US Army Corps of Engineers
Jacksonville District

Public Notice Notifications

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Florida - This includes all public notices for projects being reviewed for Standard Permits within the State of Florida.

Antilles - This includes all public notices for projects being reviewed for Standard Permits within the Antilles area (this includes Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands).

Tropical Storms & Other Emergencies - These public notices provide information on procedures for emergency permitting requirements due to specific tropical storm events or other emergency situations.

Special Issues - These are public notices that involve the Regulatory program but which are generally not limited to one particular geographic area. These would include public notices for the establishment or modification of Restricted Areas/Danger Zones, re-issuance of General Permits or Nationwide Permits, changes to guidance and policies, etc.

Administrative Penalty - These public notices provide information associated with Administrative Penalties. An Administrative Penalty can be assessed to address violations associated with issued Department of the Army permits.

PROPOSED MODIFICATION TO PROGRAMMATIC GENERAL PERMIT (PGP), SAJ-99, SAJ-2007-03138 (PGP-DEB) "MARINE AQUACULTURE IN THE STATE OF FLORIDA"

Published Sept. 20, 2019

AUTHORITY:  Upon recommendation of the Chief of Engineers, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), pursuant to Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 (33 U.S.C. 403), and Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (33 U.S.C. 1344), the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) has been delegated the authority to permit marine aquaculture and related activities in the State of Florida.

DELEGATION:  A signed Coordination Agreement between the Agencies identifies FDACS as the administering Agency for this PGP and outlines the steps each Agency will take during the process of and application for permit under the PGP, including reporting requirements.  The current PGP was authorized on November 9, 2012, modified on October 16, 2015 and renewed on August 9, 2018.  

DESCRIPTION OF WORK:  Work authorized under this PGP includes live rock, marine bivalve, and native plant and macroalgae species aquaculture and related activities, such as seeding, rearing, cultivating, transplanting and harvesting in navigable waters of the United States within jurisdiction of the State of Florida.  Maintenance of aquaculture equipment and materials is also authorized, including raking of cultch for the purpose of propagating new growth. The FDACS is also authorized to place pilings or other structures for the purpose of navigational marking of aquaculture activities. 

PURPOSE AND NEED:  To improve efficiencies and economic opportunity through the expansion of marine aquaculture commodities, to include native plants and macroalgae, to meet the needs of the regulated public in the State of Florida. 

LOCATION:  All work would occur in territorial waters, to include those navigable waters of the United States within the jurisdiction of the State of Florida (i.e., waters between approximately 3 marine leagues offshore and the mean high-water line on the Gulf coast, and between approximately 3 geographical miles offshore and the mean high water line on the Atlantic coast).

PROPOSED MODIFICATION: The FDACS has requested a modification to this PGP to include the production of native marine plants and microalgae.  The current PGP limits authorized activities to live rock, and marine bivalve aquaculture.  There are no significant changes proposed to the special conditions for this PGP.  No other modifications are proposed.  Since, the proposed scope of work has been revised to include the production of native marine plants and microalgae, the title of the PGP has been revised as follows: “Marine Aquaculture in the State of Florida.

SPECIAL CONDITIONS: Activities authorized by this PGP would be subject to the following Special Conditions:

1.  Activities Not Authorized:  This general permit does not authorize the placement of materials for the construction and/or renourishment of artificial reefs, the construction of impoundments and/or semi-impoundments of waters of the US, or structures (e.g., aquaculture docks, circulating systems including inflow and outfall structures, platforms).  This permit does not authorize the deployment of offshore and/or nearshore cages for the culture or holding of motile species or the placement of materials for lobster harvesting (such as lobster casitas).  Furthermore, this PGP does not authorize the production of exotic and/or invasive plant or microalgae species as identified by the Southeast Exotic Pest Plant Council:  https://www.fleppc.org/

2.  Aquaculture Certificate of Registration:  Individuals conducting marine aquaculture must possess an Aquaculture Certificate of Registration issued pursuant to Section 597.004 Florida Statutes (F.S.), and be compliant with Rule 5L-3 Florida Administrative Code, including Florida's Aquaculture Best Management Practices (BMPs), November 2016.

