NMFS Announces Regulations for Navy Training and Testing in Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico

The U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service has published final regulations requiring the United States Navy to implement protective measures during training and testing activities in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico to reduce effects on marine mammals.

The Navy requested an authorization under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, because the sound generated by active sonar, the sound and pressure generated by detonating explosives, and other associated activities could affect the behavior of some marine mammals, or cause a temporary loss of their hearing sensitivity or other injury.

NMFS Launches New APPS Option

The U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service has launched a new option in the Authorizations and Permits for Protected Species online permit system  (“APPS”).  You may now apply for a Letter of Confirmation under the General Authorization for marine mammal research.

 You may need an LOC if you will be conducting scientific research on marine mammals in the wild that are not listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act, and your research will not exceed Level B harassment.   Qualifying activities may include: photo-identification, aerial surveys, and passive acoustics.

NMFS Denies ESA Listing Petition for GOM Sperm Whales

The U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service has denied a petition to list the sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus) in the Gulf of Mexico as an endangered or threatened distinct population segment under the U.S Endangered Species Act.  NMFS’ action responds to 2011 petition filed by WildEarth Guardians.  CRE filed comments with NMFS opposing the petitioned action.

Click here to read NMFS’ Federal Register notice denying the petition.

Click here to read CRE’s comments opposing the petition.



Seismic Company Receives Alaska Stewardship Honor

Apache Corporation has received the 2013 Chairman’s Stewardship Award from the Interstate Oil & Gas Compact Commission for its use of wireless seismic technology in Alaska’s Cook Inlet.

Apache was nominated for the stewardship award by the Alaska Oil and Gas Association (AOGA). The company’s submission was entitled “Using Wireless Technology to Overcome Environmental Challenges in Alaska’s Cook Inlet.” It won in the “small-independent” category.

Apache’s Cook Inlet 3-D seismic program employs the industry’s first true cable-free wireless seismic technology to acquire 3-D seismic data in order to limit disturbance of communities, wildlife and the environment in the Cook Inlet area.

BOEM and NSF Study Impacts of Arctic Development

The National Science Foundation, in partnership with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and international partners, has made the first round of awards under a program that supports interdisciplinary science important to understanding the sustainability of the Arctic. The research will examine the impacts of the changing natural environment and socio-economic conditions on the region.

BOEM will focus its funding, combined with NSF funds, on two studies related to the bureau’s offshore energy management decisions for the Alaskan Outer Continental Shelf.

NMFS Issues Biological Opinion for Chukchi Seismic

The U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service has issued an Endangered Species Act Section 7 Biological Opinion to accompany NMFS’ issuance of an Incidental Harassment Authorization under the Marine Mammal Protection Act to TGS-NOPEC Geophysical Company ASA . This IHA authorized specified marine mammal takes for Marine 2D Seismic Activities in the Federal and International Waters in the Chukchi Sea, during the 2013 Open Water Season.

CRE Comments on NMFS’ ICR for MMPA Takes

On November 4, 2013, the Center for Regulatory Effectiveness filed comments on the U. S. National Marine Fisheries Service’s proposed extension of its Information Collection Request covering oil and gas seismic and some other “Takes” of marine mammals under the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act.  Under the U.S. Paperwork Reduction Act, the Office of Management and Budget has to review and approve this ICR before NMFS can collect the information it covers.

CRE’s comments made the following and other points.

The proposed extension ICR contains burden estimates that are inconsistent with the burden estimates in the current ICR.

BOEM Publishes Annual Progress Report on Five Year Program

The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has published the agency’s Annual Progress Report on the Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program 2012-2017, which the Secretary of the Interior approved on August 27, 2012.  BOEM prepared the report, which summarizes program activities over the past year, as part of the annual review of the Five Year Program called for under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act.

The report provides the public an overview of the activities that have occurred during the previous year.  Specifically, it addresses statistics of sales that have occurred; deferrals and mitigations; a summary of completed and ongoing safety and environmental studies; regulatory updates; a discussion of any significant new drilling activities; a summary of any significant incidents; and other relevant information.