Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to Chevron Richmond Refinery Long Wharf Maintenance and Efficiency Project in San Francisco Bay, California

Citation86 FR 17777
CourtNational Oceanic And Atmospheric Administration
Publication Date06 Apr 2021
Record Number2021-07022
Federal Register, Volume 86 Issue 64 (Tuesday, April 6, 2021)
[Federal Register Volume 86, Number 64 (Tuesday, April 6, 2021)]
                [Pages 17777-17783]
                From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
                [FR Doc No: 2021-07022]
                National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
                [RTID 0648-XA966]
                Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities;
                Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to Chevron Richmond Refinery Long
                Wharf Maintenance and Efficiency Project in San Francisco Bay,
                AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and
                Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.
                ACTION: Notice; proposed issuance of an Incidental Harassment
                Authorization; request for comments.
                SUMMARY: NMFS has received a request from Chevron Products Company
                (Chevron) for an incidental harassment authorization (IHA), that would
                cover a subset of the take authorized in IHAs previously issued to
                Chevron, to incidentally take marine mammals, by Level B harassment
                only, during construction activities associated with the Chevron
                Richmond Refinery Long Wharf Maintenance and Efficiency Project (LWMEP)
                in San Francisco Bay, California. However, some changes have occurred
                during this year's evaluation of the project. Hydroacoustic monitoring
                data has led to changes in source levels and other noise generating
                criteria that affect Level A and Level B harassment and shutdown zones.
                The local abundance for one population has increased. Pursuant to the
                Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), NMFS is requesting comments on its
                proposal to issue an IHA to incidentally take marine mammals during the
                specified activities. NMFS is also requesting comments on a possible 1
                year renewal IHA that could be issued under certain circumstances and
                if all requirements are met, as described in Request for Public
                Comments at the end of this notice. NMFS will consider public comments
                prior to making any final decision on the issuance of the requested
                MMPA authorizations and agency responses will be summarized in the
                final notice of our decision.
                DATES: Comments and information must be received no later than May 6,
                ADDRESSES: Comments should be addressed to Jolie Harrison, Chief,
                Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources,
                National Marine Fisheries Service. Written comments should be submitted
                via email to [email protected].
                 Instructions: NMFS is not responsible for comments sent by any
                other method,
                [[Page 17778]]
                to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the
                comment period. Comments, including all attachments, must not exceed a
                25-megabyte file size. Attachments to comments will be accepted in
                Microsoft Word or Excel or Adobe PDF file formats only. All comments
                received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted
                online at https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/permit/incidental-take-authorizations-under-marine-mammal-protection-act without change. All
                personal identifying information (e.g., name, address) voluntarily
                submitted by the commenter may be publicly accessible. Do not submit
                confidential business information or otherwise sensitive or protected
                FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Dwayne Meadows, Ph.D., Office of
                Protected Resources, NMFS, (301) 427-8401. Electronic copies of the
                application, 2019 and 2020 IHAs, and supporting documents (including
                NMFS Federal Register notices of the earlier proposed and final
                authorizations, and the previous IHAs), as well as a list of the
                references cited in this document, may be obtained online at: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/permit/incidental-take-authorizations-under-marine-mammal-protection-act. In case of problems accessing these
                documents, please call the contact listed above.
                 The MMPA prohibits the ``take'' of marine mammals, with certain
                exceptions. Sections 101(a)(5)(A) and (D) of the MMPA (16 U.S.C. 1361
                et seq.) direct the Secretary of Commerce (as delegated to NMFS) to
                allow, upon request, the incidental, but not intentional, taking of
                small numbers of marine mammals by U.S. citizens who engage in a
                specified activity (other than commercial fishing) within a specified
                geographical region if certain findings are made and either regulations
                are issued or, if the taking is limited to harassment, a notice of a
                proposed incidental take authorization is provided to the public for
                 Authorization for incidental takings shall be granted if NMFS finds
                that the taking will have a negligible impact on the species or
                stock(s) and will not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the
                availability of the species or stock(s) for taking for subsistence uses
                (where relevant). Further, NMFS must prescribe the permissible methods
                of taking and other ``means of effecting the least practicable adverse
                impact'' on the affected species or stocks and their habitat, paying
                particular attention to rookeries, mating grounds, and areas of similar
                significance, and on the availability of such species or stocks for
                taking for certain subsistence uses (referred to here as ``mitigation
                measures''). Monitoring and reporting of such takings are also
                required. The meaning of key terms such as ``take,'' ``harassment,''
                and ``negligible impact'' can be found in section 3 of the MMPA (16
                U.S.C. 1362) and the agency's regulations at 50 CFR 216.103.
