50 C.F.R. § 18.128   What are the mitigation, monitoring, and reporting requirements?

Title 50 - Wildlife and Fisheries

Title 50: Wildlife and Fisheries
Subpart J—Nonlethal Taking of Marine Mammals Incidental to Oil and Gas Exploration, Development, and Production Activities in the Beaufort Sea and Adjacent Northern Coast of Alaska

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§ 18.128   What are the mitigation, monitoring, and reporting requirements?

(a) We require holders of Letters of Authorization to cooperate with us and other designated Federal, State, and local agencies to monitor the impacts of oil and gas exploration, development, and production activities on polar bear and Pacific walrus.

(b) Holders of Letters of Authorization must designate a qualified individual or individuals to observe, record, and report on the effects of their activities on polar bear and Pacific walrus.

(c) All holders of Letters of Authorization are required to have an approved polar bear and/or walrus interaction plan on file with the Service and on-site, and polar bear awareness training will also be required of certain personnel. Interaction plans must include:

(1) The type of activity and, where and when the activity will occur, i.e., a Plan of Operation;

(2) A food and waste management plan;

(3) Personnel training materials and procedures;

(4) Site at-risk locations and situations;

(5) Walrus/bear observation and reporting procedures; and

(6) Bear/walrus avoidance and encounter procedures.

(d) All applicants for a Letter of Authorization must contact affected subsistence communities to discuss potential conflicts caused by location, timing, and methods of proposed operations and submit to us a record of communication that documents these discussions. If appropriate, the applicant for a Letter of Authorization must also submit to us a Plan of Cooperation that ensures that activities will not interfere with subsistence hunting and that adverse effects on the availability of polar bear or Pacific walrus are minimized.

(e) Mitigation measures that may be required on a case-by-case basis include:

(1) The use of trained marine mammal monitors associated with marine activities. We may require a monitor on the site of the activity or on board drill ships, drill rigs, aircraft, icebreakers, or other support vessels or vehicles to monitor the impacts of Industry's activity on polar bear and Pacific walrus.

(2) The use of den habitat map developed by the USGS. A map of potential coastal polar bear denning habitat can be found at: http://www.absc.usgs.gov/research/sis_summaries/polar_bears_sis/mapping_dens.htm. This measure ensures that the location of potential polar bear dens is considered when conducting activities in the coastal areas of the Beaufort Sea.

(3) The use of Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) imagery, polar bear scent-trained dogs, or both to determine the presence or absence of polar bear dens in area of the activity.

(4) Restricting the timing of the activity to limit disturbance around dens.

(5) Requiring a 1-mile exclusion buffer surrounding known dens. If known occupied dens are located within an operator's area of activity, we will require a 1-mile exclusion buffer around the den to limit disturbance or require that the operator conduct activities after the female bears emerge from their dens. We will review these requirements for extenuating circumstances on a case-by-case basis.

(f) For exploratory and development activities, holders of a Letter of Authorization must submit a report to our Alaska Regional Director (Attn: Marine Mammals Management Office) within 90 days after completion of activities. For production activities, holders of a Letter of Authorization must submit a report to our Alaska Regional Director (Attn: Marine Mammals Management Office) by January 15 for the preceding year's activities. Reports must include, at a minimum, the following information:

(1) Dates and times of activity;

(2) Dates and locations of polar bear or Pacific walrus activity as related to the monitoring activity; and

(3) Results of the monitoring activities required under subsection (g) of this section, including an estimated level of take.

(g) Monitoring requirements include, but are not limited to:

(1) For all activities, all sightings of polar bears and walrus must be recorded. To the extent possible, the monitor will record group size, age, sex, reaction, duration of interaction, and closest approach to Industry activity.

(2) Activities within the coast of the geographic region may incorporate daily polar bear watch logs.

(3) Polar bear monitors will be required under the monitoring plan if polar bears are known to frequent the area or known polar bear dens are present in the area. Monitors will act as an early detection system in regards to proximate bear activity to Industry facilities.

(4) Offshore sites may require systematic monitoring protocols for polar bears and walrus due to their nearshore locations. Systematic monitoring may be implemented to statistically monitor observation trends of walrus or polar bears in the nearshore areas where they usually occur.

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