50 CFR 217.175 - Requirements for monitoring and reporting.

§ 217.175 Requirements for monitoring and reporting.
(a) Visual Monitoring Program:
(1) Neptune shall employ PSOs during maintenance- and repair-related activities on each vessel that has a dynamic positioning system. Two (2) PSOs shall be on-duty at all times. All PSOs must receive NMFS-approved PSO training and be approved in advance by NMFS after a review of their qualifications.
(2) Qualifications for these PSOs shall include direct field experience on a marine mammal observation vessel and/or aerial surveys in the Atlantic Ocean/Gulf of Mexico.
(3) The PSOs (one primary and one secondary) are responsible for visually locating marine mammals at the ocean's surface and, to the extent possible, identifying the species. The primary PSO shall act as the identification specialist, and the secondary PSO shall serve as data recorder and also assist with identification. Both PSOs shall have responsibility for monitoring for the presence of marine mammals.
(4) The PSOs shall monitor the maintenance/repair area using the naked eye, hand-held binoculars, and/or power binoculars.
(5) The PSOs shall scan the ocean surface during maintenance- and repair-related activities and record all sightings in marine mammal field sighting logs. Observations of marine mammals shall be identified to the species or the lowest taxonomic level possible, and their relative position in relation to the vessel shall be recorded.
(6) While a SRV is navigating within the designated TSS, three people have lookout duties on or near the bridge of the ship including the SRV Master, the Officer-of-the-Watch, and the Helmsman on watch.
(7) In addition to standard watch procedures, while the SRV is within the ATBA and/or while actively engaging in the use of thrusters, an additional lookout shall be designated to exclusively and continuously monitor for marine mammals. Once the SRV is moored and regasification activities have begun, the vessel is no longer considered in “heightened awareness” status.
(8) At the conclusion of regasification activities, when the SRV is prepared to depart from the Port, the Master shall once again ensure that the responsibilities as defined in the Plan are carried out. All sightings of marine mammals by the designated lookout, individuals posted to navigational lookout duties, and/or any other crew member while the SRV is within the TSS, in transit to the ATBA, within the ATBA, and/or when actively engaging in the use of thrusters shall be immediately reported to the Officer-of-the-Watch who shall then alert the Master.
(b) Passive Acoustic Monitoring (PAM) Program:
(1) Neptune shall work with NMFS, Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary (SBNMS), and other scientists to install and monitor an array of passive acoustic detection buoys in the Boston TSS that meets the criteria specified in the recommendations developed by NOAA through consultation with the USCG under the National Marine Sanctuary Act (NMSA). The system shall provide near real-time information on the presence of vocalizing whales in the shipping lanes.
(2) Neptune shall work with NMFS, SBNMS, and other scientists to monitor the archival array of acoustic recording units (ARUs), or “pop-ups,” around the Port that meets the criteria specified in the program developed by NOAA in consultation with the USCG under the NMSA. The ARUs shall remain in place for 5 years following initiation of operations to monitor the actual acoustic output of port operations and alert NOAA to any unanticipated adverse effects of port operations, such as large-scale abandonment of the area or greater acoustic impacts than predicted through modeling.
(3) Passive acoustic devices shall be actively monitored for detections by a NMFS-approved bioacoustic technician.
(4) Repair Activity PAM Measures: PAM, in addition to that required in this section of these regulations, shall be required, on a case-by-case basis, during both planned and emergency repair activities in order to better detect right whales in the area of repair work and to collect additional data on the noise levels produced during repair and maintenance activities.
(i) Neptune shall work with NOAA (NMFS and SBNMS) to evaluate when to install and maintain an array of real-time passive acoustic detection buoys to provide early warnings for potential occurrence of right whales in the vicinity of the repair area. The number of passive acoustic detection buoys installed around the activity site, if deemed necessary, shall be commensurate with the type and spatial extent of maintenance/repair work required, but must be sufficient to detect vocalizing right whales within the 120-dB impact zone.
(ii) Neptune shall provide NMFS with empirically measured source level data for all sources of noise associated with Port maintenance and repair activities. Measurements shall be carefully planned and coordinated with noise-producing activities and shall be collected from the passive detection network.
(5) SRV Regasification PAM Measures: Source levels associated with dynamic positioning of SRVs at the buoys shall be estimated using empirical measurements collected from a platform positioned as close as practicable to thrusters while in use.
(c) Neptune must implement the following reporting requirements:
(1) Because the Port is within the Mandatory Ship Reporting Area (MSRA), all SRVs transiting to and from the Port must report their activities to the mandatory reporting section of the USCG to remain apprised of North Atlantic right whale movements within the area. All vessels entering and exiting the MSRA must report their activities to WHALESNORTH. Any North Atlantic right whale sightings must be reported to the NMFS Sighting Advisory System.
(2) Repair work reports.
(i) For major repair work associated with the pipeline lateral or other port components, Neptune shall notify the appropriate NOAA personnel as soon as practicable after it is determined that repair work must be conducted.