                National Environmental Policy Act
                 To comply with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA;
                42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) and NOAA Administrative Order (NAO) 216-6A,
                NMFS must review our proposed action (i.e., the issuance of an IHA)
                with respect to potential impacts on the human environment.
                 This action is consistent with categories of activities identified
                in Categorical Exclusion B4 IHAs with no anticipated serious injury or
                mortality) of the Companion Manual for NOAA Administrative Order 216-
                6A, which do not individually or cumulatively have the potential for
                significant impacts on the quality of the human environment and for
                which we have not identified any extraordinary circumstances that would
                preclude this categorical exclusion. Accordingly, NMFS has
                preliminarily determined that the issuance of the proposed IHA
                qualifies to be categorically excluded from further NEPA review.
                 We will review all comments submitted in response to this notice
                prior to concluding our NEPA process or making a final decision on the
                IHA request.
                History of Request
                 On February 1, 2018, NMFS received a request from Chevron for an
                IHA to take marine mammals incidental to pile driving and pile removal
                associated with the LWMEP in San Francisco Bay, California. An IHA was
                issued on May 31, 2018 (83 FR 27548, June 13, 2018). Chevron was unable
                to complete all of the planned work and was issued a second IHA on June
                1, 2019 (84 FR 28474, June 19, 2019) and when the work was again not
                completed a Renewal IHA was issued on June 11, 2020 (85 FR 37064; June
                19, 2020). Chevron was again unable to complete the work in 2020 and on
                February 24, 2021 requested a new IHA to authorize take of marine
                mammals for the subset of the initially planned work that could not be
                completed. The application was deemed adequate and complete on March
                22, 2021. Chevron requested the new IHA be effective from June 1, 2021
                through May 31, 2022. Chevron does not qualify for an additional
                renewal IHA, but given the proposed work is a subset of that which has
                been previously analyzed, we will be referencing the prior
                authorization except where activities or analysis have changed as
                described below.
                Description of the Specified Activities and Anticipated Impacts
                 As described in the 2018, 2019 and 2020 IHAs, Chevron is upgrading
                Long Wharf to comply with current Marine Oil Terminal Engineering and
                Maintenance Standards and in order to accept more modern, fuel
                efficient vessels. The remaining work includes installing four new
                standoff fenders and removing obsolete piles at Berth 2 and installing
                four new dolphins and removing temporary piles associated with the
                prior work at Berth 4. Remaining construction at Long Wharf includes
                vibratory pile installation of 52 14-inch composite piles, vibratory
                removal of 150 piles (eight 36-inch steel piles, 36 14-inch steel H
                piles, and 106 16-inch timber piles) and impact installation of nine
                24-inch concrete piles (Table 1). Note some pile sizes were described
                with various diameters in prior notifications (e.g., the composite
                piles are tapered and their diameter ranges from 12 to 14 inches and
                they are now described by their widest diameter) but there is no change
                to actual planned piles. The activities consist of 36 days of in-water
                work. Pile driving and removal activities will continue to occur within
                the standard NMFS work windows for Endangered Species Act (ESA)-listed
                fish species (June 1 through November 30).