3.  Lease Requirement:  Individuals conducting marine aquaculture on sovereign state lands must have a current lease issued by the Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund and not be in violation of its terms and conditions.

4.  Site Assessment and Certification Report:  Within 60 days of constructing aquaculture infrastructure, a site certification report will be completed.  The report may include, but is not limited to videotapes of underwater surveys, photographs of underwater surveys, and/or written reports of site assessments shall be compiled and prepared by FDACS and shall demonstrate that the proposed site:

  1. is not a hazard to safe navigation or a hindrance to vessel traffic.  Coordination with the Corps’ Navigation Section and/or the U.S. Coast Guard may be required; and
  2.  avoids traditional fishing operations, or other public access; and
  3.  avoids impacts to naturally occurring hard bottom habitat and submergedaquatic vegetation and mangrove (minimum 50' setback from the preceding); and
  4.  avoids impacts to other aquaculture activities; and
  5.  contains natural underlying substrata that is primarily hard packed sand, hardshell hash, or soft sediment, and
  6.  avoids river mouths, ocean passes/cuts, and navigation channels.

5.  Site Coordinates:  The applicant's lease application with the State of Florida shall identify the site location in sufficient detail to allow for site assessment, and shall provide accurate latitude and longitude coordinates so that the site can be located by Differential Global Positioning System (GPS) equipment.

6.  Lease Site Size Limitation:  For the deposition of culture material for live rock aquaculture only, each lease site shall be limited to one acre of submerged lands leased by the State of Florida. 

7.  Inspection:  Sites shall be inspected by the FDACS to confirm compliance with the special conditions in this permit.

8.  Securing Material:  Materials deposited or used on the aquaculture site must be approved by the FDACS.  Materials for live rock or marine bivalve aquaculture activities must be deployed so as to remain in place during storm events and not damage adjacent SAV or natural hard bottom communities. 

9.  Distinguishable Materials:  All materials placed on the site must be in accordance with the State lease and the FDACS's BMPs, which include a requirement that rocks deposited on the aquaculture site are geologically or otherwise distinguishable from the naturally occurring substrata.  Disposition of materials outside of a State lease or in violation of the FDACS's BMPs is prohibited without a separate permit from the Department of the Army.

10.  Clean Materials:  All materials used in aquaculture operations must be nontoxic and be free of contaminants and non-indigenous flora and/or fauna.

11.  Proper Material Placement:  All materials for live rock aquaculture must be placed on the site by hand, or lowered completely to the bottom by crane.  Deposited materials shall not be allowed to free fall to the bottom, and all deposition shall occur while the vessel is at anchor.  Rocks may not be placed over naturally-occurring reef outcrops, limestone ledges, coral reefs, or vegetated areas.  A minimum setback of 50 feet must be maintained from naturally vegetated or hard bottom habitats.  The live rock aquaculture operation may not occupy more than 25% of the water column.  The Permittee shall be required to submit "as-built" (post-activity) reports to FDACS.  The reports shall depict the project site subsequent to each deposition activity.  The actual configuration and location of rocks must be clearly depicted in relation to occurring hard bottom habitat and SAV.

12.  Protecting Corals:  Harvest of aquacultured species and live rock shall be in accordance with Chapter 597, F.S., and the BMPs adopted therein.  No drilling or blasting is authorized under this general permit.  Each rock must be visually inspected for the presence of listed coral species (i.e., Acropora spp.) prior to harvesting and no rock may be harvested if any listed coral species have attached.

