81 FR 33217 - Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to the San Francisco Ferry Terminal Expansion Project, South Basin Improvements Project

DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Federal Register Volume 81, Issue 101 (May 25, 2016)

Page Range33217-33242
FR Document2016-12299

NMFS has received a request from the San Francisco Bay Area Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA) for authorization to take marine mammals incidental to construction activities as part of a ferry terminal expansion and improvements project. Pursuant to the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), NMFS is requesting public comment on its proposal to issue an incidental harassment authorization (IHA) to WETA to incidentally take marine mammals, by Level B harassment only, during the specified activity.

Federal Register, Volume 81 Issue 101 (Wednesday, May 25, 2016)
[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 101 (Wednesday, May 25, 2016)]
[Notices]
[Pages 33217-33242]
From the Federal Register Online  [www.thefederalregister.org]
[FR Doc No: 2016-12299]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

RIN 0648-XE490


Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; 
Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to the San Francisco Ferry Terminal 
Expansion Project, South Basin Improvements Project

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

ACTION: Notice; proposed incidental harassment authorization; request 
for comments.

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

SUMMARY: NMFS has received a request from the San Francisco Bay Area 
Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA) for authorization to 
take marine mammals incidental to construction activities as part of a 
ferry terminal expansion and improvements project. Pursuant to the 
Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), NMFS is requesting public comment 
on its proposal to issue an incidental harassment authorization (IHA) 
to WETA to incidentally take marine mammals, by Level B harassment 
only, during the specified activity.

DATES: Comments and information must be received no later than June 24, 
2016.

ADDRESSES: Comments on this proposal should be addressed to Jolie 
Harrison, Chief, Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected 
Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service. Physical comments should 
be sent to 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910, and 
electronic comments should be sent to [email protected].
    Instructions: NMFS is not responsible for comments sent by any 
other method, to any other address or individual, or

[[Page 33218]]

received after the end of the comment period. Comments received 
electronically, including all attachments, must not exceed a 25-
megabyte file size. Attachments to electronic comments will be accepted 
in Microsoft Word or Excel or Adobe PDF file formats only. All comments 
received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted 
to the Internet at www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental/construction.html without change. All personal identifying information 
(e.g., name, address) voluntarily submitted by the commenter may be 
publicly accessible. Do not submit confidential business information or 
otherwise sensitive or protected information.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Laura McCue, Office of Protected 
Resources, NMFS, (301) 427-8401.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Availability

    An electronic copy of WETA's application and supporting documents, 
as well as a list of the references cited in this document, may be 
obtained by visiting the Internet at: www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental/construction.html. In case of problems accessing these 
documents, please call the contact listed above.

National Environmental Policy Act

    NMFS is currently conducting an analysis, pursuant to National 
Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), to determine whether or not this 
proposed activity may have a significant effect on the human 
environment. This analysis will be completed prior to the issuance or 
denial of this proposed IHA.

Background

    Sections 101(a)(5)(A) and (D) of the MMPA (16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.) 
direct the Secretary of Commerce to allow, upon request by U.S. 
citizens who engage in a specified activity (other than commercial 
fishing) within a specified area, the incidental, but not intentional, 
taking of small numbers of marine mammals, providing that certain 
findings are made and the necessary prescriptions are established.
    The incidental taking of small numbers of marine mammals may be 
allowed only if NMFS (through authority delegated by the Secretary) 
finds that the total taking by the specified activity during the 
specified time period will (i) have a negligible impact on the species 
or stock(s) and (ii) not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the 
availability of the species or stock(s) for subsistence uses (where 
relevant). Further, the permissible methods of taking and requirements 
pertaining to the mitigation, monitoring and reporting of such taking 
must be set forth, either in specific regulations or in an 
authorization.
    The allowance of such incidental taking under section 101(a)(5)(A), 
by harassment, serious injury, death, or a combination thereof, 
requires that regulations be established. Subsequently, a Letter of 
Authorization may be issued pursuant to the prescriptions established 
in such regulations, providing that the level of taking will be 
consistent with the findings made for the total taking allowable under 
the specific regulations. Under section 101(a)(5)(D), NMFS may 
authorize such incidental taking by harassment only, for periods of not 
more than one year, pursuant to requirements and conditions contained 
within an IHA. The establishment of prescriptions through either 
specific regulations or an authorization requires notice and 
opportunity for public comment.
    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.'' Except with respect to certain activities 
not pertinent here, section 3(18) of the MMPA defines ``harassment'' 
as: ``. . . any act of pursuit, torment, or annoyance which (i) has the 
potential to injure a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild 
[Level A harassment]; or (ii) has the potential to disturb a marine 
mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild by causing disruption of 
behavioral patterns, including, but not limited to, migration, 
breathing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or sheltering [Level B 
harassment].''

Summary of Request

    On February 8, 2016, we received a request from WETA for 
authorization of the taking, by level B harassment only, of marine 
mammals, incidental to pile driving in association with the San 
Francisco Ferry Terminal Expansion Project, South Basin Improvements 
Project in San Francisco Bay, California. That request was modified to 
include additional species and additional monitoring and mitigation 
measures on March 28, 2016 and May 2, 2016, and a final version, which 
we deemed adequate and complete, was submitted on May 13, 2016, which 
included revised take numbers and additional mitigation measures. In-
water work associated with the project is expected to be completed 
within 23 months. This proposed IHA is for the first phase of 
construction activities (July 1, 2016-December 31, 2016).
    The use of both vibratory and impact pile driving is expected to 
produce underwater sound at levels that have the potential to result in 
behavioral harassment of marine mammals. Seven species of marine 
mammals have the potential to be affected by the specified activities: 
Harbor seal (Phoca vitulina), California sea lion (Zalophus 
californianus), Northern elephant seal (Mirounga angustirostris), 
Northern fur seal (Callorhinus ursinus), harbor porpoise (Phocoena 
phocoena), gray whale (Eschrichtius robustus), and bottlenose dolphin 
(Tursiops truncatus). These species may occur year round in the action 
area.
    Similar construction and pile driving activities in San Francisco 
Bay have been authorized by NMFS in the past. These projects include 
construction activities at the Exploratorium (75 FR 66065), pier 36 (77 
FR 20361), and the Oakland Bay Bridge (71 FR 26750; 72 FR 25748; 74 FR 
41684; 76 FR 7156; 78 FR 2371; 79 FR 2421; and 80 FR 43710).

Description of the Specified Activity

Overview

    The San Francisco Bay Area Water Emergency Transportation Authority 
(WETA) is expanding berthing capacity at the Downtown San Francisco 
Ferry Terminal (Ferry Terminal), located at the San Francisco Ferry 
Building (Ferry Building), to support existing and future planned water 
transit services operated on San Francisco Bay by WETA and WETA's 
emergency operations.
    The Downtown San Francisco Ferry Terminal Expansion Project would 
eventually include phased construction of three new water transit gates 
and overwater berthing facilities, in addition to supportive landside 
improvements, such as additional passenger waiting and queuing areas, 
circulation improvements, and other water transit-related amenities. 
The new gates and other improvements would be designed to accommodate 
future planned water transit services between Downtown San Francisco 
and Antioch, Berkeley, Martinez, Hercules, Redwood City, Richmond, and 
Treasure Island, as well as emergency operation needs. According to 
current planning and operating assumptions, WETA will not require all 
three new gates (Gates A, F, and G) to support existing and new 
services immediately. As a result, WETA is planning that project 
construction will be phased. The first phase will include construction 
of Gates

[[Page 33219]]

F and G, as well as other related improvements in the South Basin.

Dates and Duration

    The total project is expected to require a maximum of 130 days of 
in-water pile driving. The project may require up to 23 months for 
completion; with a maximum of 106 days for pile driving in the first 
year. In-water activities are limited to occur between July 1 and 
November 30, 2016 and June 1 through November 30, 2017. If in-water 
work will extend beyond the effective dates of the IHA, a second IHA 
application will be submitted by WETA. This proposed authorization 
would be effective from July 1, 2016 to December 31, 2016.

Specific Geographic Region

    The San Francisco ferry terminal is located in the western shore of 
San Francisco Bay (see Figure 1 of WETA's application). The ferry 
terminal is five blocks north of the San Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge. 
More specifically, the south basin of the ferry terminal is located 
between Pier 14 and the ferry plaza. San Francisco Bay and the adjacent 
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta make up one of the largest estuarine 
systems on the continent. The Bay has undergone extensive 
industrialization, but remains an important environment for healthy 
marine mammal populations year round. The area surrounding the proposed 
activity is an intertidal landscape with heavy industrial use and boat 
traffic.

Detailed Description of Activities

    The project supports existing and future planned water transit 
services operated by WETA, and regional policies to encourage transit 
uses. Furthermore, the project addresses deficiencies in the 
transportation network that impede water transit operation, passenger 
access, and passenger circulation at the Ferry Terminal.
    The project includes construction of two new water transit gates 
and associated overwater berthing facilities, in addition to supportive 
improvements, such as additional passenger waiting and queuing areas 
and circulation improvements in a 7.7-acre area (see Figure 1 in the 
WETA's application, which depicts the project area, and Figure 2, which 
depicts the project improvements). The project includes the following 
elements: (1) Removal of portions of existing deck and pile 
construction (portions will remain as open water, and other portions 
will be replaced); (2) Construction of two new gates (Gates F and G); 
(3) Relocation of an existing gate (Gate E); and (4) Improved passenger 
boarding areas, amenities, and circulation, including extending the 
East Bayside Promenade along Gates E, F, and G; strengthening the South 
Apron of the Agriculture Building; creating the Embarcadero Plaza; and 
installing weather protection canopies for passenger queuing.
    Implementation of the project improvements will result in a change 
in the type and area of structures over San Francisco Bay. In some 
areas, structures will be demolished and then rebuilt. The project will 
require both the removal and installation of piles as summarized in 
Table 1. Demolition and construction could be completed within 23 
months.

                                Table 1--Summary of Pile Removal and Installation
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                               Number of piles/
         Project element             Pile diameter         Pile type            Method             schedule
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Demolition in the South Basin...  12 to 18 inches...  Wood and concrete.  Pull or cut off 2   350 piles/30 days
                                                                           feet below mud      2016.
                                                                           line.
Removal of Dolphin Piles in the   36 inches.........  Steel: 140 to 150   Pull out..........  Four dolphin
 South Basin.                                          feet in length.                         piles.
Embarcadero Plaza and East        24 or 36 inches...  Steel: 135 to 155   Impact or           220 24- or 36-inch
 Bayside Promenade.                                    feet in length.     Vibratory Driver.   piles/65 days
                                                                                               2016.
Gates E, F, and G Dolphin Piles.  36 inches.........  Steel: 145 to 155   Impact or           14 total: Two at
                                                       feet in length.     Vibratory Driver.   each of the
                                                                                               floats for
                                                                                               protection; two
                                                                                               between each of
                                                                                               the floats; and
                                                                                               four adjacent to
                                                                                               the breakwater.
Gates F and G Guide Piles.......  36 inches.........  Steel: 140 to 150   Impact or           12 (6 per gate)/12
                                                       feet in length.     Vibratory Driver.   days 2017.
Gate E Guide Piles..............  36 inches.........  Steel: 145 to 155   Vibratory Driver    Six piles will be
                                                       feet in length.     for removal, may    removed and
                                                                           be reinstalled      reinstalled/12
                                                                           with an impact      days 2017.
                                                                           driver.
Fender Piles....................  14 inches.........  Polyurethane-       Impact or           38/10 days 2016.
                                                       coated pressure-    Vibratory Driver.
                                                       treated wood; 64
                                                       feet in length.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Removal of Existing Facilities

    As part of the project, the remnants of Pier 2 will be demolished 
and removed. This consists of approximately 21,000 square feet of 
existing deck structure supported by approximately 350 wood and 
concrete piles. In addition, four dolphin piles will be removed. 
Demolition will be conducted from barges. Two barges will be required: 
One for materials storage, and one outfitted with demolition equipment 
(crane, clamshell bucket for pulling of piles, and excavator for 
removal of the deck). Diesel-powered tug boats will bring the barges to 
the project area, where they will be anchored. Piles will be removed by 
either cutting them off two feet below the mud line or pulling the 
pile.

Construction of Gates and Berthing Structures

    The new gates (Gates F and G) will be built similarly. Each gate 
will be designed with an entrance portal--a prominent doorway 
physically separating the berthing structures from the surrounding 
area. Berthing structures will be provided for each new gate, 
consisting of floats, gangways, and guide piles. The steel floats will 
be approximately 42 feet wide by 135 feet long. The steel truss 
gangways will be approximately 14 feet wide and 105 feet long. The 
gangway will be designed to rise and fall with tidal variations while 
meeting Americans with Disabilities Act

[[Page 33220]]

(ADA) requirements. The gangway and the float will be designed with 
canopies, consistent with the current design of existing Gates B and E. 
The berthing structures will be fabricated off site and floated to the 
project area by barge. Six steel guide piles will be required to secure 
each float in place. In addition, dolphin piles may be used at each 
berthing structure to protect against the collision of vessels with 
other structures or vessels. A total of up to 14 dolphin piles may be 
installed.
    Chock-block fendering will be added along the East Bayside 
Promenade, to adjacent structures to protect against collision. The 
chock-block fendering will consist of square, 12-inch-wide, 
polyurethane-coated, pressure-treated wood blocks that are connected 
along the side of the adjacent pier structure, and supported by 
polyurethane-coated, pressure-treated wood piles. In addition, the 
existing Gate E float will be moved 43 feet to the east, to align with 
the new gates and East Bayside Promenade. The existing six 36-inch-
diameter steel guide piles will be removed using vibratory extraction, 
and reinstalled to secure the Gate E float in place. Because of Gate 
E's new location, to meet ADA requirements, the existing 90-foot-long 
steel truss gangway will be replaced with a longer, 105-foot-long 
gangway.

Passenger Boarding and Circulation Areas

    Several improvements will be made to passenger boarding and 
circulation areas. New deck and pile-supported structures will be 
built.
     An Embarcadero Plaza, elevated approximately 3 to 4 feet 
above current grade, will be created. The Embarcadero Plaza will 
require new deck and pile construction to fill an open-water area and 
replace existing structures that do not comply with Essential 
Facilities requirements.
     The East Bayside Promenade will be extended to create 
continuous pedestrian access to Gates E, F, and G, as well as to meet 
public access and pedestrian circulation requirements along San 
Francisco Bay. It will extend approximately 430 feet in length, and 
will provide an approximately 25-foot-wide area for pedestrian 
circulation and public access along Gates E, F, and G. The perimeter of 
the East Bayside Promenade will also include a curbed edge with a 
guardrail.
     Short access piers, approximately 30 feet wide and 45 feet 
long, will extend from the East Bayside Promenade to the portal for 
each gate.
     The South Apron of the Agriculture Building will be 
upgraded to temporarily support access for passenger circulation. 
Depending on their condition, as determined during Final Design, the 
piles supporting this apron may need to be strengthened with steel 
jackets.
     Two canopies will be constructed along the East Bayside 
Promenade: One between Gates E and F, and one between Gates F and G. 
Each of the canopies will be 125 feet long and 20 feet wide. Each 
canopy will be supported by four columns at 35 feet on center, with 10-
foot cantilevers at either end. The canopies will be constructed of 
steel and glass, and will include photovoltaic cells.
    The new deck will be constructed on the piles, using a system of 
beam-and-flat-slab-concrete construction, similar to what has been 
built in the Ferry Building area. The beam-and-slab construction will 
be either precast or cast-in-place concrete (or a combination of the 
two), and approximately 2.5 feet thick. Above the structure, granite 
paving or a concrete topping slab will provide a finished pedestrian 
surface.
    The passenger facilities, amenities, and public space 
improvements--such as the entrance portals, canopy structures, 
lighting, guardrails, and furnishings--will be surface-mounted on the 
pier structures after the new construction and repair are complete. The 
canopies and entrance portals will be constructed offsite, delivered to 
the site, craned into place by barge, and assembled onsite. The glazing 
materials, cladding materials, granite pavers, guardrails, and 
furnishings will be assembled onsite.

Dredging Requirements

    The side-loading vessels require a depth of 12.5 feet below mean 
lower low water (MLLW) on the approach and in the berthing area. Based 
on a bathymetric survey conducted in 2015, it is estimated that the new 
Gates F and G will require dredging to meet the required depths. The 
expected dredging volumes are presented in Table 2. These estimates are 
based on dredging the approach areas to 123.5 feet below MLLW, and 2 
feet of overdredge depth, to account for inaccuracies in dredging 
practices. The dredging will take approximately 2 months.

                Table 2--Summary of Dredging Requirements
------------------------------------------------------------------------
            Dredging element                         Summary
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Initial Dredging
    Gate F.............................  0.78 acre/6,006 cubic yards.
    Gate G.............................  1.64 acres/14,473 cubic yards.
    Total for Gates F and G............  2.42 acres/20,479 cubic yards.
    Staging............................  On barges.
    Typical Equipment..................  Clamshell dredge on barge;
                                          disposal barge; survey boat.
    Duration...........................  2 months.
Maintenance Dredging
    Gates F and G......................  5,000 to 10,000 cubic yards.
    Frequency..........................  Every 3 or 4 years.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Based on observed patterns of sediment accumulation in the Ferry 
Terminal area, significant sediment accumulation will not be expected, 
because regular maintenance dredging is not currently required to 
maintain operations at existing Gates B and E. However, some dredging 
will likely be required on a regular maintenance cycle beneath the 
floats at Gates F and G, due to their proximity to the Pier 14 
breakwater. It is expected that maintenance dredging will be required 
every 3 to 4 years, and will require removal of approximately 5,000 to 
10,000 cubic yards of material.
    Dredging and disposal of dredged materials will be conducted in 
cooperation with the San Francisco Dredged Materials Management Office 
(DMMO), including development of a sampling plan, sediment 
characterization, a sediment removal plan, and disposal in accordance 
with the Long-Term Management Strategy for San Francisco Bay to ensure 
beneficial reuse, as appropriate. DMMO consultation is expected to 
begin in early 2016. Based on the results of the sediment analysis, the 
alternatives for

[[Page 33221]]

placement of dredged materials will be evaluated, including disposal at 
the San Francisco Deep Ocean Disposal Site, disposal at an upland 
facility, or beneficial reuse. Selection of the disposal site will be 
reviewed and approved by the DMMO.

