IWC Science Committee Discusses Seismic

The International Whaling Commission’s Science Committee has issued a report on its 2013 meeting.  This report includes the following statements and recommendations about seismic:

 “The ASC also developed a statement of concern over the ongoing seismic survey work in the area of the Hellenic Trench. In particular, it requested all involved in the planned surveys to provide information to the ASC and take urgent precautionary action to protect the local cetaceans. The ASC offered to provide advice and drew attention to the ACCOBAMS guidelines for seismic surveys, and urged that: duplicate surveys should be avoided across the same area; alternative approaches to seismic airgun survey should be sought and deployed; and efforts should be made to avoid ensonifying adjacent areas simultaneously.”

NMFS Continues to Use 160 and 180 dB

 The National Marine Fisheries Service has issued an Incidental Harassment Authorization to the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, a part of the University of California at San Diego, to take marine mammals, by Level B harassment, incidental to conducting a low-energy marine geophysical (seismic) survey in the tropical western Pacific Ocean, September to October, 2013.

NMFS says it is reconsidering its historical acoustic criteria for seismic.  However, the Scripps IHA continues to use the historical 160 and 180 dB levels. The Marine Mammal Commission commented on the draft IHA and requested “that NMFS require SIO to estimate the number of marine mammals taken when the sub-bottom profiler and multi-beam echo sounder are used in the absence of the airgun array based on the 120 dB (rms) threshold rather than the 160 dB (rms)threshold. “

USA Today’s Quoted Report on Seismic Is Ignorant of the Underlying Science:”Search for Atlantic oil called threat to marine life”

Editor’s  Note:  See the CRE State of the Science Report on Seismic Exploration which clearly demonstrates that the statements made  in the following article regarding the adverse affects of seismic exploration are not science based.


USA Today

Critics oppose plan to use sound waves that could kill thousands of sea mammals.

API Moves for Summary Judgment in GOM Seismic Case

NGOs have sued the Federal Government in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.  They claim that BOEM violated NEPA, the ESA, and the APA when BOEM decided to move forward with oil and gas Lease Sale 216/222 in the Gulf of Mexico based on a 2012 Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement, and without first concluding ongoing reinitiated consultation under the ESA. The Plaintiffs also challenge Lease Sale 218, based solely upon their ESA argument. Finally, the Plaintiffs contend that NMFS has unreasonably delayed completion of the ongoing reinitiated consultation under the ESA, in violation of the APA.

Greenpeace Wrong about Atlantic Seismic

 A Greenpeace blog includes a post entitled “US government considering seismic testing proposal, nearly 140,000 whales and dolphins at risk.” This post incorrectly states that  “The Obama administration is considering allowing the use of deadly seismic airgun  blasts to search for oil and gas under the ocean floor, the first harmful step toward expanding dangerous offshore drilling to the Atlantic. The U.S. Department of the  Interior estimates that 138,500 whales and dolphins will be injured and possibly killed  along the East Coast if these tests are allowed to go through.”

FWS and NMFS Propose to Amend ESA Incidental Take Rules

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service propose to amend the regulations governing consultation under section 7 of the Endangered Species Act regarding incidental take statements. The purpose of the proposed changes is to address the use of surrogates to express the amount or extent of anticipated incidental take, and incidental take statements for programmatic actions where implementation of the program requires later authorization, funding, or implementation of site-specific actions that will be subject to section 7 consultation and incidental take statements, as appropriate. These changes are proposed to improve the flexibility and clarify the development of incidental take statements. The Services believe these proposed regulatory changes are a reasonable exercise of their discretion in interpreting particularly challenging aspects of section 7 of the ESA related to incidental take statements. The Services will accept comments received or postmarked on or before November 4, 2013.

An Open Letter to the Editor, The Washington Post, 1150 15th Street NW, WashingtonDC 2007

 Letter to the Editor

The Washington Post

1150 15th Street NW


Dear Sir or Madam:

We disagree with your September 5th editorial entitled “Debate over seismic air guns should wait until science has spoken.”  There is ample scientific evidence now that seismic airguns do not injure whales or any other marine mammals—in the Atlantic or any other body of water. To quote the National Marine Fisheries Service:

 “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.”

NOAA Mapping Sound and Cetaceans

A group of scientists from NOAA, Cornell University, and other organizations are working on a mapping project called CETSOUND, which is short for cetaceans and sound. The project has two components. The first is a series of maps showing where and when marine mammals occur in U.S. waters—their migration routes, nursing grounds, and so on. The second is a series of maps showing the estimated noise levels that those areas are exposed to throughout the year.By overlaying these maps, scientists and decision-makers hope to identify the hotspots for noise that affects marine mammals, so they can better manage the problem.

Commerce/NOAA Seek Public Comment on MMPA Incidental Take ICR

The Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, seeks public comment on the Proposed Information Collection:  Reporting Requirements for the Incidental Take of Marine Mammals by Specified Activities (other than Commercial Fishing Operations) under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Written comments must be received by Commerce/NOAA on or before November 5, 2013. Comments will be summarized and/or included in the request for OMB approval of this ICR. They also will also become a matter of public record.

 Click here to read Federal Register notice seeking comment on this ICR




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