50 CFR 217.174 - Mitigation.
(a) When conducting the activities identified in § 217.170(a), the mitigation measures contained in the Letter of Authorization issued under §§ 216.106 and 217.177 must be implemented. These mitigation measures include but are not limited to:
(i) During repairs, if a marine mammal is detected within 0.6 mi (1 km) of the repair vessel (or acoustically), the vessel superintendent or on-deck supervisor shall be notified immediately. The vessel's crew will be put on a heightened state of alert. The marine mammal will be monitored constantly to determine if it is moving toward the repair area.
(ii) Repair vessels shall cease any movement in the area if a marine mammal other than a right whale is sighted within or approaching to a distance of 100 yd (91 m) from the operating repair vessel. Repair vessels shall cease any movement in the construction area if a right whale is sighted within or approaching to a distance of 500 yd (457 m) from the operating vessel. Vessels transiting the repair area, such as pipe haul barge tugs, shall also be required to maintain these separation distances.
(iii) Repair vessels shall cease all sound emitting activities if a marine mammal other than a right whale is sighted within or approaching to a distance of 100 yd (91 m) or if a right whale is sighted within or approaching to a distance of 500 yd (457 m), from the operating repair vessel. The back-calculated source level, based on the most conservative cylindrical model of acoustic energy spreading, is estimated to be 139 dB re 1 µPa.
(iv) Repair activities may resume after the marine mammal is positively reconfirmed outside the established zones (either 500 yd (457 m) or 100 yd (91 m), depending upon species) or if the marine mammal has not been re-sighted in the established zones for 30 minutes.
(v) While under way, all repair vessels shall remain 500 yd (457 m) away from right whales and 100 yd (91 m) away from all other marine mammals, unless constrained by human safety concerns or navigational constraints.
(vi) All repair vessels 300 gross tons or greater must maintain a speed of 10 knots (18.5 km/hr) or less. Vessels less than 300 gross tons carrying supplies or crew between the shore and the repair site must contact the Mandatory Ship Reporting System, the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), or the protected species observers (PSOs) at the repair site before leaving shore for reports of recent right whale sightings or active Dynamic Management Areas (DMAs) and, consistent with navigation safety, restrict speeds to 10 knots (18.5 km/hr) or less within 5 mi (8 km) of any recent sighting location and within any existing DMA.
(vii) Vessels transiting through the Cape Cod Canal and Cape Cod Bay (CCB) between January 1 and May 15 must reduce speeds to 10 knots (18.5 km/hr) or less, follow the recommended routes charted by NOAA to reduce interactions between right whales and shipping traffic, and avoid aggregations of right whales in the eastern portion of CCB.
(2) Major Repairs (December 1-April 30): If unplanned/emergency repair activities cannot be conducted between May 1 and November 30, then Neptune shall implement the following mitigation measures in addition to those listed in § 217.174(a)(1)(i) through (vii):
(i) If on-board PSOs do not have at least 0.6-mi (1-km) visibility, they shall call for a shutdown of repair activities. If dive operations are in progress, then they shall be halted and divers brought on board until visibility is adequate to see a 0.6-mi (1-km) range. At the time of shutdown, the use of thrusters must be minimized to the lowest level needed to maintain personnel safety. If there are potential safety problems due to the shutdown, the captain must decide what operations can safely be shut down and shall document such activities in the data log.
(ii) Prior to leaving the dock to begin transit, the barge must contact one of the PSOs on watch to receive an update of sightings within the visual observation area. If the PSO has observed a North Atlantic right whale within 30 minutes of the transit start, the vessel shall hold for 30 minutes and again seek clearance to leave from the PSOs on board. PSOs will assess whale activity and visual observation ability at the time of the transit request to clear the barge for release and will grant clearance if no North Atlantic right whales have been sighted in the last 30 minutes in the visual observation area.
(iii) Neptune or its contractor shall provide a half-day training course to designated crew members assigned to the transit barges and other support vessels who will have responsibilities for watching for marine mammals. This course shall cover topics including, but not limited to, descriptions of the marine mammals found in the area, mitigation and monitoring requirements contained in the Letter of Authorization, sighting log requirements, and procedures for reporting injured or dead marine mammals. These designated crew members shall be required to keep watch on the bridge and immediately notify the navigator of any whale sightings. All watch crew members shall sign into a bridge log book upon start and end of watch. Transit route, destination, sea conditions, and any protected species sightings/mitigation actions during watch shall be recorded in the log book. Any whale sightings within 3,281 ft (1,000 m) of the vessel shall result in a high alert and slow speed of 4 knots (7.4 km/hr) or less. A sighting within 2,461 ft (750 m) shall result in idle speed and/or ceasing all movement.
