compared to the airgun arrays used in Madsen et al. (2006), which 
ranged from 1,680 in\3\ to 2,590 in\3\. The results from Madsen et al. 
(2006) cannot be directly tied to the expected impacts from the Navy's 
limited use of small airguns during testing activities. The Navy will 
only use airguns an average of five times per year. Furthermore, airgun 
usage in the AFTT Study Area is a component of pierside integration 
swimmer defense activities, which does not overlap with any major 
marine mammal feeding areas.
    Comment 61: One commenter referred to a quote in the discussion in 
the proposed rule concerning behavior disturbance and harbor porpoises 
that says ``. . . rapid habituation was noted in some but not all 
studies'' and refers NMFS to a paper by Kastelein et al. (2012) that 
hypothesized it is not always possible to differentiate between marine 
mammal habituation of a sound and hearing impairment.
    Response: We do not have a perfect understanding of marine mammal 
behavioral responses, but we have sufficient information (based on 
multiple MFA sonar-specific studies, marine mammal hearing/physiology/
anatomy, and an extensive body of studies that address impacts from 
other anthropogenic sources) to be able to assess potential impacts and 
design mitigation and monitoring measures to ensure that the Navy's 
action will avoid injury and mortality whenever possible, have the 
least practicable adverse impact on marine mammal species and stocks 
and their habitat, and have a negligible impact on the affected species 
and stocks.
    In the Potential Effects of Specified Activities on Marine Mammals 
section of the proposed rule (78 FR 7050; January 31, 2013; pages 7077-
7092), we included a qualitative discussion of the different ways that 
Navy training and testing operations involving active sound sources may 
potentially affect marine mammals, which was based on the MFA sonar-
specific studies and other studies addressing impacts from non-MFA 
anthropogenic sources.
    Comment 62: One commenter noted that the behavioral harassment 
analysis (page 7034; Table 21 in the HSTT proposed rule and page 7114; 
Table 22 in the AFTT proposed rule) shows that from 120-138 dB and 174-
198 dB, very few low-frequency and mid-frequency cetaceans are 
behaviorally harassed. The commenter suggested that this is counter to 
the literature and requests an explanation for why high-frequency 
cetaceans are not included.
    Response: The number of behavioral harassments is determined from 
the behavioral risk function criteria. At the lower received levels the 
probability is significantly decreased which results in lower numbers. 
For the higher received levels, the distance to these levels is 
relatively small, therefore encompassing a relatively small area. Since 
only a small area is ensonified, there is less chance for exposure. 
Additionally, at the higher receive levels it's possible an animal 
could experience TTS, and if the animal has already been counted under 
TTS it would not be reflected in the table. As depicted in table 3.4-12 
of the AFTT FEIS/OEIS, the BRF table also applies to HF cetaceans.
    To the commenter's last point, the table labeled ``Mid-frequency 
cetaceans'' (Table 23) should actually be labeled ``Mid- and High 
frequency cetaceans.'' There is one single behavioral harassment curve 
applied to both mid-and high frequency cetaceans and Table 23 lists the 
breakdown of takes for that curve.
    Comment 63: Several commenters suggested that the Navy grossly 
underestimates the effects of its activities on the marine environment 
and that NMFS fails to consider longer

[[Page 73045]]

term effects or conduct a population level analysis.
    Response: NMFS disagrees that impacts to marine mammals from the 
Navy's training and testing activities are grossly underestimated. The 
Navy's model uses the best available science to analyze impacts and 
often overestimates the potential effects by considering the worst case 
scenario. The Navy also analyzed the potential environmental impacts of 
their activities, including on marine mammal populations, in the AFTT 
FEIS/OEIS.
    NMFS considers population level effects under our ``least 
practicable adverse impact'' standard and also when making a negligible 
impact determination. The Analysis and Negligible Impact Determination 
section of this Final Rule explicitly addresses the effects of the 5-
year activity on populations, considering: when impacts occur in known 
feeding or reproductive areas; the number of mortalities; the status of 
the species; and other factors. Further, NMFS' duty under the ``least 
practicable adverse impact'' standard is to design mitigation targeting 
those impacts on individual marine mammals that are most likely to lead 
to adverse population-level effects. These mitigation measures are 
discussed in detail both in the Mitigation section of this final rule, 
and also considered in the Negligible Impact Determination section.
    Comment 64: Several commenters suggested that NMFS failed to 
analyze the cumulative effects of the Navy's activities.
    Response: Section 101(a)(5)(A) of the MMPA requires NMFS to make a 
determination that the harassment incidental to a specified activity 
will have a negligible impact on the affected species or stocks of 
marine mammals, and will not result in an unmitigable adverse impact on 
the availability of marine mammals for taking for subsistence uses. 
Neither the MMPA nor NMFS' implementing regulations specify how to 
consider other activities and their impacts on the same populations. 
However, consistent with the 1989 preamble for NMFS' implementing 
regulations (54 FR 40338, September 29, 1989), the impacts from other 
past and ongoing anthropogenic activities are incorporated into the 
negligible impact analysis via their impacts on the environmental 
baseline (e.g., as reflected in the density/distribution and status of 
the species, population size and growth rate, and ambient noise).
    In addition, cumulative effects are addressed in the Chapter 4 of 
the AFTT FEIS/OEIS and NMFS' Biological Opinion for this action. These 
documents provided NMFS with information regarding other activities in 
the action area that affect marine mammals, an analysis of cumulative 
impacts, and other information relevant to the determination made under 
the MMPA.
    Comment 65: One commenter claimed that NMFS' negligible impact 
determination is not accurate because the Navy's activities will result 
in hearing loss for 1,600 marine mammals and mortality of 130 marine 
mammals.
    Response: Based on our analysis of the effects of the specified 
activity on marine mammals and their habitat, and dependent on the 
implementation of mitigation and monitoring measures, we have found 
that the total taking from Navy training and testing will have a 
negligible impact on the affected species and stocks. First of all, the 
negligible impact finding is made for each individual species and the 
numbers the commenter cites are totals for all 42 species, i.e., the 
numbers are not nearly that large for any individual species. Second, 
in some cases, as described throughout the document, the estimated 
takes by mortality and injury are not always expected to occur but 
rather are authorized to ensure that the Navy is in compliance for the 
maximum that could occur. Last, PTS is a reduction in hearing 
sensitivity within a particular frequency band (which often occurs 
naturally as animals age)--NMFS would not expect that complete hearing 
loss would result from exposure to Navy activities, as it would require 
an animal stay in very close proximity to a loud source for an extended 
period of time. As a result, we have promulgated regulations for these 
activities that prescribe the means of effecting the least practicable 
adverse impact on marine mammal species or stocks and their habitat and 
set forth requirements pertaining to the monitoring and reporting of 
that taking.
    Comment 66: One commenter requested a list of unexploded ordnances, 
mitigation measures for unexploded ordnances, and the impacts on marine 
mammals from unexploded ordnances.
    Response: The AFTT FEIS/OEIS addresses the potential impacts from 
the introduction of things like unexploded ordnance into the water 
column. As stated in the previous response, the AFTT DEIS/OEIS was made 
available to the public on May 11, 2012 and was referenced in our 
notice of receipt (77 FR 60679, October 4, 2012) and proposed rule (78 
FR 7050, January 31, 2013). In summary, and as included in the Marine 
Mammal Habitat section of the proposed rule, chemical, physical, or 
biological changes in sediment or water quality would not be 
detectable. In the event of an ordnance failure, the energetic 
materials it contained would remain mostly intact. The explosive 
materials in failed ordnance items and metal components from training 
and testing would leach slowly and would quickly disperse in the water 
column. Unexploded ordnances are unlikely to affect marine mammals or 
their habitat.
    Comment 67: The Commission recommended that NMFS authorize the 
total number of model-estimated Level A harassment and mortality takes 
rather than reducing the estimated numbers of Level A harassment and 
mortality takes based on the Navy's proposed post-model analysis. 
Specifically, the Commission was concerned that the Navy did not 
provide a basis for the assumption that animals would avoid repeated 
sound exposure (including sensitive species) or that the implementation 
of mitigation would prevent Level A harassment.
    Response: The Navy's post-model assessment process was developed 
using the best available science and in coordination with NMFS, and 
appropriately accounts for mitigation and avoidance behavior. Relying 
solely on the output of the Navy Acoustic Effects Model presents an 
overestimate of acoustic impacts for higher order effects such as 
injury or mortality for the following reasons:
    (1) Sensitive species (i.e., beaked whales and harbor porpoises) 
are modeled as if they would remain stationary and tolerate any very 
close anthropogenic encounters, although these species are known to 
avoid anthropogenic activity (see AFTT FEIS/OEIS Section 3.4.3.1.2.5 
Behavioral Reactions).
    (2) Implementation of mitigation (i.e., shut down zones) is not 
currently modeled; however, the Navy has developed mitigation measures 
in cooperation with NMFS that are considered effective at reducing 
environmental impacts while being operationally feasible (see AFTT 
FEIS/OEIS Chapter 5, Standard Operating Procedures, Mitigation, and 
Monitoring).
    (3) Animals are assumed to remain horizontally stationary in the 
model and tolerate any disturbing or potentially injurious sound 
exposure, although animals have been observed to avoid sound sources 
with high source levels (see AFTT FEIS/OEIS Section 3.4.3.1.2.5 
Behavioral Reactions).
    (4) The model estimates the potential for mortality based on very 
conservative criteria (see AFTT FEIS/OEIS Section

[[Page 73046]]

