CRE Comments to OMB on NOAA/NMFS’ ICR for MMPA Takes

CRE commented to NOAA/NMFS on this Information Collection Request (“ICR”) before NOAA/NMFS submitted it to OMB for review and approval. NOAA/NMFS’ response in its ICR Supporting Statement to OMB generally agrees with CRE’s comments. For example,ŸNOAA/NMFS agree with CRE that they will have to conduct a new ICR burden analysis and review if and when they propose rules for MMPA takes by oil and gas seismic in the Gulf of Mexico. NOAA/NMFS agree with CRE that they will have to conduct a new ICR burden analysis and review if and when they  require companies to comply with NOAA/NMFS’ draft Acoustic Guidance. NOAA/NMFS agree with CRE that they have to comply with Information Quality Act Guidelines in their development of new Acoustic Guidance. Based on our understanding of NOAA/NMFS’ response to CRE’s comments, CRE does not oppose this ICR.

BOEM Contract Opportunity for GOM Take Rule Modeling

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) within the Department of the
Interior has issued Synopses of Proposed Contract Actions in accordance
with FAR 5.201. If you are interested in this opportunity please review the
requirements posted on FedBizzOpps (FBO) website. The link to the synopsis
is here.

The purpose of this project is to perform acoustic propagation and marine
mammal exposure modeling using specified models. This study will help BOEM
and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) complete the analysis of
impacts to marine mammals in the GOM G&G EIS. This modeling will also be
used in a petition for rulemaking under 101(a)(5)(A) of the Marine Mammal
Protection Act and will aid in the analysis that NMFS will need to make a
determination on permit issuance.

Navy Meetings on EIS

The U.S. Navy is holding a series of public meetings in Washington, Oregon, Northern California, and Southeast Alaska to provide information on the Northwest Training and Testing Draft Environmental Impact Statement/Overseas Environmental Impact Statement.  These meetings are also being held to allow the public to ask questions and submit comments about the Draft EIS/OEIS.

The Navy invites the public to submit comments on the NWTT Draft EIS/OEIS during the comment period, which ends on March 25.  All comments received by the deadline will be considered in the development of the Final EIS/OEIS.  People can comment in a few different ways: in person (oral and written) at a public meeting, by mail or online at the project website via the online comment form.

Proposed IHA Discusses Marine Mammal Functional Hearing Groups

The U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service, of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, seeks public comment on a proposed incidental  harassment authorization under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.  This proposed IHA would authorize the St. George Reef Lighthouse Preservation Society to take marine mammals, by harassment incidental to conducting aircraft operations, lighthouse renovation, and light maintenance activities on the St. George Reef Light Station on Northwest Seal Rock (NWSR) in the northeast Pacific Ocean. The proposed dates for this action would be April 2014 through March 2015. Comments and information on the proposed IHA must be received by NMFS on or before March 20, 2014.

IAGC Issues New Guidance on PAM

The International Association of Geophysical Contractors (IAGC) has released new Guidance on the Use of Towed Passive Acoustic Monitoring (PAM) during geophysical operations.  IAGC has taken steps to inform the geophysical industry and has developed recommended guidance for PAM use and reporting.

As part of the efforts to minimize the very low potential impact on the marine environment, the geophysical industry takes a variety of measures for purposes of monitoring and mitigation.  When used in the most optimized way, PAM can be an effective measure to detect marine mammals near seismic vessels.

Draft Acoustic Guidance Peer Review Report Now Available

NOAA/NMFS had non-Government experts peer review its Draft Guidance for Assessing the Effects of Anthropogenic Sound on Marine Mammals:  Acoustic Threshold Levels for Onset of Permanent and Temporary Threshold Shifts .  Their peer review report is now available online here.




Ninth Circuit Remands Part of EIS for Shell’s Chukchi Lease

The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that a portion of the environmental impact statements prepared prior to federal oil and gas leasing in the Chukchi Sea, off Alaska’s Arctic coast, was improperly prepared, and sent the matter back to the district court that heard the lawsuit for further action. The Federal Government had awarded these leases to Shell Gulf of Mexico Inc., ConocoPhillips Co., and Statoil USA E&P Inc., in OCS Lease Sale No. 193 on Feb. 6, 2008.

NRDC Sues Navy Over Sonar Again

On January 27, 2014, the Natural Resources Defense Council and other environmental groups sued the U.S. Navy and the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. The enviros’ complaint alleges that NMFS violated the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Coastal Zone Management Act, and the Administrative Procedure Act, during issuance of Letters of Authorization for the Navy’s five-year battery of training and testing exercises using high-powered sonar and explosives in the waters off southern California and Hawaii.

Click here to read enviros’ filed complaint against NMFS and the Navy.