(ii) During maintenance and repair of the pipeline lateral or other port components, weekly status reports must be provided to NOAA. The weekly report must include data collected for each distinct marine mammal species observed in the project area during the period of the repair activity. The weekly reports shall include the following:
(A) The location, time, and nature of the pipeline lateral activities;
(B) Whether the dynamic position (DP) system was operated and, if so, the number of thrusters used and the time and duration of DP operation;
(C) Marine mammals observed in the area (number, species, age group, and initial behavior);
(D) The distance of observed marine mammals from the repair activities;
(E) Observed marine mammal behaviors during the sighting;
(F) Whether any mitigation measures were implemented;
(G) Weather conditions (sea state, wind speed, wind direction, ambient temperature, precipitation, and percent cloud cover, etc.);
(H) Condition of the marine mammal observation (visibility and glare); and
(I) Details of passive acoustic detections and any action taken in response to those detections.
(iii) For all minor repair work, Neptune must notify NOAA regarding when and where the repair/maintenance work is to take place along with a tentative schedule and description of the work, as soon as practicable after it is determined that repair work must be conducted. Vessel crews shall record/document any marine mammal sightings during the work period.
(iv) At the conclusion of all minor repair work, Neptune shall provide NOAA with a report describing any marine mammal sightings, the type of work taking place when the sighting occurred, and any avoidance actions taken during the repair/maintenance work.
(3) Incident reports. During all phases of project repair/maintenance activities and operation, sightings of any injured or dead marine mammals must be reported immediately to the Chief, Permits, Conservation and Education Division or staff member and the Northeast Stranding and Disentanglement Program, regardless of whether the injury or death is caused by project activities. If the injury or death was caused by a project vessel (e.g., SRV, support vessel, or construction vessel), the USCG must be notified immediately, and a full report must be provided to NMFS. Activities will not resume until review and approval has been given by NMFS. The report must include the following information:
(i) Time, date, and location (latitude/longitude) of the incident;
(ii) The name and type of vessel involved;
(iii) The vessel's speed during the incident;
(iv) Description of the incident;
(v) Water depth;
(vi) Environmental conditions (e.g., wind speed and direction, sea state, cloud cover, and visibility);
(vii) Species identification or description of the animal;
(viii) The fate of the animal; and
(ix) Photographs or video footage of the animal (if equipment is available).
(4) Annual reports.
(i) An annual report on marine mammal monitoring and mitigation shall be submitted to NMFS, Office of Protected Resources, and NMFS, Northeast Regional Office (specific contact information to be provided in Letter of Authorization), on August 1 of each year. The annual report shall cover the time period of January 1 through December 31 of each year of activity.
(ii) The annual report shall include data collected for each distinct marine mammal species observed in the project area in the Massachusetts Bay during the period of Port operations and repair/maintenance activities. The annual report shall also include a description of marine mammal behavior, overall numbers of individuals observed, frequency of observation, and any behavioral changes and the context of the changes relative to operation and repair/maintenance activities. Additional information that shall be recorded by Neptune or its contractor during operations and repair/maintenance activities and contained in the reports include: results of empirical source level estimation for thrusters while in use and activities associated with maintenance and repair events, date and time of marine mammal detections (visually or acoustically), weather conditions, species identification, approximate distance from the source, activity of the vessel when a marine mammal is sighted, and whether thrusters were in use and, if so, how many at the time of the sighting.
(5) Five-year comprehensive report.
(i) Neptune shall submit a draft comprehensive final report to NMFS, Office of Protected Resources, and NMFS, Northeast Regional Office (specific contact information to be provided in Letter of Authorization), 180 days prior to the expiration of the regulations. This comprehensive technical report shall provide full documentation of methods, results, and interpretation of all monitoring during the first four and a half years of the LOA.
(ii) Neptune shall submit a revised final comprehensive technical report, including all monitoring results during the entire period of the LOAs, 90 days after the end of the period of effectiveness of the regulations to NMFS, Office of Protected Resources, and NMFS, Northeast Regional Office (specific contact information to be provided in Letter of Authorization).

Title 50 published on 2014-10-01

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United States Code

Title 50 published on 2014-10-01

The following are ALL rules, proposed rules, and notices (chronologically) published in the Federal Register relating to 50 CFR 217 after this date.

  • 2015-02-23; vol. 80 # 35 - Monday, February 23, 2015
    1. 80 FR 9510 - Taking and Importing Marine Mammals; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to Seismic Surveys in Cook Inlet, Alaska
      GPO FDSys XML | Text
      DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
      Proposed rule; request for comments.
      Comments and information must be received no later than March 25, 2015.
      50 CFR Part 217