3.4.3.1.4.1, Mortality and Injury from Explosives). With the 
implementation of proven mitigation and decades of historical 
information from conducting training and testing in the Study Area, the 
likelihood of mortality is very low.
    The Navy has required that any ``incident'' (marine mammal 
mortality or otherwise) be reported since the 1990s. In that time, only 
four marine mammal mortalities have been reported in the AFTT and HSTT 
study area from training and testing activities. While it is possible 
that some mortalities may have gone undetected, it is highly unlikely 
that they would reach the high level of Level A harassments and 
mortalities as suggested by the raw model results.
    The Navy's quantitative analysis of acoustic impacts is discussed 
in AFTT FEIS/OEIS Section 3.4.3.1.5, Quantitative Analysis, as well as 
in Section 6.1.5, Quantitative Analysis, in the Navy's LOA application. 
Specifically, post-model analysis taking into account sensitive 
species' avoidance of anthropogenic activity is discussed in AFTT FEIS/
OEIS Section 3.4.3.1.5.5, Marine Mammal Avoidance of Sound Exposures. 
Background information discussing harbor porpoise and beaked whale 
sensitivity to vessels and aircraft is discussed in AFTT FEIS/OEIS 
Section 3.4.3.1.2.5, Behavioral Reactions. Reactions due to repeated 
exposures to sound-producing activities are discussed in AFTT FEIS/OEIS 
Section 3.4.3.1.2.6, Repeated Exposures.
    The Navy's model-estimated effects (without consideration of 
avoidance or mitigation) are provided in a technical report 
(``Determination of Acoustic Effects on Marine Mammal and Sea 
Turtles'') available at http://www.aftteis.com. In addition to the 
information already contained within the AFTT FEIS/OEIS, and in 
response to public comments, the Navy has prepared a Technical Report 
which describes the process for the post-modeling analysis in further 
detail. This report is available at http://www.aftteis.com.
    Comment 68: The Commission raised concerns regarding the Navy's 
approach to adjusting its take estimates based on both mitigation 
effectiveness scores and g(0)--the probability that an animal on a 
vessel's or aircraft's track line will be detected. Specifically, the 
Commission questioned how the Navy determined the appropriate 
adjustment factors because the information needed to judge mitigation 
effectiveness has not been made available. The Commission also stated 
that the Navy did not provide the criteria (i.e., the number and types 
of surveillance platforms, number of lookouts, and sizes of the 
respective zones) needed to elicit the three mitigation effectiveness 
scores and pointed out that the simple detection of a marine mammal 
does not guarantee that mitigation measures will be effective.
    Response: The Navy Acoustic Effects Model currently does not have 
the ability to account for mitigation or horizontal animal movement; 
either as representative animal movements or as avoidance behavior (see 
AFTT FEIS/OEIS Section 3.4.3.1.5.4, Model Assumptions and Limitations). 
While the Navy will continue to incorporate best available science and 
modeling methods into future versions of the Navy Acoustic Effects 
Model, it was appropriate to perform post-model analysis to account for 
mitigation and avoidance behavior not captured by the Navy Acoustic 
Effects Model.
    A summary of the current status of the Navy's Lookout effectiveness 
study and why the data cannot be used in the analysis was added in 
Section 5.3.1.2.4, Effectiveness Assessment for Lookouts, of the AFTT 
FEIS/OEIS. Both NMFS and the Navy believe consideration of marine 
mammal sightability and activity-specific mitigation effectiveness in 
its quantitative analysis is appropriate in order to provide decision 
makers a reasonable assessment of potential impacts under each 
alternative. A comprehensive discussion of the Navy's quantitative 
analysis of acoustic impacts, including the post-model analysis to 
account for mitigation and avoidance, is presented in the Navy's LOA 
application. The assignment of mitigation effectiveness scores and the 
appropriateness of consideration of sightability using detection 
probability, g(0), when assessing the mitigation in the quantitative 
analysis of acoustic impacts is discussed in AFTT FEIS/OEIS Section 
3.4.3.1.5.6, Implementing Mitigation to Reduce Sound Exposures. 
Additionally, the activity category, mitigation zone size and number of 
Lookouts is provided in AFTT FEIS/OEIS Tables 5.3-2 and 5.4-1. In 
addition to the information already contained within the AFTT EIS/OEIS, 
and in response to public comments, the Navy has prepared a Technical 
Report which describes the process for the post-modeling analysis in 
further detail. This report is available at http://www.aftteis.com.
    NMFS believes that detection of a marine mammal within the Navy's 
relatively small mitigation zones will help prevent animals from being 
exposed to sounds levels that constitute Level A harassment (injury). 
The Navy's relatively small mitigation zones help increase the 
likelihood that an animal will be detected before incurring PTS. 
Details on implementation of mitigation can be found in the annual 
exercise reports provided to NMFS and briefed annually to NMFS and the 
Commission. The annual exercise reports can be found at http://www.navymarinespeciesmonitoring.us/ and at http://www.nmfs.noaa/pr/permits/incidental.htm#applications. For more information on how 
mitigation is implemented see AFTT EIS/OEIS Chapter 5.
    Comment 69: The Commission further stated that the Navy's post-
model analysis approach is confusing because the Navy is inconsistent 
in its use of the terms ``range to effects zone'' and ``mitigation 
zone,'' which are not the same. More importantly, some of the 
mitigation zones are smaller than the estimated range to effects zones.
    Response: The terms ``range to effects zone'' and ``mitigation 
zone'' are used appropriately in the discussion of mitigation in both 
the Navy's LOA application and in AFTT FEIS/OEIS Section 5.3.2 
(Mitigation Zone Procedural Measures). In summary, the range to effects 
zone is the distance over which the specific effects would be expected, 
and the mitigation zone is the distance that the Lookout will be 
implementing mitigation within and is developed based on the range to 
effects distance for injury (i.e. PTS).
    In all cases except ship shock trials, the mitigation zones 
encompass the ranges to PTS for the most sensitive marine mammal 
functional hearing group (see AFTT FEIS/OEIS Table 5.3-2), which is 
usually the high-frequency cetacean hearing group. Therefore, the 
mitigation zones are even more protective for the remaining functional 
hearing groups (i.e., low-frequency cetaceans, mid-frequency cetaceans, 
and pinnipeds), and likely cover a larger portion of the potential 
range to onset of TTS. The Navy believes that ranges to effect for PTS 
that are based on spherical spreading best represent the typical range 
to effects near a sonar source; therefore, the ranges to effects for 
sonar presented in Table 11-1 of the Navy's LOA application have been 
revised as shown in Table 5.3-2 of the AFTT FEIS/OEIS. The predicted 
ranges to onset of PTS for a single ping are provided for each marine 
mammal functional hearing group in Table 3.4-9 of the AFTT FEIS/OEIS. 
The single ping range to onset of PTS for sonar in Sonar Bin MF1 (i.e., 
AN/SQS-53), the most powerful source bin analyzed, is no greater than 
100 m for any marine mammal functional hearing group.

[[Page 73047]]

Furthermore, as discussed in Section 3.4.3.1.8.1 (Range to Effects) of 
the AFTT FEIS/OEIS, there is little overlap of PTS footprints from 
successive pings, indicating that in most cases, an animal predicted to 
receive PTS would do so from a single exposure (i.e., ping). Additional 
discussion regarding consideration of mitigation in the quantitative 
analysis of sonar and other active acoustic sources is provided in AFTT 
FEIS/OEIS Section 3.4.3.1.8.2, Avoidance Behavior and Mitigation 
Measures as Applied to Sonar and Active Acoustic Sources.
    Comment 70: The Commission noted that although the Navy states that 
lookouts will not always be effective at avoiding impacts to all 
species, it bases its g(0) estimates on seasoned researchers conducting 
the associated surveys, not Navy lookouts whose observer effectiveness 
has yet to be determined.
    Response: A summary of the current status of the Navy's Lookout 
effectiveness study and why the data cannot be used in the analysis has 
been added in Section 5.3.1.2.4, Effectiveness Assessment for Lookouts, 
of the AFTT FEIS/OEIS. NMFS believes that consideration of marine 
mammal sightability and activity-specific mitigation effectiveness in 
the Navy's quantitative analysis is appropriate in order to provide a 
reasonable assessment of potential impacts under each alternative. A 
comprehensive discussion of the Navy's quantitative analysis of 
acoustic impacts, including the post-model analysis to account for 
mitigation and avoidance, is presented in the Navy's LOA application. 
Currently, the g(0) probabilities are the only quantitative measures 
available for estimating mitigation effectiveness.
    However, the differences between Navy training and testing events 
and systematic line-transect marine mammal surveys suggest that the use 
of g(0), as a sightability factor to quantitatively adjust model-
predicted effects based on mitigation, is likely to result in an 
underestimate of the protection afforded by the implementation of 
mitigation. For instance, mitigation zones for Navy training and 
testing events are significantly smaller (typically less than 1,000 yd 
radius) than the area typically searched during line-transect surveys, 
which includes the maximum viewable distance out to the horizon. In 
some cases, Navy events can involve more than one vessel or aircraft 
(or both) operating in proximity to each other or otherwise covering 
the same general area, potentially resulting in more observers looking 
at the mitigation zone than the two primary observers used in marine 
mammal surveys upon which g(0) is based. Furthermore, a systematic 
marine mammal line-transect survey is designed to sample broad areas of 
the ocean, and generally does not retrace the same area during a given 
survey. In contrast, many Navy training and testing activities involve 
area-focused events (e.g., anti-submarine warfare tracking exercise), 
where participants are likely to remain in the same general area during 
an event. In other cases, Navy training and testing activities are 
stationary (i.e., pierside sonar testing or use of dipping sonar), 
which allows Lookouts to focus on the same area throughout the 
activity. Both of these circumstances result in a longer observation 
period of a focused area with more opportunities for detecting marine 
mammals than are offered by a systematic marine mammal line-transect 
survey that only passes through an area once. Additional discussion 
regarding the use of detection probability, g(0), in the consideration 
of mitigation in the quantitative analysis is provided in AFTT FEIS/
OEIS Section 3.4.3.1.5.6, Implementing Mitigation to Reduce Sound 
Exposures.
    Comment 71: The Commission and others voiced concern that the 
Navy's post-model analysis cannot account for the magnitude of 
adjustment to take estimates from what was originally presented in the 
draft AFTT EIS/OEIS to what was presented in the proposed rule (78 FR 
7050, January 31, 2013) and that the public does not have enough 
information to comment on this issue.
    Response: A comprehensive discussion of the Navy's acoustic impact 
analysis, including modeling and the post-model analysis was included 
in section 6.1.5 of the Navy's LOA application, and is also discussed 
in Section 3.4.3.1.5, Quantitative Analysis, of the AFTT FEIS/OEIS. 
This information is sufficient to notify the public of the post-
modeling analysis and provide the public an opportunity to comment. In 
addition to the information already contained within the AFTT FEIS/OEIS 
and the Navy's LOA application, and in response to public comments, the 
Navy prepared a Technical Report which describes the process for the 
post-modeling analysis in further detail. This report is available at 
http://www.aftteis.com. This report demonstrates that the differences 
in predicted impacts due to the post-modeling analysis and the 
corrections in modeling the proposed action made after publication of 
the AFTT DEIS/OEIS were not substantial changes in the proposed action 
that will significantly affect the environment in a manner not already 
considered in the AFTT DEIS/OEIS.
    Comment 72: One commenter included several criticisms of the 
behavioral threshold used to assess impacts from airguns and pile-
driving, including that it is outdated and uses an inappropriate 
metric.
    Response: NMFS is committed to the use of the best available 
science and, as noted in the Summary at the beginning of the Final 
Rule, is in the process of updating and revising our acoustic 
thresholds. As has always been our process, we will solicit public 
input on revised draft thresholds before making any changes in the 
acoustic thresholds that applicants are required to use. The process 
for establishing new acoustic guidance is outlined on our Web site: 
http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/acoustics/guidelines.htm. Until revised 
criteria are finalized (after both public and peer-review), ensuring 
the inclusion and appropriate interpretation of any newer information, 
applicants should continue to use NMFS' current acoustic thresholds.

Vessel Strikes

    Comment 73: The Commission recommended that NMFS require the Navy 
to use its spatially and temporally dynamic simulation models to 
estimate strike probabilities for specific activities.
    Response: The Navy considered using a dynamic simulation model to 
estimate strike probability. However, the Navy determined that the use 
of historical data was a more appropriate way to analyze the potential 
for strike. The Navy's strike probability analysis in the AFTT FEIS/
OEIS is based on data collected from historical use of vessels, in-
water devices, and military expended materials, and the likelihood that 
these items may have the potential to strike an animal. This data 
accounts for real-world variables over the course of many years and is 
considered more accurate than model results.
    Comment 74: NRDC recommended the application of ship-speed 
restrictions (10 knots) for Navy support vessels and/or other vessels 
while transiting high-value habitat for baleen whales and endangered 
species, or other areas of biological significance and/or shipping 
lanes (e.g., the Santa Barbara Channel).
    Response: The Navy typically chooses to run vessels at slower 
speeds for efficiency and to conserve gas; however, some exercises, 
tests, or military needs require the Navy to exceed 10-15 knots. When 
transiting through North Atlantic right whale calving and foraging 
habitat, vessels will implement speed

[[Page 73048]]

reductions: (1) after they observe a right whale; (2) if they are 
within 5 nm (9 km) of a sighting reported within the past 12 hours 
(southeast) or week (northeast); or (3) when operating at night or 
during periods of poor visibility. The Navy will also be notified when 
Dynamic Management Areas are triggered around aggregations of right 
whales and consider whether to avoid the area or transit through at a 
slow, safe speed.