13.  Manatee Protection:  Prior to issuance of authorization, the dichotomous key titled "The Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District, and the State of Florida Effect Determination Key for the Manatee in Florida, April 2013," (see http://www.saj.Corps.army.mil/Missions/Regulatory/SourceBook.aspx) will be used to determine potential manatee impacts.  Those determined to be a "may affect" to the manatee will not be authorized until consultation on the project has been reinitiated by the Corps and concluded with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in accordance with the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  Additionally, depending on the location of the project, some projects determined to be "may affect, not likely to adversely affect" will not be authorized until additional consultation on the project has been concluded.  Note: The manatee key may be subject to revision at any time.  It is our intention that the most recent version of this technical tool will be utilized during the evaluation of the permit application.

14.  Manatee Construction Conditions:  For projects in waters accessible to manatees, the Permittee will utilize the attached "Standard Manatee Conditions for In-Water Work, 2011" (see http://www.saj.Corps.army.mil/Missions/Regulatory/Source-Book/)   and/or requirements, as appropriate for the proposed activity.  Activities proposed to be located in designated “Important Manatee Areas” (IMAs) are not authorized by this PGP and must undergo separate consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  Note:  The manatee conditions may be subject to revision at any time.  It is our intention that the most recent version of these conditions will be utilized during the evaluation of the permit application.

15.  Protecting Sea Turtles, Sturgeon, and Smalltooth Sawfish:  For projects in waters accessible to sea turtles, smalltooth sawfish, Gulf sturgeon, or shortnose sturgeon, the Permittee will utilize the attached "Sea Turtle and smalltooth Sawfish Construction Conditions" March 23, 2006 (see https://www.saj.Corps.army.mil/Missions/Regulatory/Source-Book/) and/or requirements, as appropriate for the proposed activity.  Note: These conditions may be subject to revision at any time.  It is our intention that the most recent version of these conditions will be utilized during the evaluation of the permit application.

16.  Restrictions in Critical Habitat Areas:  Aquaculture activities are limited in critical habitat designated for the recovery of species protected under the Endangered Species Act as described below:

  1.  Acropora spp. critical habitat: Leases are allowed in the geographic limit of critical habitat; however, they must meet the criteria in Conditions 12 and 13 above.

http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/maps_gis_data/protected_resources/critical_habitat/index.html

  1.  Gulf sturgeon critical habitat:  Within the boundaries of Gulf sturgeon designated critical habitat, cultch materials for FDACS's oyster planting program shall only be allowed to be deposited on existing shell substrata.  Additionally, the off­bottom basket methodology is prohibited on new leases within Gulf sturgeon designated critical habitat, but the floating basket and suspended basket or long-line methodologies are allowed for shellfish aquaculture.

https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/action/critical-habitat-gulf-sturgeon

  1.  Johnson's seagrass critical habitat:  Aquaculture lease permits are prohibited in Johnson's seagrass critical habitat.

https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/resource/map/johnsons-seagrass-critical-habitat-map

  1.  Loggerhead critical habitat:  New AUZs or leases are allowed within loggerhead critical habitat under this PGP provided that floating or suspended aquaculture systems are set perpendicular to the nesting beach to reduce effects on hatchling egress to the open water and the transit of nesting females to and from the beach.  Additionally, the linear footage of the part of the floating or suspended aquaculture system that is parallel to the beach may not be more than 10% of the linear footage of the critical habitat unit's nesting beach.

https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/action/critical-habitat-loggerhead-sea-turtle

  1.  North Atlantic right whale critical habitat:  No AUZ's or leases exist in North Atlantic right whale critical habitat and no new AUZs or leases are allowed within North Atlantic right whale critical habitat.

https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2016/01/27/2016-01633/endangered-and-threatened-species-critical-habitat-for-endangered-north-atlantic-right-whale

  1.  Smalltooth sawfish critical habitat:  Within the boundaries of smalltooth sawfish critical habitat, leases will be located away from any red mangroves, and in waters deeper than 36" in MLLW, so as to avoid any impacts to the essential features (i.e., shallow, euryhaline waters and red mangroves) of smalltooth sawfish critical habitat.

https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/resource/map/smalltooth-sawfish-critical-habitat-map

17.  Compliance with National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Project Design Criteria (PDC):  The Corps has consulted on this PGP with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the NMFS on listed species and any designated critical habitat.  If an individual proposed activity does not conform to the PDCs and other requirements outlined in the NMFS Biological Opinion (BO) for this PGP, dated August 13, 2015, concerning listed species or critical habitat, the application shall be referred to the Corps to initiate separate consultation pursuant to Section 7 of the ESA.  Until Section 7 consultation is concluded, the proposed activity cannot be authorized under this PGP.  The PDCs from the NMFS BO are included in, and made part of, the permit conditions for this PGP.

