Biological Opinion on the Issuance of Incidental Harassment Authorization and a Geological and Geophysical Permit to ION for 2D Seismic Survey in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas in 2012
This opinion addresses authorization by NOAA Fisheries of the incidental and unintentional taking of bowhead whales (listed as endangered), and ringed seals and bearded seals (proposed for listing) due to seismic surveys by ION in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas.
This opinion addresses authorization by NOAA Fisheries of the incidental and unintentional taking of bowhead whales (listed as endangered), and ringed seals and bearded seals (proposed for listing) due to seismic surveys by ION in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas. Section 101(a)(5) of the Marine Mammal Protection Act, directs the Secretary of Commerce to allow, upon request by U.S. citizens engaged in a specific activity (other than commercial fishing) in a specified geographical region, the incidental but not intentional taking of small numbers of marine mammals if certain findings are made. Such authorization may be accomplished through regulations and issuance of letters of authorization under those regulations, or through issuance of an IHA. These authorizations may be granted only if an activity would have no more than a negligible effect on the species (or stock) in question, if the activity would not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of the marine mammals for subsistence uses, and if the permissible method of taking and requirements pertaining to the monitoring and reporting of such taking are set forth to ensure the activity will have the least practicable adverse effect on the species or stock and its habitat. These authorizations are often requested for oil and gas activities which produce underwater noise capable of harassing or harming marine mammals. Harassment is a form of taking otherwise prohibited by the MMPA and ESA.
Action Agencies: NOAA Fisheries, Office of Protected Resources and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management
NMFS Consultation Number: AKR-2015-9471