Daily Rules, Proposed Rules, and Notices of the Federal Government
A copy of the Navy's application may be obtained by writing to the address specified above (
Sections 101(a)(5)(A) and (D) of the MMPA (16 U.S.C. 1361
Authorization for incidental takings may be granted if NMFS finds that the taking will have a negligible impact on
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.
With respect to military readiness activities, the MMPA defines “harassment” as:
(i) any act that injures or has the significant potential to injure a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild [Level A Harassment]; or (ii) any act that disturbs or is likely to disturb a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild by causing disruption of natural behavioral patterns, including, but not limited to, migration, surfacing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or sheltering, to a point where such behavioral patterns are abandoned or significantly altered [Level B Harassment].
On September 3, 2008, NMFS received an application from the Navy requesting authorization for the take of three pinniped species incidental to vehicle launches to be conducted from the western part of SNI (see pages 3-4 of the application), over the course of 5 years. These activities are classified as military readiness activities. The Navy plans to launch up to 40 vehicles from SNI per year, with up to 10 launches per year during nighttime hours. The Navy states that these activities may have both acoustic and non-acoustic effects on pinnipeds. Aircraft and helicopter flights between the Pt Mugu airfield on the mainland, the airfield on SNI, and the target sites in the Sea Range will be a routine part of a planned launch operation. These flights generally do not pass at low levels over the beaches where pinnipeds are expected to be hauled out. The Navy requests authorization to take three species of pinnipeds by Level B Harassment: harbor seals, northern elephant seals, and California sea lions. Injury or mortality is unlikely during launch activities, and take by Level A harassment (including injury) or mortality is not requested in the Navy's application.
The Navy issued a FEIS, which analyzed the effects on the human environment of implementing their preferred alternative (among other alternatives), which includes conducting five general categories of tests to evaluate sea, land, and air weapons systems (i.e., air-to-air tests, air-to-surface tests, surface-to-air tests, surface-to-surface tests, and subsurface-to-surface tests) and three general categories of training (i.e., fleet training exercises, small-scale amphibious warfare training, and special warfare training). NAWCWD plans to continue a launch program for missiles and targets from several launch sites on SNI, the purpose of which is to support test and training activities associated with operations on the NAWCWD Point Mugu Sea Range.
Interested persons may submit information, suggestions, and comments concerning the Navy's request (