General Opposition

    Comment 75: Multiple commenters stated that the NMFS proposal that 
allows only permit applicants and permit holders to file an 
administrative appeal of a permit decision is unacceptable.
    Response: NMFS is not aware of any such proposal.
    Comment 76: Multiple commenters expressed concern that, given the 
state of the oceans at this time, allowing the Navy's testing and 
training seems to go beyond a ``negligible impact.''
    Response: The MMPA implementing regulations found at 50 CFR 216.103 
define ``negligible impact'' 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.'' Therefore, the 
context under which NMFS makes a negligible impact determination is 
confined by regulation to the likely effects of the specified activity 
(in this case, Navy training and testing) on marine mammals and their 
habitat.
    Comment 77: Several commenters expressed general opposition to Navy 
activities and NMFS' issuance of an MMPA authorization.
    Response: NMFS appreciates the commenters' concern for the marine 
environment. However, the MMPA directs NMFS to issue an incidental take 
authorization if certain findings can be made. NMFS has determined that 
the Navy training and testing activities will have a negligible impact 
on the affected species or stocks and, therefore, we plan to issue the 
requested MMPA authorization.
    Comment 78: One commenter asked if NMFS would consider that the 
Navy's activities can be conducted inside and outside of designated 
ranges and that there is essentially no boundary for their activities.
    Response: The National Defense Authorization Act of 2004 (NDAA) 
(Pub. L. 108-136) removed the ``specified geographical region'' 
limitation of the MMPA as it applies to a ``military readiness 
activity.'' However, the Navy did designate a Study Area that includes 
existing range complexes plus pierside locations and areas on the high 
seas where maintenance, training, or testing may occur.
    Comment 79: One commenter asked if NMFS would address issues raised 
in Dr. Lubchenco's 2010 letter to the Center for Environmental Quality, 
which noted a lack of knowledge on effects of sonar to marine mammals 
and the difficulties of limiting impacts from sonar where mitigation 
efforts depend on visual sightings.
    Response: The Navy's LOA application and the AFTT FEIS/OEIS clearly 
discuss the potential impacts on marine mammals when exposed to sonar. 
The Navy has worked, and will continue to work, as an active partner to 
investigate the extent and severity of the impacts on marine mammals 
and how to reduce them. With respect to monitoring effectiveness, 
neither the Navy nor NMFS have indicated that monitoring (and the 
associated mitigation) will eliminate impacts. The MMPA requires that 
NMFS implement the means of effecting the least practicable adverse 
impacts on marine mammal species or stocks and their habitat, and NMFS 
has determined that required monitoring and associated mitigation 
measures accomplish this.
    Comment 80: One commenter voiced concern about stranding networks 
not being equipped or willing to deal with the influx of marine mammals 
if NMFS authorizes the Navy's activities.
    Response: The National Marine Mammal Stranding Network consists of 
over 120 organizations who partner with NMFS to investigate marine 
mammal strandings. Given the current fiscal environment, NMFS has 
needed to make tough budget choices, including reducing and defunding 
valuable programs. With the reduction in federal funding, response 
resources may be limited in some geographic regions.
    In 2011, NMFS and the Navy signed a National Memorandum of 
Understanding (MOU) that established a framework for the Navy to assist 
NMFS with response to, and investigation of, Uncommon Stranding Events 
(USEs) during major training exercises by providing in-kind services to 
NMFS. The MOU is implemented through Regional Stranding Investigation 
Assistance Plans and outlines the region-specific Navy services that 
are available to assist with USE responses. As resources are available, 
the stranding network has and will continue to respond to marine mammal 
strandings.
    Comment 81: One commenter claimed that Navy activities taking place 
in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico must be separated in NMFS' 
regulations.
    Response: The Navy designated a Study Area that includes existing 
range complexes plus pierside locations and areas on the high seas 
where maintenance, training, or testing may occur. Combining the Navy's 
activities at each of these range complexes has no effect on how we 
analyze the impacts of Navy training and testing activities on marine 
mammals.
    Comment 82: One commenter suggested that the Navy should not be 
allowed to increase their activities while the impacts on marine 
mammals are not fully documented or understood.
    Response: It is important to note that, as stated in the Navy's LOA 
application and the proposed rule, the expansion of the AFTT Study Area 
from previous analyses is not an increase in areas where the Navy will 
train and test, but merely an expansion of the area to be included in 
our analysis and resulting authorization. Both NMFS and the Navy have a 
responsibility to use the best available science to support our 
analyses and decisions under the MMPA and NEPA. However, because the 
best available science is constantly changing and our current knowledge 
of marine mammal behavioral response is limited, NMFS utilizes an 
adaptive management approach. In so doing, we are able to continuously 
assess impacts and incorporate new mitigation or monitoring measures 
when necessary.
    Comment 83: One commenter asked about the effects of missile 
launches on air and water quality; how much alumina oxide is released 
by rockets and missile launches and the effects on marine life; and the 
effects of hazardous materials discharged from Navy vessels on marine 
life.
    Response: The AFTT FEIS/OEIS addresses all potential impacts to the 
human environment, which is available online at http://www.aftteis.com. 
The AFTT DEIS/OEIS was made availabile to the public on May 11, 2012 
and was referenced in our notice of receipt (77 FR 60678, October 4, 
2012) and the proposed rule (78 FR 7050, January 31, 2013).
    Comment 84: One commenter asked about the impacts of testing new 
electromagnetic weapons systems on marine mammals and what studies have 
been done.
    Response: The Navy did not request MMPA authorization for takes 
resulting from electromagnetic stressors. Data regarding the influence 
of magnetic fields and electromagnetic fields on cetaceans is 
inconclusive. Dolman et al. (2003) provides a literature review of the 
influences of marine wind farms on cetaceans. The literature focuses on 
harbor porpoises and dolphin species

[[Page 73049]]

because of their nearshore habitats. Teilmann et al. (2002) evaluated 
the frequency of harbor porpoise presence at wind farm locations around 
Sweden (the electrical current conducted by undersea power cables 
creates an electromagnetic field around those cables). Although 
electromagnetic field influences were not specifically addressed, the 
presence of cetacean species implies that at least those species are 
not repelled by the presence of electromagnetic fields around undersea 
cables associated with offshore wind farms. Based on the available 
literature, no evidence of electrosensitivity in marine mammals was 
found except recently in the Guiana dolphin (Czech-Damal et al. 2011). 
Based on the available literature, no evidence suggests any magnetic 
sensitivity for polar bears, sea otters, sea lions, fur seals, walrus, 
earless seals, and Sirenia (Normandeau et al. 2011). As described in 
the discussion below, some literature suggests that some cetaceans 
(whales, dolphins, and porpoises) may be sensitive to changes in 
magnetic fields, however, NMFS concurred with the Navy that the 
available data did not support the need for MMPA authorization at this 
time.
    Comment 85: Earthjustice suggested that the Navy's DEIS/OEIS is 
fatally flawed because it fails to consider a ``no action'' 
alternative.
    Response: The Council on Environmental Quality regulations require 
that agencies develop and analyze a range of alternatives to the 
proposed action, including a No Action Alternative. The No Action 
Alternative serves as a baseline description from which to compare the 
potential impacts of the proposed action. The Council on Environmental 
Quality provides two interpretations of the No Action Alternative, 
depending on the proposed action. One interpretation would mean the 
proposed action would not take place. For example, this interpretation 
would be used if the proposed action was the construction of a 
facility. The second interpretation, which applies to the AFTT FEIS/
OEIS, allows the No Action Alternative to be the continuation of the 
present course of action until that action is changed. The purpose of a 
``No Action Alternative'' is to ensure that agencies compare the 
potential impacts of the proposed action to the potential impacts of 
maintaining the status quo.
    The AFTT FEIS/OEIS includes a ``No Action Alternative'' where the 
Navy would continue baseline training and testing activities, as 
defined by existing Navy environmental planning documents. The baseline 
testing activities also include those testing events that historically 
occur in the Study Area and have been subject to previous analyses. 
However, the No Action Alternative fails to meet the purpose of and 
need for the Navy's proposed action because it would not allow the Navy 
to meet current and future training and testing requirements necessary 
to achieve and maintain military readiness.
    Comment 86: NRDC recommended that the Navy avoid fish spawning 
grounds and important habitat for fish species potentially vulnerable 
to significant behavioral change, such as wide-scale displacement 
within the water column or changes in breeding behavior.
    Response: While NMFS considers impacts to prey species as a 
component of marine mammal habitat, these concerns are mostly outside 
the purview of the MMPA. Impacts to fish spawning grounds and habitat 
use are dealt with under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and 
Management Act (MSFCMA) as it relates to Essential Fish Habitat (EFH). 
The Navy determined that their activities may adversely affect EFH; 
therefore, the Navy concluded that a consultation under the MSFCMA was 
necessary. NMFS found that the proposed mitigation measures would 
adequately address impacts to EFH and made no additional EFH 
conservation recommendations.
    Comment 87: NRDC recommended that the Navy dedicate research and 
technology development to reduce the impacts of active acoustic sources 
on marine mammals.
    Response: As stated in the Navy Research section of the proposed 
rule (78 FR 7050, January 31, 2013; pages 7100-7101), the Navy provides 
a significant amount of funding and support to marine research. In 
summary, from 2004 to 2012, the Navy provided over $230 million for 
marine species research and currently 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. The Navy's 
research and development efforts have significantly improved our 
understanding of the effects of Navy-generated sound in the marine 
environment. These studies have supported the modification of acoustic 
criteria to more accurately assess behavioral impacts to beaked whales 
and the thresholds for auditory injury for all species, and the 
adjustment of mitigation zones to better avoid injury. In addition, 
Navy scientists work cooperatively with other government researchers 
and scientists, universities, industry, and nongovernmental 
conservation organizations in collecting, evaluating, and modeling 
information on marine resources.
    Comment 88: NRDC recommended that the Navy agree to additional 
clean-up and retrieval of the massive amount of discarded debris and 
expended materials associated with its proposed activities.
    Response: The Navy conducted a full analysis of the potential 
impacts of military expended materials on marine mammals and will 
implement several mitigation measures to help avoid or reduce those 
impacts. This analysis is contained throughout Chapter 3 (Affected 
Environment and Environmental Consequences) of the AFTT FEIS/OEIS. The 
Navy determined that military expended materials related to training 
exercises under a worst-case scenario will not impact more than 0.00009 
percent of the available soft bottom habitat annually within any of the 
range complexes. The Navy has standard operation procedures in place to 
reduce the amount of military expended materials to the maximum extent 
practical, including recovering targets and associated parachutes.

Estimated Take of Marine Mammals

    In the Estimated Takes of Marine Mammals section of the proposed 
rule, NMFS described the potential effects to marine mammals from Navy 
training and testing activities in relation to the MMPA regulatory 
definitions of Level A and Level B harassment (78 FR 7050, January 31, 
2013; pages 7102-7111). That information has not changed and is not 
repeated here.
    Tables 13 and 14 provide a summary of non-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).

[[Page 73050]]



               Table 13--Onset TTS and PTS Thresholds for Sonar and Other Active Acoustic Sources
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                Group                          Species                 Onset TTS                Onset PTS
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Low-Frequency Cetaceans..............  All mysticetes.........  178 dB re 1[micro]Pa2-   198 dB re 1[micro]Pa2-
                                                                 sec (LFII).              sec (LFII).
Mid-Frequency Cetaceans..............  Most delphinids, beaked  178 dB re 1[micro]Pa2-   198 dB re 1[micro]Pa2-
                                        whales, medium and       sec (MFII).              sec (MFII).
                                        large toothed whales.
High-Frequency Cetaceans.............  Porpoises, Kogia spp...  152 dB re 1[micro]Pa2-   172 dB re 1[micro]Pa2-
                                                                 sec (HFII).              secSEL (HFII).
Phocidae In-water....................  Harbor, Hawaiian monk,   183 dB re 1[micro]Pa2-   197 dB re 1[micro]Pa2-
                                        elephant seals.          sec (PWI).               sec (PWI).
Otariidae & Obodenidae In-water......  Sea lions and fur seals  206 dB re 1[micro]Pa2-   220 dB re 1[micro]Pa2-
                                                                 sec (OWI).               sec (OWI).
Mustelidae In-water..................  Sea otters.............
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Note: LFII, MFII, HFII: New compound Type II weighting functions; PWI, OWI: Original Type I (Southall et al.
  2007) for pinniped and mustelid in water.


