Biological Opinion on the Issuance of an Incidental Harassment Authorization to ExxonMobil Alaska LNG LLC for Alaska LNG Geophysical & Geotechnical Program in the Waters of Cook Inlet, 2015–2016

March 11, 2016

Biological opinion on the potential effects of ExxonMobil Alaska LNG LLC’s proposed Geophysical and Geotechnical Program.

The action that is the subject of this revised consultation is NOAA Fisheries' Office of Protected Resources Permits and Conservation Division’s (PR1) proposed issuance of an Incidental Harassment Authorization, under the MMPA, to take marine mammals by harassment (Level B), incidental to ExxonMobil Alaska LNG LLC’s proposed Geophysical and Geotechnical Program, to be conducted in Cook Inlet, Alaska over 84 days, between August 14, 2015 and August 13, 2016. This document represents NOAA Fisheries' biological opinion (opinion) on the effects of this proposal on endangered Cook Inlet distinct population segment beluga whale (Delphinapterus leucas). PR1 determined that the project is not likely to adversely affect designated Cook Inlet beluga critical habitat. PR1 also determined that the project is not likely to adversely affect the humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) or the western DPS Steller sea lion (Eumetopias jubatus) due to their rarity and extremely low density in the project area. This opinion is also responsive to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers request for consultation on the authorization of this project under Nationwide Permits 5 and 6. The Corps has jurisdiction over the geotechnical aspects of the proposed G&G project, i.e., vibracoring, geotechnical borings, sediment grab samples, and Piezo-cone penetration testing.

Action Agencies: NOAA Fisheries Office of Protected Resources, Permits and Conservation Division (NMFS PRJ), and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Alaska District

NMFS Consultation Number: AKR-2015-9474

Last updated by Alaska Regional Office on 06/05/2020

Section 7 Consultation Biological Opinions Cook Inlet Beluga Whale Steller Sea Lion Humpback Whale