18.  Protecting Wetlands, Coral, and Submerged Aquatic Vegetation:  No work shall be authorized under this PGP that may adversely impact wetlands, hard or soft corals, including the following listed coral species: elkhorn (Acropora palmata), staghorn (Acropora cervicomis), pillar (Dendrogyra cylindrus), rough cactus (Mycetophyllia ferox), lobed star (Orbicella annularis), mountainous star (O. faveolata), and boulder star (O. frankst) corals, estuarine emergent, marine emergent, mangrove.  Additionally, a project shall not be authorized under this PGP that may adversely impact the following species of submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV): shoal grass (Halodule wrightii), paddle grass (Halophila decipiens), star grass (Halophila engelmannii), Johnson's seagrass (Halophila johnsonii), sago pondweed (Potamogeton pectinatus), clasping-leaved pondweed (Potamogeton perfoliatus), widgeon grass (Ruppia maritima), manatee grass (Syringodium filiforme), turtle grass (Thalassia testudinum), tapegrass (Vallisneria americana), horned pondweed (Zannichellia palustris), and eel grass (Zostera marina).  In addition, the project cannot have adverse direct or indirect impacts on any other essential fish habitat identified under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.  Indirect effects include secondary and cumulative effects.   

19.  Cultural and Historic Resources:

  1. No structure or work shall adversely affect impact or disturb properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) or those eligible for inclusion in the NRHP.
  2.  If during the ground disturbing activities and construction work within the permit area, there are archaeological/cultural materials encountered which were not the subject of a previous cultural resources assessment survey (and which shall include, but not be limited to: pottery, modified shell, flora, fauna, human remains, ceramics, stone tools or metal implements, dugout canoes, evidence of structures or any other physical remains that could be associated with Native American cultures or early colonial or American settlement), the Permittee shall immediately stop all work in the vicinity and notify the Corps within two calendar days.  The Corps shall then notify the Florida State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) and the appropriate Tribal Historic Preservation Officer(s) (THPO(s)) to assess the significance of the discovery and devise appropriate actions.
  3.  A cultural resources assessment may be required of the permit area, if deemed necessary by the SHPO, THPO(s), or Corps, in accordance with 36 CFR 800 or 33 CFR 325, Appendix C (5).  Based, on the circumstances of the discovery, equity to all parties, and considerations of the public interest, the Corps may modify, suspend or revoke the permit in accordance with 33 CFR Part 325.7.  Such activity shall not resume on non­federal lands without written authorization from the SHPO and the Corps.
  4.  In the unlikely event that unmarked human remains are identified on non-federal lands, they will be treated in accordance with Section 872.05 F.S.  All work in the vicinity shall immediately cease and the Permittee shall immediately notify the medical examiner, Corps, and State Archeologist.  The Corps shall then notify the appropriate SHPO and THPO(s).  Based, on the circumstances of the discovery, equity to all parties, and considerations of the public interest, the Corps may modify, suspend or revoke the permit in accordance with 33 CFR Part 325.7.  Such activity shall not resume without written authorization from the State Archeologist, SHPO and the Corps.

