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Soundings Archive

NMFS Issues IHA to Port of Anchorage Despite MMC and NGO Protests
The National Marine Fisheries Service has issued an Incidental Harassment Authorization to the Port of Anchorage, Alaska, and to the U.S. Department of Transportation Maritime Administration to take small numbers of marine mammals, by Level B harassment, incidental to the first year of construction of their Marine Terminal Redevelopment Project at the Port.

The IHA authorizes for one year the Level B Take of up to 34 Cook Inlet beluga whales, 20 harbor seals 20 harbor porpoises, and 20 killer whales incidental to the Project. NMFS states in the Federal Register notice for the project that

    "Harassment to marine mammals could result from exposure to noise from pile driving. While dredging and use of other heavy machinery (tugs, dump scowls, barge mounted hydraulic excavators or clamshell equipment) are also associated with the Project, these activities are not expected to result in harassment as marine mammals, in particular beluga whales.... Harassment from pile driving associated with the Project may result in short-term, mild to moderate behavioral and physiological responses. Anticipated behavioral reactions of marine mammals include altered headings, fast swimming, changes in dive, surfacing, respiration, and feeding patterns, and changes in vocalizations. Physiological impacts are expected to be mild stress responses. However, NMFS has determined harassment would be limited to Level B, will result in a negligible impact to affected marine mammal species or stocks, and will not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of such species or stock for the taking for subsistence purposes."
The Marine Mammal Commission and the Center for Biological Diversity both extensively criticized the IHA. NMFS' response to these criticisms is set forth in the Federal Register link below.
  • Click here to read NMFS Federal Register notice of IHA

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