                                                Table 14--Impulsive Sound Explosive Criteria and Thresholds for Predicting Physiological Effects
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                       Behavior                                                Slight Injury
                                                      ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
              Group                     Species        Behavioral (for >=2                                                                                                        Mortality
                                                         pulses/24 hours)           TTS                  PTS                     GI Tract                     Lung
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Low-frequency Cetaceans.........  All mysticetes.....  167 dB SEL (LFII)..  172 dB SEL (LFII)    187 dB SEL (LFII)    237 dB SPL or 104 psi.........  Equation 1..........  Equation 2.
                                                                             or 224 dB Peak SPL.  or 230 dB Peak SPL.
Mid-frequency Cetaceans.........  Most delphinids,     167 dB SEL (MFII)..  172 dB SEL (MFII)    187 dB SEL (MFII)
                                   medium and large                          or 224 dB Peak SPL.  or 230 dB Peak SPL.
                                   toothed whales.
High-frequency Cetaceans........  Porpoises and Kogia  141 dB SEL (HFII)..  146 dB SEL (HFII)    161 dB SEL (HFII)
                                   spp..                                     or 195 dB Peak SPL.  or 201dB Peak SPL.
Phocidae........................  Hawaiian monk,       172 dB SEL (PWI)...  177 dB SEL (PWI) or  192 dB SEL (PWI) or
                                   elephant, and                             212 dB Peak SPL.     218 dB Peak SPL.
                                   harbor seal.
Otariidae.......................  Sea lions and fur    195 dB SEL (OWI)...  200 dB SEL (OWI)or   215 dB SEL (OWI) or
                                   seals.                                    212 dB Peak SPL.     218 dB Peak SPL.
Mustelidae......................  Sea otters.........
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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

    Existing NMFS criteria was applied to sounds generated by pile 
driving and airguns (Table 15).

                                        Table 15--Thresholds for Airguns
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                            Underwater airgun criteria (sound pressure level, dB re 1 [mu]Pa)
            Species groups             -------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                              Level A Injury threshold          Level B Disturbance threshold
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Cetaceans (whales, dolphins,            180 dB rms.........................  160 dB rms.
 porpoises).
Pinnipeds (seals).....................  190 dB rms.........................  160 dB rms.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Take Request

    The AFTT FEIS/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, 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); and
    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), 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. Vessel 
strikes have the potential to result in incidental take from direct 
injury and/or mortality. It is important to note that the Navy's take 
estimates represent the number of exposures--not the number of 
individual marine mammals that may be affected by training and testing 
activities. Some individuals may be harassed multiple times while other 
individuals may only be harassed once. Multiple exposures are 
especially likely

[[Page 73051]]

in areas where resident populations overlap with stationary activities.
    Training Activities--Based on the Navy's model and post-model 
analysis (described in detail in Chapter 6 of their LOA application), 
Table 16 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 could occur) and the summation over a 5-year period 
(annual events occurring five times and non-annual events occurring 
three times). Table 17 summarizes the Navy's take request for training 
activities by species from the modeling estimates.

          Table 16--Summary of Annual and 5-Year Take Requested and Authorized 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
                                                        any small odontocete in any   to any small odontocete
                                                        given year \3\.               over 5 years \5\.
                              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..........  2,053,473...................  10,263,631.
                              Non-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.
\3\ Not to exceed five mortalities for the east coast or three mortalities within the Gulf of Mexico for any
  small odontocete species per year.
\4\ 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.
\5\ Not to exceed 25 mortalities for the east coast or 15 mortalities within the Gulf of Mexico for any small
  odontocete species over five years.


 Table 17--Species-Specific Take Requests and Authorization 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:
    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

[[Page 73052]]

 
    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--Table 18 summarizes the Navy's take request and 
NMFS' authorization for testing activities and Table 19 specifies the 
Navy's take request and NMFS' authorization for testing activities by 
species from the modeling estimates. Table 20 summarizes the Navy's 
take request and NMFS' authorization for testing activities involving 
ship shock trials.

          Table 18--Summary of Annual and 5-Year Take Requests and Authorization for Testing Activities
                                          [Excluding ship shock trials]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                        Annual authorization sought  5-Year authorization sought
        MMPA category                  Source         ----------------------------------------------------------
                                                          Testing activities \2\        Testing activities \2\
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Mortality...................  Impulsive..............  11 mortalities applicable to  55 mortalities applicable
                                                        any small odontocete in any   to any small odontocete
                                                        given year \2 3\.             over 5 years \4\.
                              Unspecified............  None........................  None.
                              Vessel strike..........  No more than one large whale  No more than one large
                                                        mortality in any given year   whale mortality over 5
                                                        \1\.                          years \1\.
Level A.....................  Impulsive and Non-       375.........................  1,735.
                               Impulsive.
Level B.....................  Impulsive and Non-       2,441,640...................  11,559,236.
                               Impulsive.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ 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.
\2\ Excluding ship shock trials.
\3\ Not to exceed four mortalities for the east coast or two mortalities within the Gulf of Mexico for any
  species of small odontocete per year.
\4\ Not to exceed 20 mortalities for the east coast or 10 mortalities within the Gulf of Mexico for any species
  of small odontocete over five years.


 Table 19--Species-Specific Take Requests and Authorization From Impulsive and Non-Impulsive Source Effects for
                                             all Testing Activities
                                          [Including ship shock trials]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                     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

[[Page 73053]]

 
    Common Dolphin......................            52,546             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:
    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.


  Table 20--Summary of Annual and 5-Year Take Request and Authorization
                       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 \2\.   over 5 years.\2\
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-year period. 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.
\2\ Not to exceed the following specified number of mortalities for each
  species: 20 mortalities of Atlantic spotted dolphins, clymene
  dolphins, common dolphins, Fraser's dolphins, melon-headed whales,
  pantropical spotted dolphins, spinner dolphins, and striped dolphins;
  16 mortalities of Atlantic white-sided dolphins; 15 mortalities of
  pilot whales; 14 mortalities of bottlenose dolphins (offshore ecotype
  only); 9 mortalities of pygmy killer whales and white-beaked dolphins;
  8 mortalities of Risso's dolphins; 6 mortalities of false killer
  whales and rough-toothed dolphins, and 2 mortalities of Kogia spp.

Of note, in the regulatory text below, NMFS quantifies take by 
presenting the 5-yr totals for each species for harassment (Level A and 
Level B, testing and training, all combined) and for mortality (testing 
and training combined). The specific types of harassment expected 
annually, and whether they will occur during testing or training, will 
continue to be specified in the LOAs as described in the preamble. This 
less specific language in

[[Page 73054]]

the regulations will provide potential flexibility in the event that a 
change in activities or our analysis of impacts results in changes in 
the anticipated types, numbers, or distribution of take. If such a 
change were to occur, NMFS would conduct an analysis to determine 
whether the changes fall within the scope of impacts contemplated by 
the rule and also whether they still result in a negligible impact. If 
the changes are expected to result in impacts that fall within the 
scope of the rule and if we still anticipate a negligible impact to 
result, NMFS would propose the issuance of a revised LOA and publish a 
notice in the Federal Register announcing our findings and requesting 
public comments. If not, the changes would need to be addressed through 
a new or amended rulemaking.

Marine Mammal Habitat

    The Navy's 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. Based on the information in the 
Marine Mammal Habitat section of the proposed rule (78 FR 7050, January 
31, 2013; pages 7111-7113) and the supporting information included in 
the AFTT FEIS/OEIS, NMFS has determined that training and testing 
activities would not have adverse or long-term impacts on marine mammal 
habitat. Important marine mammal habitat areas are also addressed in 
the Comments and Responses section and the Cetacean and Sound Mapping 
section of this document. In summary, expected effects to marine mammal 
habitat will include elevated levels of anthropogenic sound in the 
water column; short-term physical alteration of the water column or 
bottom topography; brief disturbances to marine invertebrates; 
localized and infrequent disturbance to fish; a limited number of fish 
mortalities; and temporary marine mammal avoidance.

Analysis and Negligible Impact Determination

    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. For example, New et 
al. (2013) developed a model to assess the link between feeding 
energetics of beaked whales (family Ziphiidae) and their requirements 
for survival and reproduction.
    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 maximum amount of sonar and other acoustic source use 
or detonations that the Navy would conduct. There may be some 
flexibility in that the exact number of hours, items, or detonations 
may vary from year to year, but take totals are not authorized to 
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 above the Level B harassment threshold) that will 
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 individual 
animals that may be taken during training and testing activities. The 
model results estimate the overall number of takes that may occur to a 
smaller number of individuals. While the model shows that an increased 
number of exposures may take place (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 Analysis and 
Negligible Impact Determination section of the proposed rule (78 FR 
7050, January 31, 2013; pages 7113-7125), and dependent upon the 
implementation of mitigation measures, NMFS has determined that the 
Navy's training and testing exercises will have a negligible impact on 
the marine mammal species and stocks present in the Study Area.

Species-Specific Analysis

    In the discussions below, the ``acoustic analysis'' refers to the 
Navy's model results and post-model analysis. Using the best available 
information, including 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, and in coordination with NMFS, 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. 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. 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

[[Page 73055]]

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. Mitigation and marine mammal avoidance primarily 
reduce impacts by reducing Level A harassment to Level B harassment. 
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). A detailed explanation of this analysis 
is also provided in the technical report Post-Model Quantitative 
Analysis of Animal Avoidance Behavior and Mitigation Effectiveness for 
Atlantic Fleet Training and Testing (http://aftteis.com/DocumentsandReferences/AFTTDocuments/SupportingTechnicalDocuments.aspx).
Mysticetes
    The Navy's acoustic analysis indicates that numerous exposures of 
mysticete species to sound levels likely to result in Level B 
harassment may occur, mostly from sonar and other active acoustic 
stressors associated with mostly training and some testing activities 
in the AFTT Study Area. Of these species, North Atlantic right, 
humpback, blue, fin, and sei whales are listed as endangered under the 
ESA. Level B takes are anticipated to be in the form of behavioral 
harassment and no injurious takes of North Atlantic right, humpback, 
blue, fin, or sei whales from sonar, or other active acoustic stressors 
are expected. The majority of acoustic effects to mysticetes from sonar 
and other active sound sources during training activities would be 
primarily from anti-submarine warfare events involving surface ships 
and hull-mounted MFAS sonar. Most Level B harassments to mysticetes 
from sonar would result from received levels between 144 and 162 SPL. 
High-frequency systems are not within mysticetes' ideal hearing range 
and it is unlikely that they would cause a significant behavioral 
reaction. The only mysticete species that may be exposed to sound or 
energy from explosions resulting in the possibility of PTS is the minke 
whale. Exposures would occur primarily in the VACAPES Range Complex, 
followed by JAX, and Navy Cherry Point Range Complexes. However, the 
Navy's proposed mitigation zones for explosive activities extend beyond 
the predicted maximum range to PTS. The implementation of mitigation 
and the sightability of mysticetes (due to their large size) reduces 
the potential for a significant behavioral reaction or a threshold 
shift to occur.
    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.
    In addition to Level B takes, the Navy is requesting no more than 
10 large whale injuries or mortalities over 5 years (no more than three 
large whale mortalities in a given year) due to vessel strike during 
training activities and no more than one large whale injury or 
mortality over 5 years due to vessel strike during testing activities. 
However, no more than three injuries or mortalities of any of the 
following species would be authorized to occur in a given year between 
both training and testing activities (two injuries or mortalities from 
training and one injury or mortality from testing): blue whale, fin 
whale, humpback whale, sei whale, and sperm whale. The Navy provided a 
detailed analysis of strike data in section 6 of their LOA application. 
Marine mammal mortalities were not previously authorized by NMFS in the 
2009 rulemakings for AFAST and the other east coast Range Complexes. 
However, over a period of 18 years (1995 to 2012), there have been 19 
Navy vessel strikes in the AFAST Study Area. The highest average number 
of strikes over any 5-year period was two strikes per year from 2001 to 
2005. Over the last 5 years on the east coast, the Navy was involved in 
only two strikes, with no confirmed marine mammal deaths as a result of 
a vessel strike. The number of injuries or mortalities from vessel 
strike is not expected to be an increase over the past decade, but 
rather NMFS is proposing to authorize these takes for the first time.
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 will be established in these areas with specific 
measures to further reduce impacts to North Atlantic right whales from 
acoustic effects or ship strikes. Acoustic modeling predicts that North 
Atlantic right whales could be exposed to sound that may result in 60 
instances of TTS and 51 takes by behavioral harassment per year from 
annually recurring training activities. The majority of these impacts 
are predicted within the JAX Range

