NMFS Non-Issues IHA for Shell in the Chukchi and Beaufort
On January 24, 2011, the U.S. National Marine Fisheries published Federal Register notice of "non-issuance of incidental harassment authorizations." NMFS summarizes this unusual action as follows:
"On April 19, 2010, and May 7, 2010, NMFS published notices of
proposed Incidental Harassment Authorizations (IHAs) for the take of
small numbers of marine mammals, by harassment, by Shell Offshore Inc.
(Shell) incidental to offshore exploration drilling on Outer
Continental Shelf (OCS) leases in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas,
Alaska, during July through October, 2010. Notice is hereby given that
these IHAs were not issued, and Shell did not conduct the proposed
exploration drilling programs in 2010."
The story is actually more complicated than this summary. The complex details are provided in EPA's Federal Register notice. Here we only note that this chain of events was started on May 27, 2010, following the April 20, 2010, Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Then the Department of the Interior announced a suspension of proposed exploration drilling in the U.S. Arctic . At the same time, DOI announced that it would postpone consideration of Shell's exploration drilling requests for the 2010 open-water season. Because no permits were issued to Shell by DOI to conduct the exploration drilling programs during the 2010 open-water season, NMFS did not issue IHAs to Shell for these two proposed programs.
Click here to read NMFS' Federal Register notice