FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Stephanie Dorezas
The Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is seeking comment on an application and proposed reauthorization for the California Department of Transportation to potentially disturb and harass a small number of Pacific harbor seals and possibly California sea lions while reconstructing the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge in San Francisco Bay.
The bridge is being revamped to withstand
damage from earthquakes. Since construction between piers 52
and 57 of the bridge may potentially result in the disturbance
of seals resting at Castro Rocks, an incidental harassment authorization
under the Marine Mammal Protection Act is required.
To protect adult seals and pups ashore at Castro Rocks, the California Department of Transportation will limit construction noise levels while in the vicinity of Castro Rocks during the pupping/molting periods between Feb. 1 and June 30. In addition, the department will not work on piers and pilings from piers 52 through 57 during theses restriction periods, and will not deploy watercraft during the year within an exclusion zone located between Piers 52 and 57 on the south side of the bridge, except for when construction equipment is required for revamping piers 52 through 57. This exclusion area will be restricted as a controlled access area and will be marked off with buoys located 200 ft (60 meters) from the rocks. In addition, the California Department of Transportation will monitor harbor seals activities at Castro Rocks throughout the duration of the construction project.
The Fisheries Service is accepting comments on the application and proposed authorization through March 16, 1999. Comments should be addressed to Donna Wieting, Acting Chief, Marine Mammal Division, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910- 3225. A copy of the application and an environmental assessment may be obtained by contacting the same office.