                 Vibratory pile removal and installation and impact pile
                installation will introduce underwater sounds that may result in take,
                by Level B harassment, of seven species of marine mammals in San
                Francisco Bay. This IHA proposes to authorize the remaining take
                associated with the work not completed under the prior IHAs. The H
                piles and 36-inch piles were not part of the 2020 renewal IHA but were
                part of earlier IHAs for this project. The H-piles were noted as
                temporary piles in the 2018 IHA application although Chevron was in the
                process of determining the permitting requirements to leave these
                fender piles in place. In the 2019 IHA application Chevron had included
                the 36-inch piles as temporary and listed the activities as
                installation and removal. The piles were installed in 2019. Chevron had
                been considering leaving the 36-inch piles in place as well. Chevron
                has since
                [[Page 17779]]
                reconsidered leaving any of the temporary piles in place and has
                decided to remove the H-piles at Berth 2 and the 36-inch piles at Berth
                4. Therefore, removal of these piles is included in the 2021
                 The prior IHAs included Level A harassment take associated with
                installation of larger piles that has since been completed, therefore
                no Level A harassment take is requested or proposed for this IHA. The
                earlier proposed and final IHA documents, monitoring report, and public
                comments can be found on our project web page at: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/action/incidental-take-authorization-old-sitka-dock-north-dolphins-expansion-project-sitka-alaska.
                Detailed Description of the Activity
                 A detailed description of the demolition and construction
                activities for which take is proposed here may be found in the notices
                of the proposed and final IHAs for the 2018, 2019 and 2020 IHAs. The
                location, and nature of the activities, including the types of
                equipment planned for use, are identical to those described in the
                previous notices.
                 As part of the prior authorizations Chevron was required to conduct
                hydroacoustic monitoring of their pile driving. Based on this
                monitoring Chevron has applied updated estimates of strikes per pile to
                drive 24-inch concrete piles and source levels and transmission loss
                coefficients for multiple pile sizes. Below we update our analysis and
                the Level A and Level B harassment isopleths and shutdown zones based
                on these new data.
                 Table 1--Pile Driving Details for Work Remaining To Be Completed
                 Number of Number of Time/pile
                 Pile type and number per day Pile driver type piles driving days Strikes/pile (min)
                36-inch steel pipe pile (4/ Vibratory 8 2 N/A 5
                 day). removal.
                14-inch H pile removal (6/day) Vibratory 36 6 N/A 5
                24-inch concrete (1-2/day).... Impact install.. 9 8 440 20
                14-inch composite (5/day)..... Vibratory 52 11 N/A 10
                16-inch timber pile (12/day).. Vibratory 106 9 N/A 6.67
                Description of Marine Mammals
                 A description of the marine mammals in the area of the activities
                for which authorization of take is proposed here, including information
                on abundance, status, distribution, and hearing, may be found in the
                notices of the proposed and final IHAs for the 2019 and 2020
                authorization. NMFS has reviewed the monitoring data from the 2020 IHA,
                recent draft Stock Assessment Reports, information on relevant Unusual
                Mortality Events, and other scientific literature, and determined that
                neither this nor any other new information affects which species or
                stocks have the potential to be affected or the pertinent information
                in the Description of the Marine Mammals in the Area of Specified
                Activities contained in the supporting documents for the 2019 and 2020
                Potential Effects on Marine Mammals and Their Habitat
                 A description of the potential effects of the specified activity on
                marine mammals and their habitat for the activities for which take is
                proposed here may be found in the notices of the proposed and final
                IHAs for the 2018 authorization. NMFS has reviewed the monitoring data
                from the 2019 and 2020 IHAs, recent draft Stock Assessment Reports,
                information on relevant Unusual Mortality Events, and other scientific
                literature, and determined that, besides the revised source information
                harbor seal occurrence mentioned above and analyzed below, neither this
                nor any other new information affects our initial analysis of impacts
                on marine mammals and their habitat.
                Estimated Take
                 A detailed description of the methods and inputs used to estimate
                take for the specified activity are found in the notice of the final
                2018 and 2019 IHAs. As noted above, hydroacoustic monitoring from prior
                years has changed the source levels, transmission loss coefficients,
                time and strikes to drive piles for various of the pile sizes. Instead
                of referencing prior discussions of these topics we provide complete
                details of the pile driving parameters used to compute the Level A and
                Level B harassment isopleths for this proposed IHA in Tables 1 and 2.
                Based on these revised inputs the Level A and Level B harassment
                isopleth radii from the NMFS User Spreadsheet are shown for all pile
                sizes in Tables 2 and 3.
