NMFS Requires PAM in Cook Inlet Seismic Permit
On May 11, 2012, the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service published Federal Register notice that NMFS has issued an Incidental Harassment Authorization to the Apache Alaska Corporation
to take marine mammals, by harassment, incidental to a proposed 3D seismic survey in Cook Inlet, Alaska, between April 2012 and April 2013. During the public comment on the proposed IHA, NMFS received comments from the Marine Mammal Commission, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, environmental nongovernmental organizations, and one member of the public. These comments and NMFS' response to them may be viewed by clicking here.
Here, NMFS rejects the Environmental NGOs' comment that Apache should not be allowed to continue seismic surveys during nighttime (low light) and other low visibility conditions. NMFS' response to this comment states that
"NMFS believes that requiring Apache to halt seismic surveys during nighttime and
other low visibility conditions would increase the amount of time it would
take Apache to complete the survey and may require additional survey vessels to
be brought into Cook Inlet. As a result, NMFS considers the implementation of
this recommendation as a mitigation measure to be impracticable for both
economic and practical reasons. However, to further enhance the detection of marine mammals, passive acoustic monitoring (PAM) systems will be deployed, if ice conditions allow, inside the 180/190 dB safety zone in both the up-inlet and down-inlet directions."