CRE Responds to NGO Comments on BOEMRE’s Revised Take Application
CRE has sharply criticized NGO comments to the National Marine Fisheries Service on regulation of seismic in the Gulf of Mexico. CRE seeks comments on our criticism of the NGOs’ positions.
On June 14, 2011, NMFS published notice that the Bureau of Ocean Energy, Management, Regulation and Enforcement had submitted to NMFS a revised application for Take authorizations under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. This revised Take application applies to oil and gas seismic operations in the Gulf of Mexico. NMFS’ Federal Register notice soliciting public comment on this revised Take application is available online at http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-06-14/html/2011-14742.htm.
Several NGO environmental and conservation groups filed joint comments on this revised Take application. These NGO comments argue that current regulation does not adequately protect GOM marine mammals from oil and gas seismic. Their comments provide very little factual support for this argument. They do, however, claim that the Sperm Whale Synthesis Report shows adverse effects on sperm whale foraging.
The NGO comments are available online at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/pdfs/permits/boemre_comments2011.pdf.
The Sperm Whale Synthesis Report is available online at http://www.gomr.boemre.gov/PI/PDFImages/ESPIS/4/4444.pdf.
CRE has prepared a response to these NGO comments which argues that they are incorrect with regard to harm. Seismic does not harm sperm whales or any other marine mammals under current regulation. The Sperm Whale Synthesis Report does not support adverse foraging effects. A technical analysis of the foraging data reveals many flaws, and other sound studies show no effect on whale foraging. NMFS recently concluded in its biological opinion for another seismic Take application that the Synthesis Report and other studies suggest that seismic does NOT affect Sperm Whale foraging:
“These studies suggest that sperm whales exhibit considerable tolerance of seismic sources (e.g., no apparent disruption of behaviors such as foraging or calling), or possibly some degree of habituation.”
This NMFS biological opinion is available online at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/pdfs/consultations/biop_usgs2011.pdf
NMFS’ biological opinion also concluded:
“The evidence available leads us to conclude that exposure to seismic pulse energy from the proposed seismic activities is not likely to cause a reduction in an individual whale’s growth, survival, annual reproductive success, or lifetime reproductive success (i.e., fitness). As a result, we do not expect the proposed action to have an effect on the xtinction risk of the population(s) these individuals represent or the whale species these population(s) comprise.”
CRE is sending its response to appropriate representatives of NMFS and BOEMRE. CRE is also sending its response to the NGOs who submitted these comments.
CRE will post on this IPD website and other CRE websites any comments on our response.
CRE’s response to NGO comments on BOEMRE’s revised take application is attached below.
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