20.  Restricted Areas:  Authorization under this PGP is restricted within the boundaries of the following managed areas:

  1.  Florida State Parks:  All Florida State parks.
  2.  Aquatic Preserves: All State of Florida Aquatic Preserves
  3.  National Marine Sanctuaries:   Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.
  4.  National Estuarine Research Reserves: All National Estuarine Research Reserves

Requests for authorization under this PGP in the above areas, requires FDACS to coordinate with the authorities responsible for their management.  The authorities must be offered an opportunity to comment on the initial, and subsequent requests for lease renewal, when there are changes to the initial lease and/or in water work, in their respective areas of responsibility.  Lease renewals will not be coordinated unless there would be a change in use, including new structures, which would require approval by the Board of Trustees of Internal Improvement Trust Fund prior to authorization.  All comments received from the above authorities shall be included in the FDACS permit file.

21.  Additional Permits Needed:  Additional federal permits may be required for aquaculture operations in waters of the State of Florida which are under the jurisdiction of other federal authorities, such as U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Coast Guard, or National Marine Fisheries Service.

22.  Setback to Federal Channels:  For projects proposed adjacent to Federally-maintained channels, no structure, or work authorized under this regional general permit shall be within the established setback.  The setback is normally 100 feet in the inland Federal navigation channels but may vary in a few specific reaches as well as in other Federal channels and other Districts (e.g., Mobile District setback criteria apply in Florida from Escambia County east to the Aucilla River).  Exact locations of the proposed structures relative to the channel may need to be verified by use of the Florida State Plane (x, y) Coordinate System, calculated from the near-bottom edge of the Federal channel. 

23.  Assurance of Navigation:  The Permittee and the FDACS understand and agree that, if future operations by the United States require the removal, relocation, or other alteration, of the structures or work herein authorized, or if, in the opinion of the Secretary of the Army or his authorized representative, said structure or work shall cause unreasonable obstruction to the free navigation of the navigable waters, the FDACS or Permittee will be required, upon due notice from the Corps of Engineers, to have removed, relocated, or altered the structural work or obstructions caused thereby, without expense to the United States.  No claim shall be made against the United States on account of any such removal or alteration.

24.  Permit Compliance:   Prior to authorizing any new lease area or aquaculture activity (i.e., not currently being conducted on SSL in an approved lease and authorized under this PGP), FDACS will certify compliance with the PDCs of PGP SAJ-99 for each individual aquaculture lease.  FDACS will email this certification along with the resource report for each individual aquaculture lease to the Corps at SAJ-RD-Enforcement@usace.army.mil and to National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Protected Resources Division, Southeast Regional Office,  nmfs.ser.SAJ99@noaa.gov.  In addition to, or as part of the information reports and assessments required by the BMPs and PDCs discussed above, the resource report shall provide the following information as columns in a spreadsheet format:

  1.  Date Corps and NMFS notified of certification by FDACS.
  2.  FDACS Lease Number. 
  3. Lease Holder Name, Address, and County, Information.
  4. Latitude and Longitude (in decimal degrees to 5 places).

          e.  Critical Habitat Unit: This shall be provided in the following acronym style with no spaces or hyphens, as shown in the examples. This allows for accurate sorting in Excel. Projects occurring in critical habitat and proposed critical habitat are only authorized if they do not impact the essential features of said critical habitat.

  5. A CH (Acropora spp. critical habitat).
  6. LHST CH (loggerhead critical habitat)
  7. GS CH Unit # (Gulf sturgeon critical habitat, unit # 9-14)
  8. STSF CH CHEU (smalltooth sawfish critical habitat Charlotte Harbor Estuary Unit)
  9. STSF CH TTIU (smalltooth sawfish critical habitat Ten Thousand Islands/Everglades Unit)
  10. N/A (not applicable because the project is not located within a critical habitat unit)

    f.  Whether any of the essential features of critical habitat are located within or adjacent to the approved lease site. If yes, list the essential features present.

    g.  Acreage and types of activities/facilities authorized under PGP SAJ-99.

    h.  Description of any resources present within and adjacent to the approved lease site.

    i.  All PDCs Met: Are all of the applicable PDCs defined in this document being met by the proposed project? Answer "yes" or "no."