Description of Marine Mammals in the Area of the Specified Activity

    There are seven marine mammal species which may inhabit or may 
likely transit through the waters nearby the Ferry Terminal, and which 
are expected to potentially be taken by the specified activity. These 
include the Pacific harbor seal (Phoca vitulina), California sea lion 
(Zalophus californianus), Northern Elephant seal (Mirounga 
angustirostris), Northern fur seal (Callorhinus ursinus), harbor 
porpoise (Phocoena phocoena), gray whale (Eschrichtius robustus), and 
bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus). Multiple additional marine 
mammal species may occasionally enter the activity area in San 
Francisco Bay but would not be expected to occur in shallow nearshore 
waters of the action area. Guadalupe fur seals (Arctocephalus 
townsendi) generally do not occur in San Francisco Bay; however, there 
have been recent sightings of this species due to the El Ni[ntilde]o 
event. Only single individuals of this species have occasionally been 
sighted inside San Francisco Bay, and their presence near the action 
area is considered unlikely. No takes are requested for this species, 
and mitigation measures such as a shutdown zone will be in effect for 
this species if observed approaching the Level B harassment zone. 
Although it is possible that a humpback whale (Megaptera navaeangliae) 
may enter San Francisco Bay and find its way into the project area 
during construction activities, their occurrence is unlikely. No takes 
are requested for this species, and mitigation measures such as a delay 
and shutdown procedure will be in effect for this species if observed 
approaching the Level B harassment zone. Table 3 lists the marine 
mammal species with expected potential for occurrence in the vicinity 
of the SF Ferry terminal during the project timeframe and summarizes 
key information regarding stock status and abundance. Taxonomically, we 
follow Committee on Taxonomy (2014). Please see NMFS' Stock Assessment 
Reports (SAR), available at www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/sars, for more 
detailed accounts of these stocks' status and abundance. Please also 
refer to NMFS' Web site (www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/species/mammals) for 
generalized species accounts.

           Table 3--Marine Mammals Potentially Present in the Vicinity of San Francisco Ferry Terminal
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                Stock abundance                      Relative
                                                   ESA/MMPA     (CV, Nmin, most                   occurrence in
           Species                 Stock           Status;           recent           PBR 3       Strait of Juan
                                               strategic (Y/N)     abundance                     de Fuca; season
                                                      1            survey) 2                      of occurrence
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Order Cetartiodactyla--Cetacea--Superfamily Odontoceti (toothed whales, dolphins, and porpoises)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Family Phocoenidae
 (porpoises)
Harbor porpoise.............  San Francisco-   -; N...........  9,886 (0.51;                 66  Common.
                               Russian River.                    6,625; 2011).
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Order Cetartiodactyla--Cetacea--Superfamily Odontoceti (toothed whales, dolphins, and porpoises)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Family Delphinidae
 (dolphins)
Bottlenose dolphin 5........  California       -; N...........  323 (0.13; 290;             2.4  Rare.
                               coastal.                          2005).
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Order Cetartiodactyla--Cetacea--Superfamily Odontoceti (toothed whales, dolphins, and porpoises)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Family Eschrichtiidae
Gray whale..................  Eastern N.       -; N...........  20,990 (0.05;               624  Rare.
                               Pacific.                          20,125; 2011).
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                      Order Cetartiodactyla--Cetacea--Superfamily Mysticeti (baleen whales)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Family Balaenopteridae
Humpback whale..............  California/      E; S...........  1,918..........              11  Unlikely.
                               Oregon/
                               Washington
                               stock.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                     Order Carnivora--Superfamily Pinnipedia
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Family Otariidae (eared
 seals and sea lions)
California sea lion.........  U.S............  -; N...........  296,750 (n/a;             9,200  Common.
                                                                 153,337; 2011).
Guadalupe fur seal 5........  Mexico to        T; S...........  7,408 (n/a;                  91  Unlikely.
                               California.                       3,028; 1993).
Northern fur seal...........  California       -; N...........  14,050 (n/a;                451  Unlikely.
                               stock.                            7,524; 2013).
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Family Phocidae (earless
 seals)
Harbor seal.................  California.....  -; N...........  30,968 (n/a;              1,641  Common; Year-
                                                                 27,348; 2012).                   round
                                                                                                  resident.
Northern elephant seal......  California       -; N...........  179,000 (n/a;             4,882  Rare.
                               breeding stock.                   81,368; 2010).
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1 ESA status: Endangered (E), Threatened (T)/MMPA status: Depleted (D). A dash (-) indicates that the species is
  not listed under the ESA or designated as depleted under the MMPA. Under the MMPA, a strategic stock is one
  for which the level of direct human-caused mortality exceeds PBR (see footnote 3) or which is determined to be
  declining and likely to be listed under the ESA within the foreseeable future. Any species or stock listed
  under the ESA is automatically designated under the MMPA as depleted and as a strategic stock.

[[Page 33222]]

 
2 CV is coefficient of variation; Nmin is the minimum estimate of stock abundance. In some cases, CV is not
  applicable. For certain stocks, abundance estimates are actual counts of animals and there is no associated
  CV. The most recent abundance survey that is reflected in the abundance estimate is presented; there may be
  more recent surveys that have not yet been incorporated into the estimate.
3 Potential biological removal, defined by the MMPA as the maximum number of animals, not including natural
  mortalities, that may be removed from a marine mammal stock while allowing that stock to reach or maintain its
  optimum sustainable population size (OSP).
4 These values, found in NMFS' SARs, represent annual levels of human-caused mortality plus serious injury from
  all sources combined (e.g., commercial fisheries, subsistence hunting, ship strike). Annual M/SI often cannot
  be determined precisely and is in some cases presented as a minimum value. All values presented here are from
  the draft 2015 SARs (www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/sars/draft.htm).
5 Abundance estimates for these stocks are greater than eight years old and are therefore not considered
  current. PBR is considered undetermined for these stocks, as there is no current minimum abundance estimate
  for use in calculation. We nevertheless present the most recent abundance estimates and PBR values, as these
  represent the best available information for use in this document.

    Below, for those species that are likely to be taken by the 
activities described, we offer a brief introduction to the species and 
relevant stock as well as available information regarding population 
trends and threats, and describe any information regarding local 
occurrence.

Harbor Seal

    The Pacific harbor seal is one of five subspecies of Phoca 
vitulina, or the common harbor seal. There are five species of harbor 
seal in the Pacific EEZ: (1) California stock; (2) Oregon/Washington 
coast stock; (3) Washington Northern inland waters stock; (4) Southern 
Puget Sound stock; and (5) Hood Canal stock. Only the California stock 
occurs in the action area and is analyzed in this document. The current 
abundance estimate for this stock is 30,968. This stock is not 
considered strategic or designated as depleted under the MMPA and is 
not listed under the ESA. PBR is 1,641 animals per year. The average 
annual rate of incidental commercial fishery mortality (30 animals) is 
less than 10% of the calculated PBR (1,641 animals); therefore, fishery 
mortality is considered insignificant (Allen and Angliss, 2013).
    Although generally solitary in the water, harbor seals congregate 
at haulouts to rest, socialize, breed, molt. Habitats used as haul-out 
sites include tidal rocks, bayflats, sandbars, and sandy beaches 
(Zeiner et al., 1990). Haul-out sites are relatively consistent from 
year-to-year (Kopec and Harvey, 1995), and females have been recorded 
returning to their own natal haul-out when breeding (Cunningham et al., 
2009). Long-term monitoring studies have been conducted at the largest 
harbor seal colonies in Point Reyes National Seashore and Golden Gate 
National Recreation Area since 1976. Castro Rocks and other haulouts in 
San Francisco Bay are part of the regional survey area for this study 
and have been included in annual survey efforts. Between 2007 and 2012, 
the average number of adults observed ranged from 126 to 166 during the 
breeding season (March through May), and from 92 to 129 during the 
molting season (June through July) (Truchinski et al., 2008; Flynn et 
al., 2009; Codde et al., 2010; Codde et al., 2011; Codde et al., 2012; 
Codde and Allen, 2015). Marine mammal monitoring at multiple locations 
inside San Francisco Bay was conducted by Caltrans from May 1998 to 
February 2002, and determined that at least 500 harbor seals populate 
San Francisco Bay (Green et al., 2002). This estimate is consistent 
with previous seal counts in the San Francisco Bay, which ranged from 
524 to 641 seals from 1987 to 1999 (Goals Project, 2000). Although 
harbor seals haul-out at approximately 20 locations in San Francisco 
Bay, there are three locations that serve as primary locations: Mowry 
Slough in the south Bay, Corte Madera Marsh and Castro Rocks in the 
north Bay, and Yerba Buena Island in the central Bay (Grigg, 2008; 
Gibble, 2011). The main pupping areas in the San Francisco Bay are at 
Mowry Slough and Castro Rocks (Caltrans, 2012). Pupping season for 
harbor seals in San Francisco Bay spans from approximately March 15 
through May 31, with pup numbers generally peaking in late April or May 
(Caretta et al 2015). Births of harbor seals have not been observed at 
Corte Madera Marsh and Yerba Buena Island, but a few pups have been 
seen at these sites. Harbor seals forage in shallow waters on a variety 
of fish and crustaceans that are present throughout much of San 
Francisco Bay, and therefore could occasionally be found foraging in 
the action area as well.

California Sea Lion

    California sea lions range all along the western border of North 
America. The breeding areas of the California sea lion are on islands 
located in southern California, western Baja California, and the Gulf 
of California (Allen and Angliss 2015). Although California sea lions 
forage and conduct many activities in the water, they also use haul-
outs. California sea lions breed in Southern California and along the 
Channel Islands during the spring. The current population estimate for 
California sea lions is 296,750 animals. This species is not considered 
strategic under the MMPA, and is not designated as depleted. This 
species is also not listed under the ESA. PBR is 9,200 (Caretta et al, 
2015). Interactions with fisheries, boat collisions, human 
interactions, and entanglement are the main threats to this species 
(Caretta et al 2015).
    El Ni[ntilde]o affects California sea lion populations, with 
increased observations and strandings of this species in the area. 
Current observations of this species in CA have increased significantly 
over the past few years. Additionally, as a result of the large numbers 
of sea lion strandings in 2013, NOAA declared an unusual mortality 
event (UME). Although the exact causes of this UME are unknown, two 
hypotheses meriting further study include nutritional stress of pups 
resulting from a lack of forage fish available to lactating mothers and 
unknown disease agents during that time period.
    In San Francisco Bay, sea lions haul out primarily on floating K 
docks at Pier 39 in the Fisherman's Wharf area of the San Francisco 
Marina. The Pier 39 haul out is approximately 1.5 miles from the 
project vicinity. The Marine Mammal Center (TMMC) in Sausalito, 
California has performed monitoring surveys at this location since 
1991. A maximum of 1,706 sea lions was seen hauled out during one 
survey effort in 2009 (TMMC, 2015). Winter numbers are generally over 
500 animals (Goals Project, 2000). In August to September, counts 
average from 350 to 850 (NMFS, 2004). Of the California sea lions 
observed, approximately 85 percent were male. No pupping activity has 
been observed at this site or at other locations in the San Francisco 
Bay (Caltrans, 2012). The California sea lions usually frequent Pier 39 
in August after returning from the Channel Islands (Caltrans, 2013). In 
addition to the Pier 39 haul-out, California sea lions haul out on 
buoys and similar structures throughout San Francisco Bay. They mainly 
are seen swimming off the San Francisco and Marin shorelines within San 
Francisco Bay, but may occasionally enter the project area to forage.
    Although there is little information regarding the foraging 
behavior of the California sea lion in the San Francisco Bay, they have 
been observed foraging

[[Page 33223]]

on a regular basis in the shipping channel south of Yerba Buena Island. 
Foraging grounds have also been identified for pinnipeds, including sea 
lions, between Yerba Buena Island and Treasure Island, as well as off 
the Tiburon Peninsula (Caltrans, 2001).

Northern Elephant Seal

    Northern elephant seals breed and give birth in California (U.S.) 
and Baja California (Mexico), primarily on offshore islands (Stewart et 
al. 1994), from December to March (Stewart and Huber 1993). Although 
movement and genetic exchange continues between rookeries, most 
elephant seals return to natal rookeries when they start breeding 
(Huber et al. 1991). The California breeding population is now 
demographically isolated from the Baja California population, and is 
the only stock to occur near the action area. The current abundance 
estimate for this stock is 179,000 animals, with PBR at 4,882 animals 
(Caretta et al 2015). The population is reported to have grown at 3.8% 
annually since 1988 (Lowry et al. 2014). Fishery interactions and 
marine debris entanglement are the biggest threats to this species 
(Caretta et al 2015). Northern elephant seals are not listed under the 
Endangered Species Act, nor are they designated as depleted, or 
considered strategic under the MMPA.
    Northern elephant seals are common on California coastal mainland 
and island sites where they pup, breed, rest, and molt. The largest 
rookeries are on San Nicolas and San Miguel islands in the Northern 
Channel Islands. In the vicinity of San Francisco Bay, elephant seals 
breed, molt, and haul out at A[ntilde]o Nuevo Island, the Farallon 
Islands, and Point Reyes National Seashore (Lowry et al., 2014). Adults 
reside in offshore pelagic waters when not breeding or molting. 
Northern elephant seals haul out to give birth and breed from December 
through March, and pups remain onshore or in adjacent shallow water 
through May, when they may occasionally make brief stops in San 
Francisco Bay (Caltrans, 2015b). The most recent sighting was in 2012 
on the beach at Clipper Cove on Treasure Island, when a healthy 
yearling elephant seal hauled out for approximately one day. 
Approximately 100 juvenile northern elephant seals strand in San 
Francisco Bay each year, including individual strandings at Yerba Buena 
Island and Treasure Island (fewer than 10 strandings per year) 
(Caltrans, 2015b). When pups of the year return in the late summer and 
fall to haul out at rookery sites, they may also occasionally make 
brief stops in San Francisco Bay.

Northern Fur Seal

    Northern fur seals (Callorhinus ursinus) occur from southern 
California north to the Bering Sea and west to the Okhotsk Sea and 
Honshu Island, Japan. During the breeding season, approximately 74% of 
the worldwide population is found on the Pribilof Islands in the 
southern Bering Sea, with the remaining animals spread throughout the 
North Pacific Ocean (Lander and Kajimura 1982). Of the seals in U.S. 
waters outside of the Pribilofs, approximately one percent of the 
population is found on Bogoslof Island in the southern Bering Sea, San 
Miguel Island off southern California (NMFS 2007), and the Farallon 
Islands off central California. Two separate stocks of northern fur 
seals are recognized within U.S. waters: An Eastern Pacific stock and a 
California stock (including San Miguel Island and the Farallon 
Islands). Only the California breeding stock is considered here since 
it is the only stock to occur near the action area. The current 
abundance estimate for this stock is 14,050 and PBR is set at 451 
animals (Caretta et al 2015). This stock has grown exponentially during 
the past several years. Interaction with fisheries remains the top 
threat to this species (Caretta et al, 2015). This stock is not 
considered depleted or classified as strategic under the MMPA, and is 
not listed under the ESA.

Harbor Porpoise

    In the Pacific, harbor porpoise are found in coastal and inland 
waters from Point Conception, California to Alaska and across to 
Kamchatka and Japan (Gaskin 1984). Harbor porpoise appear to have more 
restricted movements along the western coast of the continental U.S. 
than along the eastern coast. Regional differences in pollutant 
residues in harbor porpoise indicate that they do not move extensively 
between California, Oregon, and Washington (Calambokidis and Barlow 
1991). That study also showed some regional differences within 
California (Allen and Angliss, 2014). Of the 10 stocks of Pacific 
harbor porpoise, only the San Francisco-Russian River stock is 
considered here since it is the only stock to occur near the action 
area. This current abundance estimate for this stock is 9,886 animals, 
with a PBR of 66 animals (Caretta et al 2015). Current population 
trends are not available for this stock. The main threats to this stock 
include fishery interactions. This stock is not designated as strategic 
or considered depleted under the MMPA, and is not listed under the ESA.

Gray Whale

    Once common throughout the Northern Hemisphere, the gray whale was 
extinct in the Atlantic by the early 1700s. Gray whales are now only 
commonly found in the North Pacific. Genetic comparisons indicate there 
are distinct ``Eastern North Pacific'' (ENP) and ``Western North 
Pacific'' (WNP) population stocks, with differentiation in both mtDNA 
haplotype and microsatellite allele frequencies (LeDuc et al. 2002; 
Lang et al. 2011a; Weller et al. 2013). Only the ENP stock occurs in 
the action area and is considered in this document. The current 
population estimate for this stock is 20,990 animals, with PBR at 624 
animals (Caretta et al, 2015). The population size of the ENP gray 
whale stock has increased over several decades despite an UME in 1999 
and 2000 and has been relatively stable since the mid-1990s. 
Interactions with fisheries, ship strikes, entanglement in marine 
debris, and habitat degradation are the main concerns for the gray 
whale population (Caretta et al 2015). This stock is not listed under 
the ESA, and is not considered a strategic stock or designated as 
depleted under the MMPA.

Bottlenose Dolphin

    Bottlenose dolphins are distributed worldwide in tropical and warm-
temperate waters. In many regions, including California, separate 
coastal and offshore populations are known (Walker 1981; Ross and 
Cockcroft 1990; Van Waerebeek et al. 1990). There are genetic 
differences between the populations; based on nuclear and mtDNA 
analyses, there are no shared haplotypes between coastal and offshore 
animals and significant genetic differentiation between the two 
ecotypes was evident (Caretta et al 2008). California coastal 
bottlenose dolphins are found within about one kilometer of shore 
(Hansen, 1990; Carretta et al. 1998; Defran and Weller 1999) primarily 
from Point Conception south into Mexican waters, at least as far south 
as San Quintin, Mexico. Oceanographic events appear to influence the 
distribution of animals along the coasts of California and Baja 
California, Mexico, as indicated by El Ni[ntilde]o events. There are 
three stocks of bottlenose dolphins in the Pacific: (1) California 
coastal stock, (2) California, Oregon, and Washington offshore stock, 
and (3) Hawaiian stock. Only the California coastal stock may occur in 
the action area. The current stock abundance estimate for the 
California

[[Page 33224]]

coastal stock is 323 animals, with PBR at 2.4 animals (Caretta et al 
2008). Pollutant levels in California are a threat to this species, and 
this stock may be vulnerable to disease outbreaks, particularly 
morbillivirus (Caretta et al 2008). This stock is not listed under the 
ESA, and is not considered strategic or designated as depleted under 
the MMPA.

