The U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service has issued an Incidental Harassment Authorization to ExxonMobil Alaska LNG LLC. This IHA authorizes the take of marine mammals, by harassment, incidental to a geophysical and geotechnical survey in Cook Inlet, AK, for 84 days between August 14, 2015 and August 13, 2016. This IHA is effective August 14, 2015, through August 13, 2016.
NMFS’ Federal Register notice of this IHA includes the following public comment and NMFS’ response to it:
“Comment 1: One private citizen requested that we deny issuance of the IHA because marine mammals would be killed as a result of the survey.
Response: The survey is not expected to result in the death of any marine mammal species, and no such take is authorized. Extensive analysis of the proposed geotechnical and geophysical survey was conducted in accordance with the MMPA, Endangered Species Act (ESA), and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Pursuant to those statutes, we analyzed the impacts of the survey activities to marine mammals (including those listed as threatened or endangered under the ESA), their habitat (including critical habitat designated under the ESA), and to the availability of marine mammals for taking for subsistence uses. The MMPA analysis revealed that the activities would have a negligible impact on affected marine mammal species or stocks and would not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of marine mammals for taking for subsistence uses. The ESA analysis concluded that the activities likely would not jeopardize the continued existence of ESA-listed species or destroy or adversely modify designated critical habitat. The NEPA analysis concluded that there would not be a significant impact on the human environment.”