Biological Opinion: Office of Naval Research Arctic Research Activities 2018–2021 and Associated Proposed Issuance of an Incidental Harassment Authorization in the Beaufort Sea, Alaska
Biological opinion considering the possible effects of the proposed research activities on listed endangered and threatened species and designated critical habitat.
For the actions described in this document, the action agencies are the U.S. Navy’s Office of Naval Research (ONR) which proposes to conduct Arctic Research Activities (ARA), and the NOAA Fisheries Office of Protected Resources, Permits and Conservation Division (hereafter referred to as “the Permits Division”). The Permits Division plans to issue an incidental harassment authorization (IHA) pursuant to section 101(a)(5)(D) of the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, as amended (MMPA) (16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.), to ONR for harassment of marine mammals incidental to the proposed research (83 FR 40234). When issued, the IHA will be valid from September 15, 2018 through September 14, 2019, and will authorize the incidental harassment of two ESA-listed pinniped species, the threatened Beringia DPS bearded seal and threatened Arctic ringed seal. This biological opinion will cover the entirety of ONR’s proposed activity from 2018–2021.
ONR may continue to conduct Arctic research after 2021, however, the nature of the platforms and the locations of future deployments are unknown, and such future activities would be covered under future environmental planning documentations in collaboration with other Navy entities.
Action Agencies: U.S. Navy ONR and NOAA Fisheries, Office of Protected Resources, Permits and Conservation Division
NMFS Consultation Number: AKR-2018-9725