    The NMFS Protected Resources Division will receive a copy of the resource report via email and will have the opportunity to assess the individual proposed project's compliance with the PDCs identified above, and to ensure that additive effects of aquaculture activities permitted under this PGP do not result in adverse effects to protected species.  NMFS Protected Resources will have the opportunity to review the resource report for each individual activity proposed to be authorized under this PGP to ensure consistency with the PDCs of the PGP.  If NMFS Protected Resources does not concur with FDACS's certification of compliance and consistency with this programmatic consultation, including the terms and requirements of this PGP, they will notify FDACS and the Corps via email that the individual activity proposed will require further review and consultation under Section 7 of the ESA.  If no notice is given by NMFS Protected Resources after 30 days, compliance is implied.

    25.  Posting Lease Boundaries:  For all shellfish aquaculture leases, the Lessee shall, within 90 days from the date of execution of a lease, properly post the lease boundaries to delineate the corners and perimeters of the lease.  For water column (floating or suspended baskets) leases, marking must comply with the requirements of a U.S. Coast Guard Private Aids to Navigation permit.  Bottom leases must be marked pursuant to the State of Florida submerged land lease agreement. All markers shall be compliant with U.S. Coast Guard regulations to warn mariners passing in the vicinity of the lease of the potential hazards to navigation.  In accordance with Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 (U.S.C. 403), this PGP authorizes pilings and similar structures used to support navigation markers.  Separate authorization for Aids to Navigation may be required from the U.S. Coast Guard.

    26.   Abandoned Structures/Materials:  If following relinquishment of lease and if the material is abandoned, then it would no longer meet the intent of the PGP and separate permit application must be submitted to the Corps of Engineers.  However, if following relinquishment of lease, the permittee wishes to remove the structures, and there is no permanent structural component or navigational concerns associated with the removal, then no Department of Army permit would be required.  In State waters, if removal would result in the discharge of dredged or fill material, then a separate permit application would need to be submitted to the Corps.

    27.  Modification of a Federal Project:  Evaluation of any request for work which may alter or modify a Federal project will require case specific review by the Jacksonville Engineering Division in accordance with 33 U.S.C. § 408 and approval from the Jacksonville District Commander prior to authorization under this PGP.  Once, the project specific approval under 33 U.S.C. § 408 has been received, and all other conditions of the permit have been met, a permit verification letter may be issued.

    28.  Discretionary Authority:  Conformance with descriptions and quantities contained herein does not necessarily guarantee authorization under this PGP.  The District Engineer reserves the right to require that any request for authorization under this PGP be processed as an individual permit.

    29.  Compliance with Permit Conditions:  In the event that the conditions of this PGP conflict with any drawings, exhibits or other (non-Federal) requirements, the conditions of this permit shall prevail.

    30.  Permit Expiration:  This PGP will be valid through August 1, 2023.  The Corps, in conjunction with the Federal resource agencies, will conduct periodic reviews to ensure that continuation of the permit is not contrary to the public interest.  This PGP will not be extended beyond August 1, 2023, but may be replaced by a new PGP.  If revocation occurs, all future applications for activities covered by this PGP will be evaluated by the Corps.  If this PGP expires or is revoked prior to completion of the authorized work, authorization of activities that have commenced or are under contract to commence in reliance on this PGP will remain in effect provided the activity is completed within 12 months of the date this PGP expired or was revoked; and that such activities are conducted in compliance with this PGP and any lease agreement terms or conditions.

    AVOIDANCE AND MINIMIZATION:  This PGP would allow for live rock aquaculture devices to be placed within primarily navigable waters near, or inshore.  Unless specifically authorized, this PGP does not authorize impacts to aquatic resources, such as submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) or wetlands.  Only minor fill in navigable waters would occur as a result of authorized activities. All activities must comply with the special and general conditions of the PGP.

    COMPENSATORY MITIGATION:  No fill would be authorized in wetlands.  Due to the minor nature of impacts, and the restrictions on placement of live rock material, no mitigation will be required for the proposed activities.

