NMFS Issues Rules for U.S. Navy Training and Testing Activities in the Northwest Training and Testing Study Area

The U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service has issued regulations under the Marine Mammal Protection Act to govern the unintentional taking of marine mammals incidental to training and testing activities conducted in the Northwest Training and Testing Study Area from November 2015 through November 2020.

These regulations allow NMFS to issue Letters of Authorization for the incidental take of marine mammals during the Navy’s specified activities and timeframes, set forth the permissible methods of taking, set forth other means of effecting the least practicable adverse impact on marine mammal species or stocks and their habitat, and set forth requirements pertaining to the monitoring and reporting of the incidental take.

NMFS Seeks Comment on 5-Year Rules and Proposed IHA for Operation, Maintenance, and Repair of Liquefied Natural Gas Port and Pipeline Lateral Facilities in Massachusetts Bay

The U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service seeks comment on a proposed incidental harassment authorization and NMFS’ receipt of an application for five-year regulations from Excelerate Energy, L.P. (Excelerate) and Tetra Tech, Inc. (Tetra Tech), on behalf of the Northeast Gateway® Energy BridgeTM, L.P. (Northeast Gateway or NEG) and Algonquin Gas Transmission, L.L.C. (Algonquin). This IHA and these regulations would authorize the applicant  to take small numbers of 14 species of marine mammals, by Level B harassment, incidental to operating, maintaining, and repairing a liquefied natural gas port and the Algonquin Pipeline Lateral (Pipeline Lateral) facilities by NEG and Algonquin, in Massachusetts Bay. Pursuant to the Marine Mammal Protection Act, NMFS requests comments on its proposal to issue an authorization to NEG and Algonquin to incidentally take, by Level B harassment, small numbers of marine mammals during the specified activity for a period of 1 year. NMFS also requests comments, information, and suggestions concerning NEG’s application and the structure and content of future regulations.

CRE Petitions BOEM and NMFS to Comply with Executive Orders 12866 and 13563 During Regulation of Oil and Gas in the Gulf of Mexico

On November 18, 2015, the Center for Regulatory Effectiveness filed with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and the National Marine Fisheries Service comments on a Long Term Monitoring Plan for oil and gas seismic in the Gulf of Mexico. In the same document, CRE petitioned BOEM and NMFS to comply with Executive Orders 12866 and 13563 during the agencies’ consideration of an LTMP and GoM Take Rules under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

CRE’s comments and petition contained the following executive summary:

“The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (“BOEM”) and National Marine Fisheries Service (“NMFS”) should not proceed with the LTMP for the following reasons.

Navy EIS for Hawaii-Southern California Training and Testing

The U.S. Department of the Navy has published its Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement/ Overseas Environmental Impact Statement for Hawaii-Southern California Training and Testing and Notice of Public Scoping Meetings.The Study Area consists of the in-water areas of the Southern California (SOCAL) Range Complex (including San Diego Bay); inwater areas of Silver Strand Training Complex (SSTC); the Hawaii Range Complex (HRC); areas on the high seas where training and sonar testing and maintenance may occur during vessel transit between the Hawaii and Southern California Range Complexes; the Temporary Operating Area north and west of the Hawaii Range Complex; and specific Navy pierside, port, and harbor locations.

Western Gray Whale Conservation Initiative

Sakhalin Energy has joined forces with the International Union for Conservation of Nature to better understand the biology of and threats to nearly 200 Western Gray whales found off Sakhalin Island in the North Pacific. The purpose of this broad engagement is to do everything possible to ensure the survival and recovery of this critically endangered population.  Click here to access the website for this joint effort to protect Western Gray whales.

International Conference on Effects of Noise on Aquatic Life

This conference will occur on July 10-16, 2016, in Dublin, Ireland.  The website (www.aquaticnoise.org) is now open for meeting registration, hotel reservations, submission of abstracts, and application for support to attend the meeting.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact any of the

Christine Erbe, C.Erbe@curtin.edu.au

Arthur N. Popper, apopper@umd.edu

Anthony D. Hawkins, a.hawkins@btconnect.com

Joseph Sisneros, Sisneros@uw.edu

Frank Thomsen, frth@dhigroup.com

FWS Issues Oil and Gas LOAs for Polar Bears and Pacific Walrus

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife 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. These letters of authorization are available electronically at the following location: http://www.fws.gov/ alaska/fisheries/mmm/itr.htm.

Click here for Federal Register notice of this FWS action.

NMFS Issues LDEO an IHA for Eastern Mediterranean

The U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service, of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, has issued an Incidental Harassment Authorization to Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, a component of Columbia University, in collaboration with the National Science Foundation to take marine mammals, by harassment, in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, mid-November through December 2015. This IHA is issued under the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act.

The NSF prepared a draft Environmental Analysis in accordance with Executive Order 12114, ‘‘Environmental Effects Abroad of Major Federal Actions’’ for their proposed federal action. The environmental analysis titled ‘‘Environmental Analysis of a Marine Geophysical Survey by the R/V Marcus G. Langseth in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, November– December 2015,’’ prepared by LGL, Ltd. environmental research associates, on behalf of NSF and Lamont-Doherty is available at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental/research.htm