Incidental Take Authorization: SouthCoast Wind Energy, LLC's Marine Site Characterization Surveys off Massachusetts and Rhode Island
NOAA Fisheries has received a request from SouthCoast Wind Energy, LLC (formerly known as Mayflower Wind Energy, LLC) for authorization to take marine mammals incidental to marine site characterization surveys offshore of Massachusetts and Rhode Island in the area of Commercial Lease of Submerged Lands for Renewable Energy Development on the Outer Continental Shelf Lease Area OCS- A-0521. The activities described in SouthCoast Wind’s request, the overall survey duration, the project location, and the acoustic sources proposed for use are similar in scope as to what was previously analyzed in support of the IHA issued by NMFS to SouthCoast Wind for the 2021-2022 site characterization surveys (2021 IHA) (86 FR 38033, July 19, 2021). All proposed mitigation, monitoring, and reporting requirements remain the same. While SouthCoast Wind’s planned activity would qualify for renewal of the 2021 IHA, due to the availability of updated marine mammal density data (https://seamap.env.duke.edu/models/Duke/EC/), which NOAA Fisheries has determined represents the best available scientific data, NOAA Fisheries has determined it appropriate to provide a 30-day period for the public to comment on this proposed action. NOAA Fisheries is requesting comments on its proposal to issue an IHA to incidentally take marine mammals during the specified activities. NOAA Fisheries 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. NOAA Fisheries 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.