                 Table 2--Pile Driving Source Levels and Calculated Distances to Level A Harassment Isopleths
                 [Sound source reference in italics]
                 Source levels at 10 meters Distance to Level A threshold (meters)
                 Pile type and sound source Transmission (dB) unless noted --------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 reference loss -------------------------------- Low-frequency Mid-frequency High-frequency Phocid Otariid
                 coefficient Peak RMS/SEL cetaceans cetaceans cetaceans pinnipeds pinnipeds
                Attenuated Impact Driving (with
                 bubble curtain):
                 24-inch square concrete 15 191 161 SEL.......... 31 1 37 17 1
                 (2018 acoustic monitoring).
                Vibratory Driving/Extraction:
                 14-inch Composite Barrier 15 178 168 RMS.......... 18 2 26 11 1
                 Pile (Laughlin 2012).
                 36-inch steel pipe pile 20 196 167 RMS @15 m.... 13 2 17 9 1
                 (2019 acoustic monitoring).
                 14-inch H pile (2018 20 165 150 RMS.......... 2 1 2 1 1
                 acoustic monitoring).
                 16-inch timber pile (WSDOT 15 N/A 152 RMS.......... 2 1 3 1 1
                Notes: SEL = sound exposure level, RMS = Root Mean Square.
                [[Page 17780]]
                 Table 3--Distances to Level B Thresholds and Size of the Level B
                 Harassment Zone for Each Pile Type
                 Area of Level B
                 Pile type Level B harassment zone (square
                 isopleth (meters) kilometers)
                Attenuated Impact Driving
                 (with bubble curtain):
                 24-inch square concrete. 74 0.01
                Vibratory Driving/
                 14-inch Composite....... 15,849 26.5
                 36-inch steel pipe...... * 3,358 4.04
                 14-inch H............... * 316 0.05
                 16-inch timber.......... 1,359 0.9
                * Using transmission loss coefficient and source levels from
                 hydroacoustic monitoring.
                 The stocks taken, methods of take, and types of take remain
                unchanged from the previously issued IHAs. The only change to the
                marine mammal density/occurrence data used to calculate take is an
                increase in harbor seal abundance at the Castro Rocks haulout. Castro
                Rocks are part of the survey area for long-term National Park Service
                (NPS) monitoring studies of harbor seal colonies within the Golden Gate
                National Recreation Area that have been conducted since 1976. The take
                estimates for this stock for this project have been based on the
                highest mean plus the standard error of harbor seals observed at Castro
                Rocks during recent annual surveys conducted by the NPS during the
                molting season. Based on the most recent surveys (Codde 2020, Codde and
                Allen 2020) and using the methods from the prior IHAs, the current
                daily abundance for use in calculating take of this stock would
                increase to 376 seals. However, given the prior monitoring results, the
                smaller pile sizes left to be driven or removed, and their location and
                distance from Castro Rocks, we are reverting to our more common
                practice of using the mean abundance estimate to estimate take. The
                mean using the most recent data is 237 animals per day (an increase
                from 176). Therefore, Level B harassment take for this stock is the
                estimated daily abundance in the project area (237) times the number of
                days of in-water work (36), resulting in a proposed authorization for
                Level B harassment of 8,532 harbor seals. Because the Level A
                harassment zones are small and we believe the Protected Species
                Observers (PSOs) will be able to effectively monitor the Level A
                harassment zones and implement shutdowns, we do not propose to
                authorize take by Level A harassment for this or any other stock.
                 For the remaining species take is estimated as follows (using the
                same criteria as prior IHAs). It is possible that a lone northern
                elephant seal may enter the Level B Harassment area once every 3 days
                during pile driving, resulting in a proposed authorization for Level B
                harassment of 12 northern elephant seals. While no northern fur seals
                have been observed in the 2018-2020 monitoring for this project, the
                incidence of northern fur seal in San Francisco Bay depends largely on
                oceanic conditions, with animals more likely to occur during El
                Ni[ntilde]o events. As in prior IHAs, we propose authorization for
                Level B harassment of 10 northern fur seals. While no bottlenose
                dolphins have been observed in the 2018-2020 monitoring for this
                project, this species occurs intermittently in San Francisco Bay. As in
                prior IHAs, we propose authorization for Level B harassment of 30
                bottlenose dolphins. Gray whales occasionally enter San Francisco Bay,
                and as in prior IHAs, we propose authorization for Level B harassment
                of 2 gray whales. Estimated Level B harassment take for California sea
                lions and harbor porpoises for this project has been based on densities
                of those stocks in the vicinity of the project. The estimated densities
                for these species have not changed from prior IHAs (0.16 and 0.17
                animals per square kilometer, respectively). The only factors that have
                changed are the days of work for each pile type and the areas of the
                Level B harassment zones (see Tables 1 and 3 above, respectively).
