Biological Opinion on Office of Naval Research (ONR) Arctic Activities Beaufort Sea 2021-2022
Opinion on the effects of icebreaking and a new vessel transit route in the Beaufort Sea on several marine mammal species, and effects to the newly designated ringed and bearded seal critical habitat. NMFS Consultation Number: AKRO-2022-00873.
The July 2022 Arctic Research Activities require one vessel that will deploy moored active acoustic sources and use unmanned aircraft and underwater rovers. The research vessel will deploy from Seward, Alaska and travel through the Bering Sea, across the Chukchi Sea, and into the Beaufort. Anchored moorings will be deployed in the Beaufort Sea These actions have the potential to affect the endangered bowhead whale (Balaena mysticetus), endangered fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus), endangered blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus), endangered sei whale (Balaenoptera borealis), endangered North Pacific right whale (Eubalaena japonica), endangered Western North Pacific DPS gray whale (Eschrichtius robustus), endangered sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus), endangered Western North Pacific distinct population segment (DPS) humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae), threatened Mexico DPS humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae), threatened Arctic subspecies of ringed seal (Phoca hispida hispida), threatened Beringia DPS bearded seal (Erignathus barbatus nauticus), Steller sea lion (Eumetopias jubatus), and critical habitat for North Pacific right whale, Western North Pacific and Mexico DPS’s of humpback whales, ringed seal, bearded seal, and Steller sea lion.