Potential Effects of the Specified Activity on Marine Mammals and Their 
Habitat

    This section includes a summary and discussion of the ways that 
components of the specified activity (e.g., sound produced by pile 
driving) may impact marine mammals and their habitat. The Estimated 
Take by Incidental Harassment section later in this document will 
include a quantitative analysis of the number of individuals that are 
expected to be taken by this activity. The Negligible Impact Analysis 
section will include an analysis of how this specific activity will 
impact marine mammals and will consider the content of this section, 
the Estimated Take by Incidental Harassment section and the Proposed 
Mitigation section to draw conclusions regarding the likely impacts of 
this activity on the reproductive success or survivorship of 
individuals and from that on the affected marine mammal populations or 
stocks. In the following discussion, we provide general background 
information on sound and marine mammal hearing before considering 
potential effects to marine mammals from sound produced by vibratory 
and impact pile driving.

Description of Sound Sources

    Sound travels in waves, the basic components of which are 
frequency, wavelength, velocity, and amplitude. Frequency is the number 
of pressure waves that pass by a reference point per unit of time and 
is measured in hertz (Hz) or cycles per second. Wavelength is the 
distance between two peaks of a sound wave; lower frequency sounds have 
longer wavelengths than higher frequency sounds and attenuate 
(decrease) more rapidly in shallower water. Amplitude is the height of 
the sound pressure wave or the `loudness' of a sound and is typically 
measured using the decibel (dB) scale. A dB is the ratio between a 
measured pressure (with sound) and a reference pressure (sound at a 
constant pressure, established by scientific standards). It is a 
logarithmic unit that accounts for large variations in amplitude; 
therefore, relatively small changes in dB ratings correspond to large 
changes in sound pressure. When referring to sound pressure levels 
(SPLs; the sound force per unit area), sound is referenced in the 
context of underwater sound pressure to 1 microPascal ([mu]Pa). One 
pascal is the pressure resulting from a force of one newton exerted 
over an area of one square meter. The source level (SL) represents the 
sound level at a distance of 1 m from the source (referenced to 1 
[mu]Pa). The received level is the sound level at the listener's 
position. Note that all underwater sound levels in this document are 
referenced to a pressure of 1 [mu]Pa and all airborne sound levels in 
this document are referenced to a pressure of 20 [mu]Pa.
    Root mean square (rms) is the quadratic mean sound pressure over 
the duration of an impulse. Rms is calculated by squaring all of the 
sound amplitudes, averaging the squares, and then taking the square 
root of the average (Urick, 1983). Rms accounts for both positive and 
negative values; squaring the pressures makes all values positive so 
that they may be accounted for in the summation of pressure levels 
(Hastings and Popper, 2005). This measurement is often used in the 
context of discussing behavioral effects, in part because behavioral 
effects, which often result from auditory cues, may be better expressed 
through averaged units than by peak pressures.
    When underwater objects vibrate or activity occurs, sound-pressure 
waves are created. These waves alternately compress and decompress the 
water as the sound wave travels. Underwater sound waves radiate in all 
directions away from the source (similar to ripples on the surface of a 
pond), except in cases where the source is directional. The 
compressions and decompressions associated with sound waves are 
detected as changes in pressure by aquatic life and man-made sound 
receptors such as hydrophones.
    Even in the absence of sound from the specified activity, the 
underwater environment is typically loud due to ambient sound. Ambient 
sound is defined as environmental background sound levels lacking a 
single source or point (Richardson et al., 1995), and the sound level 
of a region is defined by the total acoustical energy being generated 
by known and unknown sources. These sources may include physical (e.g., 
waves, earthquakes, ice, atmospheric sound), biological (e.g., sounds 
produced by marine mammals, fish, and invertebrates), and anthropogenic 
sound (e.g., vessels, dredging, aircraft, construction). A number of 
sources contribute to ambient sound, including the following 
(Richardson et al., 1995):
     Wind and waves: The complex interactions between wind and 
water surface, including processes such as breaking waves and wave-
induced bubble oscillations and cavitation, are a main source of 
naturally occurring ambient noise for frequencies between 200 Hz and 50 
kHz (Mitson, 1995). In general, ambient sound levels tend to increase 
with increasing wind speed and wave height. Surf noise becomes 
important near shore, with measurements collected at a distance of 8.5 
km from shore showing an increase of 10 dB in the 100 to 700 Hz band 
during heavy surf conditions.
     Precipitation: Sound from rain and hail impacting the 
water surface can become an important component of total noise at 
frequencies above 500 Hz, and possibly down to 100 Hz during quiet 
times.
     Biological: Marine mammals can contribute significantly to 
ambient noise levels, as can some fish and shrimp. The frequency band 
for biological contributions is from approximately 12 Hz to over 100 
kHz.
     Anthropogenic: Sources of ambient noise related to human 
activity include transportation (surface vessels and aircraft), 
dredging and construction, oil and gas drilling and production, seismic 
surveys, sonar, explosions, and ocean acoustic studies. Shipping noise 
typically dominates the total ambient noise for frequencies between 20 
and 300 Hz. In general, the frequencies of anthropogenic sounds are 
below 1 kHz and, if higher frequency sound levels are created, they 
attenuate rapidly (Richardson et al., 1995). Sound from identifiable 
anthropogenic sources other than the activity of interest (e.g., a 
passing vessel) is sometimes termed background sound, as opposed to 
ambient sound.
    The sum of the various natural and anthropogenic sound sources at 
any given location and time--which comprise ``ambient'' or 
``background'' sound--depends not only on the source levels (as 
determined by current weather conditions and levels of biological and 
shipping activity) but also on the ability of sound to propagate 
through the environment. In turn, sound propagation is dependent on the 
spatially and temporally varying properties of the water column and sea 
floor, and is frequency-dependent. As a result of the dependence on a 
large number of varying factors, ambient sound levels can be expected 
to vary widely over both coarse and fine spatial and temporal scales. 
Sound levels at a given frequency and location can vary by 10-20 dB 
from day to day (Richardson et al., 1995). The result is that, 
depending on the source type and its intensity, sound from the 
specified activity may be a negligible addition to

[[Page 33225]]

the local environment or could form a distinctive signal that may 
affect marine mammals.
    The underwater acoustic environment at the ferry terminal is likely 
to be dominated by noise from day-to-day port and vessel activities. 
This is a highly industrialized area with high-use from small- to 
medium-sized vessels, and larger vessel that use the nearby major 
shipping channel. Underwater sound levels for water transit vessels, 
which operate throughout the day from the San Francisco Ferry Building 
ranged from 152 dB to 177 dB (WETA, 2003a). While there are no current 
measurements of ambient noise levels at the ferry terminal, it is 
likely that levels within the basin periodically exceed the 120 dB 
threshold and, therefore, that the high levels of anthropogenic 
activity in the basin create an environment far different from quieter 
habitats where behavioral reactions to sounds around the 120 dB 
threshold have been observed (e.g., Malme et al., 1984, 1988).
    In-water construction activities associated with the project would 
include impact pile driving and vibratory pile driving. The sounds 
produced by these activities fall into one of two general sound types: 
Pulsed and non-pulsed (defined in the following). The distinction 
between these two sound types is important because they have differing 
potential to cause physical effects, particularly with regard to 
hearing (e.g., Ward, 1997 in Southall et al., 2007). Please see 
Southall et al., (2007) for an in-depth discussion of these concepts.
    Pulsed sound sources (e.g., explosions, gunshots, sonic booms, 
impact pile driving) produce signals that are brief (typically 
considered to be less than one second), broadband, atonal transients 
(ANSI, 1986; Harris, 1998; NIOSH, 1998; ISO, 2003; ANSI, 2005) and 
occur either as isolated events or repeated in some succession. Pulsed 
sounds are all characterized by a relatively rapid rise from ambient 
pressure to a maximal pressure value followed by a rapid decay period 
that may include a period of diminishing, oscillating maximal and 
minimal pressures, and generally have an increased capacity to induce 
physical injury as compared with sounds that lack these features.
    Non-pulsed sounds can be tonal, narrowband, or broadband, brief or 
prolonged, and may be either continuous or non-continuous (ANSI, 1995; 
NIOSH, 1998). Some of these non-pulsed sounds can be transient signals 
of short duration but without the essential properties of pulses (e.g., 
rapid rise time). Examples of non-pulsed sounds include those produced 
by vessels, aircraft, machinery operations such as drilling or 
dredging, vibratory pile driving, and active sonar systems (such as 
those used by the U.S. Navy). The duration of such sounds, as received 
at a distance, can be greatly extended in a highly reverberant 
environment.
    Impact hammers operate by repeatedly dropping a heavy piston onto a 
pile to drive the pile into the substrate. Sound generated by impact 
hammers is characterized by rapid rise times and high peak levels, a 
potentially injurious combination (Hastings and Popper, 2005). 
Vibratory hammers install piles by vibrating them and allowing the 
weight of the hammer to push them into the sediment. Vibratory hammers 
produce significantly less sound than impact hammers. Peak SPLs may be 
180 dB or greater, but are generally 10 to 20 dB lower than SPLs 
generated during impact pile driving of the same-sized pile (Oestman et 
al., 2009). Rise time is slower, reducing the probability and severity 
of injury, and sound energy is distributed over a greater amount of 
time (Nedwell and Edwards, 2002; Carlson et al., 2005).

Marine Mammal Hearing

    Hearing is the most important sensory modality for marine mammals, 
and exposure to sound can have deleterious effects. To appropriately 
assess these potential effects, it is necessary to understand the 
frequency ranges marine mammals are able to hear. Current data indicate 
that not all marine mammal species have equal hearing capabilities 
(e.g., Richardson et al., 1995; Wartzok and Ketten, 1999; Au and 
Hastings, 2008). To reflect this, Southall et al. (2007) recommended 
that marine mammals be divided into functional hearing groups based on 
measured or estimated hearing ranges on the basis of available 
behavioral data, audiograms derived using auditory evoked potential 
techniques, anatomical modeling, and other data. The lower and/or upper 
frequencies for some of these functional hearing groups have been 
modified from those designated by Southall et al. (2007). The 
functional groups and the associated frequencies are indicated below 
(note that these frequency ranges do not necessarily correspond to the 
range of best hearing, which varies by species):
     Low frequency cetaceans (13 species of mysticetes): 
Functional hearing is estimated to occur between approximately 7 Hz and 
25 kHz (up to 30 kHz in some species), with best hearing estimated to 
be from 100 Hz to 8 kHz (Watkins, 1986; Ketten, 1998; Houser et al., 
2001; Au et al., 2006; Lucifredi and Stein, 2007; Ketten et al., 2007; 
Parks et al., 2007a; Ketten and Mountain, 2009; Tubelli et al., 2012);
     Mid-frequency cetaceans (32 species of dolphins, six 
species of larger toothed whales, and 19 species of beaked and 
bottlenose whales): Functional hearing is estimated to occur between 
approximately 150 Hz and 160 kHz with best hearing from 10 to less than 
100 kHz (Johnson, 1967; White, 1977; Richardson et al., 1995; Szymanski 
et al., 1999; Kastelein et al., 2003; Finneran et al., 2005a, 2009; 
Nachtigall et al., 2005, 2008; Yuen et al., 2005; Popov et al., 2007; 
Au and Hastings, 2008; Houser et al., 2008; Pacini et al., 2010, 2011; 
Schlundt et al., 2011);
     High frequency cetaceans (eight species of true porpoises, 
six species of river dolphins, and members of the genera Kogia and 
Cephalorhynchus; now considered to include two members of the genus 
Lagenorhynchus on the basis of recent echolocation data and genetic 
data [May-Collado and Agnarsson, 2006; Kyhn et al. 2009, 2010; Tougaard 
et al. 2010]): Functional hearing is estimated to occur between 
approximately 200 Hz and 180 kHz (Popov and Supin, 1990a,b; Kastelein 
et al., 2002; Popov et al., 2005);
     Phocid pinnipeds in Water: Functional hearing is estimated 
to occur between approximately 75 Hz and 100 kHz with best hearing 
between 1-50 kHz (M[oslash]hl, 1968; Terhune and Ronald, 1971, 1972; 
Richardson et al., 1995; Kastak and Schusterman, 1999; Reichmuth, 2008; 
Kastelein et al., 2009); and
    Otariid pinnipeds in Water: Functional hearing is estimated to 
occur between approximately 100 Hz and 48 kHz, with best hearing 
between 2-48 kHz (Schusterman et al., 1972; Moore and Schusterman, 
1987; Babushina et al., 1991; Richardson et al., 1995; Kastak and 
Schusterman, 1998; Kastelein et al., 2005a; Mulsow and Reichmuth, 2007; 
Mulsow et al., 2011a, b).
    The pinniped functional hearing group was modified from Southall et 
al. (2007) on the basis of data indicating that phocid species have 
consistently demonstrated an extended frequency range of hearing 
compared to otariids, especially in the higher frequency range 
(Hemil[auml] et al., 2006; Kastelein et al., 2009; Reichmuth et al., 
2013).
    As mentioned previously in this document, seven marine mammal 
species (three cetaceans and four pinnipeds) may occur in the project 
area. Of these three cetaceans, one is classified as a low-frequency 
cetacean

[[Page 33226]]

(i.e. gray whale), one is classified as a mid-frequency cetacean (i.e., 
bottlenose dolphin), and one is classified as a high-frequency 
cetaceans (i.e., harbor porpoise) (Southall et al., 2007). 
Additionally, harbor seals, Northern fur seals, and Northern elephant 
seals are classified as members of the phocid pinnipeds in water 
functional hearing group while California sea lions are grouped under 
the Otariid pinnipeds in water functional hearing group. A species' 
functional hearing group is a consideration when we analyze the effects 
of exposure to sound on marine mammals.

Acoustic Impacts

    Please refer to the information given previously (Description of 
Sound Sources) regarding sound, characteristics of sound types, and 
metrics used in this document. Anthropogenic sounds cover a broad range 
of frequencies and sound levels and can have a range of highly variable 
impacts on marine life, from none or minor to potentially severe 
responses, depending on received levels, duration of exposure, 
behavioral context, and various other factors. The potential effects of 
underwater sound from active acoustic sources can potentially result in 
one or more of the following: Temporary or permanent hearing 
impairment, non-auditory physical or physiological effects, behavioral 
disturbance, stress, and masking (Richardson et al., 1995; Gordon et 
al., 2004; Nowacek et al., 2007; Southall et al., 2007; Gotz et al., 
2009). The degree of effect is intrinsically related to the signal 
characteristics, received level, distance from the source, and duration 
of the sound exposure. In general, sudden, high level sounds can cause 
hearing loss, as can longer exposures to lower level sounds. Temporary 
or permanent loss of hearing will occur almost exclusively for noise 
within an animal's hearing range. We first describe specific 
manifestations of acoustic effects before providing discussion specific 
to WETA's construction activities.
    Richardson et al. (1995) described zones of increasing intensity of 
effect that might be expected to occur, in relation to distance from a 
source and assuming that the signal is within an animal's hearing 
range. First is the area within which the acoustic signal would be 
audible (potentially perceived) to the animal, but not strong enough to 
elicit any overt behavioral or physiological response. The next zone 
corresponds with the area where the signal is audible to the animal and 
of sufficient intensity to elicit behavioral or physiological 
responsiveness. Third is a zone within which, for signals of high 
intensity, the received level is sufficient to potentially cause 
discomfort or tissue damage to auditory or other systems. Overlaying 
these zones to a certain extent is the area within which masking (i.e., 
when a sound interferes with or masks the ability of an animal to 
detect a signal of interest that is above the absolute hearing 
threshold) may occur; the masking zone may be highly variable in size.
    We describe the more severe effects (i.e., permanent hearing 
impairment, certain non-auditory physical or physiological effects) 
only briefly as we do not expect that there is a reasonable likelihood 
that WETA's activities may result in such effects (see below for 
further discussion). Marine mammals exposed to high-intensity sound, or 
to lower-intensity sound for prolonged periods, can experience hearing 
threshold shift (TS), which is the loss of hearing sensitivity at 
certain frequency ranges (Kastak et al., 1999; Schlundt et al., 2000; 
Finneran et al., 2002, 2005b). TS can be permanent (PTS), in which case 
the loss of hearing sensitivity is not fully recoverable, or temporary 
(TTS), in which case the animal's hearing threshold would recover over 
time (Southall et al., 2007). Repeated sound exposure that leads to TTS 
could cause PTS. In severe cases of PTS, there can be total or partial 
deafness, while in most cases the animal has an impaired ability to 
hear sounds in specific frequency ranges (Kryter, 1985).
    When PTS occurs, there is physical damage to the sound receptors in 
the ear (i.e., tissue damage), whereas TTS represents primarily tissue 
fatigue and is reversible (Southall et al., 2007). In addition, other 
investigators have suggested that TTS is within the normal bounds of 
physiological variability and tolerance and does not represent physical 
injury (e.g., Ward, 1997). Therefore, NMFS does not consider TTS to 
constitute auditory injury.
    Relationships between TTS and PTS thresholds have not been studied 
in marine mammals--PTS data exists only for a single harbor seal 
(Kastak et al., 2008)--but are assumed to be similar to those in humans 
and other terrestrial mammals. PTS typically occurs at exposure levels 
at least several decibels above (a 40-dB threshold shift approximates 
PTS onset; e.g., Kryter et al., 1966; Miller, 1974) that inducing mild 
TTS (a 6-dB threshold shift approximates TTS onset; e.g., Southall et 
al. 2007). Based on data from terrestrial mammals, a precautionary 
assumption is that the PTS thresholds for impulse sounds (such as 
impact pile driving pulses as received close to the source) are at 
least 6 dB higher than the TTS threshold on a peak-pressure basis and 
PTS cumulative sound exposure level thresholds are 15 to 20 dB higher 
than TTS cumulative sound exposure level thresholds (Southall et al., 
2007). Given the higher level of sound or longer exposure duration 
necessary to cause PTS as compared with TTS, it is considerably less 
likely that PTS could occur.
    Non-auditory physiological effects or injuries that theoretically 
might occur in marine mammals exposed to high level underwater sound or 
as a secondary effect of extreme behavioral reactions (e.g., change in 
dive profile as a result of an avoidance reaction) caused by exposure 
to sound include neurological effects, bubble formation, resonance 
effects, and other types of organ or tissue damage (Cox et al., 2006; 
Southall et al., 2007; Zimmer and Tyack, 2007). WETA's activities do 
not involve the use of devices such as explosives or mid-frequency 
active sonar that are associated with these types of effects.
    When a live or dead marine mammal swims or floats onto shore and is 
incapable of returning to sea, the event is termed a ``stranding'' (16 
U.S.C. 1421h(3)). Marine mammals are known to strand for a variety of 
reasons, such as infectious agents, biotoxicosis, starvation, fishery 
interaction, ship strike, unusual oceanographic or weather events, 
sound exposure, or combinations of these stressors sustained 
concurrently or in series (e.g., Geraci et al., 1999). However, the 
cause or causes of most strandings are unknown (e.g., Best, 1982). 
Combinations of dissimilar stressors may combine to kill an animal or 
dramatically reduce its fitness, even though one exposure without the 
other would not be expected to produce the same outcome (e.g., Sih et 
al., 2004). For further description of stranding events see, e.g., 
Southall et al., 2006; Jepson et al., 2013; Wright et al., 2013.
    1. Temporary threshold shift--TTS is the mildest form of hearing 
impairment that can occur during exposure to sound (Kryter, 1985). 
While experiencing TTS, the hearing threshold rises, and a sound must 
be at a higher level in order to be heard. In terrestrial and marine 
mammals, TTS can last from minutes or hours to days (in cases of strong 
TTS). In many cases, hearing sensitivity recovers rapidly after 
exposure to the sound ends. Few data on sound levels and durations 
necessary to elicit mild TTS have been obtained for marine mammals, and 
none of the data published at the time of this writing