                 Based on the above discussion, the only changes to the number of
                proposed takes, which are indicated below in Table 4, is to account for
                the increased occurrence of harbor seals and the area and days of work
                remaining to be completed.
                 Table 4--Estimated Take by Level B Harassment, by Species and Stock
                 Level B Percent of
                 Common name Scientific name Stock harassment stock
                Harbor seal....................... Phoca vitulina....... California........... 8,532 1.6
                Harbor porpoise................... Phocoena phocoena.... San Francisco-- 327 4.4
                 Russian River.
                California sea lion............... Zalophus U.S.................. 308 Conduct training between construction supervisors and
                crews and the marine mammal monitoring team and relevant Chevron staff
                prior to the start of all pile driving activity and when new personnel
                join the work, so that responsibilities, communication procedures,
                monitoring protocols, and operational procedures are clearly
                 Avoid direct physical interaction with marine mammals
                during construction activity. If a marine mammal comes within 10 m of
                such activity, operations must cease and vessels must reduce speed to
                the minimum level required to maintain steerage and safe working
                 Pile driving activity must be halted upon observation of
                either a species for which incidental take is not authorized or a
                species for which incidental take has been authorized but the
                authorized number of takes has been met, entering or within the
                harassment zone;
                 Implement the shutdown zones indicated in Table 5;
                 Employ PSOs and establish monitoring locations as
                described in the Marine Mammal Monitoring Plan and Section 5 of the
                IHA. For all pile driving locations two PSOs must be used, with a
                minimum of one PSO assigned to each active pile driving location to
                monitor the shutdown zones. During work at Berth 2, PSOs will be
                stationed on the east and west edges of the Long Wharf. The PSO on the
                east has 180 degree views from the Long Wharf, north, south and east
                toward the shore and would have views of Castro Rocks. The PSO on the
                west would have 180 degree views, north to south, with views of San
                Francisco Bay to the west. During work at Berth 4, one PSO would be
                stationed on the east side of the wharf, just south of Berth 4 on an
                elevated viewpoint. This position allows clear views of the work area
                and shutdown zones, and views of the waters to the east and west of
                Long Wharf. A second PSO would be stationed on the mooring dolphin at
                the north end of the Long Wharf. This location provides a view of the
                work area and shutdown zones from the north as well as a clear view of
                Castro Rocks and areas to the east and west;
                 The placement of PSOs during all pile driving and removal
                and drilling activities will ensure that the entire shutdown zone is
                visible during pile installation. Should environmental conditions
                deteriorate such that marine mammals within the entire shutdown zone
                will not be visible (e.g., fog, heavy rain), pile driving and removal
                must be delayed until the PSO is confident marine mammals within the
                shutdown zone could be detected;
                 Monitoring must take place from 30 minutes prior to
                initiation of pile driving activity through 30 minutes post-completion
                of pile driving activity. Pre-start clearance monitoring must be
                conducted during periods of visibility sufficient for the lead PSO to
                determine the shutdown zones clear of marine mammals. Pile driving may
                commence following 30 minutes of observation when the determination is
                 If pile driving is delayed or halted due to the presence
                of a marine mammal, the activity may not commence or resume until
                either the animal has voluntarily exited and been visually confirmed
                beyond the shutdown zone or 15 minutes have passed without re-detection
                of the animal;
                 Chevron must use soft start techniques when impact pile
                driving. Soft start requires contractors to provide an initial set of
                three strikes at reduced energy, followed by a 30-second waiting
                period, then two subsequent reduced-energy strike sets. A soft start
                must be implemented at the start of each day's impact pile driving and
                at any time following cessation of impact pile driving for a period of
                30 minutes or longer;
                 Use a bubble curtain during impact pile driving of 24-inch
                concrete piles and must ensure that it is operated as necessary to
                achieve optimal performance, and that no reduction in performance may
                be attributable to faulty deployment. At a minimum, the Holder must
                adhere to the following performance standards: The bubble curtain must
                distribute air bubbles around 100 percent of the piling circumference
                for the full depth of the water column. The lowest bubble ring must be
                in contact with the substrate for the full circumference of the ring,
                and the weights attached to the bottom ring shall ensure 100 percent
                substrate contact. No parts of the ring or other objects shall prevent
                full substrate contact. Air flow to the bubblers must be balanced
                around the circumference of the pile;
                 Conduct sound source level measurements during driving of
                a minimum of two 14-inch composite piles;
                 Monitoring must be conducted by qualified, NMFS-approved
                PSOs, in accordance with the following: PSOs must be independent (i.e.,
                not construction personnel) and have no other assigned tasks during
                monitoring periods. At least one PSO must have prior experience
                performing the duties of a PSO during construction activity pursuant to
                a NMFS-issued incidental take authorization. Other PSOs may substitute
                other relevant experience, education (degree in biological science or
                related field), or training. Where a team of three or more PSOs are
                required, a lead observer or monitoring coordinator must be designated.