(iv) The material barges and tugs used for repair work shall transit from the operations dock to the work sites during daylight hours, when possible, provided the safety of the vessels is not compromised. Should transit at night be required, the maximum speed of the tug shall be 5 knots (9.3 km/hr).
(v) Consistent with navigation safety, all repair vessels must maintain a speed of 10 knots (18.5 km/hr) or less during daylight hours. All vessels shall operate at 5 knots (9.3 km/hr) or less at all times within 3.1 mi (5 km) of the repair area.
(3) Speed Restrictions in Seasonal Management Areas (SMAs): Repair vessels and shuttle regasification vessels (SRVs) shall transit at 10 knots (18.5 km/hr) or less in the following seasons and areas, which either correspond to or are more restrictive than the times and areas in NMFS' regulations at 50 CFR 224.105 that implement speed restrictions to reduce the likelihood and severity of ship strikes of right whales:
(i) CCB SMA from January 1 through May 15, which includes all waters in CCB, extending to all shorelines of the Bay, with a northern boundary of 42° 12′ N. latitude;
(ii) Off Race Point SMA year round, which is bounded by straight lines connecting the following coordinates in the order stated: 42°30′ N. 69°45′ W.; thence to 42°30′ N. 70°30′ W.; thence to 42°12′ N. 70°30′ W.; thence to 42°12′ N. 70°12′ W.; thence to 42°04′ 56.5″ N. 70°12′ W.; thence along mean high water line and inshore limits of COLREGS limit to a latitude of 41°40′ N.; thence due east to 41°41′ N. 69°45′ W.; thence back to starting point; and
(iii) Great South Channel (GSC) SMA from April 1 through July 31, which is bounded by straight lines connecting the following coordinates in the order stated:
(A) 42°30′ N. 69°45′ W.
(B) 41°40′ N. 69°45′ W.
(C) 41°00′ N. 69°05′ W.
(D) 42°09′ N. 67°08′ 24″ W.
(E) 42°30′ N. 67°27′ W.
(F) 42°30′ N. 69°45′ W.
(i) When approaching and departing from the Neptune Port, SRVs shall use the Boston Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS) starting and ending at the entrance to the GSC. Upon entering the TSS, the SRV shall go into a “heightened awareness” mode of operation.
(ii) In the event that a whale is visually observed within 0.6 mi (1 km) of the Port or a confirmed acoustic detection is reported on either of the two auto-detection buoys (ABs) closest to the Port, departing SRVs shall delay their departure from the Port, unless extraordinary circumstances, defined in the Marine Mammal Detection, Monitoring, and Response Plan (the Plan), require that the departure is not delayed. The departure delay shall continue until either the observed whale has been visually (during daylight hours) confirmed as more than 0.6 mi (1 km) from the Port or 30 minutes have passed without another confirmed detection either acoustically within the acoustic detection range of the two ABs closest to the Port or visually within 0.6 mi (1 km) from Neptune.
(iii) SRVs that are approaching or departing from the Port and are within the Area to be Avoided (ATBA) surrounding Neptune shall remain at least 0.6 mi (1 km) away from any visually detected right whales and at least 100 yd (91 m) away from all other visually detected whales unless extraordinary circumstances, as defined in Section 1.2 of the Plan, require that the vessel stay its course. The ATBA is defined in 33 CFR 150.940. It is the largest area of the Port marked on nautical charts, and it is enforceable by the USCG in accordance with the 33 CFR 150.900 regulations. The Vessel Master shall designate at least one lookout to be exclusively and continuously monitoring for the presence of marine mammals at all times while the SRV is approaching or departing Neptune.
(iv) Neptune shall ensure that other vessels providing support to Port operations during regasification activities that are approaching or departing from the Port and are within the ATBA shall be operated so as to remain at least 0.6 mi (1 km) away from any visually detected right whales and at least 100 yd (91 m) from all other visually detected whales.
(v) PSOs shall direct a moving vessel to slow to idle if a baleen whale is seen less than 0.6 mi (1 km) from the vessel.
(vi) Use of lights during repair or maintenance activities shall be limited to areas where work is actually occurring, and all other lights must be extinguished. Lights must be downshielded to illuminate the deck and shall not intentionally illuminate surrounding waters, so as not to attract whales or their prey to the area.
(vii) Neptune must immediately suspend any repair and maintenance or operations activities if a dead or injured marine mammal is found in the vicinity of the project area, and the death or injury of the animal could be attributable to the Port facility activities. Upon finding a dead or injured marine mammal, Neptune must contact NMFS, the Northeast Stranding and Disentanglement Program, and the USCG. NMFS will review the documentation submitted by the PSO and attempt to attribute a cause of death. Activities shall not resume until review and approval has been given by NMFS.
(5) Additional mitigation measures as contained in a Letter of Authorization issued under §§ 216.106 and 217.177 of this chapter.
Title 50 published on 2014-10-01
no entries appear in the Federal Register after this date.