[[Page 33227]]

concern TTS elicited by exposure to multiple pulses of sound.
    Marine mammal hearing plays a critical role in communication with 
conspecifics, and interpretation of environmental cues for purposes 
such as predator avoidance and prey capture. Depending on the degree 
(elevation of threshold in dB), duration (i.e., recovery time), and 
frequency range of TTS, and the context in which it is experienced, TTS 
can have effects on marine mammals ranging from discountable to 
serious. For example, a marine mammal may be able to readily compensate 
for a brief, relatively small amount of TTS in a non-critical frequency 
range that occurs during a time where ambient noise is lower and there 
are not as many competing sounds present. Alternatively, a larger 
amount and longer duration of TTS sustained during time when 
communication is critical for successful mother/calf interactions could 
have more serious impacts.
    Currently, TTS data only exist for four species of cetaceans 
(bottlenose dolphin, beluga whale [Delphinapterus leucas], harbor 
porpoise, and Yangtze finless porpoise [Neophocoena asiaeorientalis]) 
and three species of pinnipeds (northern elephant seal, harbor seal, 
and California sea lion) exposed to a limited number of sound sources 
(i.e., mostly tones and octave-band noise) in laboratory settings 
(e.g., Finneran et al., 2002; Nachtigall et al., 2004; Kastak et al., 
2005; Lucke et al., 2009; Popov et al., 2011). In general, harbor seals 
(Kastak et al., 2005; Kastelein et al., 2012a) and harbor porpoises 
(Lucke et al., 2009; Kastelein et al., 2012b) have a lower TTS onset 
than other measured pinniped or cetacean species. Additionally, the 
existing marine mammal TTS data come from a limited number of 
individuals within these species. There are no data available on noise-
induced hearing loss for mysticetes. For summaries of data on TTS in 
marine mammals or for further discussion of TTS onset thresholds, 
please see Southall et al. (2007) and Finneran and Jenkins (2012).
    2. Behavioral effects--Behavioral disturbance may include a variety 
of effects, including subtle changes in behavior (e.g., minor or brief 
avoidance of an area or changes in vocalizations), more conspicuous 
changes in similar behavioral activities, and more sustained and/or 
potentially severe reactions, such as displacement from or abandonment 
of high-quality habitat. Behavioral responses to sound are highly 
variable and context-specific and any reactions depend on numerous 
intrinsic and extrinsic factors (e.g., species, state of maturity, 
experience, current activity, reproductive state, auditory sensitivity, 
time of day), as well as the interplay between factors (e.g., 
Richardson et al., 1995; Wartzok et al., 2003; Southall et al., 2007; 
Weilgart, 2007; Archer et al., 2010). Behavioral reactions can vary not 
only among individuals but also within an individual, depending on 
previous experience with a sound source, context, and numerous other 
factors (Ellison et al., 2012), and can vary depending on 
characteristics associated with the sound source (e.g., whether it is 
moving or stationary, number of sources, distance from the source). 
Please see Appendices B-C of Southall et al. (2007) for a review of 
studies involving marine mammal behavioral responses to sound.
    Habituation can occur when an animal's response to a stimulus wanes 
with repeated exposure, usually in the absence of unpleasant associated 
events (Wartzok et al., 2003). Animals are most likely to habituate to 
sounds that are predictable and unvarying. It is important to note that 
habituation is appropriately considered as a ``progressive reduction in 
response to stimuli that are perceived as neither aversive nor 
beneficial,'' rather than as, more generally, moderation in response to 
human disturbance (Bejder et al., 2009). The opposite process is 
sensitization, when an unpleasant experience leads to subsequent 
responses, often in the form of avoidance, at a lower level of 
exposure. As noted, behavioral state may affect the type of response. 
For example, animals that are resting may show greater behavioral 
change in response to disturbing sound levels than animals that are 
highly motivated to remain in an area for feeding (Richardson et al., 
1995; NRC, 2003; Wartzok et al., 2003). Controlled experiments with 
captive marine mammals have showed pronounced behavioral reactions, 
including avoidance of loud sound sources (Ridgway et al., 1997; 
Finneran et al., 2003). Observed responses of wild marine mammals to 
loud pulsed sound sources (typically seismic airguns or acoustic 
harassment devices) have been varied but often consist of avoidance 
behavior or other behavioral changes suggesting discomfort (Morton and 
Symonds, 2002; see also Richardson et al., 1995; Nowacek et al., 2007).
    Available studies show wide variation in response to underwater 
sound; therefore, it is difficult to predict specifically how any given 
sound in a particular instance might affect marine mammals perceiving 
the signal. If a marine mammal does react briefly to an underwater 
sound by changing its behavior or moving a small distance, the impacts 
of the change are unlikely to be significant to the individual, let 
alone the stock or population. However, if a sound source displaces 
marine mammals from an important feeding or breeding area for a 
prolonged period, impacts on individuals and populations could be 
significant (e.g., Lusseau and Bejder, 2007; Weilgart, 2007; NRC, 
2005). However, there are broad categories of potential response, which 
we describe in greater detail here, that include alteration of dive 
behavior, alteration of foraging behavior, effects to breathing, 
interference with or alteration of vocalization, avoidance, and flight.
    Changes in dive behavior can vary widely, and may consist of 
increased or decreased dive times and surface intervals as well as 
changes in the rates of ascent and descent during a dive (e.g., Frankel 
and Clark, 2000; Costa et al., 2003; Ng and Leung, 2003; Nowacek et 
al.; 2004; Goldbogen et al., 2013a,b). Variations in dive behavior may 
reflect interruptions in biologically significant activities (e.g., 
foraging) or they may be of little biological significance. The impact 
of an alteration to dive behavior resulting from an acoustic exposure 
depends on what the animal is doing at the time of the exposure and the 
type and magnitude of the response.
    Disruption of feeding behavior can be difficult to correlate with 
anthropogenic sound exposure, so it is usually inferred by observed 
displacement from known foraging areas, the appearance of secondary 
indicators (e.g., bubble nets or sediment plumes), or changes in dive 
behavior. As for other types of behavioral response, the frequency, 
duration, and temporal pattern of signal presentation, as well as 
differences in species sensitivity, are likely contributing factors to 
differences in response in any given circumstance (e.g., Croll et al., 
2001; Nowacek et al.; 2004; Madsen et al., 2006; Yazvenko et al., 
2007). A determination of whether foraging disruptions incur fitness 
consequences would require information on or estimates of the energetic 
requirements of the affected individuals and the relationship between 
prey availability, foraging effort and success, and the life history 
stage of the animal.
    Variations in respiration naturally vary with different behaviors 
and alterations to breathing rate as a function of acoustic exposure 
can be expected to co-occur with other behavioral reactions, such as a 
flight response or an alteration in diving. However, respiration rates 
in and of themselves may be representative of annoyance or an acute 
stress response.

[[Page 33228]]

Various studies have shown that respiration rates may either be 
unaffected or could increase, depending on the species and signal 
characteristics, again highlighting the importance in understanding 
species differences in the tolerance of underwater noise when 
determining the potential for impacts resulting from anthropogenic 
sound exposure (e.g., Kastelein et al., 2001, 2005b, 2006; Gailey et 
al., 2007).
    Marine mammals vocalize for different purposes and across multiple 
modes, such as whistling, echolocation click production, calling, and 
singing. Changes in vocalization behavior in response to anthropogenic 
noise can occur for any of these modes and may result from a need to 
compete with an increase in background noise or may reflect increased 
vigilance or a startle response. For example, in the presence of 
potentially masking signals, humpback whales and killer whales have 
been observed to increase the length of their songs (Miller et al., 
2000; Fristrup et al., 2003; Foote et al., 2004), while right whales 
have been observed to shift the frequency content of their calls upward 
while reducing the rate of calling in areas of increased anthropogenic 
noise (Parks et al., 2007b). In some cases, animals may cease sound 
production during production of aversive signals (Bowles et al., 1994).
    Avoidance is the displacement of an individual from an area or 
migration path as a result of the presence of a sound or other 
stressors, and is one of the most obvious manifestations of disturbance 
in marine mammals (Richardson et al., 1995). For example, gray whales 
are known to change direction--deflecting from customary migratory 
paths--in order to avoid noise from seismic surveys (Malme et al., 
1984). Avoidance may be short-term, with animals returning to the area 
once the noise has ceased (e.g., Bowles et al., 1994; Goold, 1996; 
Stone et al., 2000; Morton and Symonds, 2002; Gailey et al., 2007). 
Longer-term displacement is possible, however, which may lead to 
changes in abundance or distribution patterns of the affected species 
in the affected region if habituation to the presence of the sound does 
not occur (e.g., Blackwell et al., 2004; Bejder et al., 2006; Teilmann 
et al., 2006).
    A flight response is a dramatic change in normal movement to a 
directed and rapid movement away from the perceived location of a sound 
source. The flight response differs from other avoidance responses in 
the intensity of the response (e.g., directed movement, rate of 
travel). Relatively little information on flight responses of marine 
mammals to anthropogenic signals exist, although observations of flight 
responses to the presence of predators have occurred (Connor and 
Heithaus, 1996). The result of a flight response could range from 
brief, temporary exertion and displacement from the area where the 
signal provokes flight to, in extreme cases, marine mammal strandings 
(Evans and England, 2001). However, it should be noted that response to 
a perceived predator does not necessarily invoke flight (Ford and 
Reeves, 2008), and whether individuals are solitary or in groups may 
influence the response.
    Behavioral disturbance can also impact marine mammals in more 
subtle ways. Increased vigilance may result in costs related to 
diversion of focus and attention (i.e., when a response consists of 
increased vigilance, it may come at the cost of decreased attention to 
other critical behaviors such as foraging or resting). These effects 
have generally not been demonstrated for marine mammals, but studies 
involving fish and terrestrial animals have shown that increased 
vigilance may substantially reduce feeding rates (e.g., Beauchamp and 
Livoreil, 1997; Fritz et al., 2002; Purser and Radford, 2011). In 
addition, chronic disturbance can cause population declines through 
reduction of fitness (e.g., decline in body condition) and subsequent 
reduction in reproductive success, survival, or both (e.g., Harrington 
and Veitch, 1992; Daan et al., 1996; Bradshaw et al., 1998). However, 
Ridgway et al. (2006) reported that increased vigilance in bottlenose 
dolphins exposed to sound over a five-day period did not cause any 
sleep deprivation or stress effects.
    Many animals perform vital functions, such as feeding, resting, 
traveling, and socializing, on a diel cycle (24-hour cycle). Disruption 
of such functions resulting from reactions to stressors such as sound 
exposure are more likely to be significant if they last more than one 
diel cycle or recur on subsequent days (Southall et al., 2007). 
Consequently, a behavioral response lasting less than one day and not 
recurring on subsequent days is not considered particularly severe 
unless it could directly affect reproduction or survival (Southall et 
al., 2007). Note that there is a difference between multi-day 
substantive behavioral reactions and multi-day anthropogenic 
activities. For example, just because an activity lasts for multiple 
days does not necessarily mean that individual animals are either 
exposed to activity-related stressors for multiple days or, further, 
exposed in a manner resulting in sustained multi-day substantive 
behavioral responses.
    3. Stress responses--An animal's perception of a threat may be 
sufficient to trigger stress responses consisting of some combination 
of behavioral responses, autonomic nervous system responses, 
neuroendocrine responses, or immune responses (e.g., Seyle, 1950; 
Moberg, 2000). In many cases, an animal's first and sometimes most 
economical (in terms of energetic costs) response is behavioral 
avoidance of the potential stressor. Autonomic nervous system responses 
to stress typically involve changes in heart rate, blood pressure, and 
gastrointestinal activity. These responses have a relatively short 
duration and may or may not have a significant long-term effect on an 
animal's fitness.
    Neuroendocrine stress responses often involve the hypothalamus-
pituitary-adrenal system. Virtually all neuroendocrine functions that 
are affected by stress--including immune competence, reproduction, 
metabolism, and behavior--are regulated by pituitary hormones. Stress-
induced changes in the secretion of pituitary hormones have been 
implicated in failed reproduction, altered metabolism, reduced immune 
competence, and behavioral disturbance (e.g., Moberg, 1987; Blecha, 
2000). Increases in the circulation of glucocorticoids are also equated 
with stress (Romano et al., 2004).
    The primary distinction between stress (which is adaptive and does 
not normally place an animal at risk) and ``distress'' is the cost of 
the response. During a stress response, an animal uses glycogen stores 
that can be quickly replenished once the stress is alleviated. In such 
circumstances, the cost of the stress response would not pose serious 
fitness consequences. However, when an animal does not have sufficient 
energy reserves to satisfy the energetic costs of a stress response, 
energy resources must be diverted from other functions. This state of 
distress will last until the animal replenishes its energetic reserves 
sufficient to restore normal function.
    Relationships between these physiological mechanisms, animal 
behavior, and the costs of stress responses are well-studied through 
controlled experiments and for both laboratory and free-ranging animals 
(e.g., Holberton et al., 1996; Hood et al., 1998; Jessop et al., 2003; 
Krausman et al., 2004; Lankford et al., 2005). Stress responses due to 
exposure to anthropogenic sounds or other stressors and their effects 
on marine mammals have also been reviewed (Fair and Becker, 2000; 
Romano et al., 2002b) and, more rarely, studied in wild populations 
(e.g., Romano et al., 2002a).

[[Page 33229]]

For example, Rolland et al. (2012) found that noise reduction from 
reduced ship traffic in the Bay of Fundy was associated with decreased 
stress in North Atlantic right whales. These and other studies lead to 
a reasonable expectation that some marine mammals will experience 
physiological stress responses upon exposure to acoustic stressors and 
that it is possible that some of these would be classified as 
``distress.'' In addition, any animal experiencing TTS would likely 
also experience stress responses (NRC, 2003).
    4. Auditory masking--Sound can disrupt behavior through masking, or 
interfering with, an animal's ability to detect, recognize, or 
discriminate between acoustic signals of interest (e.g., those used for 
intraspecific communication and social interactions, prey detection, 
predator avoidance, navigation) (Richardson et al., 1995). Masking 
occurs when the receipt of a sound is interfered with by another 
coincident sound at similar frequencies and at similar or higher 
intensity, and may occur whether the sound is natural (e.g., snapping 
shrimp, wind, waves, precipitation) or anthropogenic (e.g., shipping, 
sonar, seismic exploration) in origin. The ability of a noise source to 
mask biologically important sounds depends on the characteristics of 
both the noise source and the signal of interest (e.g., signal-to-noise 
ratio, temporal variability, direction), in relation to each other and 
to an animal's hearing abilities (e.g., sensitivity, frequency range, 
critical ratios, frequency discrimination, directional discrimination, 
age or TTS hearing loss), and existing ambient noise and propagation 
conditions.
    Under certain circumstances, marine mammals experiencing 
significant masking could also be impaired from maximizing their 
performance fitness in survival and reproduction. Therefore, when the 
coincident (masking) sound is man-made, it may be considered harassment 
when disrupting or altering critical behaviors. It is important to 
distinguish TTS and PTS, which persist after the sound exposure, from 
masking, which occurs during the sound exposure. Because masking 
(without resulting in TS) is not associated with abnormal physiological 
function, it is not considered a physiological effect, but rather a 
potential behavioral effect.
    The frequency range of the potentially masking sound is important 
in determining any potential behavioral impacts. For example, low-
frequency signals may have less effect on high-frequency echolocation 
sounds produced by odontocetes but are more likely to affect detection 
of mysticete communication calls and other potentially important 
natural sounds such as those produced by surf and some prey species. 
The masking of communication signals by anthropogenic noise may be 
considered as a reduction in the communication space of animals (e.g., 
Clark et al., 2009) and may result in energetic or other costs as 
animals change their vocalization behavior (e.g., Miller et al., 2000; 
Foote et al., 2004; Parks et al., 2007b; Di Iorio and Clark, 2009; Holt 
et al., 2009). Masking can be reduced in situations where the signal 
and noise come from different directions (Richardson et al., 1995), 
through amplitude modulation of the signal, or through other 
compensatory behaviors (Houser and Moore, 2014). Masking can be tested 
directly in captive species (e.g., Erbe, 2008), but in wild populations 
it must be either modeled or inferred from evidence of masking 
compensation. There are few studies addressing real-world masking 
sounds likely to be experienced by marine mammals in the wild (e.g., 
Branstetter et al., 2013).
    Masking affects both senders and receivers of acoustic signals and 
can potentially have long-term chronic effects on marine mammals at the 
population level as well as at the individual level. Low-frequency 
ambient sound levels have increased by as much as 20 dB (more than 
three times in terms of SPL) in the world's ocean from pre-industrial 
periods, with most of the increase from distant commercial shipping 
(Hildebrand, 2009). All anthropogenic sound sources, but especially 
chronic and lower-frequency signals (e.g., from vessel traffic), 
contribute to elevated ambient sound levels, thus intensifying masking.