    IMPACT ON NATURAL RESOURCES:  This public notice constitutes a request for coordination with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Marine Fisheries Services, and other Federal, State, and local agencies, environmental groups, and concerned citizens for the purpose of determining the impact the proposed action will have on natural resources of the area.

    ARCHAEOLOGICAL AND CULTURAL RESOURCES:  This public notice constitutes a request for coordination with the State Historic Preservation Officer on potential impacts to cultural and historic resources.  This PGP has been conditioned to protect archaeological and historic resources and require coordination upon any discovery.  Our final determination relative to historic resource impacts is subject to review by and coordination with the State Historic Preservation Officer and those Federally recognized Tribes with concerns in Florida and the Permit Area.  Consultation with the Seminole and Miccosukee Tribes of Florida will be requested via separate letters.

    ESSENTIAL FISH HABITAT (EFH):  This letter serves as a request for consultation with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Habitat Conservation Division on Essential Fish Habitat as required under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. The Corps has determined that with adherence to the terms and conditions outlined above, that activities covered by this PGP would have only minimal adverse impact on EFH and/or Federally managed fisheries under NMFS’ purview.

    THREATENED AND ENDANGERED SPECIES:  Consultation was first initiated with the NMFS Protected Resources Division (PRD) on June 4, 2007 and reinitiated on April 12, 2012, to address new forms of aquaculture proposed for use in Gulf sturgeon critical habitat.  Consultation was concluded on August 29, 2012, and the PGP was issued on November 9, 2012.  The following table lists the NMFS’ effect determination for species and critical habitat per the 2012 Biological Opinion (BO), with the addition of the Nassau grouper.  The BO was modified on August 13, 2015 to include two new methods of bivalve aquaculture, as well as consultation on 5 species of coral and CH designated for the loggerhead sea turtle.  Since, the modification, a final Rule listing the Nassau grouper as Threatened was issued on June 29, 2016.  Following this listing, this PGP’s effect on the Nassau grouper was the subject of informal consultation with NMFS PRD.  On October 4, 2016, the Corps received notification from NMFS PRD that the project would likely have no effect on the Nassau grouper.  The Corps maintains that the proposed modification would have no effect on the Nassau grouper.  No critical habitat (CH) has been designated for the Nassau grouper.   In summary, the Corps provides the following Table, which identifies the MMFS’ effects determination following consultation:

 

 

Common Name

 

Scientific Name

ESA

Listing Status

Corps

Effect Determination

NMFS Effect Determination

            Turtles            

Green

Chelonia mydas

E/T

NLAA

NLAA

Kemp’s ridley

Lepidochelys kempii

E

NLAA

NLAA

Leatherback

Dermochelys coriacea

E

NLAA

NLAA

Loggerhead

Caretta caretta

T

NLAA

NLAA

Hawksbill

Eretmochelys imbricata

E

NLAA

NLAA

            Fish    

Smalltooth sawfish

Pristis pectinata

E

NLAA

NLAA

Gulf sturgeon

Acipenser oxyrinchus desotoi

T

NLAA

NLAA

Nassau Grouper

Epinephelus striatus

T

NLAA

NE

            Invertebrates and Marine Plants        

Elkhorn coral

Acropora palmata

T

ND

NLAA

Staghorn coral

Acropora cervicornis

T

ND

NLAA

Boulder star coral

Orbicella franksi

T

ND

NE

Mountainous star coral

Orbicella faveolata

T

ND

NE

Lobed star coral

Orbicella annularis

T

ND

NE

Rough cactus coral

Mycetophyllia ferox

T

ND

NE

Pillar coral

Dendrogyra cylindrus

T

ND

NE

Johnson’s seagrass

Halophila johnsonii

T

ND

NE

E = endangered; T = threatened; NLAA = may affect, not likely to adversely affect; ND not determined; NE = no effect

 

