Daily Rules, Proposed Rules, and Notices of the Federal Government


National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

RIN 0648-XX47

Marine Mammals; File No. 14097

AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.
ACTION: Notice; issuance of permit amendment.
SUMMARY: Notice is hereby given that a major amendment to Permit No. 14097-01 has been issued to National Marine Fisheries Service, Southwest Fisheries Science Center (SWFSC) (Responsible Party: Lisa Ballance, Ph.D.), Protected Resources Division, 8901 La Jolla Shores Drive, La Jolla, CA 92037.
ADDRESSES: The permit amendment and related documents are available for review upon written request or by appointment in the following offices: SeeSUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Kristy Beard or Amy Hapeman, (301) 427-8401.

On July 11, 2012, notice was published in theFederal Register(77 FR 40859) that a request for an amendment to Permit No. 14097-01 to conduct research on 5 pinniped species, 57 cetacean species, and 5 sea turtle species in U.S. territorial and international waters of the Pacific, Southern, Indian, and Arctic Oceans had been submitted by the above-named organization. The requested permit amendment has been issued under the authority of the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1361et seq.), the regulations governing the taking and importing of marine mammals (50 CFR part 216), the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531et seq.), and the regulations governing the taking, importing, and exporting of endangered and threatened species (50 CFR 222-226).

The amendment authorizes: (1) The attachment of dart/barb tags or implantable tags on Arnoux's beaked whales (Berardius arnuxii) in the Southern Ocean; and (2) an increase in the takes of pinniped species encountered during aerial, ground, and vessel surveys in the Pacific Ocean, to account for ten additional surveys per year. The amended permit expires June 30, 2015.

In compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321et seq.), a determination was made that issuance of the permit is consistent with the Proposed Action Alternative in the Environmental Assessment (EA) for Issuance of a Scientific Research Permit [File No. 14097] for Pinniped, Cetacean, and Sea Turtle Studies (NMFS 2010) and the Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for Steller Sea Lion and Northern Fur Seal Research (NMFS 2007). Based on that analysis, NMFS determined that issuance of the permit would not significantly impact the quality of the human environment and that preparation of an environmental impact statement was not required. That determination is documented in a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI), signed on July 1, 2010.

As required by the ESA, issuance of this permit was based on a finding that such permit: (1) Was applied for in good faith; (2) will not operate to the disadvantage of such endangered species; and (3) is consistent with the purposes and policies set forth in section 2 of the ESA.

Documents may be reviewed in the following locations:

Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, 1315 East-West Highway, Room 13705, Silver Spring, MD 20910; phone (301) 427-8401; fax (301) 713-0376;

Northwest Region, NMFS, 7600 Sand Point Way NE., BIN C15700, Bldg. 1, Seattle, WA 98115-0700; phone (206) 526-6150; fax (206) 526-6426;

Alaska Region, NMFS, P.O. Box 21668, Juneau, AK 99802-1668; phone (907) 586-7221; fax (907) 586-7249;

Southwest Region, NMFS, 501 West Ocean Blvd., Suite 4200, Long Beach, CA 90802-4213; phone (562) 980-4001; fax (562) 980-4018; and

Pacific Islands Region, NMFS, 1601 Kapiolani Blvd., Rm 1110, Honolulu, HI 96814-4700; phone (808) 944-2200; fax (808) 973-2941.

Dated: September 17, 2012. P. Michael Payne, Chief, Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service.