Acoustic Effects, Underwater

    Potential Effects of Pile Driving Sound--The effects of sounds from 
pile driving might include one or more of the following: temporary or 
permanent hearing impairment, non-auditory physical or physiological 
effects, behavioral disturbance, and masking (Richardson et al., 1995; 
Gordon et al., 2003; Nowacek et al., 2007; Southall et al., 2007). The 
effects of pile driving on marine mammals are dependent on several 
factors, including the type and depth of the animal; the pile size and 
type, and the intensity and duration of the pile driving sound; the 
substrate; the standoff distance between the pile and the animal; and 
the sound propagation properties of the environment. Impacts to marine 
mammals from pile driving activities are expected to result primarily 
from acoustic pathways. As such, the degree of effect is intrinsically 
related to the frequency, received level, and duration of the sound 
exposure, which are in turn influenced by the distance between the 
animal and the source. The further away from the source, the less 
intense the exposure should be. The substrate and depth of the habitat 
affect the sound propagation properties of the environment. In 
addition, substrates that are soft (e.g., sand) would absorb or 
attenuate the sound more readily than hard substrates (e.g., rock) 
which may reflect the acoustic wave. Soft porous substrates would also 
likely require less time to drive the pile, and possibly less forceful 
equipment, which would ultimately decrease the intensity of the 
acoustic source.
    In the absence of mitigation, impacts to marine species could be 
expected to include physiological and behavioral responses to the 
acoustic signature (Viada et al., 2008). Potential effects from 
impulsive sound sources like pile driving can range in severity from 
effects such as behavioral disturbance to temporary or permanent 
hearing impairment (Yelverton et al., 1973).
    Hearing Impairment and Other Physical Effects--Marine mammals 
exposed to high intensity sound repeatedly or for prolonged periods can 
experience hearing threshold shifts. PTS constitutes injury, but TTS 
does not (Southall et al., 2007). Based on the best scientific 
information available, the SPLs for the construction activities in this 
project are far below the thresholds that could cause TTS or the onset 
of PTS: 180 dB re 1 [mu]Pa rms for odontocetes and 190 dB re 1 [mu]Pa 
rms for pinnipeds (Table 4).
    Non-auditory Physiological Effects--Non-auditory physiological 
effects or injuries that theoretically might occur in marine mammals 
exposed to strong underwater sound include stress, neurological 
effects, bubble formation, resonance effects, and other types of organ 
or tissue damage (Cox et al., 2006; Southall et al., 2007). Studies 
examining such effects are limited. In general, little is known about 
the potential for pile driving to cause auditory impairment or other 
physical effects in marine mammals. Available data suggest that such 
effects, if they occur at all, would presumably be limited to short 
distances from the sound source and to activities that extend over a 
prolonged period. The available data do not allow identification of a 
specific exposure level above which non-auditory effects can be 
expected (Southall et al., 2007) or any meaningful quantitative 
predictions of the numbers (if any) of

[[Page 33230]]

marine mammals that might be affected in those ways. Marine mammals 
that show behavioral avoidance of pile driving, including some 
odontocetes and some pinnipeds, are especially unlikely to incur 
auditory impairment or non-auditory physical effects.

Disturbance Reactions

    Responses to continuous sound, such as vibratory pile installation, 
have not been documented as well as responses to pulsed sounds. With 
both types of pile driving, it is likely that the onset of pile driving 
could result in temporary, short term changes in an animal's typical 
behavior and/or avoidance of the affected area. These behavioral 
changes may include (Richardson et al., 1995): changing durations of 
surfacing and dives, number of blows per surfacing, or moving direction 
and/or speed; reduced/increased vocal activities; changing/cessation of 
certain behavioral activities (such as socializing or feeding); visible 
startle response or aggressive behavior (such as tail/fluke slapping or 
jaw clapping); avoidance of areas where sound sources are located; and/
or flight responses (e.g., pinnipeds flushing into water from haul-outs 
or rookeries). Pinnipeds may increase their haul-out time, possibly to 
avoid in-water disturbance (Thorson and Reyff, 2006). If a marine 
mammal responds to a stimulus by changing its behavior (e.g., through 
relatively minor changes in locomotion direction/speed or vocalization 
behavior), the response may or may not constitute taking at the 
individual level, and is unlikely to affect the stock or the species as 
a whole. However, if a sound source displaces marine mammals from an 
important feeding or breeding area for a prolonged period, impacts on 
animals, and if so potentially on the stock or species, could 
potentially be significant (e.g., Lusseau and Bejder, 2007; Weilgart, 
2007).
    The biological significance of many of these behavioral 
disturbances is difficult to predict, especially if the detected 
disturbances appear minor. However, the consequences of behavioral 
modification could be expected to be biologically significant if the 
change affects growth, survival, or reproduction. Significant 
behavioral modifications that could potentially lead to effects on 
growth, survival, or reproduction include:
     Drastic changes in diving/surfacing patterns (such as 
those thought to cause beaked whale stranding due to exposure to 
military mid-frequency tactical sonar);
     Longer-term habitat abandonment due to loss of desirable 
acoustic environment; and
     Longer-term cessation of feeding or social interaction.
    The onset of behavioral disturbance from anthropogenic sound 
depends on both external factors (characteristics of sound sources and 
their paths) and the specific characteristics of the receiving animals 
(hearing, motivation, experience, demography) and is difficult to 
predict (Southall et al., 2007).

Auditory Masking

    Natural and artificial sounds can disrupt behavior by masking. The 
frequency range of the potentially masking sound is important in 
determining any potential behavioral impacts. Because sound generated 
from in-water pile driving is mostly concentrated at low frequency 
ranges, it may have less effect on high frequency echolocation sounds 
made by porpoises. The most intense underwater sounds in the proposed 
action are those produced by impact pile driving. Given that the energy 
distribution of pile driving covers a broad frequency spectrum, sound 
from these sources would likely be within the audible range of marine 
mammals present in the project area. Impact pile driving activity is 
relatively short-term, with rapid pulses occurring for approximately 
fifteen minutes per pile. The probability for impact pile driving 
resulting from this proposed action masking acoustic signals important 
to the behavior and survival of marine mammal species is low. Vibratory 
pile driving is also relatively short-term, with rapid oscillations 
occurring for approximately one and a half hours per pile. It is 
possible that vibratory pile driving resulting from this proposed 
action may mask acoustic signals important to the behavior and survival 
of marine mammal species, but the short-term duration and limited 
affected area would result in insignificant impacts from masking. Any 
masking event that could possibly rise to Level B harassment under the 
MMPA would occur concurrently within the zones of behavioral harassment 
already estimated for vibratory and impact pile driving, and which have 
already been taken into account in the exposure analysis.
    Acoustic Effects, Airborne--Pinnipeds that occur near the project 
site could be exposed to airborne sounds associated with pile driving 
that have the potential to cause behavioral harassment, depending on 
their distance from pile driving activities. Cetaceans are not expected 
to be exposed to airborne sounds that would result in harassment as 
defined under the MMPA.
    Airborne noise will primarily be an issue for pinnipeds that are 
swimming or hauled out near the project site within the range of noise 
levels elevated above the acoustic criteria in Table 4. We recognize 
that pinnipeds in the water could be exposed to airborne sound that may 
result in behavioral harassment when looking with heads above water. 
Most likely, airborne sound would cause behavioral responses similar to 
those discussed above in relation to underwater sound. For instance, 
anthropogenic sound could cause hauled-out pinnipeds to exhibit changes 
in their normal behavior, such as reduction in vocalizations, or cause 
them to temporarily abandon the area and move further from the source. 
However, these animals would previously have been `taken' as a result 
of exposure to underwater sound above the behavioral harassment 
thresholds, which are in all cases larger than those associated with 
airborne sound. Thus, the behavioral harassment of these animals is 
already accounted for in these estimates of potential take. Multiple 
instances of exposure to sound above NMFS' thresholds for behavioral 
harassment are not believed to result in increased behavioral 
disturbance, in either nature or intensity of disturbance reaction. 
Therefore, we do not believe that authorization of incidental take 
resulting from airborne sound for pinnipeds is warranted, and airborne 
sound is not discussed further here.

Anticipated Effects on Habitat

    The proposed activities at the Ferry Terminal would not result in 
permanent negative impacts to habitats used directly by marine mammals, 
but may have potential short-term impacts to food sources such as 
forage fish and may affect acoustic habitat (see masking discussion 
above). There are no known foraging hotspots or other ocean bottom 
structure of significant biological importance to marine mammals 
present in the marine waters of the project area. Therefore, the main 
impact issue associated with the proposed activity would be temporarily 
elevated sound levels and the associated direct effects on marine 
mammals, as discussed previously in this document. The primary 
potential acoustic impacts to marine mammal habitat are associated with 
elevated sound levels produced by vibratory and impact pile driving and 
removal in the area. However, other potential impacts to the 
surrounding habitat from physical disturbance are also possible.

[[Page 33231]]

Pile Driving Effects on Potential Prey (Fish)

    Construction activities would produce continuous (i.e., vibratory 
pile driving sounds and pulsed (i.e. impact driving) sounds. Fish react 
to sounds that are especially strong and/or intermittent low-frequency 
sounds. Short duration, sharp sounds can cause overt or subtle changes 
in fish behavior and local distribution. Hastings and Popper (2005) 
identified several studies that suggest fish may relocate to avoid 
certain areas of sound energy. Additional studies have documented 
effects of pile driving on fish, although several are based on studies 
in support of large, multiyear bridge construction projects (e.g., 
Scholik and Yan, 2001, 2002; Popper and Hastings, 2009). Sound pulses 
at received levels of 160 dB may cause subtle changes in fish behavior. 
SPLs of 180 dB may cause noticeable changes in behavior (Pearson et 
al., 1992; Skalski et al., 1992). SPLs of sufficient strength have been 
known to cause injury to fish and fish mortality.
    The most likely impact to fish from pile driving activities at the 
project area would be temporary behavioral avoidance of the area. The 
duration of fish avoidance of this area after pile driving stops is 
unknown, but a rapid return to normal recruitment, distribution and 
behavior is anticipated. In general, impacts to marine mammal prey 
species are expected to be minor and temporary due to the short 
timeframe for the project.

Pile Driving Effects on Potential Foraging Habitat

    The area likely impacted by the project is relatively small 
compared to the available habitat in San Francisco Bay. Avoidance by 
potential prey (i.e., fish) of the immediate area due to the temporary 
loss of this foraging habitat is also possible. The duration of fish 
avoidance of this area after pile driving stops is unknown, but a rapid 
return to normal recruitment, distribution and behavior is anticipated. 
Any behavioral avoidance by fish of the disturbed area would still 
leave significantly large areas of fish and marine mammal foraging 
habitat in the San Francisco ferry terminal and nearby vicinity.
    In summary, given the short daily duration of sound associated with 
individual pile driving events and the relatively small areas being 
affected, pile driving activities associated with the proposed action 
are not likely to have a permanent, adverse effect on any fish habitat, 
or populations of fish species. Thus, any impacts to marine mammal 
habitat are not expected to cause significant or long-term consequences 
for individual marine mammals or their populations.

Proposed Mitigation

    In order to issue an IHA under section 101(a)(5)(D) of the MMPA, 
NMFS must set forth the permissible methods of taking pursuant to such 
activity, and other means of effecting the least practicable impact on 
such species or stock and its habitat, paying particular attention to 
rookeries, mating grounds, and areas of similar significance, and on 
the availability of such species or stock for taking for certain 
subsistence uses.
    Measurements from similar pile driving events were coupled with 
practical spreading loss to estimate zones of influence (ZOI; see 
Estimated Take by Incidental Harassment); these values were used to 
develop mitigation measures for pile driving activities at the ferry 
terminal. The ZOIs effectively represent the mitigation zone that would 
be established around each pile to prevent Level A harassment to marine 
mammals, while providing estimates of the areas within which Level B 
harassment might occur. In addition to the specific measures described 
later in this section, WETA would conduct briefings between 
construction supervisors and crews, marine mammal monitoring team, and 
WETA staff prior to the start of all pile driving activity, and when 
new personnel join the work, in order to explain responsibilities, 
communication procedures, marine mammal monitoring protocol, and 
operational procedures.

Monitoring and Shutdown for Pile Driving

    The following measures would apply to WETA's mitigation through 
shutdown and disturbance zones:
    Shutdown Zone--For all pile driving activities, WETA will establish 
a shutdown zone intended to contain the area in which SPLs equal or 
exceed the 180/190 dB rms acoustic injury criteria for cetaceans and 
pinnipeds, respectively. The purpose of a shutdown zone is to define an 
area within which shutdown of activity would occur upon sighting of a 
marine mammal (or in anticipation of an animal entering the defined 
area), thus preventing injury of marine mammals (as described 
previously under Potential Effects of the Specified Activity on Marine 
Mammals, serious injury or death are unlikely outcomes even in the 
absence of mitigation measures). Modeled radial distances for shutdown 
zones are shown in Table 6. However, a minimum shutdown zone of 10 m 
will be established during all pile driving activities, regardless of 
the estimated zone. Vibratory pile driving activities are not predicted 
to produce sound exceeding the 180/190-dB Level A harassment threshold, 
but these precautionary measures are intended to prevent the already 
unlikely possibility of physical interaction with construction 
equipment and to further reduce any possibility of acoustic injury.
    Disturbance Zone--Disturbance zones are the areas in which SPLs 
equal or exceed 160 and 120 dB rms (for impulse and continuous sound, 
respectively). Disturbance zones provide utility for monitoring 
conducted for mitigation purposes (i.e., shutdown zone monitoring) by 
establishing monitoring protocols for areas adjacent to the shutdown 
zones. Monitoring of disturbance zones enables observers to be aware of 
and communicate the presence of marine mammals in the project area but 
outside the shutdown zone and thus prepare for potential shutdowns of 
activity. However, the primary purpose of disturbance zone monitoring 
is for documenting instances of Level B harassment; disturbance zone 
monitoring is discussed in greater detail later (see Proposed 
Monitoring and Reporting). Nominal radial distances for disturbance 
zones are shown in Table 6. Given the size of the disturbance zone for 
vibratory pile driving, it is impossible to guarantee that all animals 
would be observed or to make comprehensive observations of fine-scale 
behavioral reactions to sound, and only a portion of the zone (e.g., 
what may be reasonably observed by visual observers stationed within 
the turning basin) would be observed.
    In order to document observed instances of harassment, monitors 
record all marine mammal observations, regardless of location. The 
observer's location, as well as the location of the pile being driven, 
is known from a GPS. The location of the animal is estimated as a 
distance from the observer, which is then compared to the location from 
the pile. It may then be estimated whether the animal was exposed to 
sound levels constituting incidental harassment on the basis of 
predicted distances to relevant thresholds in post-processing of 
observational and acoustic data, and a precise accounting of observed 
incidences of harassment created. This information may then be used to 
extrapolate observed takes to reach an approximate understanding of 
actual total takes.
    Monitoring Protocols--Monitoring would be conducted before, during, 
and after pile driving activities. In addition, observers shall record 
all instances of

[[Page 33232]]

marine mammal occurrence, regardless of distance from activity, and 
shall document any behavioral reactions in concert with distance from 
piles being driven. Observations made outside the shutdown zone will 
not result in shutdown; that pile segment would be completed without 
cessation, unless the animal approaches or enters the shutdown zone, at 
which point all pile driving activities would be halted. Monitoring 
will take place from fifteen minutes prior to initiation through thirty 
minutes post-completion of pile driving activities. Pile driving 
activities include the time to install or remove a single pile or 
series of piles, as long as the time elapsed between uses of the pile 
driving equipment is no more than thirty minutes. Please see the 
Monitoring Plan (www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental/construction.htm), developed by WETA in agreement with NMFS, for full 
details of the monitoring protocols.
    The following additional measures apply to visual monitoring:
    (1) Monitoring will be conducted by qualified observers, who will 
be placed at the best vantage point(s) practicable to monitor for 
marine mammals and implement shutdown/delay procedures when applicable 
by calling for the shutdown to the hammer operator. Qualified observers 
are typically trained biologists, with the following minimum 
qualifications:
     Visual acuity in both eyes (correction is permissible) 
sufficient for discernment of moving targets at the water's surface 
with ability to estimate target size and distance; use of binoculars 
may be necessary to correctly identify the target;
     Experience and ability to conduct field observations and 
collect data according to assigned protocols (this may include academic 
experience);
     Experience or training in the field identification of 
marine mammals, including the identification of behaviors;
     Sufficient training, orientation, or experience with the 
construction operation to provide for personal safety during 
observations;
     Writing skills sufficient to prepare a report of 
observations including but not limited to the number and species of 
marine mammals observed; dates and times when in-water construction 
activities were conducted; dates and times when in-water construction 
activities were suspended to avoid potential incidental injury from 
construction sound of marine mammals observed within a defined shutdown 
zone; and marine mammal behavior; and
     Ability to communicate orally, by radio or in person, with 
project personnel to provide real-time information on marine mammals 
observed in the area as necessary.
    (2) Prior to the start of pile driving activity, the shutdown zone 
will be monitored for fifteen minutes to ensure that it is clear of 
marine mammals. Pile driving will only commence once observers have 
declared the shutdown zone clear of marine mammals; animals will be 
allowed to remain in the shutdown zone (i.e., must leave of their own 
volition) and their behavior will be monitored and documented. The 
shutdown zone may only be declared clear, and pile driving started, 
when the entire shutdown zone is visible (i.e., when not obscured by 
dark, rain, fog, etc.). In addition, if such conditions should arise 
during impact pile driving that is already underway, the activity would 
be halted.
    (3) If a marine mammal approaches or enters the shutdown zone 
during the course of pile driving operations, activity will be halted 
and delayed until either the animal has voluntarily left and been 
visually confirmed beyond the shutdown zone or fifteen minutes have 
passed without re-detection of the animal. Monitoring will be conducted 
throughout the time required to drive a pile.
    (4) Using delay and shut-down procedures, if a species for which 
authorization has not been granted (including but not limited to 
Guadalupe fur seals and humpback whales) or if a species for which 
authorization has been granted but the authorized takes are met, 
approaches or is observed within the Level B harassment zone, 
activities will shut down immediately and not restart until the animals 
have been confirmed to have left the area.

