NMFS Requires MMPA Permit Applicant for Cook Inlet to Use NMFS’ new Acoustic Guidance

The U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service has published (1) Its intent to prepare an Environmental Assessment to analyze the environmental impacts of issuing annual incidental harassment authorizations pursuant to the Marine Mammal Protection Act for the taking of marine mammals incidental to anthropogenic activities in the waters of Cook Inlet, Alaska, for the 2017 season; and (2) its intent to continue an annual cycle for issuing MMPA IHAs in Cook Inlet such that companies planning to submit IHA applications for work to be conducted in Cook Inlet in 2017 do so by no later than October 15, 2016.

NMFS Issues Revised LOAs for Navy Operations in the Atlantic

The U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service has issued modified Letters of Authorization to the U.S. Navy for the take of marine mammals incidental to training and testing activities conducted in the Mariana Islands Training and Testing Study Area and the Atlantic Fleet Training and Testing Study Area. These modifications reflect changes to Navy watchstander reporting requirements, which do not affect current mitigation measures, for observed behavior of marine mammals during Major Training Exercises  in the MITT and AFTT study areas.

Click here for NMFS’ Federal Register notice of this action.

BOEM Publishes Final GOM SES

The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has published its Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) for Gulf of Mexico (GOM) Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Central Planning Area (CPA) Oil and Gas Lease Sale 247. The Final SEIS provides a discussion of potential significant impacts of the proposed action, provides an analysis of reasonable alternatives to the proposed action, and identifies the Bureau’s preferred alternative. The Final SEIS is available on the agency Web site here.

Click here for BOEM’s Federal Register notice of this action.

NOAA Publishes Final Ocean Noise Strategy Roadmap

The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has published its final new “Ocean Noise Strategy Roadmap.” According to NOAA:

“Offices across NOAA have collaborated to develop an agency-wide Ocean Noise Strategy, which seeks to ensure that NOAA is more comprehensively addressing noise impacts to aquatic species and their habitat over the next 10 years.

BOEM Seeks Comment and Schedules Public Hearings on GOM 250 and 251 SEIS

The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management published the following notification on BOEM’s website here.

“BOEM published in the August 19, 2016, Federal Register, a Notice of Intent (NOI) to prepare a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).  The NOI seeks input on the scope of the Gulf of Mexico OCS Lease Sales:  2018; Gulf of Mexico Lease Sales 250 and 251, Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (GOM 250 and 251 Supplemental EIS) for proposed GOM Lease Sales 250 and 251.

As part of the scoping process, BOEM’s public scoping meetings will be held at the following places and times:

Industry Groups Launch Campaign to Keep Arctic Leases

The international Association of Geophysical contractors published the following article on the IAGC website,

“A coalition of groups supportive of responsible resource development in and off the coast of Alaska today unveiled a new broadcast, print and digital advertising campaign calling on the Obama administration to keep intact the Arctic leasing areas currently contained in the Interior Department’s draft proposed plan.

The draft program, revealed in March, allows for the possibility of lease sales to be held for federally controlled tracts in the Beaufort (2020) and Chukchi (2022) seas. But activist groups continue to wage an aggressive campaign to have those areas removed from the final schedule.

BSEE’s Peer Review Manual Emphasizes Compliance with the Information Quality Act

The U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement has published a “Peer Review Process Manual,” which is available here

On page 2, BSEE’s Peer Review Process Manual explains the importance of OMB’s Peer Review Bulletin:

Environmental Noise Risk Assessment

DHI has sent out the following press release:

“(dhigroup.com) is running a course in end of September on Risk Assessment of Environmental Noise Impacts, which is available for booking.

The impacts of underwater noise on marine mammals have become an increasingly important issue for marine industries such as dredging, shipping, wind farm operations and oil and gas exploration and production. Noise assessments, investigating impacts on marine mammals are required for many marine activities with Regulators being increasingly aware of the issues as well.

NMFS Seeks Comment on Proposed IHA for Massachusetts LNG

The U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service has received an application from Neptune LNG LLC for an Incidental Harassment Authorization (IHA) to take marine mammals, by harassment, incidental to maintenance, repair, and decommissioning activities at its liquefied natural gas deepwater port off the coast of Massachusetts. Pursuant to the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), NMFS is requesting comments on its proposal to issue an IHA to Neptune to take, by Level B harassment only, fourteen species of marine mammals during the specified activity. NMFS must receive any comments and information no later than September 26, 2016.

Navy Uses NOAA/NMFS’ New Acoustic Standards in Draft SEIS for LFA Sonar

The U.S. Department of the Navy published its Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement/Supplemental Overseas Environmental Impact Statement for

Surveillance Towed Array Sensor System Low Frequency Active (SURTASS LFA) Sonar.  The Navy is accepting public comment on its draft SEIS until

October 11, 2016. The Navy expects to complete its final SEIS by June 2017.

This draft SEIS is noteworthy because it relies on “NOAA. (2016a): Document containing proposed changes to: NOAA draft guidance for assessing the

22 effects of anthropogenic sound on marine mammal hearing; Underwater acoustic threshold 23 levels for onset of permanent and temporary threshold shifts. Silver Spring, MD: NOAA. 24 Retrieved from http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/acoustics/draft_guidance_march_2016_.pdf .”