08 July 2010

AAC application for marine mammal take

[Federal Register: July 7, 2010 (Volume 75, Number 129)]
[Page 38991-38992]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

RIN 0648-AY99

Taking and Importing Marine Mammals; Taking Marine Mammals 
Incidental to Space Vehicle and Missile Launch Operations at Kodiak 
Launch Complex, Alaska

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

ACTION:  Notice; receipt of application for regulations and subsequent 
letters of authorization; request for comments and information.


SUMMARY:  NMFS has received an application from the Alaska Aerospace 
Corporation (AAC) for authorization to take marine mammals incidental 
to launching space launch vehicles, long range ballistic target 
missiles, and other smaller missile systems at Kodiak Launch Complex 
(KLC) for the period of February 2011 through February 2016. Pursuant 
to the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), NMFS is announcing receipt 
of the AAC's request for the development and implementation of 
regulations governing the incidental taking of marine mammals and 
inviting information, suggestions, and comments on the AAC's 
application and request.

DATES:  Comments and information must be received no later than August 
6, 2010

ADDRESSES: Comments on the application should be addressed to P. 
Michael Payne, Chief, Permits, Conservation and Education Division, 
Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service, 1315 
East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910-3225. The mailbox address 
for providing email comments is PR1.0648-AY99 @noaa.gov. Comments sent 
via e-mail, including all attachments, must not exceed a 10-megabyte 
file size.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jaclyn Daly or Michelle Magliocca, 
Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, (301) 713-2289.



    A copy of the AAC's application may be obtained by writing to the 
address specified above (see ADDRESSES), telephoning the contact listed 
above (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT), or visiting the internet 
at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental.htm.


    Sections 101(a)(5)(A) and (D) of the MMPA (16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.) 
direct the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary) to allow, upon request, 
the incidental, but not intentional taking of marine mammals by U.S. 
citizens who engage in a specified activity (other than commercial 
fishing) if certain findings are made and regulations are issued or, if 
the taking is limited to harassment, notice of a proposed authorization 
is provided to the public for review.
    Authorization for incidental takings may be granted if NMFS finds 
that the taking will have a negligible impact on the species or 
stock(s), will not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the 
availability of the species or stock(s) for certain subsistence uses, 
and that the permissible methods of taking and requirements pertaining 
to the mitigation, monitoring and reporting of such taking are set 
forth. NMFS has defined ``negligible impact'' in 50 CFR 216.103 as 
''...an impact resulting from the specified activity that cannot be 
reasonably expected to, and is not reasonably likely to, adversely 
affect the species or stock through effects on annual rates of 
recruitment or survival.''
    The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA; Pub. L. 108 136) 
removed the ``small numbers'' and ``specified geographical region'' 
limitations and amended the definition of ``harassment'' as it applies 
to a ``military readiness activity'' to read as follows (Section 
3(18)(B) of the MMPA):
    (i) Any act that injures or has the significant potential to 
injure a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild [Level A 
Harassment]; or (ii) Any act that disturbs or is likely to disturb a 
marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild by causing 
disruption of natural behavioral patterns, including, but not 
limited to, migration, surfacing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or 
sheltering, to a point where such behavioral patterns are abandoned 
or significantly altered [Level B Harassment].

Summary of Request

    On June 4, 2010, NMFS received a complete application from the AAC 
requesting authorization for the take of Steller sea lions (Eumetopias 
jubatus) and harbor seals (Phoca vitulina), incidental to space vehicle 
and missile launch activities from KLC for a period of 5 years. These 
launches are designed to support the U.S. Department of Defense 
training and operations and hence are considered military readiness 
activities. Marine mammals, specifically pinnipeds on nearby haulouts, 
may be exposed to launch noise. AAC is requesting the take, by 
harassment, of juvenile and adult Steller sea lions and all age class 
of harbor seals.

Specified Activities

    AAC is proposing to launch small to medium space launch vehicles 
ranging in size from the small Castor 120 and the related Peacekeeper 
derived Minotaur IV and V vehicles to the medium lift Taurus II 
(currently under development) from the KLC. KLC can also support launch 
of the Minuteman II and III derived Minotaur I (a space launch vehicle) 
through III (which are primarily used as ballistic targets). Additional 
target missiles include the C-4 Trident, Quick Reaction Launch

[[Page 38992]]

Vehicles, and tactical missiles such as the Patriot and Theater High 
Altitude Area Defense (THAAD). A number of smaller target and 
interceptor missile systems may also be flown from KLC. The AAC 
anticipates ability to accommodate nine launches per year.
    Marine mammals, specifically pinnipeds hauled out on Ugak Rock, 
which lies immediately south of Narrow Cape, would be subjected to 
rocket launch noise. Sound monitoring previously conducted on Ugak Rock 
demonstrates that noise levels could reach up to 101.4 dBA for the 
loudest vehicle, the Castor 120. AAC is requesting the take of 10 
Steller sea lions per launch and the take of 125 harbor seals per 

Information Solicited

    Interested persons may submit information, suggestions, and 
comments concerning the AAC's request (see ADDRESSES). All information, 
suggestions, and comments related to the AAC's request and NMFS' 
potential development and implementation of regulations governing the 
incidental taking of marine mammals by the AAC near the KLC will be 
considered by NMFS in developing, if appropriate, regulations governing 
the issuance of letters of authorization.

    Dated: June 29, 2010.
Helen M. Golde,
Deputy Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2010-16493 Filed 7-6-10; 8:45 am]

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