                The lead observer must have prior experience performing the duties of a
                PSO during construction activity pursuant to a NMFS-issued incidental
                take authorization. PSOs must be approved by NMFS prior to beginning
                any activity subject to this IHA.
                 PSOs must record all observations of marine mammals as
                described in the Monitoring Plan, regardless of distance from the pile
                being driven. PSOs shall document any behavioral reactions in concert
                with distance from piles being driven or removed;
                 The marine mammal and acoustic monitoring reports must
                contain the informational elements described in the Monitoring Plan;
                 A draft marine mammal monitoring report, and PSO
                datasheets and/or raw sighting data, must be submitted to NMFS within
                90 calendar days after the completion of pile driving activities. If no
                comments are received from NMFS within 30 calendar days, the draft
                report will constitute the final report. If comments are received, a
                final report addressing NMFS comments must be submitted within 30
                calendar days after receipt of comments; and
                 In the event that personnel involved in the construction
                activities discover an injured or dead marine mammal, the IHA-holder
                must immediately cease the specified activities and report the incident
                to the Office of Protected Resources (OPR)
                ([email protected]), NMFS and to West Coast Regional
                Stranding Coordinator as soon as feasible.
                [[Page 17782]]
                 Table 5--Shutdown Zones by Marine Mammal Hearing Group, Pile Size, and Method
                 Radial distance of shutdown zone (meters)
                 Pile type Low-frequency Mid-frequency High-frequency Phocid Otariid
                 cetaceans cetaceans cetaceans pinnipeds pinnipeds
                Attenuated Impact Driving
                 (with bubble curtain):
                 24-inch square concrete.. 40 10 40 20 10
                Vibratory Driving/Extraction:
                 14-inch Composite........ 20 10 30 20 10
                 36-inch steel pipe pile.. 20 10 20 10 10
                 14-inch H pile........... 10 10 10 10 10
                 16-inch timber........... 10 10 10 10 10
                Preliminary Determinations
                 The action in this IHA is identical to the action in the 2020 IHA
                except that sound isopleths have decreased for a number of sources,
                harbor seal daily rate of take has increased, and the mitigation and
                monitoring measures have been updated to our new language. As described
                in the notice of issuance of the 2020 final IHA (85 FR 37064, June 19,
                2020) we found that Chevron's construction activities would have a
                negligible impact and that the taking would be small relative to
                population size. For this analysis of the new IHA we found that marine
                mammal stock abundance was still estimated to be the same as for the
                2020 IHA. Other marine mammal information and the potential effects
                were identical to the 2020 IHA except for the increase in the daily
                abundance of harbor seals. The estimated take was calculated
                identically to the 2020 IHA, except for harbor seals, and zone sizes
                decreased for a number of pile sizes. The increased daily abundance and
                take of harbor seals still involves far less than 10 percent of the
                stock (Table 4). Mitigation and monitoring are identical to the 2020
                IHA except for the decrease in Level A harassment and shutdown zones
                for many pile types and the change in standard language, which has no
                substantive effect on our analysis.