[[Page 73056]]

Complex where animals spend winter months calving. Annually recurring 
testing activities could expose North Atlantic right whales to sound 
that may result in 11 instances of TTS and 66 takes by behavioral 
harassment 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. In addition, the Navy will 
be notified of North Atlantic right whale Dynamic Management Areas 
(DMAs). If a DMA is created, the Navy will consider whether to either 
navigate around the area or travel through at slow safe speed 
consistent with mission training and safety of navigation. The Navy 
will receive notification regarding the creation of a DMA as well as 
information pertaining to its location, size, and duration through the 
U.S. Coast Guard's Notice to Mariners.
    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 or testing 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 (except for sonar used for navigation training 
and object detection). 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 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 takes by behavioral harassments 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.
    Important feeding areas for humpbacks are located in the Northeast, 
which is an area where there are lower levels of Navy training and 
testing activities. In addition, Stellwagen Bank National Marine 
Sanctuary contains some of this important area and the Navy does not 
plan to conduct any activities within Stellwagen Bank that may impact 
humpback whales. The

[[Page 73057]]

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 takes by behavioral harassment 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 takes by behavioral 
harassment 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.
    The Northeast contains areas that are important for sei whales. 
Whaling records (Jonsgard and Darling, 1977) and observed sei whale 
feeding behavior (CeTap, 1982; Kenney and Winn, 1986) indicate that sei 
whales in the North Atlantic feed primarily on copepods and secondarily 
on euphausiids from April to July in the deeper water off the 
southwestern and eastern edge of Georges Bank and into the southwestern 
section of the Gulf of Maine (Mizroch et al., 1984). This offshore 
pattern has been shown to change in response to prey availability. In 
1986, sei whales were reported feeding in the shallow waters of 
Stellwagen Bank (southern Gulf of Maine) from April through October in 
response to an increase in copepod availability (Kenney et al., 1996; 
Payne et al., 1990; Schilling et al., 1992). Mizroch et al. (1984) also 
reported a personal communication with R.D. Kenney that sei whales feed 
at more inshore locations, such as the Great South Channel (in 1987 and 
1989), when copepod abundance is elevated in the area. Unpublished 
sighting data of feeding sei whales is forthcoming from the 
Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies and will be incorporated into 
future spatial and temporal delineations of sei whale feeding areas.
    The Navy has evaluated the types and levels of training and testing 
activities that could occur in the important sei whale area described 
above and concluded that only minimal training or testing activities 
will occur in this area; however, if training or testing requirements 
change, the Navy will need to retain the ability to conduct activities 
in this area if emergent requirements dictate that this area is needed 
to meet specific training or testing requirements. In addition, the 
Navy's measures to protect North Atlantic right whales in the Northeast 
feeding grounds overlap some feeding areas for other large whales in 
the NE., including sei whales, and the mitigation measures in place in 
these areas for the North Atlantic right whale also provide protection 
to sei whales.
    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 takes by behavioral harassment 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 takes by behavioral harassment 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 take by 
behavioral harassment 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.
    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 
Northeast PAAs. In addition, the Navy's measures to protect North 
Atlantic right whales in the Northeast feeding grounds overlap some of 
the feeding areas for other large whales in the NE., including fin 
whales, and the mitigation measures in place in these areas for the 
North Atlantic right whale also provide protection to fin whales. 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 takes by behavioral harassment 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 takes by behavioral harassment 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.
    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

[[Page 73058]]

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 takes by behavioral harassment 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.
    Known feeding areas for minke whales have been identified in the 
Northeast. From 1998 to 2009, 21 minke whales were observed feeding in 
the Great South Channel and adjacent New England waters by the 
Northeast Fisheries Science Center right whale aerial survey team 
(personal communication, A. Henry, NEFSC) during all survey months. 
These surveys operate from March through July and in October with the 
goal to locate and identify North Atlantic right whales. In these 
surveys, minke whale sightings and behavior are recorded 
opportunistically. Twenty-one observations of surface feeding or 
apparent surface feeding of minke whales were recorded from March 
through September during the CeTAP (1982) surveys. Feeding or apparent 
feeding observations were concentrated within the 100 meter isobath, in 
the Great South Channel, along Cape Anne and Jeffreys Ledges. Although 
the majority of surface feeding sightings reported are in waters 
shallower than 200 meters, sub-surface feeding has been observed in the 
deeper waters of the Gulf of Maine. Murphy (1995) report 27 confirmed 
sightings of feeding minke whales from 1979 to 1992 in Cape Cod Bay, 
Massachusetts Bay, and Stellwagen Bank. These sightings were recorded 
during dedicated marine mammals research cruises and from whalewatching 
vessels. Unpublished sighting data of feeding minke whales is 
forthcoming from the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies and will 
be incorporated to further delineate feeding areas. Until that time, we 
conservatively delineate the Gulf of Maine, Georges Bank, and the Great 
South Channel as minke whale feeding areas from March through October.
    The Navy has evaluated the types and levels of training and testing 
activities that could occur in the minke whale feeding areas and 
concluded that only minimal training or testing activities will occur 
in this area; however, if training or testing requirements change, the 
Navy will need to retain the ability to conduct activities in this area 
if emergent requirements dictate that this area is needed to meet 
specific training or testing requirements. In addition, the Navy's 
measures to protect North Atlantic right whales in the Northeast 
calving grounds overlap some of the important feeding areas for other 
large whales in the NE., including minke whales, and the mitigation 
measures in place in these areas for the North Atlantic right whale 
also provide protection to minke whales.
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 takes by behavioral harassment. 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. A distinct population of Bryde's whales 
resides year round within a specific portion of the northern Gulf of 
Mexico (Figure 1). Most sightings of Bryde's whales in the Gulf of 
Mexico are from ship-based and aerial marine mammal line-transect 
abundance surveys conducted by NMFS (Waring et al., 2009, see data in 
OBIS-SEAMAP). These surveys were conducted at various times throughout 
all seasons and covered waters from the 20 m isobaths to the seaward 
extent of the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) (Fulling et al., 2003; 
Mullin and Fulling, 2004). Although survey effort covers all of the 
oceanic waters of the Gulf of

[[Page 73059]]

Mexico, Bryde's whales have only been observed between the 100 and 300 
m isobaths in the eastern Gulf of Mexico, from south of Pensacola, FL 
to northwest of Tampa Bay (personal communication, Lance Garrison, 
SEFSC), which may be evidence of a small resident population inhabiting 
the area. The Navy has evaluated the types and levels of training and 
testing activities that could occur in the possible Bryde's whale BIA 
in eastern GOMEX. The Navy has determined that very few training or 
testing activities are likely to occur in the southern half of this 
BIA. Additionally, Navy has agreed to expand the eastern GOMEX PAA to 
encompass the Bryde's whale area represented in the possible BIA.
[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR04DE13.003

    Bryde's whales could be exposed to sound that may result in 39 TTS 
and 21 takes by behavioral harassment 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 takes by behavioral harassment 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 takes by behavioral 
harassment 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 
take by behavioral harassment for sperm whales per year from explosions 
associated with training activities, one sperm whale take by behavioral 
harassment per year due to annually recurring testing activities, and 
up to 20 TTS and 6 slight lung injuries for sperm whales over a 5-year 
period as a result of ship shock trials in the VACAPES or JAX Range 
Complex. 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 frequency range, which

[[Page 73060]]

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 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 focused, 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 takes by behavioral harassment 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 takes by behavioral harassment 
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 take by behavioral harassment, 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 take by 
behavioral harassment, 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 throughout the year. Table 21 presents the total takes over 
the 5-year rule of beaked whales from training and testing activities.

                  Table 21--Total Takes Over 5-Year Period From Training and Testing Activities
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                              Level B            Level A
                        Species                              harassment         harassment         Mortality
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Blainville's beaked whale..............................            164,454                  3                 10
Cuvier's beaked whale..................................            204,945                  1
Gervais' beaked whale..................................            164,659                  4
Northern bottlenose whale..............................            152,195                  6
Sowerby's beaked whale.................................             63,156                  0
True's beaked whale....................................             99,122                  1
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    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

[[Page 73061]]

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 
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. Table 22 presents the acoustic analysis 
predictions of exposes for 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)

                  Table 22--Total Takes Over 5-Year Period From Training and Testing Activities
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                              Level B            Level A
                        Species                              harassment         harassment         Mortality
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Atlantic spotted dolphin...............................            992,197              2,024              * 165
Atlantic white-sided dolphin...........................            206,233                181
Bottlenose dolphin.....................................          1,569,801                230
Clymene dolphin........................................            108,107                 92
Common dolphin.........................................          2,560,515              2,454
False killer whale.....................................              4,062                  0
Fraser's dolphin.......................................             11,816                  0
Killer whale...........................................             77,426                  2
Melon-headed whale.....................................            111,330                 30
Pantropical spotted dolphin............................            393,219                 97
Pilot whale............................................            580,854                178
Pygmy killer whale.....................................              8,038                  3
Risso's dolphin........................................          1,306,300                104
Rough-toothed dolphin..................................              5,911                  0
Spinner dolphin........................................            115,276                 34
Striped dolphin........................................          1,219,363              2,786
White-beaked dolphin...................................             16,397                  3
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
* (Appliable to any small odontocete species).

