NMFS Proposes Gulf of Mexico IHA for Air Force

The U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service has received an application from the U.S. Department of the Air Force, Headquarters 96th Air Base Wing Eglin Air Force Base, requesting an Incidental Harassment Authorization to take marine mammals, by harassment, incidental to a Maritime Weapon Systems Evaluation Program within a section of the Eglin Gulf Test and Training Range in the northern Gulf of Mexico.

Eglin AFB’s activities are military readiness activities per the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Per the MMPA, NMFS requests comments on its proposal to issue an Authorization to Eglin AFB to incidentally take, by Level B and Level A harassment, two species of marine mammals, the Atlantic bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) and Atlantic spotted dolphin (Stenella frontalis), during the specified actions.

NMFS Seeks Comment on Proposed Caltrans Seismic IHA

The U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service has received an application from California State Department of Transportation for an Incidental Harassment Authorization to take marine mammals, by harassment, incidental to Murray Street Bridge seismic retrofit project in Santa Cruz, California.

Pursuant to the Marine Mammal Protection Act, NMFS is requesting comments on its proposal to issue an IHA to Caltrans to incidentally take, by Level B Harassment only, marine mammals during the specified activity. Comments and information must be received no later than January 11, 2016.

Click here to read NMFS’ Federal Register notice of this proposed action.

JIP Research

The oil and gas industry has established an E&P Sound and Marine life Joint Industry Programme.  This JIP has produced the following research studies, which are arranged by subject matter:


    • Review of Existing Data on Underwater Sounds Produced by the Oil and Gas Industry
    • Sound attenuation (noise control) – initial workshop and review
    • Environmental assessment of marine vibroseis
    • Broadband airgun study final report

MARES Conference

The MARES Consortium and EuroMarine Network will conduct its second Mares Conference on Marine Ecosystems Health and Conservation. This conference will occur February 1-5, 2016, in Olhão, Portugal.

This international conference is expected to attract around 200 attendees from across the world, with strong representation from the European region. It brings together marine researchers, scientists, educators, and policymakers to address the main issues regarding the impact of human activities on the natural marine environment. The conference will be dynamic and innovative, by providing a mixture of oral presentations, scientific exhibitions and training workshops.

Click here for the Conference website.

Poll: 68 percent of South Carolina Voters Support Offshore Drilling for Oil and Natural Gas Resources

The International Association of Geophysical Contractors (http://www.iagc.org/  ) published the following article:

“WASHINGTON, December 8, 2015 — Sixty-eight percent of South Carolina voters support offshore development of U.S. oil and natural gas resources. Voters also agree that increased production of domestic oil and natural gas resources could provide major benefits to the nation, including more U.S. jobs, according to a new poll released today by Harris Poll.

“Voters in South Carolina know developing more of America’s domestic energy can lead to more jobs, increased government revenues, and help put downward pressure on fuel prices,” said API Upstream Group Director Erik Milito. “South Carolina has the chance to increase domestic energy production significantly by safely and responsibly developing its offshore energy.”


The National Research Council, of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, has a new standing Committee on Offshore Science and Assessment for Ocean Energy Management.  This Committee is sponsored by the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM).  This Committee has the following “Statement of Task”:

“facilitate stakeholder discussions of controversial issues;

enhance the understanding of developments in related fields of science and technology, and if warranted, to develop NRC studies on specific topics;

provide a venue for BOEM staff to meet and exchange information with staff from other federal agencies and help BOEM define its unique role in the interagency process; and

BOEM Extends Comment Period for Beaufort EIS

On September 25, 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy for the Liberty Development and Production Plan in the Beaufort Sea Planning Area (80 FR 57873). The September 25 notice provided for a 60-day comment period, which is scheduled to end on November 24, 2015. During BOEM’s scoping, the pubic recommended extending the comment period.

To further the intent of the National Environmental Policy Act to collect information to define the scope of issues to be addressed in depth in the analyses that will be included in the EIS, and to provide additional opportunity for interested and affected parties to comment, BOEM is extending the scoping comment period for an additional 60 days to January 26, 2016.

BSEE Director Testifies to Congress on Well Control

On December 1, 2015, Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement Director Brian Salerno testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources regarding the Well Control Rule and other regulations related to offshore oil and gas production.  The full text of Director Salerno’s testimony is available here.