NMFS Seeks Comment on Proposed IHA for Central Pacific Ocean

The U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service is proposing to grant the University of Hawaii for authorization to take marine mammals incidental to a marine geophysical survey in the Central Pacific Ocean. Pursuant to the Marine Mammal Protection Act, NMFS requests comments on its proposal to issue an incidental harassment authorization to incidentally take marine mammals during the specified activities. NMFS will consider public comments prior to making any final decision on the issuance of the requested MMPA authorization, and agency responses will be summarized in the final notice of our decision. Comments and information must be received no later than August 23, 2017.

Article on Seismic and Health

The International association of Geophysical contractors published the following article on the IAGC website:

“Geoscience & Health

Published on July 18, 2017

If there is one thing that nearly every person experiences – it is getting sick. We have all had colds or the flu. A sore back. A toothache. We count on our doctors to listen, provide a diagnosis for whatever ails us, and recommend a way forward. But did you know that your health care starts way before the moment when you step into your doctor’s office and she listens to your heart? It might surprise you to learn that geoscience plays an integral, essential role in keeping you, your family, your pets, and the natural world around you in fighting shape.

House Hearing on Seismic Surveys

The International Association of Geophysical contractors posted the following article:

Dem waves air gun as panel clashes over seismic testing

Rob Hotakainen, E&E News reporter
Published: Wednesday, July 19, 2017

A House Natural Resources panel clashed yesterday over the question of whether loud sounds from seismic air gun surveying for oil and gas deposits beneath the oceans can damage marine mammals.

California Democratic Rep. Jared Huffman said the blasts of up to 120 decibels, repeated every 10 to 12 seconds, have “an enormous and obvious impact” and should not be allowed under federal law.

CRE Comments on Acoustic Guidance Non-Compliance with Executive Orders

On July 16, 2017, the Center for Regulatory Effectiveness (“CRE”) filed Comments on Technical Guidance for Assessing the Effects of Anthropogenic Sound on Marine Mammal Hearing—Acoustic Threshold Levels for Onset of Permanent and Temporary Threshold Shifts, National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. 82 FR 24950 (May 31, 2017), https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2017-05-31/pdf/2017-11035.pdf.

CRE’s comments included the following Executive Summary:

“NMFS’ Use of the Acoustic Guidance Conflicts with Section 10 of Executive Order 13795 for the following and other reasons.

First, the Acoustic Guidance is unnecessary to ensure that oil and gas seismic is safe and environmentally responsible.

Guidelines on Environmental Impact Assessments for Marine Noise-generating Activities

The Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) , a United Nations entity, has prepared “Guidelines on Environmental Impact Assessments for Marine Noise-generating Activities.”  These guidelines are available here.

CMS has presented these Guidelines for adoption at COP 12, the Twelfth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention of Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals, to be held in Manila, October 23-28, 2017.

Click here for more details and relevant links.

NMFS Extends Comment Period for Atlantic Seismic IHAs

On June 6, 2017, the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service published a Federal Register notice of five proposed incidental harassment authorizations, pursuant to the Marine Mammal Protection Act, to incidentally harass marine mammals during the conduct of geophysical survey activity in the Atlantic Ocean, with comments due by July 6, 2017. In response to requests to extend the public comment period, NMFS has extended the public comment period.  Click here for more details and relevant links.

BOEM Seeks Comment on 2019-2024 OCS Leasing Program

The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is soliciting information and requesting comments on the preparation of a new five-year National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2019–2024 pursuant to the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act. Upon completion, the National OCS Program for 2019–2024 will replace the National OCS Program for 2017–2022 which was approved on January 17, 2017, and will succeed the National OCS Program for 2012–2017 on July 1, 2017.

BOEM must receive all comments and information by August 17, 2017.

Click here for more details and relevant links.

CRE Comments on Atlantic IHAs

On July 5, 2017, the Center for Regulatory Effectiveness researched and drafted comments to the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service on Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to Geophysical Surveys in the Atlantic Ocean, 82 FR 26244 (June 6, 2017).

CRE’s draft comments agree with NMFS proposed use of a 500 meter exclusion zone as a mitigation measure.

CRE also agrees with NMFS’ proposed compliance with the MMPA’s “small numbers” requirement “through comparison of the estimated number of individuals expected to be taken to an estimation of the relevant species or stock size.”