    The high take numbers are due in part to an increase in explosive 
detonations. However, many of these species generally travel in large 
pods and should be visible from a distance in order to implement 
mitigation measures

[[Page 73062]]

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. 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.
    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.
    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. 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 be caused by ship shock trials and these impacts would occur to the 
Oceanic stock only. Nearshore and in-port events could expose some 
animals in Coastal stocks. On the East Coast, the following coastal 
stocks have potential to overlap with explosive activity locations:

--Northern North Carolina Estuarine System
--Western North Atlantic Southern Migratory
--Southern North Carolina Estuarine System
--Western North Atlantic South Carolina/Georgia Coastal
--Western North Atlantic Northern Florida Coastal

Within the Gulf of Mexico, the following coastal stocks have potential 
to overlap with explosive activity locations:

--Gulf of Mexico Northern Coastal
--Gulf of Mexico Western Coastal
--Northern Gulf of Mexico Bay, Sound, and Estuary Stocks
--Block 52 Nueces Bay, Corpus Christi Bay
--Block 54 Matagorda Bay, Tres Palacios Bay, Lavaca Bay
--Block 09 Choctawhatchee Bay
--Block 10 St. Andrew Bay
--Block 11 St. Joseph Bay

    Table 3-1 in the Navy's LOA application 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 
takes by behavioral harassment from annually recurring training 
activities; and a maximum of 432 TTS and 725 takes by behavioral 
harassment 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 takes by behavioral harassment per year. The 
high take numbers are due in part to an increase in explosive 
detonations. 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 [mu]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

[[Page 73063]]

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. The best abundance estimate for the Gulf of Maine/Bay of 
Fundy stock is 89,054 individuals.
    A small resident population of harbor porpoises exists in the 
Northeast. Sightings have been documented mostly by NMFS ship and 
aerial marine mammal surveys, strandings, and animals taken incidental 
to fishing operations and reported by National Marine Fisheries Service 
observers in the Sea Sampling Program. From July to September, harbor 
porpoises in U.S. waters (Gulf of Maine/Bay of Fundy) are generally 
concentrated in waters less than 150-m deep in the southern Bay of 
Fundy and northern Gulf of Maine (Gaskin, 1977; Kraus et al., 1983; 
Palka, 1995). Lower densities have been observed in the upper Bay of 
Fundy and northern edge of Georges Bank during this time frame (Palka, 
2000).
    From October through December and April through June, harbor 
porpoises are broadly dispersed from Maine to New Jersey with the 
majority of the population located on the continental shelf (Waring et 
al., 2010), although harbor porpoises have been tracked in waters 
greater than 1800-m deep (Westgate et al., 1998).
    From January through March, intermediate densities of harbor 
porpoises are found in waters off New Jersey to North Carolina, and 
lower densities of harbor porpoises are found in waters off New York 
(Waring et al., 2010). No migratory corridor between the Bay of Fundy 
and North Carolina is known.
    The Navy has evaluated the types and levels of training and testing 
activities that could occur in area where these harbor porpoises are 
resident and concluded that only minimal training or testing activities 
will occur in this area; however, if training or testing requirements 
change, the Navy will need to retain the ability to conduct activities 
in this area if emergent requirements dictate that this area is needed 
to meet specific training or testing requirements.
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 take by 
behavioral harassment per year from explosions associated with annually 
recurring training activities and 15 takes by behavioral harassment, 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.

Final 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 
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 finalized regulations for these exercises 
that prescribe the means of effecting the least practicable adverse 
impact on marine mammal species or stocks and their habitat and set 
forth requirements pertaining to the monitoring and reporting of that 
taking.

Subsistence Harvest of Marine Mammals

    NMFS has 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 seven marine mammal species under NMFS jurisdiction 
included in the Navy's incidental take request that are listed as 
endangered or threatened under the ESA with confirmed or possible 
occurrence in the Study Area: blue whale, humpback whale, fin whale, 
sei whale, sperm

[[Page 73064]]

whale, North Atlantic right whale, and ringed seal. The Navy consulted 
with NMFS pursuant to section 7 of the ESA, and NMFS also consulted 
internally on the issuance of LOAs under section 101(a)(5)(A) of the 
MMPA for AFTT activities. NMFS issued a Biological Opinion concluding 
that the issuance of the rule and two LOAs are likely to adversely 
affect but are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of the 
threatened and endangered species under NMFS' jurisdiction and are not 
likely to result in the destruction or adverse modification of critical 
habitat that has been designated for endangered or threatened species 
in the AFTT Study Area. The Biological Opinion for this action is 
available on NMFS' Web site (http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental.html#applications).

National Marine Sanctuaries Act (NMSA)

    Federal agency actions that are likely to injure sanctuary 
resources are subject to consultation with the Office of National 
Marine Sanctuaries (ONMS) under section 304(d) of the National Marine 
Sanctuaries Act. The Navy analyzed potential impacts to sanctuary 
resources and provided the analysis in the Navy's FEIS to ONMS. In 
response, ONMS determined that the use of active mid-frequency sonar is 
likely to injure sanctuary resources, and recommended that: (1) The 
Navy should continue the spatial mitigation measure to restrict all 
active sonar use inside and within a 2.7 mile buffer around Stellwagen 
Bank, Monitor, Gray's Reef, Florida Keys and Flower Garden Banks 
national marine sanctuaries and that Navy not employ sonar or other 
active acoustic sources within Gray's Reef national marine sanctuary; 
and (2) the Navy should conduct observation and monitoring on the 
effects of electromagnetic devices on sanctuary resources and share 
that data with ONMS as appropriate. In response, the Navy indicated it 
is proposing limited activities in the sanctuaries and will implement 
considerable mitigations, and is not proposing to use active sonar in 
Stellwagen Bank national marine sanctuary. Further, based on the 
analysis in the FEIS and historic lack of impacts, the Navy believes 
its proposed activities are unlikely to injure sanctuary resources. 
Therefore, the Navy declined to implement the first recommendation. The 
Navy agreed to implement the second recommendation to the maximum 
extent allowed by the classification of the responsive material. 
Because the Navy did not agree to implement the ONMS recommendation, it 
would be responsible for mitigation and restoration or replacement of 
any sanctuary resource that was injured as a result.

National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)

    NMFS participated as a cooperating agency on the AFTT FEIS/OEIS, 
which was published on August 30, 2013 (78 FR 53754) and is available 
on Navy's Web site: http://aftteis.com/Home.aspx. NMFS determined that 
the AFTT FEIS/OEIS is adequate and appropriate to meet our 
responsibilities under NEPA for the issuance of regulations and LOAs 
and adopted the Navy's AFTT FEIS/OEIS.

Classification

    The Office of Management and Budget has determined that this final 
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 
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 
would be affected by this rulemaking, and the Navy is not a small 
governmental jurisdiction, small 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, the Chief Counsel for Regulation concluded 
that the action would not result in a significant economic impact on a 
substantial number of small entities. No comments were received 
regarding the economic impact of this final rule. As a result, a final 
regulatory flexibility analysis was not prepared.
    The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries has determined that there 
is good cause under the Administrative Procedure Act (5 U.S.C. 
553(d)(3)) to waive the 30-day delay in the effective date of the 
measures contained in the final rule. The Navy is the only entity 
subject to the regulations and it has informed NMFS that it requests 
that this final rule take effect on November 14, 2013. Any delay of 
enacting the final rule would result in either: (1) A suspension of 
planned naval training, which would disrupt vital training essential to 
national security; or (2) the Navy's procedural non-compliance with the 
MMPA (should the Navy conducting training without an LOA), thereby 
resulting in the potential for unauthorized takes of marine mammals. 
Moreover, the Navy is ready to implement the rule immediately. For 
these reasons, the Assistant Administrator finds good cause to waive 
the 30-day delay in the effective date.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Parts 216 and 218

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

    Dated: November 14, 2013.
Alan D. Risenhoover,
Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, performing the functions and 
duties of the Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, 
National Marine Fisheries Service.

    For reasons set forth in the preamble, 50 CFR parts 216 and 218 are 
amended as follows:

PART 216--REGULATIONS GOVERNING THE TAKING AND IMPORTING OF MARINE 
MAMMALS

0
1. The authority citation for part 216 continues to read as follows:

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

Subpart V--[Removed and Reserved]

0
2. Remove and reserve, subpart V, consisting of Sec. Sec.  216.240 
through 216.249.

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.

Subpart A--[Removed and Reserved]

0
2. Remove and reserve subpart A, consisting of Sec. Sec.  218.1 through 
218.9

[[Page 73065]]

Subpart B--[Removed and Reserved]


0
3. Remove and reserve subpart B, consisting of Sec. Sec.  218.10 
through 218.18

Subpart C--[Removed and Reserved]


0
4. Remove and reserve subpart C, consisting of Sec. Sec.  218.20 
through 218.28

Subpart D--[Removed and Reserved]


0
5. Remove and reserve subpart D, consisting of Sec. Sec.  218.30 
through 218.38

Subpart S--[Removed and Reserved]


0
6. Remove and reserve subpart S, consisting of Sec. Sec.  218.180 
through 218.188


0
7. 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 Renewals and Modifications of Letters of Authorization and 
Adaptive Management.

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:

(1) Active Acoustic Sources Used During Annual Training:
(i) Mid-frequency (MF) Source Classes:
    (A) MF1--an average of 9,844 hours per year.
    (B) MF1K--an average of 163 hours per year.
    (C) MF2--an average of 3,150 hours per year.
    (D) MF2K--an average of 61 hours per year.
    (E) MF3--an average of 2,058 hours per year.
    (F) MF4--an average of 927 hours per year.
    (G) MF5--an average of 14,556 sonobuoys per year.
    (H) MF11--an average of 800 hours per year.
    (I) MF12--an average of 687 hours per year.
(ii) High-frequency (HF) and Very High-frequency (VHF) Source Classes:
    (A) HF1--an average of 1,676 hours per year.
    (B) HF4--an average of 8,464 hours per year.
(iii) Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Source Classes:
    (A) ASW1--an average of 128 hours per year.
    (B) ASW2--an average of 2,620 sonobuoys per year.
    (C) ASW3--an average of 13,586 hours per year.
    (D) ASW4--an average of 1,365 devices per year.
(iv) Torpedoes (TORP) Source Classes:
    (A) TORP1--an average of 54 torpedoes per year.
    (B) TORP2--an average of 80 torpedoes year.
(2) Active Acoustic Sources Used During Annual Testing:
(i) LF:
    (A) LF4--an average of 254 hours per year.
    (B) LF5--an average of 370 hours per year.
(ii) MF:
    (A) MF1--an average of 220 hours per year.
    (B) MF1K--an average of 19 hours per year.
    (C) MF2--an average of 36 hours per year.
    (D) MF3--an average of 434 hours per year.
    (E) MF4--an average of 776 hours per year.
    (F) MF5--an average of 4,184 sonobuoys per year.
    (G) MF6--an average of 303 items per year.
    (H) MF8--an average of 90 hours per year.
    (I) MF9--an average of 13,034 hours per year.
    (J) MF10--an average of 1,067 hours per year.
    (K) MF12--an average of 144 hours per year.
(iii) HF and VHF:
    (A) HF1--an average of 1,243 hours per year.
    (B) HF3--an average of 384 hours per year.
    (C) HF4--an average of 5,572 hours per year.
    (D) HF5--an average of 1,206 hours per year.
    (E) HF6--an average of 1,974 hours per year.
    (F) HF7--an average of 366 hours per year.
(iv) ASW:
    (A) ASW1--an average of 96 hours per year.
    (B) ASW2--an average of 2,743 sonobuoys per year.
    (C) ASW2--an average of 274 hours per year.
    (D) ASW3--an average of 948 hours per year.
    (E) ASW4--an average of 483 devices per year.
(v) TORP:
    (A) TORP1--an average of 581 torpedoes per year.
    (B) TORP2--an average of 521 torpedoes per year.
(vi) Acoustic Modems (M):
    (A) M3--an average of 461 hours per year.
    (B) [Reserved]
(vii) Swimmer Detection Sonar (SD):
    (A) SD1 and SD2--an average of 230 hours per year.
    (B) [Reserved]
(viii) Forward Looking Sonar (FLS):
    (A) FLS2 and FLS3--an average of 365 hours per year.
    (B) [Reserved]
(ix) Synthetic Aperture Sonar (SAS):
    (A) SAS1--an average of 6 hours per year.
    (B) SAS2--an average of 3,424 hours per year.
(3) Explosive Sources Used During Annual Training:
(i) Explosive Classes:
    (A) E1 (0.1 to 0.25 lb NEW)--an average of 124,552 detonations per 
year.
    (B) E2 (0.26 to 0.5 lb NEW)--an average of 856 detonations per 
year.
    (C) E3 (>0.5 to 2.5 lb NEW)--an average of 3,132 detonations per 
year.
    (D) E4 (>2.5 to 5 lb NEW)--an average of 2,190 detonations per 
year.
    (E) E5 (>5 to 10 lb NEW)--an average of 14,370 detonations per 
year.
    (F) E6 (>10 to 20 lb NEW)--an average

[[Page 73066]]

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


Sec.  218.81  Effective dates and definitions.