Soft Start

    The use of a soft start procedure is believed to provide additional 
protection to marine mammals by warning or providing a chance to leave 
the area prior to the hammer operating at full capacity, and typically 
involves a requirement to initiate sound from the hammer at reduced 
energy followed by a waiting period. This procedure is repeated two 
additional times. It is difficult to specify the reduction in energy 
for any given hammer because of variation across drivers and, for 
impact hammers, the actual number of strikes at reduced energy will 
vary because operating the hammer at less than full power results in 
``bouncing'' of the hammer as it strikes the pile, resulting in 
multiple ``strikes.'' For impact driving, we require an initial set of 
three strikes from the impact hammer at reduced energy, followed by a 
thirty-second waiting period, then two subsequent three strike sets. 
Soft start will be required at the beginning of each day's impact pile 
driving work and at any time following a cessation of impact pile 
driving of thirty minutes or longer.
    We have carefully evaluated WETA's proposed mitigation measures and 
considered their effectiveness in past implementation to preliminarily 
determine whether they are likely to effect the least practicable 
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: (1) The manner in 
which, and the degree to which, the successful implementation of the 
measure is expected to minimize adverse impacts to marine mammals, (2) 
the proven or likely efficacy of the specific measure to minimize 
adverse impacts as planned; and (3) the practicability of the measure 
for applicant implementation.
    Any mitigation measure(s) we prescribe should be able to 
accomplish, have a reasonable likelihood of accomplishing (based on 
current science), or contribute to the accomplishment of one or more of 
the general goals listed below:
    (1) Avoidance or minimization of injury or death of marine mammals 
wherever possible (goals 2, 3, and 4 may contribute to this goal).
    (2) A reduction in the number (total number or number at 
biologically important time or location) of individual marine mammals 
exposed to stimuli expected to result in incidental take (this goal may 
contribute to 1, above, or to reducing takes by behavioral harassment 
only).
    (3) A reduction in the number (total number or number at 
biologically important time or location) of times any individual marine 
mammal would be exposed to stimuli expected to result in incidental 
take (this goal may contribute to 1, above, or to reducing takes by 
behavioral harassment only).
    (4) A reduction in the intensity of exposure to stimuli expected to 
result in incidental take (this goal may contribute to 1, above, or to 
reducing the severity of behavioral harassment only).
    (5) Avoidance or minimization of adverse effects to marine mammal 
habitat, paying particular attention to the prey base, blockage or 
limitation of passage to or from biologically important areas, 
permanent destruction of habitat, or temporary disturbance of habitat 
during a biologically important time.

[[Page 33233]]

    (6) For monitoring directly related to mitigation, an increase in 
the probability of detecting marine mammals, thus allowing for more 
effective implementation of the mitigation.
    Based on our evaluation of WETA's proposed measures, as well as any 
other potential measures that may be relevant to the specified 
activity, we have preliminarily determined that the proposed mitigation 
measures provide the means of effecting the least practicable impact on 
marine mammal species or stocks and their habitat, paying particular 
attention to rookeries, mating grounds, and areas of similar 
significance.

Proposed Monitoring and Reporting

    In order to issue an IHA for an activity, section 101(a)(5)(D) of 
the MMPA states that NMFS must set forth ``requirements pertaining to 
the monitoring and reporting of such taking.'' The MMPA implementing 
regulations at 50 CFR 216.104 (a)(13) indicate that requests for 
incidental take authorizations must include the suggested means of 
accomplishing the necessary monitoring and reporting that will result 
in increased knowledge of the species and of the level of taking or 
impacts on populations of marine mammals that are expected to be 
present in the proposed action area.
    Any monitoring requirement we prescribe should improve our 
understanding of one or more of the following:
     Occurrence of marine mammal species in action area (e.g., 
presence, abundance, distribution, density).
     Nature, scope, or context of likely marine mammal exposure 
to potential stressors/impacts (individual or cumulative, acute or 
chronic), through better understanding of: (1) Action or environment 
(e.g., source characterization, propagation, ambient noise); (2) 
Affected species (e.g., life history, dive patterns); (3) Co-occurrence 
of marine mammal species with the action; or (4) Biological or 
behavioral context of exposure (e.g., age, calving or feeding areas).
     Individual responses to acute stressors, or impacts of 
chronic exposures (behavioral or physiological).
     How anticipated responses to stressors impact either: (1) 
Long-term fitness and survival of an individual; or (2) Population, 
species, or stock.
     Effects on marine mammal habitat and resultant impacts to 
marine mammals.
     Mitigation and monitoring effectiveness.
    WETA's proposed monitoring and reporting is also described in their 
Marine Mammal Monitoring Plan, on the Internet at www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental/construction.htm.

Visual Marine Mammal Observations

    WETA will collect sighting data and behavioral responses to 
construction for marine mammal species observed in the region of 
activity during the period of activity. All observers (MMOs) will be 
trained in marine mammal identification and behaviors and are required 
to have no other construction-related tasks while conducting 
monitoring. WETA will monitor the shutdown zone and disturbance zone 
before, during, and after pile driving, with observers located at the 
best practicable vantage points. Based on our requirements, WETA would 
implement the following procedures for pile driving:
     MMOs would be located at the best vantage point(s) in 
order to properly see the entire shutdown zone and as much of the 
disturbance zone as possible.
     During all observation periods, observers will use 
binoculars and the naked eye to search continuously for marine mammals.
     If the shutdown zones are obscured by fog or poor lighting 
conditions, pile driving at that location will not be initiated until 
that zone is visible. Should such conditions arise while impact driving 
is underway, the activity would be halted.
     The shutdown and disturbance zones around the pile will be 
monitored for the presence of marine mammals before, during, and after 
any pile driving or removal activity.
    Individuals implementing the monitoring protocol will assess its 
effectiveness using an adaptive approach. The monitoring biologists 
will use their best professional judgment throughout implementation and 
seek improvements to these methods when deemed appropriate. Any 
modifications to protocol will be coordinated between NMFS and WETA.

Data Collection

    We require that observers use approved data forms. Among other 
pieces of information, WETA will record detailed information about any 
implementation of shutdowns, including the distance of animals to the 
pile and description of specific actions that ensued and resulting 
behavior of the animal, if any. In addition, WETA will attempt to 
distinguish between the number of individual animals taken and the 
number of incidences of take. We require that, at a minimum, the 
following information be collected on the sighting forms:
     Date and time that monitored activity begins or ends;
     Construction activities occurring during each observation 
period;
     Weather parameters (e.g., percent cover, visibility);
     Water conditions (e.g., sea state, tide state);
     Species, numbers, and, if possible, sex and age class of 
marine mammals;
     Description of any observable marine mammal behavior 
patterns, including bearing and direction of travel, and if possible, 
the correlation to SPLs;
     Distance from pile driving activities to marine mammals 
and distance from the marine mammals to the observation point;
     Description of implementation of mitigation measures 
(e.g., shutdown or delay);
     Locations of all marine mammal observations; and
     Other human activity in the area.

Reporting

    A draft report would be submitted to NMFS within 90 days of the 
completion of marine mammal monitoring, or sixty days prior to the 
requested date of issuance of any future IHA for projects at the same 
location, whichever comes first. The report will include marine mammal 
observations pre-activity, during-activity, and post-activity during 
pile driving days, and will also provide descriptions of any behavioral 
responses to construction activities by marine mammals and a complete 
description of all mitigation shutdowns and the results of those 
actions and an extrapolated total take estimate based on the number of 
marine mammals observed during the course of construction. A final 
report must be submitted within thirty days following resolution of 
comments on the draft report.

Estimated Take by Incidental Harassment

    Except with respect to certain activities not pertinent here, 
section 3(18) of the MMPA defines ``harassment'' as: ``. . . any act of 
pursuit, torment, or annoyance which (i) has the potential to injure a 
marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild [Level A harassment]; 
or (ii) has the potential to disturb a marine mammal or marine mammal 
stock in the wild by causing disruption of behavioral patterns, 
including, but not limited to, migration, breathing, nursing, breeding, 
feeding, or sheltering [Level B harassment].''
    All anticipated takes would be by Level B harassment resulting from

[[Page 33234]]

vibratory and impact pile driving and involving temporary changes in 
behavior. The proposed mitigation and monitoring measures are expected 
to minimize the possibility of injurious or lethal takes such that take 
by Level A harassment, serious injury, or mortality is considered 
discountable. However, it is unlikely that injurious or lethal takes 
would occur even in the absence of the planned mitigation and 
monitoring measures.
    Given the many uncertainties in predicting the quantity and types 
of impacts of sound on marine mammals, it is common practice to 
estimate how many animals are likely to be present within a particular 
distance of a given activity, or exposed to a particular level of 
sound. In practice, depending on the amount of information available to 
characterize daily and seasonal movement and distribution of affected 
marine mammals, it can be difficult to distinguish between the number 
of individuals harassed and the instances of harassment and, when 
duration of the activity is considered, it can result in a take 
estimate that overestimates the number of individuals harassed. In 
particular, for stationary activities, it is more likely that some 
smaller number of individuals may accrue a number of incidences of 
harassment per individual than for each incidence to accrue to a new 
individual, especially if those individuals display some degree of 
residency or site fidelity and the impetus to use the site (e.g., 
because of foraging opportunities) is stronger than the deterrence 
presented by the harassing activity.
    The area where the ferry terminal is located is not considered 
important habitat for marine mammals, as it is a highly industrial area 
with high levels of vessel traffic and background noise. While there 
are harbor seal haul outs within two miles of the construction activity 
at Yerba Buena Island, and a California sea lion haul out approximately 
1.5 miles away at pier 39, behavioral disturbances that could result 
from anthropogenic sound associated with these activities are expected 
to affect only a relatively small number of individual marine mammals 
that may venture near the ferry terminal, although those effects could 
be recurring over the life of the project if the same individuals 
remain in the project vicinity. WETA has requested authorization for 
the incidental taking of small numbers of harbor seals, Northern 
elephant seals, Norther fur seals, California sea lions, harbor 
porpoise, bottlenose dolphin, and gray whales near the San Francisco 
Ferry Terminal that may result from pile driving during construction 
activities associated with the project described previously in this 
document.
    In order to estimate the potential instances of take that may occur 
incidental to the specified activity, we must first estimate the extent 
of the sound field that may be produced by the activity and then 
consider in combination with information about marine mammal density or 
abundance in the project area. We first provide information on 
applicable sound thresholds for determining effects to marine mammals 
before describing the information used in estimating the sound fields, 
the available marine mammal density or abundance information, and the 
method of estimating potential instances of take.

Sound Thresholds

    We use generic sound exposure thresholds to determine when an 
activity that produces sound might result in impacts to a marine mammal 
such that a take by harassment might occur. These thresholds (Table 4) 
are used to estimate when harassment may occur (i.e., when an animal is 
exposed to levels equal to or exceeding the relevant criterion) in 
specific contexts; however, useful contextual information that may 
inform our assessment of effects is typically lacking and we consider 
these thresholds as step functions. NMFS is working to revise these 
acoustic guidelines; for more information on that process, please visit 
www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/acoustics/guidelines.htm.

               Table 4--Current Acoustic Exposure Criteria
------------------------------------------------------------------------
           Criterion                Definition           Threshold
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Level A harassment              Injury (PTS--any   180 dB (cetaceans)/
 (underwater).                   level above that   190 dB (pinnipeds)
                                 which is known     (rms).
                                 to cause TTS).
Level B harassment              Behavioral         160 dB (impulsive
 (underwater).                   disruption.        source)/120 dB
                                                    (continuous source)
                                                    (rms).
Level B harassment (airborne).  Behavioral         90 dB (harbor seals)/
                                 disruption.        100 dB (other
                                                    pinnipeds)
                                                    (unweighted).
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Distance to Sound Thresholds

    Underwater Sound Propagation Formula--Pile driving generates 
underwater noise that can potentially result in disturbance to marine 
mammals in the project area. Transmission loss (TL) is the decrease in 
acoustic intensity as an acoustic pressure wave propagates out from a 
source. TL parameters vary with frequency, temperature, sea conditions, 
current, source and receiver depth, water depth, water chemistry, and 
bottom composition and topography. The general formula for underwater 
TL is:

TL = B * log10(R1/R2), where
R1 = the distance of the modeled SPL from the driven 
pile, and
R2 = the distance from the driven pile of the initial 
measurement.

This formula neglects loss due to scattering and absorption, which is 
assumed to be zero here. The degree to which underwater sound 
propagates away from a sound source is dependent on a variety of 
factors, most notably the water bathymetry and presence or absence of 
reflective or absorptive conditions including in-water structures and 
sediments. Spherical spreading occurs in a perfectly unobstructed 
(free-field) environment not limited by depth or water surface, 
resulting in a 6 dB reduction in sound level for each doubling of 
distance from the source (20*log[range]). Cylindrical spreading occurs 
in an environment in which sound propagation is bounded by the water 
surface and sea bottom, resulting in a reduction of 3 dB in sound level 
for each doubling of distance from the source (10*log[range]). A 
practical spreading value of 15 is often used under conditions, such as 
at the San Francisco Ferry Terminal, where water increases with depth 
as the receiver moves away from the shoreline, resulting in an expected 
propagation environment that would lie between spherical and 
cylindrical spreading loss conditions. Practical spreading loss (4.5 dB 
reduction in sound level for each doubling of distance) is assumed 
here.
    Underwater Sound--The intensity of pile driving sounds is greatly 
influenced by factors such as the type of piles, hammers, and the 
physical environment in which the activity takes place. A number of 
studies, primarily on the west coast, have measured sound produced 
during underwater pile driving projects. However, these data

[[Page 33235]]

are largely for impact driving of steel pipe piles and concrete piles 
as well as vibratory driving of steel pipe piles.
    In order to determine reasonable SPLs and their associated effects 
on marine mammals that are likely to result from vibratory or impact 
pile driving at the ferry terminal, we considered existing measurements 
from similar physical environments (e.g. estuarine areas of soft 
substrate where water depths are less than 16 feet).
    For 24- and 36-inch steel piles, projects include the driving of 
similarly sized piles at the Alameda Bay Ship and Yacht project; the 
Rodeo Dock Repair project; and the Amorco Wharf Repair project (Table 
5). During impact pile-driving associated with these projects, measured 
sound levels averaged about 193 dB rms at 10m for 36-inch piles, and 
190 dB rms at 10m for 24-inch piles (Caltrans, 2012). Bubble curtains 
will be used during the installation of these piles, which is expected 
to reduce noise levels by about 10 dB rms (Caltrans, 2015a). Impact 
driving of these piles would produce noise levels above the Level A 190 
dB threshold for pinnipeds over a distance of 11 feet (4 meters) for 
36-inch piles and over a distance of 7 feet (2 meters) for 24-inch 
piles assuming practical spreading. Impact driving of steel piles would 
exceed the Level A 180 dB threshold for cetaceans over a distance of 52 
feet (16 meters) for 36-inch piles, and 33 feet (or 10 meters) for 24-
inch piles. It is estimated that an average of four of these piles 
would be installed per day.
    Projects conducted under similar circumstances with similar piles 
were reviewed to approximate the noise effects of the 14-inch wood 
piles. The best match for estimated noise levels is from the impact 
driving of timber piles at the Port of Benicia (Table 5). Noise levels 
produced during this installation were an average of 170 dB peak, and 
158 dB rms at 33 feet (10 meters) from the pile (Caltrans, 2015a). It 
is estimated that an average of four of these piles would be installed 
per day. Based on the above sound levels, installation of the 14-inch 
plastic-coated wood piles would not produce rms values above the Level 
A or Level B thresholds.
    The best fit data for 24-inch-diameter steel shell piles comes from 
projects completed in Shasta County, California, and the Stockton 
Marina, Stockton, California (Table 5). For these projects, the typical 
noise levels for pile-driving events were 175 dB peak, and 163 dB rms 
at 33 feet (10 meters) (Caltrans, 2012).
    A review of available acoustic data for pile driving indicates that 
Test Pile Program at Naval Base Kitsap at Bangor, Washington 
(Illingsworth and Rodkin, 2013) provides the best match data for 
vibratory installation of 36-inch piles (Table 5). For 36-inch-diameter 
piles driven by the Navy, the average level for all pile-driving events 
was 159 dB rms at 33 feet (10 meters). There was a considerable range 
in the rms levels measured across a pile-driving event; with measured 
values from 147 to 169 dB rms, the higher value is used in this 
analysis. It is estimated that an average of four of these piles would 
be extracted per day of pile driving during the proposed project. Based 
on the above sound levels, vibratory installation of the 24- and 36-
inch steel pipe piles would produce rms values above the Level A and 
Level B thresholds (Table 6).
    It is estimated that an average of four 14-inch polyurethane-coated 
wood piles would be installed per day of pile driving. The best match 
for estimated noise levels for vibratory driving of these piles is from 
the Hable River in Hampshire, England, where wooden piles were 
installed with this method (Table 5). Rms noise levels produced during 
this installation were on average 142 dB rms at 33 feet (10 meters) 
from the pile (Nedwell et al., 2005). Based on these measure levels, 
vibratory installation of the 14-inch polyurethane- coated wood-fender 
piles would not produce noise levels above the Level A 190 or 180 dB 
rms thresholds; however, the 120 dB RMS Level B threshold would be 
exceeded over a radius of 293 meters assuming practical spreading.
    Approximately 350 wood and concrete piles, 12 to 18 inches in 
diameter, would be removed using a vibratory pile-driver. With the 
vibratory hammer activated, an upward force would be applied to the 
pile to remove it from the sediment. On average, 12 of these piles 
would be extracted per work day. Extraction time needed for each pile 
may vary greatly, but could require approximately 400 seconds 
(approximately 7 minutes) from an APE 400B King Kong or similar driver. 
The most applicable noise values for wooden pile removal from which to 
base estimates for the terminal expansion project are derived from 
measurements taken at the Port Townsend dolphin pile removal in the 
State of Washington (Table 5). During vibratory pile extraction 
associated with this project, measured peak noise levels were 
approximately 164 dB at 16 m, and the rms was approximately 150 dB 
(WSDOT, 2011). Applicable sound values for the removal of concrete 
piles could not be located, but they are expected to be similar to the 
levels produced by wooden piles described above, because they are 
similarly sized, nonmetallic, and will be removed using the same 
methods. Based on the above noise levels, vibratory extraction of the 
timber and concrete piles would not produce noise levels above the 
Level A 190 dB or 180 dB thresholds. The radius over which the Level B 
120 dB rms threshold could be exceeded is approximately 1,920 feet (585 
meters) assuming practical spreading.