Furthermore, the Corps makes the following effect determination on NMFS designated CH that may be affected by the proposed activities:

 

 

Species

 

Unit

Corps

Effect Determination

NMFS Effect Determination

Smalltooth sawfish

Charlotte Harbor Estuary; Ten Thousand Islands/Everglades

 

NE

 

NE

Gulf sturgeon

Estuarine and Marine (NMFS) – Units 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14

 

NLAA

 

NLAA

Johnson’s seagrass

All units A-J

ND

NE

Elkhorn and staghorn coral

Florida area

ND

NE

Loggerhead sea turtle

Units LOGG-N-14 through LOGG-N-33 for Nearshore Reproductive habitat, Breeding Habitat, and/or Migratory Habitat

ND

NE

 

The Corps has determined that the activities may affect, but would not likely adversely affect the West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus), with adherence to the in-water construction conditions for the manatee, dated 2013.

The Corps has determined that the re-issuance of this PGP would have no effect on any other Federally listed species and would not adversely modify any other designated or proposed critical habitat with adherence to all conditions (which include the NMFS project design criteria).  Pursuant to Section 7, Endangered Species Act, the Corps requests to re-initiate consultation with the NMFS PRD on the project’s effects on species and CH within their purview, and extend the BO for this PGP an additional 5 years (i.e., five years beyond August 13, 2025).  A separate letter requesting re-initiation of consultation will be sent to the NMFS PRD.

COASTAL ZONE MANAGEMENT CONSISTENCY:  In Florida, State approval constitutes compliance with the approved Coastal Zone Management Plan.  The Corps will coordinate modification of tis PGP with the State of Florida.

PERMIT EVALUATION: The decision whether to issue a permit will be based on an evaluation of the probable impact including cumulative impacts of the proposed activity on the public interest. That decision will reflect the national concern for both protection and utilization of important resources. The benefits, which reasonably may be expected to accrue from the proposal, must be balanced against its reasonably foreseeable detriments. All factors which may be relevant to the proposal will be considered including cumulative impacts thereof; among these are conservation, economics, esthetics, general environmental concerns, wetlands, historical properties, fish and wildlife values, flood hazards, floodplain values, land use, navigation, shoreline erosion and accretion, recreation, water supply and conservation, water quality, energy needs, safety, food, and fiber production, mineral needs, considerations of property ownership, and in general, the needs and welfare of the people.

Evaluation of the impact of the activity on the public interest will also include application of the guidelines promulgated by the Administrator, EPA, under authority of Section 404(b) of the Clean Water Act or the criteria established under authority of Section 102(a) of the Marine Protection Research and Sanctuaries Act of 1972. A permit will be granted unless its issuance is found to be contrary to the public interest.

The US Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) is soliciting comments from the public; Federal, State, and local agencies and officials; Indian Tribes; and other Interested parties in order to consider and evaluate the impacts of this proposed activity. Any comments received will be considered by the Corps to determine whether to issue, modify, condition, or deny a permit for this proposal. To make this determination, comments are used to assess impacts to endangered species, historic properties, water quality, general environmental effects, and the other public interest factors listed above. Comments are also used to determine the need for a public hearing and to determine the overall public interest of the proposed activity.

REQUEST FOR PUBLIC HEARING:  Any person may request a public hearing. The request must be submitted in writing to the District Engineer within the designated comment period of the notice and must state the specific reasons for requesting the public hearing.

RESPONDING TO THIS PUBLIC NOTICE:  Comments may be submitted on the proposed permit instrument and attachments for 30 days from the date of this Public Notice.  Following final decision, the proposed modified PGP and exhibits will be available at:   https://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Missions/Regulatory/Source-Book/ under the Permitting heading, General Permits sub-heading.

Please send any questions or comments on the above to Jacksonville District, Regulatory Division, PO Box 4970, Jacksonville, Florida  32232, Attn:  Mr. Dale Beter; by telephone at 904-232-1361, or by email at dale.e.beter@usace.army.mil.