    (a) Regulations are effective December 3, 2013 and applicable to 
the Navy November 14, 2013 through November 13, 2018.
    (b) The following definitions are utilized in these regulations:
    (1) Uncommon Stranding Event (USE)--A stranding event that takes 
place within an OPAREA where a major training event (MTE) occurs 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 Sec.  
218.81(b)(1)(ii) 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 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:

(1) Harassment (Level A and Level B) for all Training and Testing 
Activities:
(i) Mysticetes:
    (A) Blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus)--817.
    (B) Bryde's whale (Balaenoptera edeni)--5,079.
    (C) Fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus)--25,239.
    (D) North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis)--955.
    (E) Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae)--9,196.
    (F) Minke whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata)--336,623.
    (G) Sei whale (Balaenoptera borealis)--54,766.
(ii) Odontocetes:
    (A) Atlantic spotted dolphin (Stenella frontalis)--994,221.
    (B) Atlantic white-sided dolphin (Lagenorhynchus acutus)--206,144.
    (C) Blainville's beaked whale (Mesoplodon densirostris)--164,454.
    (D) Bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus)--1,570,031.
    (E) Clymene dolphin (Stenella clymene)--108,199.
    (F) Common dolphin (Delphinus spp.)--2,562,969.
    (G) Cuvier's beaked whale (Ziphius cavirostris)--204,945.
    (H) False killer whale (Pseudorca crassidens)--4,062.
    (I) Fraser's dolphin (Lagenodelphis hosei)--11,816.
    (J) Gervais' beaked whale (Mesoplodon europaeus)--164,663.
    (K) Harbor porpoise (Phocoena phocoena)--11,072,415.
    (L) Killer whale (Orcinus orca)--77,448.
    (M) Kogia spp.--31,095.
    (N) Melon-headed whale (Peponocephala electra)--111,360.
    (O) Northern bottlenose whale (Hyperoodon ampullatus)--152,201.
    (P) Pantropical spotted dolphin (Stenella attenuata)--393,316.
    (Q) Pilot whale (Globicephala spp.)--581,032.
    (R) Pygmy killer whale (Feresa attenuata)--8,041.
    (S) Risso's dolphin (Grampus griseus)--1,306,404.
    (T) Rough-toothed dolphin (Steno bredanensis)--5,911.
    (U) Sowerby's beaked whale (Mesoplodon bidens)--63,156.
    (V) Sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus)--82,282.
    (W) Spinner dolphin (Stenella longirostris)--115,310.
    (X) Striped dolphin (Stenella coerulealba)--1,222,149.
    (Y) True's beaked whale (Mesoplodon mirus)--99,123.
    (Z) White-beaked dolphin (Lagenorhynchus albirostris)--16,400.
(iii) Pinnipeds:
    (A) Gray seal (Halichoerus grypus)--14,511.
    (B) Harbor seal (Phoca vitulina)--39,519.
    (C) Harp seal (Pagophilus

[[Page 73067]]

groenlanica)--16,319.
    (D) Hooded seal (Cystophora cristata)--1,472.
    (E) Ringed seal (Pusa hispida)--1,795.
    (F) Bearded seal (Erignathus barbatus)--161.
(2) Mortality (or lesser Level A injury) for all Training and Testing 
Activities:
    (i) No more than 140 mortalities 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 11 large whale mortalities from vessel strike.
    (iv) No 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. Sec.  216.106 of this chapter and 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. Sec.  
216.106 of this chapter and 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. Sec.  216.106 and 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 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 mitigation zones, and monitoring for vessel and personnel 
safety concerns.
    (ii) Lookouts positioned in aircraft or on small 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 in Sec.  218.84 (a)(1)(i).
    (iii) Lookout measures for non-impulsive sound:
    (A) With the exception of ships less than 65 ft (20 m) in length 
and ships that 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 ship. For the purposes of this 
rule, low-frequency active sonar does not include surveillance towed 
array sensor 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 ships 
that 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) 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.
    (E) Surface ships or aircraft conducting high-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 or aircraft 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, or one 
in a support vessel and one in a helicopter. 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 or Range Safety 
Officer.
    (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. In addition, 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 or Range Safety Officer.
    (G) Surface vessels conducting line charge testing will have one 
Lookout.
    (H) Surface vessels or aircraft conducting small- and medium-
caliber gunnery exercises against a surface target will have one 
Lookout.
    (I) Surface vessels conducting large-caliber gunnery exercises 
against a surface target will have one Lookout.
    (J) Aircraft conducting missile exercises (including rockets) 
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 commencing, during, and after completion of ship shock 
trials using up to 10,000 lb. HBX charges, the Navy will have at least 
10 Lookouts or trained marine species observers (or a combination 
thereof) positioned either in an aircraft or on multiple vessels (i.e., 
a Marine Animal Response Team boat and the test ship). If aircraft are 
used, there will be Lookouts or trained marine species observers 
positioned in an aircraft and positioned on multiple vessels. If 
vessels are the only platform, a sufficient number of additional 
Lookouts or trained marine species observers will be used to provide 
visual observation of the mitigation zone comparable to that achieved 
by aerial surveys.''
    (O) Prior to commencing, during, and after completion of ship shock 
trials

[[Page 73068]]

using up to 40,000 lb. HBX charges, the Navy will have at least 10 
Lookouts or trained marine species observers (or a combination thereof) 
positioned in an aircraft and on multiple vessels (i.e., a Marine 
Animal Response Team boat and the test ship).
    (P) Each surface vessel supporting at-sea explosive testing will 
have at least one lookout.
    (Q) 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 as described in Sec.  218.84(a)(1)(iv)(I) and (a)(1)(v)(C).
    (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 that are towed 
from a manned platform, 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.
    (E) During activities involving non-explosive missile exercises 
(including rockets) using a surface target, 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, for sources that can be powered down, 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 levels, for sources that can be 
powered down, if any detected marine mammals are within 500 yd (457 m) 
of the sonar dome.
    (C) The Navy shall ensure that low-frequency and hull-mounted mid-
frequency active sonar transmissions are ceased, for sources that can 
be turned off during the activity, if any visually detected marine 
mammals are within 200 yd (183 m) of the sonar dome. Transmissions will 
not resume until one of the following conditions is met: the animal is 
observed exiting the mitigation zone, the animal is thought to have 
exited the mitigation zone based on a determination of its course and 
speed and the relative motion between the animal and the source, the 
mitigation zone has been clear from any additional sightings for a 
period of 30 min., the ship has transited more than 2,000 yd (1.8 km) 
beyond the location of the last sighting, or the ship concludes that 
dolphins are deliberately closing in on the ship to ride the ship's bow 
wave (and there are no other marine mammal sightings within the 
mitigation zone). Active transmission may resume when dolphins are bow 
riding because they are out of the main transmission axis of the active 
sonar while in the shallow-wave area of the bow.
    (D) The Navy shall ensure that low-frequency and hull-mounted mid-
frequency active sonar transmissions are ceased, for sources that 
cannot be powered down during the activity, if any visually detected 
marine mammals are within 200 yd (183 m) of the source. Transmissions 
will not resume until one of the following conditions is met: the 
animal is observed exiting the mitigation zone, the animal is thought 
to have exited the mitigation zone based on a determination of its 
course and speed and the relative motion between the animal and the 
source, the mitigation zone has been clear from any additional 
sightings for a period of 30 min., the ship has transited more than 400 
yd (366 m) beyond the location of the last sighting.
    (E) 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 one of the following conditions is met: the animal is 
observed exiting the mitigation zone, the animal is thought to have 
exited the mitigation zone based on a determination of its course and 
speed and the relative motion between the animal and the source, the 
mitigation zone has been clear from any additional sightings for a 
period of 10 min. for an aircraft-deployed source, the mitigation zone 
has been clear from any additional sightings for a period of 30 min. 
for a vessel-deployed source, the vessel or aircraft has repositioned 
itself more than 400 yd. (366 m) away from the location of the last 
sighting, or the vessel concludes that dolphins are deliberately 
closing in to ride the vessel's bow wave (and there are no other marine 
mammal sightings within the mitigation zone).
    (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 (up to bin E2).
    (D) A mitigation zone ranging from 600 yd (549 m) to 2,100 yd (1.9 
km), dependent on charge size, shall be established for general mine 
countermeasure and neutralization activities using 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 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.
    (F) A mitigation zone with a radius of 1,000 yd (914 m) shall be 
established for mine neutralization diver placed mines using time-delay 
firing devices (up to bin E6).
    (G) A mitigation zone with a radius of 900 yd (823 m) shall be 
established for ordnance testing (line charge testing) (bin E4).
    (H) 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 (up to bin E2).
    (I) 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).
    (J) A mitigation zone with a radius of 900 yd (823 m) shall be 
established for missile exercises (including rockets) with up to 250 lb 
net explosive weight and a surface target (up to bin E9).
    (K) 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).

[[Page 73069]]

    (L) A mitigation zone with a radius of 2,500 yd (2.3 km) shall be 
established for bombing exercises (up to bin E12).
    (M) A mitigation zone with a radius of 2,100 yd (1.9 km) shall be 
established for torpedo (explosive) testing (up to bin E11).
    (N) A mitigation zone with a radius of 2.5 nautical miles shall be 
established for sinking exercises (up to bin E12).
    (O) A mitigation zone with a radius of 1,600 yd (1.4 km) shall be 
established for at-sea explosive testing (up to bin E5).
    (P) A mitigation zone with a radius of 3.5 nautical miles shall be 
established for a shock trial.
    (Q) A mitigation zone with a radius of 70 yd (64 m), within 30 
degrees on either side of the gun target line on the firing side of the 
ship, shall be established for all explosive and non-explosive large-
caliber gunnery exercises.
    (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) for any observed marine 
mammal shall be established for all towed in-water devices that are 
towed from a manned platform, 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.
    (C) A mitigation zone of 900 yd (823 m) shall be established for 
missile exercises (including rockets) using a surface target.
    (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) Low-frequency and hull-mounted mid-frequency active sonar 
(except in Sec.  218.84(a)(3)(i)(C).
    (2) High-frequency and non-hull mounted mid-frequency active sonar 
(except helicopter dipping).
    (3) Missile activities (explosive and non-explosive).
    (4) Bombing exercises (explosive and non-explosive).
    (5) Underwater detonations.
    (6) Improved extended echo ranging sonobuoy exercises.
    (7) Torpedo exercises (explosive).
    (8) Small-, medium-, and large-caliber gunnery exercises.
    (C) Between November 15 and April 15, use of the following systems 
is to be minimized to the maximum extent practicable within the 
Southeast Right Whale Mitigation Area:
    (1) Helicopter dipping using active sonar.
    (2) Low-frequency and hull-mounted mid-frequency active sonar used 
for navigation training.
    (3) Low-frequency and hull-mounted mid-frequency active sonar used 
for object detection exercises.
    (D) Prior to transiting or training or testing 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.
    (E) 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 in Sec.  
218.84(a)(3)(i)(E)(1) through (3).
    (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) Year-round, use of the following systems is to be minimized to 
the maximum extent practicable within the Northeast Right Whale 
Mitigation Area:
    (1) Low-frequency and hull-mounted mid-frequency active sonar.
    (2) High-frequency and non-hull mounted mid-frequency active sonar, 
including helicopter dipping.
    (D) 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.
    (E) 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,

[[Page 73070]]

