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Soundings Archive

NMFS Seeks Comment on Shell IHA for the Chukchi and Beaufort
On May 18, 2010, the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service solicited comments on an application by Shell Offshore, Inc., for an Incidental Harassment Authorization under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Shell's application seeks an IHA to take eight species of marine mammals, by Level B harassment only, incidental to a proposed open water marine survey program in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas, Alaska, between July and October 2010.

These surveys are continuations of those performed by Shell in the Beaufort Sea beginning in 2006, and in the Chukchi Sea in 2008. Site clearance and shallow hazards surveys will evaluate the seafloor and shallow sub seafloor at prospective exploration drilling locations. The4se surveys will focus on the depth to seafloor, topography, the potential for shallow faults or gas zones, and the presence of archaeological features. The types of equipment used to conduct these surveys use low level energy sources focused on limited areas in order to characterize the footprint of the seafloor and shallow sub seafloor at prospective drilling locations. Ice gouge surveys will determine the depth and distribution of ice gouges into the seabed. Ice gouge surveys use low-level energy sources similar to the site clearance and shallow hazards.

NMFS has preliminarily determined that the proposed mitigation measures provide the means of effecting the least practicable impact on marine mammal species or stocks and their habitat, paying particular attention to rookeries, mating grounds, and areas of similar significance.

Comments must be received by NMFS no later than June 17, 2010.

  • Click here to read NMFS' Federal Register notice of Shell's IHA application

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