[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 216 (Friday, November 7, 2014)]
[Notices]
[Pages 66402-66403]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-26520]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Bureau of Ocean Energy Management

[Docket No. BOEM-14-0075]


Request for Information on the Development of a Long Term 
Monitoring Plan for Marine Mammals in the Gulf of Mexico; MMAA104000

AGENCY: Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), Interior.

ACTION: Request for information.

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SUMMARY: BOEM, in cooperation with the National Marine Fisheries 
Service (NMFS), is issuing a request for information to aid in the 
development of a long-term monitoring plan (LTMP) for marine mammals in 
the Gulf of Mexico (GOM). The LTMP will focus on the potential impacts 
to marine mammals from geological and geophysical data acquisition 
activities, including seismic surveys. This LTMP is a required element 
of BOEM's petition for rulemaking under the Marine Mammal Protection 
Act (MMPA).

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Section 101(a)(5) of the MMPA (16 U.S.C. 
1371(a)(5)) directs the Secretary of Commerce to allow, upon request by 
U.S. citizens who engage in a specified activity (other than commercial 
fishing)

[[Page 66403]]

within a specified geographical region, the incidental but not 
intentional, taking of marine mammals by citizens, providing that 
certain findings are made and the necessary measures are established, 
including requirements pertaining to monitoring. NMFS' implementing 
regulations direct that a request for incidental take authorization 
include ``the suggested means of accomplishing the necessary monitoring 
and reporting that will result in increased knowledge of the species, 
the level of taking or impacts on populations of marine mammals that 
are expected to be present while conducting activities, and suggested 
means of minimizing burdens by coordinating such reporting requirements 
with other schemes already applicable. . . .'' (50 CFR 216.104(a)(13)). 
These regulations also direct that a monitoring plan include ``a 
description of the survey techniques that would be used to determine 
the movement and activity of marine mammals near the activity site(s) . 
. . .'' Id.
    BOEM is seeking public input on development of this LTMP as 
outlined in paragraphs 1-4 below; however, it will only consider 
comments that are relevant to marine mammal species that occur in the 
GOM (http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/sars/pdf/ao2012_summary.pdf) and the 
potential effects of geological and geophysical survey activities on 
those species. Please refer to http://www.boem.gov/Oil-and-Gas-Energy-Program/GOMR/G-and-G-Survey-Techniques-Information-Sheet.aspx for 
information on the types of geological and geophysical survey 
activities that may be proposed for use in the GOM.
    (1) BOEM is seeking input on monitoring measures that will improve 
our understanding of the occurrence of marine mammal species in the GOM 
(e.g., presence, abundance, distribution, density); individual 
responses to acute stressors or impacts of chronic exposure to 
stressors (behavioral or physiological); how anticipated responses to 
stressors impact either long-term fitness and survival of an individual 
or the larger population, stock, or species; mitigation and monitoring 
effectiveness; and the nature, scope, or context of likely marine 
mammal exposure to potential stressors/impacts (individual or 
cumulative, acute or chronic).
    (2) With regard to the nature, scope and context of marine mammal 
exposure, BOEM and NMFS are looking for a better understanding of the 
relationships among the geological and geophysical activities and 
existing environment (e.g., source characterization, propagation, 
ambient noise); the affected species (e.g., life history, dive 
patterns); co-occurrence of marine mammal species with the geological 
and geophysical activities; and the biological or behavioral context of 
exposure (e.g., age, calving or feeding areas).
    (3) BOEM requests information related to the appropriate scope of 
this LTMP; study objectives necessary to increase understanding of the 
affected species; the effects of geological and geophysical survey 
activities on these species in both the short- and long-term; discrete 
study questions that will inform these objectives; and scientific 
methods (study design, methodology, or technology) to test these 
questions.
    (4) BOEM requests information regarding existing or upcoming marine 
mammal research efforts that may inform development of this LTMP, or 
with which it may be appropriate for this effort to coordinate to 
achieve monitoring goals, including those related to marine mammals in 
the GOM or monitoring programs worldwide aimed at long-term assessment 
of the effects of geological and geophysical activities on marine 
mammals. BOEM expects that this LTMP will be adaptive and will leverage 
existing monitoring efforts when feasible.
    (5) BOEM requests information pertaining to any other long-term 
monitoring plans for marine mammals that have been proposed or 
implemented, including those in other countries and regions.
    Comments: All interested parties may submit written comments on the 
development of the LTMP. BOEM will accept comments in either of the 
following two formats:
    1. Comments may be submitted via the Federal eRulemaking Portal at 
http://www.regulations.gov. Search for: ``Request for Information on 
the Development of a Long Term Monitoring Plan for Marine Mammals in 
the Gulf of Mexico''. (Note: It is recommended to include the quotation 
marks in your search terms.) You may also search via BOEM-14-0075. 
Click on the ``Comment Now!'' button to the right of the document link. 
Enter your information and comment, then click ``Submit.''
    2. Comments may be submitted via email to monitoringplan@boem.gov 
with the subject line labeled ``Request for Information, Gulf of Mexico 
Long Term Monitoring Plan''.

DATES: Comments must be received on or before December 8, 2014.
    Public Disclosure of Names and Addresses: BOEM does not consider 
anonymous comments; please include your name and address as part of 
your submittal. BOEM makes all comments, including the names and 
addresses of respondents, available for public review during regular 
business hours. Individual respondents may request that BOEM withhold 
their names and/or addresses from the public record; however, BOEM 
cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. If you wish your name 
and/or address to be withheld, you must state your preference 
prominently at the beginning of your comment. All submissions from 
organizations or businesses and from individuals identifying themselves 
as representatives or officials of organizations or businesses will be 
made available for public inspection in their entirety.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jennifer R. Lalibert[eacute], 
jennifer.laliberte@boem.gov. Please note that written comments will not 
be accepted at this email address. All written comments must be 
submitted in the manner described under the ``Comments'' section 
provided above.

    Dated: November 3, 2014.
Walter D. Cruickshank,
Acting Director, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.
[FR Doc. 2014-26520 Filed 11-6-14; 8:45 am]
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