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 a determination of its course and speed and 
the relative motion between the animal and the source; 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.; 41-20-14.1 N. Lat., 70-49-44.1 W. Long; 41-4-16.7 N. 
Lat., 71-51-21 W. Long.; 41-35-56.5 N. Lat., 71-38-25.1 W. Long; then 
back to first set of coordinates.
    (2) New York and New Jersey: within a 37 km (20 nm) radius of the 
following (as measured seaward from the COLREGS lines) 40-29-42.2 N. 
Lat., 73-55-57.6 W. Long.
    (3) Delaware Bay: within a 37 km (20 nm) radius of the following 
(as measured seaward from the COLREGS lines) 38-52-27.4 N. Lat., 75-01-
32.1 W. Long.
    (4) Chesapeake Bay: within a 37 km (20 nm) radius of the following 
(as measured seaward from the COLREGS lines) 37-00-36.9 N. Lat., 75-57-
50.5 W. Long.
    (5) Morehead City, North Carolina: within a 37 km (20 nm) radius of 
the following (as measured seaward from the COLREGS lines) 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 major training exercises 
involving the use of active sonar in the specified planning awareness 
areas (PAAs--see Figure 5.3-1 in the AFTT FEIS/OEIS) where feasible. 
Should national security require the conduct of more than four major 
exercises (C2X, JTFEX, or similar scale event) in these areas (meaning 
all or a portion of the exercise) per year, or more than one within the 
Gulf of Mexico areas 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. in paragraphs (a)(4)(i)(A)(1) through (4) of this section.
    (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

[[Page 73071]]

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]


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 a 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 of the AFTT Monitoring Plan on April 1 of each year 
describing the implementation and results from the previous calendar 
year. 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 Sec.  218.85. As an 
alternative, the Navy may submit a multi-Range Complex annual 
Monitoring Plan report to fulfill this requirement. Such a report would 
describe progress of knowledge made with respect to monitoring plan 
study questions across all Navy ranges associated with the ICMP. 
Similar study questions shall be treated together so that progress on 
each topic shall be summarized across all Navy ranges. The report need 
not include analyses and content that do not provide direct assessment 
of cumulative progress on the monitoring plan study questions.
    (e) Vessel Strike--In the event that a Navy vessel strikes a whale, 
the Navy shall do the following:
    (1) Immediately report to NMFS (pursuant to the established 
Communication Protocol) the:
    (i) Species identification if known;
    (ii) Location (latitude/longitude) of the animal (or location of 
the strike if the animal has disappeared);
    (iii) Whether the animal is alive or dead (or unknown); and
    (iv) The time of the strike.
    (2) As soon as feasible, the Navy shall report to or provide to 
NMFS, the:
    (i) Size, length, and description (critical if species is not 
known) of animal;
    (ii) An estimate of the injury status (e.g., dead, injured but 
alive, injured and moving, blood or tissue observed in the water, 
status unknown, disappeared, etc.);
    (iii) Description of the behavior of the whale during event, 
immediately after the strike, and following the strike (until the 
report is made or the animal is no long sighted);
    (iv) Vessel class/type and operation status;
    (v) Vessel length
    (vi) Vessel speed and heading; and
    (vii) To the best extent possible, obtain
    (3) Within 2 weeks of the strike, provide NMFS:
    (i) A detailed description of the specific actions of the vessel in 
the 30-minute timeframe immediately preceding the strike, during the 
event, and immediately after the strike (e.g., the speed and changes in 
speed, the direction and changes in the direction, other maneuvers, 
sonar use, etc., if not classified); and
    (ii) A narrative description of marine mammal sightings during the 
event and immediately after, and any information as to sightings prior 
to the strike, if available; and
    (iii) Use established Navy shipboard procedures to make a camera 
available to attempt to capture photographs following a ship strike.
    (f) Annual AFTT Exercise and Testing Report--The Navy shall submit 
``quick-look'' reports detailing the status of authorized sound sources 
within 21 days after the end of the annual authorization cycle. The 
Navy shall submit detailed reports 3 months after the anniversary of 
the date of issuance of the LOA. The annual reports shall contain 
information on Major Training Exercises (MTE), Sinking Exercise 
(SINKEX) events, and a summary of sound sources used, as described in 
paragraphs (f)(2)(i)(A) through (C) of this section. The analysis in 
the reports will be based on the accumulation of data from the current 
year's report and data collected from previous reports. These reports 
shall contain information identified in paragraphs (e)(1) through (5) 
of this section.
    (1) Major Training Exercises/SINKEX--
    (i) This section shall contain the reporting requirements for 
Coordinated and Strike Group exercises and SINKEX. Coordinated and 
Strike Group Major Training Exercises:
    (A) Sustainment Exercise (SUSTAINEX).
    (B) Integrated ASW Course (IAC).
    (C) Joint Task Force Exercises (JTFEX).
    (D) Composite Training Unit Exercises (COMPTUEX).
    (ii) Exercise information for each MTE:
    (A) Exercise designator.
    (B) Date that exercise began and ended.
    (C) Location (operating area).
    (D) Number of items or hours (per the LOA) of each sound source bin 
(impulsive and non-impulsive) used in the exercise.
    (E) Number and types of vessels, aircraft, etc., participating in 
exercise.
    (F) Individual marine mammal sighting info for each sighting for 
each MTE:
    (1) Date/time/location of sighting.
    (2) Species (if not possible, indication of whale/dolphin/
pinniped).
    (3) Number of individuals.
    (4) Initial detection sensor.
    (5) Indication of specific type of platform the observation was 
made from (including, for example, what type of surface vessel or 
testing platform).

[[Page 73072]]

    (6) Length of time observers maintained visual contact with marine 
mammal(s).
    (7) Sea state.
    (8) Visibility.
    (9) Sound source in use at the time of sighting.
    (10) Indication of whether animal is <200 yd, 200-500 yd, 500-1,000 
yd, 1,000-2,000 yd, or >2,000 yd from sound source.
    (11) Mitigation implementation--whether operation of sonar sensor 
was delayed, or sonar was powered or shut down, and how long the delay 
was; or whether navigation was changed or delayed.
    (12) If source in use is a hull-mounted sonar, relative bearing of 
animal from ship and estimation of animal's motion relative to ship 
(opening, closing, parallel).
    (13) Observed behavior--watchstanders shall report, in plain 
language and without trying to categorize in any way, the observed 
behavior of the animal(s) (such as closing to bow ride, paralleling 
course/speed, floating on surface and not swimming, etc.), and if any 
calves present.
    (G) An evaluation (based on data gathered during all of the MTEs) 
of the effectiveness of mitigation measures designed to minimize the 
received level to which marine mammals may be exposed. This evaluation 
shall identify the specific observations that support any conclusions 
the Navy reaches about the effectiveness of the mitigation.
    (iii) Exercise information for each SINKEX:
    (A) List of the vessels and aircraft involved in the SINKEX.
    (B) Location (operating area).
    (C) Chronological list of events with times, including time of 
sunrise and sunset, start and stop time of all marine species surveys 
that occur before, during, and after the SINKEX, and ordnance used.
    (D) Visibility and/or weather conditions, wind speed, cloud cover, 
etc. throughout exercise if it changes.
    (E) Aircraft used in the surveys, flight altitude, and flight speed 
and the area covered by each of the surveys, given in coordinates, map, 
or square miles.
    (F) Passive acoustic monitoring details (number of sonobuoys, 
detections of biologic activity, etc.).
    (G) Individual marine mammal sighting info for each sighting that 
required mitigation to be implemented:
    (1) Date/time/location of sighting.
    (2) Species (if not possible, indication of whale/dolphin/
pinniped).
    (3) Number of individuals.
    (4) Initial detection sensor.
    (5) Indication of specific type of platform the observation was 
made from (including, for example what type of surface vessel or 
platform).
    (6) Length of time observers maintained visual contact with marine 
mammal(s).
    (7) Sea state.
    (8) Visibility.
    (9) Indication of whether animal is <200 yd, 200-500 yd, 500-1,000 
yd, 1,000-2,000 yd, or >2,000 yd from the target.
    (10) Mitigation implementation--whether the SINKEX was stopped or 
delayed and length of delay.
    (11) 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.), 
and if any calves present.
    (H) List of the ordnance used throughout the SINKEX and net 
explosive weight (NEW) of each weapon and the combined ordnance NEW.
    (2) Summary of Sources Used.
    (i) This section shall include the following information summarized 
from the authorized sound sources used in all training and testing 
events:
    (A) Total annual hours or quantity (per the LOA) of each bin of 
sonar or other non-impulsive source.
    (B) Total annual expended/detonated rounds (missiles, bombs, etc.) 
for each explosive bin.
    (C) Improved Extended Echo-Ranging System (IEER)/sonobuoy summary, 
including:
    (1) Total expended/detonated rounds (buoys).
    (2) Total number of self-scuttled IEER rounds.
    (3) Sonar Exercise Notification--The Navy shall submit to NMFS 
(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 indicating:
    (i) Location of the exercise.
    (ii) Beginning and end dates of the exercise.
    (iii) Type of exercise.
    (4) Geographic Information Presentation--The reports shall present 
an annual (and seasonal, where practical) depiction of training 
exercises and testing bin usage geographically across the Study Area.
    (g) 5-yr Close-out Exercise and Testing Report--This report will be 
included as part of the 2019 annual exercise or testing report. This 
report will provide the annual totals for each sound source bin with a 
comparison to the annual allowance and the 5-year total for each sound 
source bin with a comparison to the 5-year allowance. Additionally, if 
there were any changes to the sound source allowance, this report will 
include a discussion of why the change was made and include the 
analysis to support how the change did or did not result in a change in 
the FEIS and final rule determinations. The report will be submitted 
April 1 following the expiration of the rule. NMFS will submit comments 
on the draft close-out report, if any, 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.
    (h) Ship Shock Trial Report--The reporting requirements will be 
developed in conjunction with the individual test-specific mitigation 
plan for each ship shock trial. This will allow both the Navy and NMFS 
to take into account specific information regarding location, assets, 
species, and seasonality.


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) 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 (i.e., mitigation), its habitat, and on the availability of the 
species for subsistence uses; 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  Renewals and Modifications of Letters of Authorization.

    (a) An LOA issued under Sec. Sec.  216.106 of this chapter and 
218.87 for the activity identified in Sec.  218.80(c) will be

[[Page 73073]]

renewed or modified upon request of the applicant, provided that:
    (1) The proposed specified activity and mitigation, monitoring, and 
reporting measures, as well as the anticipated impacts, are the same as 
those described and analyzed for these regulations (excluding changes 
made pursuant to the adaptive management provision of this chapter), 
and
    (2) NMFS determines that the mitigation, monitoring, and reporting 
measures required by the previous LOA under these regulations were 
implemented.
    (b) For LOA modification or renewal requests by the applicant that 
include changes to the activity or the mitigation, monitoring, or 
reporting (excluding changes made pursuant to the adaptive management 
provision of this chapter) that do not change the findings made for the 
regulations or result in no more than a minor change in the total 
estimated number of takes (or distribution by species or years), NMFS 
may publish a notice of proposed LOA in the Federal Register, including 
the associated analysis illustrating the change, and solicit public 
comment before issuing the LOA .
    (c) A LOA issued under Sec.  216.106 and Sec.  218.87 of this 
chapter for the activity identified in Sec.  218.80(c) of this chapter 
may be modified by NMFS under the following circumstances:
    (1) Adaptive Management--NMFS may modify (including augment) the 
existing mitigation, monitoring, or reporting measures (after 
consulting with Navy regarding the practicability of the modifications) 
if doing so creates a reasonable likelihood of more effectively 
accomplishing the goals of the mitigation and monitoring set forth in 
the preamble for these regulations.
    (i) Possible sources of data that could contribute to the decision 
to modify the mitigation, monitoring, or reporting measures in an LOA:
    (A) Results from Navy's monitoring from the previous year(s).
    (B) Results from other marine mammal and/or sound research or 
studies.
    (C) Any information that reveals marine mammals may have been taken 
in a manner, extent or number not authorized by these regulations or 
subsequent LOAs.
    (ii) If, through adaptive management, the modifications to the 
mitigation, monitoring, or reporting measures are substantial, NMFS 
will publish a notice of proposed LOA in the Federal Register and 
solicit public comment.
    (2) Emergencies. If NMFS 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) this chapter, an LOA may be 
modified without prior notice or opportunity for public comment. Notice 
would be published in the Federal Register within 30 days of the 
action.

[FR Doc. 2013-27846 Filed 12-3-13; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P