NGOs Challenges Atlantic Seismic IHAs

On December 11, 2018, several environmental and conservation groups filed a complaint against the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service and Wilber Ross, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce, which is NMFS’ parent agency.  This complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina.  It challenges five Incidental Harassment Authorizations for oil and gas seismic and other exploratory operations in the Atlantic Ocean. NMFS recently issued these IHAs under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (“MMPA”).  The plaintiffs allege that NMFS violated the MMPA, the National Environmental Policy Act, and the Endangered Species Act when NMFS issued these permits.

“East Coast governors wrong to oppose Trump’s plan for seismic testing in Atlantic”

The International Association of Geophysical contractors recently posted the above-titled article by Robert W. Chase on one of IAGC’s websites. This article begins as follows:

“If you care about our nation’s economy and jobs, now is not the time to oppose seismic testing in the Atlantic Ocean. Yet that is precisely what several East Coast governors have done in an effort to block oil and natural gas exploration and production on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf.

BOEM Notices Intent to Prepare a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for GOM Lease Sales

The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has published notice of BOEM’s intent to prepare a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement. This SEIS is expected to be used to inform the decisions for each of the two proposed oil and gas lease sales scheduled in 2020 and the subsequent lease sales through 2022 that are comprised of the Gulf of Mexico Western and Central Planning Areas, and a small portion of the Eastern Planning Area not subject to Congressional moratorium. These planning areas are located off the States of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. There is no public comment period for BOEM’s notice.

48th Annual IAGC Conference

The International Association of Geophysical Contractors has announced that its 48th Annual Conference–Accelerating Exploration, Expanding Energy Possibilities—will be held on Wednesday, February 20, 2019 7:00 AM – 6:30 PM CST, at the Hilton Westchase, 9999 Westheimer Road, Houston, TX 770422.

Click here for more details and relevant links.

 

NMFS Issues Regulations for Navy Training and Testing Activities in the Hawaii-Southern California Training and Testing Study Area

The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, upon request from the U.S. Navy, has issued regulations pursuant to the Marine Mammal Protection Act to govern the taking of marine mammals incidental to the Navy’s training and testing activities conducted in the Hawaii-Southern California Training and Testing Study Area over the course of five years beginning in December 2018. These regulations, which allow for the issuance of Letters of Authorization for the incidental take of marine mammals during the described activities and timeframes, prescribe the permissible methods of taking and other means of effecting the least practicable adverse impact on marine mammal species or stocks and their habitat, and establish requirements pertaining to the monitoring and reporting of such taking. They are effective from December 21, 2018 through December 20, 2023.

NMFS Seeks Comment on Proposed Revised MMPA Rules for Navy Taking and Importing Marine Mammals in the Atlantic Fleet Training and Testing Study Area

The U.S. National and Marine Fisheries Service has received a request from the U.S. Navy  to amend NMFS’ Marine Mammal Protection Act regulations authorizing the take of marine mammals incidental to Navy training and testing activities conducted in the Atlantic Fleet Training and Testing Study Area from November 2018 to November 2023 to cover seven years of the Navy’s activities, instead of five.

“Feds, Inuit Agree on vast new Arctic Marine Protected Area”

The Canadian Press posed the above-titled article, which reads as follows:

“Ottawa and Inuit groups say they’ve reached a deal on benefits for the people who live near vast new marine protected area in Canada’s Arctic.

The agreement means the waters north of Baffin Island — more than 100,000 square kilometres of some of the richest and most productive seas in the North — are one step closer to becoming Canada’s largest protected area.

Formerly called Lancaster Sound, it will now be called TallurutiupImanga National Marine Conservation Area.

The agreement includes jobs in the five communities around the area as well as promises for mobile food processors to support hunters and increase the supply of country food.

NMFS Publishes Atlantic IHAs and Responds to Comments

The U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service has published Federal Register notice of that NMFS has issued incidental harassment authorizations to five separate applicants to incidentally harass marine mammals during geophysical survey activities in the Atlantic Ocean. These IHAs are issued under the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act. They are effective for one year from the date of effectiveness. The IHAs are effective upon written notification from the applicant to NMFS, but not beginning later than one year from the date of issuance or extending beyond two years from the date of issuance.

NMFS’ Federal Register notice contains NMFS’ response to comments on its proposed Atlantic IHAs.

“The worldwide costs of marine protected areas”

The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences include the above-titled article, which includes the following Abstract:

NMFS Issues Atlantic IHAs

The U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service has issued incidental harassment authorizations to five separate applicants to incidentally harass marine mammals during geophysical survey activities in the Atlantic Ocean.These authorizations are effective for one year from the date of effectiveness. They are issued under

Section 101(a)(5)(D) of the Marine Mammal Protection Act, 16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq., which directs 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 specific geographic region if certain findings are made and notice of a proposed authorization is provided to the public for review.