       Table 5--Underwater SPLs From Monitored Construction Activities Using Vibratory and Impact Hammers
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
      Project and location        Pile size and type  Hammer type/method    Water depth (m)      Measured SPLs
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
the Alameda Bay Ship and Yacht    40-in Steel pipe..  Impact driving....  13................  195 RMS at 10 m.
 project \1\.
the Rodeo Dock Repair project     24- in steel pile.  Impact driving....  5.................  189 RMS at 10 m.
 \1\.
the Amorco Wharf Repair project   24- in steel pile.  Impact driving....  >12...............  190 RMS at 10 m.
 \1\.
Port of Benicia \2\.............  Timber pile.......  n/a...............  11................  170 dB RMS at 10
                                                                                               m.
Shasta County, California \1\...  24-inch steel pipe  Vibratory driving.  >2................  157, 159 RMS at 10
                                   piles.                                                      m.
the Stockton Marina, Stockton,    20-inch- steel      Vibratory driving.  3.................  169, 156 RMS at 10
 California \1\.                   shell piles.                                                m.
Test Pile Program at Naval Base   36-inch TTP.......  Vibratory driving.  n/a...............  159 dB RMS at 10
 Kitsap at Bangor, WA \3\.                                                                     m.
Hable River in Hampshire,         14-inch             Vibratory driving.  n/a...............  142 dB RMS at 10
 England \4\.                      polyurethane-                                               m.
                                   coated wood piles.
Port Townsend dolphin pile        Dolphin pile......  Vibratory           5.................  150 RMS at 16 m.
 removal in the State of                               extraction.
 Washington \5\.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Caltrans, 2012
\2\ Caltrans, 2015a
\3\ Illingsworth and Rodkin, 2013
\4\ Nedwell, 2015
\5\ WSDOT, 2011


[[Page 33236]]

    All calculated distances to, and the total area encompassed by, the 
marine mammal sound thresholds are provided in Table 6. No 
physiological responses are expected from pile-driving operations 
occurring during project construction. Vibratory pile extraction and 
driving does not generate high-peak sound-pressure levels commonly 
associated with physiological damage. Impact driving can produce noise 
levels in excess of the Level A thresholds, but only within 50 feet (15 
meters) of impact-driving of 36-inch piles. The shutdown zone will be 
equivalent to the area over which Level A harassment may occur, 
including the 180 dB re 1 [mu]Pa (cetaceans) and 190 dB re 1 [mu]Pa 
(pinnipeds) isopleths (Table 6); however, a minimum 10 m shutdown zone 
will be applied to the these zones as a precautionary measure intended 
to prevent the already unlikely possibility of physical interaction 
with construction equipment and to further reduce any possibility of 
acoustic injury. The disturbance zones will be equivalent to the area 
over which Level B harassment may occur, including160 dB re 1 [mu]Pa 
(impact pile driving) and 120 dB re 1 [mu]Pa (vibratory pile driving) 
isopleths (Table 6).

             Table 6--Distances to Relevant Underwater Sound Thresholds and Areas of Ensonification
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                   Source levels             Distance to threshold (m)
 Project element requiring pile    at 10 meters  ------------------------------------------------ Area for level
          installation           ----------------                                 160/120 dB RMS    B threshold
                                        RMS       190 dB RMS \1\  180 dB RMS \1\        \2\           (km\2\)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                     South Basin Pile Demolition and Removal
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
18-Inch Wood Piles--Vibratory                150               0             < 1           1,000            1.27
 Driver.........................
18-Inch Concrete Piles--                     150               0             < 1           1,000            1.27
 Vibratory Driver...............
36-Inch Steel Piles--Vibratory               170             < 1               2          18,478           86.52
 Driver.........................
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
           Embarcadero Plaza and East Bayside Promenade and Gates E, F, and G Dolphin and Guide Piles
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
36-Inch Steel Piles--Vibratory               169             < 1               2          18,478           86.52
 Driver.........................
36-Inch Steel Piles--Impact                  198               4              16             341            0.18
 Driver (BCA)3..................
24-Inch Steel Piles--Vibratory               163               0               1           7,356           38.07
 Driver.........................
24-Inch Steel Piles--Impact                  193               2              10             215            0.09
 Driver (BCA)...................
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                  Fender Piles
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
14-Inch Wood Piles--Vibratory                142               0               0             293            0.14
 Driver.........................
14-Inch Wood Piles--Impact                   158               0               0               7               0
 Driver.........................
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ For underwater noise, the Level A harassment threshold for cetaceans is 180 dB and 190 dB for pinnipeds.
\2\ For underwater noise, the Level B harassment (disturbance) threshold is 160 dB for impulsive noise and
  typical ambient levels (120 dB) for continuous noise.
BCA Bubble curtain attenuation will be used during impact driving of steel piles.
dB decibels.
RMS root mean square.

Marine Mammal Densities

    At-sea densities for marine mammal species have not be determined 
in San Francisco Bay; therefore, estimates here are determined by using 
observational data taken during marine mammal monitoring associated 
with the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge retrofit project, the San 
Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge (SFOBB), which has been ongoing for the 
past 15 years, and anecdotal observational reports from local entities. 
It is not currently possible to identify all observed individuals to 
stock.

Description of Take Calculation

    All estimates are conservative and include the following 
assumptions:
     All pilings installed at each site would have an 
underwater noise disturbance equal to the piling that causes the 
greatest noise disturbance (i.e., the piling farthest from shore) 
installed with the method that has the largest ZOI. The largest 
underwater disturbance ZOI would be produced by vibratory driving steel 
piles. The ZOIs for each threshold are not spherical and are truncated 
by land masses on either side of the channel which would dissipate 
sound pressure waves.
     Exposures were based on estimated total of 106 work days. 
Each activity ranges in amount of days needed to be completed (Table 
1). Note that impact driving is likely to occur only on days when 
vibratory driving occurs.
     In absence of site specific underwater acoustic 
propagation modeling, the practical spreading loss model was used to 
determine the ZOI.
     All marine mammal individuals potentially available are 
assumed to be present within the relevant area, and thus incidentally 
taken;
     An individual can only be taken once during a 24-h period; 
and,
     Exposures to sound levels at or above the relevant 
thresholds equate to take, as defined by the MMPA.
    The estimation of marine mammal takes typically uses the following 
calculation:
    For harbor seals and California sea lions: Level B exposure 
estimate = D (density) * Area of ensonification) * Number of days of 
noise generating activities.
    For all other marine mammal species: Level B exposure estimate = N 
(number of animals) in the area * Number of days of noise generating 
activities.
    To account for the increase in California sea lion density due to 
El Ni[ntilde]o, the daily take estimated from the observed density has 
been increased by a factor of 10 for each day that pile driving occurs.
    There are a number of reasons why estimates of potential instances 
of take may be overestimates of the number of individuals taken, 
assuming that available density or abundance estimates and estimated 
ZOI areas are accurate. We assume, in the absence of information 
supporting a more refined conclusion, that the output of the 
calculation represents the number of individuals that may be taken by 
the specified activity. In fact, in the context of stationary 
activities such as pile driving and in areas where resident animals may 
be present, this number

[[Page 33237]]

represents the number of instances of take that may accrue to a smaller 
number of individuals, with some number of animals being exposed more 
than once per individual. While pile driving can occur any day 
throughout the in-water work window, and the analysis is conducted on a 
per day basis, only a fraction of that time (typically a matter of 
hours on any given day) is actually spent pile driving. The potential 
effectiveness of mitigation measures in reducing the number of takes is 
typically not quantified in the take estimation process. For these 
reasons, these take estimates may be conservative, especially if each 
take is considered a separate individual animal, and especially for 
pinnipeds.
    The quantitative exercise described above indicates that no 
instances of Level A harassment would be expected, independent of the 
implementation of required mitigation measures. See Table 7 for total 
estimated instances of take.

                                                  Table 7--Calculations for Incidental Take Estimation
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                   Estimated take by level B harassment (take per day/total)
                                                           Number of -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
            Pile type                 Pile-driver type      driving                            Northern     Harbor                 Northern   Bottlenose
                                                             days       Harbor      CA Sea     elephant    porpoise   Gray Whale   fur seal     dolphin
                                                                         seal      lion \1\    seal \2\       \2\         \2\         \2\         \2\
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                    2016 Work Season
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Wood/concrete pile removal.......  Vibratory............          30        1/30      10/300          NA          NA          NA          NA          NA
36-inch dolphin pile removal.....  Vibratory............           1       27/26     110/110          NA          NA          NA          NA          NA
Embarcadero Plaza................  Vibratory \3\........          65    26/1,690   110/7,150          NA          NA          NA          NA          NA
36-inch steel piles OR...........
24-inch steel piles..............  Vibratory \3\........          65      12/780    50/3,250          NA          NA          NA          NA          NA
14-inch wood pile................  Vibratory \3\........          10        1/10      10/100          NA          NA          NA          NA          NA
                                  ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Project Total (2016) \3\.....  .....................         106       1,756       7,660          14           6           2          10          30
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                    2017 Work Season
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Gate F and G Guide Piles (36-inch  Vibratory \3\........          12        1/12        4/48          NA          NA          NA          NA          NA
 steel).
Gate E Guide Pile Removal (36-     Vibratory............           6         1/6        4/24          NA          NA          NA          NA          NA
 inch steel).
Gate E Guide Pile Installation     Vibratory \3\........           6         1/6        4/24          NA          NA          NA          NA          NA
 (36-inch steel).
                                  ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Project Total (2017).........  .....................          24     648 \4\   2,640 \4\           4           6           2          10          30
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ 1 To account for potential El Ni[ntilde]o conditions, take calculated from at-sea densities for California sea lion has been increased by a factor
  of 10.
\2\ Take is not calculated by activity type for these species with a low potential to occur, only a yearly total is given.
\2\ Piles of this type may also be installed with an impact hammer, which would reduce the estimated take.
\3\ This total assumes that 36-inch steel piles are used for the Embarcadero Plaza.

Description of Marine Mammals in the Area of the Specified Activity

Harbor Seals

    Monitoring of marine mammals in the vicinity of the SFOBB has been 
ongoing for 15 years; from those data, Caltrans has produced at-sea 
density estimates for Pacific harbor seal of 0.78 animals per square 
mile (0.3 animals per square kilometer) for the summer season 
(Caltrans, 2015b). Using this density, the potential average daily take 
for the areas over which the Level B harassment thresholds may be 
exceeded are estimated in Table 8.

                                    Table 8--Take Calculation for Harbor Seal
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
             Activity                     Pile type               Density          Area (km\2\)    Take estimate
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Vibratory driving.................  24-in steel pile.....  0.78 (0.3 animal/               38.09             780
                                                            km\2\).
Vibratory driving and extraction..  36-in steel pile.....  0.78 (0.3 animal/               86.52       1,690; 26
                                                            km\2\).
Vibratory extraction..............  Wood and concrete      0.78 (0.3 animal/                1.27              30
                                     piles.                 km\2\).
Vibratory driving.................  Wood piles...........  0.78 (0.3 animal/                0.14              10
                                                            km\2\).
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    A total of 1,756 harbor seal takes are estimated for 2016 (Table 
7).

California sea lion

    Monitoring of marine mammals in the vicinity of the SFOBB has been 
ongoing for 15 years; from those data, Caltrans has produced at-sea 
density estimates for California sea lion of 0.31 animals per square 
mile (0.12 animal per square kilometer) for the summer season 
(Caltrans, 2015b). Using this density, the potential average daily take 
for the areas over which the Level B harassment thresholds may be 
exceeded (Table 10) is estimated in Table 9.

                                Table 9--Take Calculation for California Sea Lion
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
             Activity                     Pile type               Density          Area (km\2\)    Take estimate
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Vibratory driving and extraction..  24-in steel pile.....  0.31 (0.12 animal/              38.09         * 3,250
                                                            km\2\).

[[Page 33238]]

 
Vibratory driving and extraction..  36-in steel pile.....  0.31 (0.12 animal/              86.52    * 7,150; 110
                                                            km\2\).
Vibratory extraction..............  Wood and concrete      0.31 (0.12 animal/               1.27           * 300
                                     piles.                 km\2\).
Vibratory driving.................  Wood piles...........  0.31 (0.12 animal/               0.14           * 100
                                                            km\2\).
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
* All California sea lion estimates were multiplied by 10 to account for the increased occurrence of this
  species due to El Ni[ntilde]o.

    All California sea lion estimates were multiplied by 10 to account 
for the increased occurrence of this species due to El Ni[ntilde]o. A 
total of 7,660 California sea lion takes is estimated for 2016 (Table 
7).

Northern Elephant Seal

    Monitoring of marine mammals in the vicinity of the SFOBB has been 
ongoing for 15 years; from those data, Caltrans has produced an 
estimated at-sea density for northern elephant seal of 0.16 animal per 
square mile (0.03 animal per square kilometer) (Caltrans, 2015b). Most 
sightings of northern elephant seal in San Francisco Bay occur in 
spring or early summer, and are less likely to occur during the periods 
of in-water work for this project (June/July through November). As a 
result, densities during pile driving for the proposed action would be 
much lower. Therefore, we estimate that it is possible that a lone 
northern elephant seal may enter the Level B harassment area once per 
week during pile driving, for a total of 14 takes in 2016 (Table 7).

Northern Fur Seal

    During the breeding season, the majority of the worldwide 
population is found on the Pribilof Islands in the southern Bering Sea, 
with the remaining animals spread throughout the North Pacific Ocean. 
On the coast of California, small breeding colonies are present at San 
Miguel Island off southern California, and the Farallon Islands off 
central California (Caretta et al 2014). Northern fur seal are a 
pelagic species and are rarely seen near the shore away from breeding 
areas. Juveniles of this species occasionally strand in San Francisco 
Bay, particularly during El Ni[ntilde]o events, for example, during the 
2006 El Ni[ntilde]o event, 33 fur seals were admitted to the Marine 
Mammal Center (TMMC, 2016). Some of these stranded animals were 
collected from shorelines in San Francisco Bay. Due to the recent El 
Ni[ntilde]o event, Northern fur seals are being observed in San 
Francisco bay more frequently, as well as strandings all along the 
California coast and inside San Francisco Bay; a trend that is expected 
to continue this summer through winter (TMMC, personal communication). 
Because sightings are normally rare; instances recently have been 
observed, but are not common, and based on estimates from local 
observations (TMMC, personal communication), it is estimated that ten 
Norther fur seals will be taken in 2016 (Table 7).

Harbor Porpoise

    In the last six decades, harbor porpoises were observed outside of 
San Francisco Bay. The few harbor porpoises that entered were not 
sighted past central Bay close to the Golden Gate Bridge. In recent 
years, however, there have been increasingly common observations of 
harbor porpoises in central, north, and south San Francisco Bay. 
Porpoise activity inside San Francisco Bay is thought to be related to 
foraging and mating behaviors (Keener, 2011; Duffy, 2015). According to 
observations by the Golden Gate Cetacean Research team as part of their 
multi-year assessment, over 100 porpoises may be seen at one time 
entering San Francisco Bay; and over 600 individual animals are 
documented in a photo-ID database. However, sightings are concentrated 
in the vicinity of the Golden Gate Bridge and Angel Island, north of 
the project area, with lesser numbers sighted south of Alcatraz and 
west of Treasure Island (Keener 2011). Harbor porpoise generally travel 
individually or in small groups of two or three (Sekiguchi, 1995).
    Monitoring of marine mammals in the vicinity of the SFOBB has been 
ongoing for 15 years; from those data, Caltrans has produced an 
estimated at-sea density for harbor porpoise of 0.01 animal per square 
mile (0.004 animal per square kilometer) (Caltrans, 2015b). However, 
this estimate would be an overestimate of what would actually be seen 
in the project area. In order to estimate a more realistic take number, 
we assume it is possible that a small group of individuals (three 
harbor porpoises) may enter the Level B harassment area on as many as 
two days of pile driving, for a total of six harbor porpoise takes per 
year (Table 7).

Gray Whale

    Historically, gray whales were not common in San Francisco Bay. The 
Oceanic Society has tracked gray whale sightings since they began 
returning to San Francisco Bay regularly in the late 1990s. The Oceanic 
Society data show that all age classes of gray whales are entering San 
Francisco Bay, and that they enter as singles or in groups of up to 
five individuals. However, the data do not distinguish between 
sightings of gray whales and number of individual whales (Winning, 
2008). Caltrans Richmond-San Rafael Bridge project monitors recorded 12 
living and two dead gray whales in the surveys performed in 2012. All 
sightings were in either the central or north Bay; and all but two 
sightings occurred during the months of April and May. One gray whale 
was sighted in June, and one in October (the specific years were 
unreported). It is estimated that two to six gray whales enter San 
Francisco Bay in any given year. Because construction activities are 
only occurring during a maximum of 106 days in 2016, it is estimated 
that two gray whales may potentially enter the area during the 
construction period, for a total of 2 gray whale takes in 2016 (Table 
7).

Bottlenose Dolphin

    Since the 1982-83 El Ni[ntilde]o, which increased water 
temperatures off California, bottlenose dolphins have been consistently 
sighted along the central California coast (Caretta et al 2008). The 
northern limit of their regular range is currently the Pacific coast 
off San Francisco and Marin County, and they occasionally enter San 
Francisco Bay, sometimes foraging for fish in Fort Point Cove, just 
east of the Golden Gate Bridge. In the summer of 2015, a lone 
bottlenose dolphin was seen swimming in the Oyster Point area of South 
San Francisco (GGCR, 2016). Members of this stock are transient and 
make movements up and down the coast, and into some estuaries, 
throughout the year. Due to the recent El Ni[ntilde]o event, bottlenose 
dolphins are being observed in San Francisco bay more frequently (TMMC, 
personal communication). Groups with an average group size of five 
animals enter

[[Page 33239]]

the bay and occur near Yerba Buena Island once per week for a two week 
stint and then depart the bay (TMMC, personal communication). Assuming 
groups of five individuals may enter San Francisco Bay approximately 
three times during the construction activities, we estimate 30 takes of 
bottlenose dolphins for 2016 (Table 7).

