50 CFR § 18.138 - Monitoring.

§ 18.138 Monitoring.

(a) Operators shall work with PSOs to apply mitigation measures, and shall recognize the authority of PSOs, up to and including stopping work, except where doing so poses a significant safety risk to personnel.

(b) Duties of PSOs include watching for and identifying sea otters, recording observation details, documenting presence in any applicable monitoring zone, identifying and documenting potential harassment, and working with operators to implement all appropriate mitigation measures.

(c) A sufficient number of PSOs will be available to meet the following criteria: 100 percent monitoring of EZs during all daytime periods of underwater noise-generating work; a maximum of 4 consecutive hours on watch per PSO; a maximum of approximately 12 hours on watch per day per PSO.

(d) All PSOs will complete a training course designed to familiarize individuals with monitoring and data collection procedures. A field crew leader with prior experience as a sea otter observer will supervise the PSO team. Initially, new or inexperienced PSOs will be paired with experienced PSOs so that the quality of marine mammal observations and data recording is kept consistent. Resumes for candidate PSOs will be made available for the Service to review.

(e) Observers will be provided with reticule binoculars (10x42), big-eye binoculars or spotting scopes (30x), inclinometers, and range finders. Field guides, instructional handbooks, maps and a contact list will also be made available.

(f) Observers will collect data using the following procedures:

(1) All data will be recorded onto a field form or database.

(2) Global positioning system data, sea state, wind force, and weather will be collected at the beginning and end of a monitoring period, every hour in between, at the change of an observer, and upon sightings of sea otters.

(3) Observation records of sea otters will include date; time; the observer's locations, heading, and speed (if moving); weather; visibility; number of animals; group size and composition (adults/juveniles); and the location of the animals (or distance and direction from the observer).

(4) Observation records will also include initial behaviors of the sea otters, descriptions of project activities and underwater sound levels being generated, the position of sea otters relative to applicable monitoring and mitigation zones, any mitigation measures applied, and any apparent reactions to the project activities before and after mitigation.

(5) For all otters in or near a mitigation zone, observers will record the distance from the vessel to the sea otter upon initial observation, the duration of the encounter, and the distance at last observation in order to monitor cumulative sound exposures.

(6) Observers will note any instances of animals lingering close to or traveling with vessels for prolonged periods of time.

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