                 NMFS has preliminarily concluded that there is no new information
                suggesting that our analysis or findings should change from those
                reached for the 2020 IHA. This includes consideration of the estimated
                abundance of harbor seals increasing, the change in harassment and
                shutdown zones, and the updating of IHA language for mitigation and
                 Based on the information and analysis contained here and in the
                referenced documents, NMFS has determined the following: (1) The
                required mitigation measures will effect the least practicable impact
                on marine mammal species or stocks and their habitat; (2) the proposed
                authorized takes will have a negligible impact on the affected marine
                mammal species or stocks; (3) the proposed authorized takes represent
                small numbers of marine mammals relative to the affected stock
                abundances; (4) Chevron's activities will not have an unmitigable
                adverse impact on taking for subsistence purposes as no relevant
                subsistence uses of marine mammals are implicated by this action, and;
                (5) appropriate monitoring and reporting requirements are included.
                Endangered Species Act
                 Section 7(a)(2) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA: 16
                U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) requires that each Federal agency insure that any
                action it authorizes, funds, or carries out is not likely to jeopardize
                the continued existence of any endangered or threatened species or
                result in the destruction or adverse modification of designated
                critical habitat. To ensure ESA compliance for the issuance of IHAs,
                NMFS consults internally, in this case with the West Coast Region,
                Protected Resources Division Office, whenever we propose to authorize
                take for endangered or threatened species.
                 No incidental take of ESA-listed species is proposed for
                authorization or expected to result from this activity. Therefore, NMFS
                has determined that formal consultation under section 7 of the ESA is
                not required for this action.
                Proposed Authorization
                 As a result of these preliminary determinations, NMFS proposes to
                issue an IHA to Chevron for conducting the LWMEP in San Francisco Bay,
                CA from June 1, 2021 through May 31, 2022, provided the previously
                described mitigation, monitoring, and reporting requirements are
                incorporated. A draft of the proposed IHA can be found at https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/permit/incidental-take-authorizations-under-marine-mammal-protection-act.
                Request for Public Comments
                 We request comment on our analyses (included in both this document
                and the referenced documents supporting the prior IHAs), the proposed
                authorization, and any other aspect of this notice of proposed IHA for
                the proposed construction activity at Long Wharf. We also request
                comment on the potential for renewal of this proposed IHA as described
                in the paragraph below. Please include with your comments any
                supporting data or literature citations to help inform our final
                decision on the request for MMPA authorization.
                 On a case-by-case basis, NMFS may issue a one-year renewal IHA
                following notice to the public providing an additional 15 days for
                public comments when (1) up to another year of identical or nearly
                identical, or nearly identical, activities as described in the
                Description of the Specified Activities and Anticipated Impacts section
                of this notice is planned or (2) the activities as described in the
                Description of the Specified Activities and Anticipated Impacts s
                section of this notice would not be completed by the time the IHA
                expires and a renewal would allow for completion of the activities
                beyond that described in this notice, provided all of the following
                conditions are met:
                 A request for renewal is received no later than 60 days
                prior to the needed renewal IHA effective date (recognizing that the
                renewal IHA expiration date cannot extend beyond one year from
                expiration of the initial IHA).
                 The request for renewal must include the following:
                 (1) An explanation that the activities to be conducted under the
                requested renewal IHA are identical to the activities analyzed under
                the initial IHA, are a subset of the activities, or include changes so
                minor (e.g., reduction in pile size) that the changes do not affect the
                previous analyses, mitigation and monitoring requirements, or take
                estimates (with the exception of reducing the type or amount of take).
                 (2) A preliminary monitoring report showing the results of the
                required monitoring to date and an explanation showing that the
                monitoring results do
                [[Page 17783]]
                not indicate impacts of a scale or nature not previously analyzed or
                 Upon review of the request for renewal, the status of the
                affected species or stocks, and any other pertinent information, NMFS
                determines that there are no more than minor changes in the activities,
                the mitigation and monitoring measures will remain the same and
                appropriate, and the findings in the initial IHA remain valid.
                 Dated: April 1, 2021.
                Catherine Marzin,
                Acting Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine
                Fisheries Service.
                [FR Doc. 2021-07022 Filed 4-5-21; 8:45 am]
                BILLING CODE 3510-22-P