Analyses and Preliminary Determinations

Negligible Impact Analysis

    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.'' 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, we consider other factors, such as the likely nature of any 
responses (e.g., intensity, duration), the context of any responses 
(e.g., critical reproductive time or location, migration), as well as 
the number and nature of estimated Level A harassment takes, the number 
of estimated mortalities, and effects on habitat.
    Pile driving activities associated with the ferry terminal 
construction project, as outlined previously, have the potential to 
disturb or displace marine mammals. Specifically, the specified 
activities may result in take, in the form of Level B harassment 
(behavioral disturbance) only, from underwater sounds generated from 
pile driving. Potential takes could occur if individuals of these 
species are present in the ensonified zone when pile driving occurs.
    No injury, serious injury, or mortality is anticipated given the 
nature of the activities and measures designed to minimize the 
possibility of injury to marine mammals. The potential for these 
outcomes is minimized through the construction method and the 
implementation of the planned mitigation measures. Specifically, 
vibratory hammers will be the primary method of installation (impact 
driving is included only as a contingency), and this activity does not 
have the potential to cause injury to marine mammals due to the 
relatively low source levels produced (less than 180 dB) and the lack 
of potentially injurious source characteristics. Impact pile driving 
produces short, sharp pulses with higher peak levels and much sharper 
rise time to reach those peaks. If impact driving is necessary, 
implementation of soft start and shutdown zones significantly reduces 
any possibility of injury. Given sufficient ``notice'' through use of 
soft start (for impact driving), marine mammals are expected to move 
away from a sound source that is annoying prior to it becoming 
potentially injurious. WETA will also employ the use of 12-inch-thick 
wood cushion block on impact hammers, and use a bubble curtain as sound 
attenuation devices. Environmental conditions in San Francisco Ferry 
Terminal mean that marine mammal detection ability by trained observers 
is high, enabling a high rate of success in implementation of shutdowns 
to avoid injury.
    WETA's proposed activities are localized and of relatively short 
duration (a maximum of 106 days for pile driving in the first year). 
The entire project area is limited to the San Francisco ferry terminal 
area and its immediate surroundings. These localized and short-term 
noise exposures may cause short-term behavioral modifications in harbor 
seals, Northern fur seals, Northern elephant seals, California sea 
lions, harbor porpoises, bottlenose dolphins, and gray whales. 
Moreover, the proposed mitigation and monitoring measures are expected 
to reduce the likelihood of injury and behavior exposures. 
Additionally, no important feeding and/or reproductive areas for marine 
mammals are known to be within the ensonified area during the 
construction time frame.
    The project also is not expected to have significant adverse 
effects on affected marine mammals' habitat. The project activities 
would not modify existing marine mammal habitat for a significant 
amount of time. The activities may cause some fish to leave the area of 
disturbance, thus temporarily impacting marine mammals' foraging 
opportunities in a limited portion of the foraging range; but, because 
of the short duration of the activities and the relatively small area 
of the habitat that may be affected, the impacts to marine mammal 
habitat are not expected to cause significant or long-term negative 
consequences.
    Effects on individuals that are taken by Level B harassment, on the 
basis of reports in the literature as well as monitoring from other 
similar activities, will likely be limited to reactions such as 
increased swimming speeds, increased surfacing time, or decreased 
foraging (if such activity were occurring) (e.g., Thorson and Reyff, 
2006; Lerma, 2014). Most likely, individuals will simply move away from 
the sound source and be temporarily displaced from the areas of pile 
driving, although even this reaction has been observed primarily only 
in association with impact pile driving. Repeated exposures of 
individuals to levels of sound that may cause Level B harassment are 
unlikely to result in hearing impairment or to significantly disrupt 
foraging behavior due to the small ensonification area and relatively 
short duration of the project. Thus, even repeated Level B harassment 
of some small subset of the overall stock is unlikely to result in any 
significant realized decrease in fitness for the affected individuals, 
and thus would not result in any adverse impact to the stock as a 
whole.
    In summary, this negligible impact analysis is founded on the 
following factors: (1) the possibility of injury, serious injury, or 
mortality may reasonably be considered discountable; (2) the 
anticipated instances of Level B harassment consist of, at worst, 
temporary modifications in behavior; (3) the presumed efficacy of the 
proposed mitigation measures in reducing the effects of the specified 
activity to the level of least practicable impact, and (4) the lack of 
important areas. In addition, these stocks are not listed under the 
ESA. In combination, we believe that these factors, as well as the 
available body of evidence from other similar activities, demonstrate 
that the potential effects of the specified activity will have only 
short-term effects on individuals. The specified activity is not 
reasonably expected to and is not reasonably likely to adversely affect 
the marine mammal species or stocks through effects on annual rates of 
recruitment or survival, and will therefore not result in population-
level impacts.
    Based on the analysis contained herein of the likely effects of the 
specified activity on marine mammals and their habitat, and taking into 
consideration the implementation of the proposed monitoring and 
mitigation measures, we preliminarily find that the total marine mammal 
take from WETA's ferry terminal construction activities will have a 
negligible impact on the affected marine mammal species or stocks.

Small Numbers Analysis

    Table 10 details the number of instances that animals could be 
exposed to received noise levels that could cause Level B behavioral 
harassment for the

[[Page 33240]]

proposed work at the ferry terminal project site relative to the total 
stock abundance. The numbers of animals authorized to be taken for all 
species would be considered small relative to the relevant stocks or 
populations even if each estimated instance of take occurred to a new 
individual--an extremely unlikely scenario. The total percent of the 
population (if each instance was a separate individual) for which take 
is requested is approximately nine percent for bottlenose dolphins, 
approximately six percent for harbor seals, less than three percent for 
California sea lions, and less than one percent for all other species 
(Table 10). For pinnipeds, especially harbor seals occurring in the 
vicinity of the ferry terminal, there will almost certainly be some 
overlap in individuals present day-to-day, and the number of 
individuals taken is expected to be notably lower. We preliminarily 
find that small numbers of marine mammals will be taken relative to the 
populations of the affected species or stocks.

          Table 10--Estimated Numbers and Percentage of Stock That May Be Exposed to Level B Harassment
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                     Proposed        Stock(s)      Percentage of
                             Species                                authorized       abundance      total stock
                                                                       takes       estimate \1\         (%)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Harbor Seal (Phoca vitulina) California stock...................           1,756          30,968             5.7
California sea lion (Zalophus californianus) U.S. Stock.........           7,660         296,750             2.6
Northern elephant seal (Mirounga anustirostris) California                    14         179,000           .0008
 breeding stock.................................................
Northern fur seal (Callorhinus ursinus) California stock........              10          14,050            .007
Harbor Porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) San Francisco-Russian River                6           9,886            .006
 Stock..........................................................
Gray whale (Eschrichtius robustus) Eastern North Pacific stock..               2          20,990            .001
Bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) California coastal stock              30             323             9.3
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ All stock abundance estimates presented here are from the draft 2015 Pacific Stock Assessment Report.

Impact on Availability of Affected Species for Taking for Subsistence 
Uses

    There are no relevant subsistence uses of marine mammals implicated 
by this action. Therefore, we have determined that the total taking of 
affected species or stocks would not have an unmitigable adverse impact 
on the availability of such species or stocks for taking for 
subsistence purposes.

Endangered Species Act (ESA)

    No marine mammal species listed under the ESA are expected to be 
affected by these activities. Therefore, we have determined that 
section 7 consultation under the ESA is not required.

National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)

    NMFS is currently conducting an analysis, pursuant to National 
Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), to determine whether or not this 
proposed activity may have a significant effect on the human 
environment. This analysis will be completed prior to the issuance or 
denial of this proposed IHA.

Proposed Authorization

    As a result of these preliminary determinations, we propose to 
authorize the take of marine mammals incidental to WETA's Downtown San 
Francisco Ferry Terminal Expansion Project, South Basin Improvements 
Project, provided the previously mentioned mitigation, monitoring, and 
reporting requirements are incorporated. Specific language from the 
proposed IHA is provided next.
    This section contains a draft of the IHA. The wording contained in 
this section is proposed for inclusion in the IHA (if issued).
    1. This Incidental Harassment Authorization (IHA) is valid for one 
year from the date of issuance.
    2. This IHA is valid only for pile driving activities associated 
with the Downtown San Francisco Ferry Terminal Expansion Project, South 
Basin Improvements Project in San Francisco Bay, CA.
    3. General Conditions.
    (a) A copy of this IHA must be in the possession of WETA, its 
designees, and work crew personnel operating under the authority of 
this IHA.
    (b) The species authorized for taking are summarized in Table 1.
    (c) The taking, by Level B harassment only, is limited to the 
species listed in condition 3(b). See Table 1 for numbers of take 
authorized.

                    Table 1--Authorized Take Numbers
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                       Authorized take
                      Species                      ---------------------
                                                     Level A    Level B
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Harbor seal.......................................          0      1,756
California sea lion...............................          0      7,660
Northern elephant seal............................          0         14
Northern fur seal.................................          0         10
Harbor porpoise...................................          0          6
Gray whale........................................          0          2
Bottlenose dolphin................................          0         30
                                                   ---------------------
    Total.........................................          0      9,478
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    (d) The taking by injury (Level A harassment), serious injury, or 
death of the species listed in condition 3(b) of the Authorization or 
any taking of any other species of marine mammal is prohibited and may 
result in the modification, suspension, or revocation of this IHA.
    (e) WETA shall conduct briefings between construction supervisors 
and crews, marine mammal monitoring team, and WETA staff prior to the 
start of all pile driving activity, and when new personnel join the 
work.
    4. Mitigation Measures.
    The holder of this Authorization is required to implement the 
following mitigation measures:
    (a) For all pile driving, WETA shall implement a minimum shutdown 
zone of 10 m radius around the pile. If a marine mammal comes within or 
approaches the shutdown zone, such operations shall cease.
    (b) For in-water heavy machinery work other than pile driving 
(e.g., standard barges, tug boats, barge-mounted excavators, or 
clamshell equipment used to place or remove material), if a marine 
mammal comes within 10 meters, operations shall cease and vessels shall 
reduce speed to the minimum level required to maintain steerage and 
safe working conditions.
    (c) WETA shall establish monitoring locations as described below. 
Please also refer to the Marine Mammal Monitoring Plan (see 
www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental/construction.htm).
    i. For all pile driving activities, a minimum of two observers 
shall be deployed, with one positioned to achieve optimal monitoring of 
the shutdown zone and the second positioned to achieve optimal 
monitoring of surrounding waters of the ferry terminal and portions of 
San Francisco Bay. If practicable, the second

[[Page 33241]]

observer should be deployed to an elevated position with clear sight 
lines to the ferry terminal.
    ii. These observers shall record all observations of marine 
mammals, regardless of distance from the pile being driven, as well as 
behavior and potential behavioral reactions of the animals. 
Observations within the ferry terminal shall be distinguished from 
those in the nearshore waters of San Francisco Bay.
    iii. All observers shall be equipped for communication of marine 
mammal observations amongst themselves and to other relevant personnel 
(e.g., those necessary to effect activity delay or shutdown).
    (c) Monitoring shall take place from fifteen minutes prior to 
initiation of pile driving activity through thirty minutes post-
completion of pile driving activity. In the event of a delay or 
shutdown of activity resulting from marine mammals in the shutdown 
zone, animals shall be allowed to remain in the shutdown zone (i.e., 
must leave of their own volition) and their behavior shall be monitored 
and documented. Monitoring shall occur throughout the time required to 
drive a pile. The shutdown zone must be determined to be clear during 
periods of good visibility (i.e., the entire shutdown zone and 
surrounding waters must be visible to the naked eye).
    (d) If a marine mammal approaches or enters the shutdown zone, all 
pile driving activities at that location shall be halted. If pile 
driving is halted or delayed due to the presence of a marine mammal, 
the activity may not commence or resume until either the animal has 
voluntarily left and been visually confirmed beyond the shutdown zone 
or fifteen minutes have passed without re-detection of the animal.
    (e) Using delay and shut-down procedures, if a species for which 
authorization has not been granted (including but not limited to 
Guadalupe fur seals and humpback whales) or if a species for which 
authorization has been granted but the authorized takes are met, 
approaches or is observed within the Level B harassment zone, 
activities will shut down immediately and not restart until the animals 
have been confirmed to have left the area.
    (f) Monitoring shall be conducted by qualified observers, as 
described in the Monitoring Plan. Trained observers shall be placed 
from the best vantage point(s) practicable to monitor for marine 
mammals and implement shutdown or delay procedures when applicable 
through communication with the equipment operator. Observer training 
must be provided prior to project start and in accordance with the 
monitoring plan, and shall include instruction on species 
identification (sufficient to distinguish the species listed in 3(b)), 
description and categorization of observed behaviors and interpretation 
of behaviors that may be construed as being reactions to the specified 
activity, proper completion of data forms, and other basic components 
of biological monitoring, including tracking of observed animals or 
groups of animals such that repeat sound exposures may be attributed to 
individuals (to the extent possible).
    (g) WETA shall use soft start techniques recommended by NMFS for 
impact pile driving. Soft start requires contractors to provide an 
initial set of strikes at reduced energy, followed by a thirty-second 
waiting period, then two subsequent reduced energy strike sets. Soft 
start shall be implemented at the start of each day's impact pile 
driving and at any time following cessation of impact pile driving for 
a period of thirty minutes or longer.
    (h) Sound attenuation devices--Approved sound attenuation devices 
(e.g. bubble curtain, pile cushion) shall be used during impact pile 
driving operations. WETA shall implement the necessary contractual 
requirements to ensure that such devices are capable of achieving 
optimal performance, and that deployment of the device is implemented 
properly such that no reduction in performance may be attributable to 
faulty deployment.
    (i) Pile driving shall only be conducted during daylight hours.
    5. Monitoring.
    The holder of this Authorization is required to conduct marine 
mammal monitoring during pile driving activity. Marine mammal 
monitoring and reporting shall be conducted in accordance with the 
Monitoring Plan.
    (a) WETA shall collect sighting data and behavioral responses to 
pile driving for marine mammal species observed in the region of 
activity during the period of activity. All observers shall be trained 
in marine mammal identification and behaviors, and shall have no other 
construction-related tasks while conducting monitoring.
    (b) For all marine mammal monitoring, the information shall be 
recorded as described in the Monitoring Plan.
    6. Reporting.
    The holder of this Authorization is required to:
    (a) Submit a draft report on all monitoring conducted under the IHA 
within ninety days of the completion of marine mammal monitoring, or 
sixty days prior to the issuance of any subsequent IHA for projects at 
the San Francisco Ferry Terminal, whichever comes first. A final report 
shall be prepared and submitted within thirty days following resolution 
of comments on the draft report from NMFS. This report must contain the 
informational elements described in the Monitoring Plan, at minimum 
(see www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental/construction.htm), and 
shall also include:
    i. Detailed information about any implementation of shutdowns, 
including the distance of animals to the pile and description of 
specific actions that ensued and resulting behavior of the animal, if 
any.
    ii. Description of attempts to distinguish between the number of 
individual animals taken and the number of incidents of take, such as 
ability to track groups or individuals.
    iii. An estimated total take estimate extrapolated from the number 
of marine mammals observed during the course of construction 
activities, if necessary.
    (b) Reporting injured or dead marine mammals:
    i. In the unanticipated event that the specified activity clearly 
causes the take of a marine mammal in a manner prohibited by this IHA, 
such as an injury (Level A harassment), serious injury, or mortality, 
WETA shall immediately cease the specified activities and report the 
incident to the Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, and the Southwest 
Regional Stranding Coordinator, NMFS. The report must include the 
following information:
    A. Time and date of the incident;
    B. Description of the incident;
    C. Environmental conditions (e.g., wind speed and direction, 
Beaufort sea state, cloud cover, and visibility);
    D. Description of all marine mammal observations in the 24 hours 
preceding the incident;
    E. Species identification or description of the animal(s) involved;
    F. Fate of the animal(s); and
    G. Photographs or video footage of the animal(s).
    Activities shall not resume until NMFS is able to review the 
circumstances of the prohibited take. NMFS will work with WETA to 
determine what measures are necessary to minimize the likelihood of 
further prohibited take and ensure MMPA compliance. WETA may not resume 
their activities until notified by NMFS.
    ii. In the event that WETA discovers an injured or dead marine 
mammal, and the lead observer determines that the cause of the injury 
or death is unknown and the death is relatively recent (e.g., in less 
than a moderate state of

[[Page 33242]]

decomposition), WETA shall immediately report the incident to the 
Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, and the Southwest Regional 
Stranding Coordinator, NMFS.
    The report must include the same information identified in 6(b)(i) 
of this IHA. Activities may continue while NMFS reviews the 
circumstances of the incident. NMFS will work with WETA to determine 
whether additional mitigation measures or modifications to the 
activities are appropriate.
    iii. In the event that discovers an injured or dead marine mammal, 
and the lead observer determines that the injury or death is not 
associated with or related to the activities authorized in the IHA 
(e.g., previously wounded animal, carcass with moderate to advanced 
decomposition, scavenger damage), WETA shall report the incident to the 
Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, and the Southwest Regional 
Stranding Coordinator, NMFS, within 24 hours of the discovery. WETA 
shall provide photographs or video footage or other documentation of 
the stranded animal sighting to NMFS.
    7. This Authorization may be modified, suspended or withdrawn if 
the holder fails to abide by the conditions prescribed herein, or if 
NMFS determines the authorized taking is having more than a negligible 
impact on the species or stock of affected marine mammals.

Request for Public Comments

    We request comment on our analyses, the draft authorization, and 
any other aspect of this Notice of Proposed IHAs for WETA's ferry 
terminal construction activities. Please include with your comments any 
supporting data or literature citations to help inform our final 
decision on WETA's request for an MMPA authorization.

    Dated: May 19, 2016.
Perry F. Gayaldo,
Deputy Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2016-12299 Filed 5-24-16; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3510-22-P


Current View
CategoryRegulatory Information
CollectionFederal Register
sudoc ClassAE 2.7:
GS 4.107:
AE 2.106:
PublisherOffice of the Federal Register, National Archives and Records Administration
SectionNotices
ActionNotice; proposed incidental harassment authorization; request for comments.
DatesComments and information must be received no later than June 24, 2016.
ContactLaura McCue, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, (301) 427-8401.
FR Citation81 FR 33217 
RIN Number0648-XE49

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