Oceana and other environmental groups sued the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, and the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service, in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia over two oil and gas lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico. The enviros claimed that these GOM lease sales for various reasons violated NEPA and the Endangered Species Act. The court, in a 64-page opinion, rejected the envios’ claims and granted summary judgment motions filed by the Government and industry intervenors.
The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is required under the Marine Mammal Protection Act to estimate the annual human-caused mortality and serious injury of marine mammal stocks by source. Revisions to the guidelines and process the NMFS uses for distinguishing serious from non-serious injuries pursuant to the MMPA were implemented in 2013 and applied to the most recent 5 years (2007-2011) of human-caused injury and mortality data. Data from human-caused injury and mortality of Alaska pinnipeds and cetaceans under the jurisdiction of the NMFS were compiled for the 5-year period from 2007 through 2011. Details regarding each human-caused injury and mortality were reviewed, and the new injury criteria were applied in order to assign injuries to categories and determine severity of injuries (serious or non-serious). A total of 495 human-caused mortality and injury records for the 5-year period (2007-2011) were reviewed, sorted by stock and date, and included within this report. Details regarding the injury source, type, and severity are presented, along with the injury category and criteria supporting the determination. Mortality and injury values were assigned (0, 1, or prorated) to each event for comparison with the calculated Potential Biological Removal level for each stock.
The National Marine Mammal Foundation is making available the most recent release of the Marine Mammal Movement and Behavior (3MB) software package. The 3MB software is a component of the Effects of Sound on theMarine Environment (ESME) software package but is also available as a stand-alone package. This announcement is for the stand-alone package of 3MB.
The 3MB software allows the creation of simulated aquatic species, or animats. Each animat consists of a series of behavioral states with probabilities of transition between states that can be modified according o abiotic factors (e.g. time of day, bathymetry). Each behavioral state contains controls for dictating the various components of an animat’s dive behavior, including depth, ascent and descent speed, horizontal rate of travel, surface time, etc. Animat movements may also be constrained by bathymetric features and animats can be made responsive to simulated sound exposures. Furthermore, animats may function as individuals or be constrained to “pod” behavior.
NMFS proposes to grant BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc., an Incidental Harassment Authorization to take marine mammals, by harassment, incidental to conducting a shallow geohazard survey in Foggy Island Bay, Beaufort Sea, Alaska, during the 2014 open water season. Pursuant to the Marine Mammal Protection Act, NMFS is requesting comments on its proposal to issuance of this IHA. NMFS must receive any comments and information no later than May 16, 2014.
NMFS’ Federal Register notice of this proposed IHA is interesting for several reasons. First, NMFS states on page 21531 that: “To date, there is no evidence that serious injury, death, or stranding by marine mammals can occur from exposure to airgun pulses, even in the case of large airgun arrays.”
The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has published its Notice of Intent to Prepare a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement, and an Announcement of Scoping Meetings and Comment Period, for BOEM’s Proposed Gulf of Mexico OCS Oil and Gas Western Planning Area Lease Sales 246 and 248. Public comments on these actions should be submitted to BOEM by May 5, 2014.
Click here to read BOEM’s Federal Register notice of these actions.
On March 17, 2014, The U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service published notice of a proposed issuance of an Incidental Harassment Authorization to the Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory in collaboration with the National Science Foundation, to take marine mammals, by harassment incidental to conducting a marine geophysical (seismic) survey in the northwest Atlantic Ocean May through August, 2014. NMFS has extended the public comment period on this Atlantic seismic IHA from April 16, 2014, to May 16, 2014. This extension responds to a request by Clean Ocean Action for more time to comment.
Click here to read NMFS’ Federal Register notice of this extension.
Editor’s Note: The complete paper, Oceana’s Opposition to Spanish Seismic Is Based on Bad Science, Bad Fact and Bad Policy is attached here. The Executive Summary of the paper [notes omitted] is reprinted below.
Oceana’s Opposition to Spanish Seismic Is Based on Bad Science, Bad Fact and Bad Policy
I. Executive Summary
Oceana has published a Report and press release arguing that offshore seismic exploration for oil and gas should be banned between Catalonia and the Balearic Islands. Some press has covered this Report and press release uncritically.
Oceana’s press release summarizes their Report:
In accordance with the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has issued letters of authorization for the nonlethal take of polar bears and Pacific walrus incidental to oil and gas industry exploration, development, and production activities in the Beaufort Sea and the adjacent northern coast of Alaska and incidental to oil and gas industry exploration activities in the Chukchi Sea and the adjacent western coast of Alaska. These letters of authorization stipulate conditions and methods that minimize impacts to polar bears and Pacific walrus from these activities.
Click here to read Federal Register notice of these LOAs.
Oceana and other environmental groups sued BOEM and NMFS in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia over two oil and gas lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico. The enviros claimed that these GOM lease sales for various reasons violated NEPA and the Endangered Species Act. The court, in a 64-page opinion, rejected the envios’ claims and granted summary judgment motions filed by the Government and industry intervenors.
Click here to read court’s opinion.