NMFS Issues BP an IHA for Seismic in the Beaufort
On July 6, 2012, the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service published Federal Register notice that NMFS has issued an Incidental Harassment Authorization to BP Exploration (Alaska), Inc. This IHA authorizes BP to take, by harassment, small numbers of 10 species of marine mammals incidental to ocean bottom cable seismic surveys in the Simpson Lagoon area of the Beaufort Sea, Alaska, during the 2012 Arctic open-water season. This IHA is issued under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, and it is effective July 1, 2011, through October 15, 2012.
NMFS explains in its Federal Register notice that:
The authorized takes represent 0.13% of the Beaufort Sea population of approximately 39,258 beluga whales (or 1.35% of the Eastern Chukchi Sea population of approximately 3,710 beluga whales, or a mix of each population; Allen and Angliss 2010),
1.59% of Aleutian Island and Bering Sea stock of approximately 314 killer
whales, 0.004% of Bering Sea stock of approximately 48,215 harbor porpoises,
0.02% of the Eastern North Pacific stock of approximately 19,126 gray whales,
0.24% of the Bering-Chukchi-Beaufort population of 15,232 bowhead whales
assuming 3.4 percent annual population growth from the estimate of 10,545
animals (Zeh and Punt, 2005), and 0.20% of the Alaska stock of approximately 1,003 minke whales. The take estimates presented for bearded, ringed, spotted, and ribbon seals
represent 0.01, 0.05, 0.03, and 0.0033% of U.S. Arctic stocks of each species,
respectively. These take numbers represent the percentage of each species or stock that could be taken by Level B behavioral harassment if each animal is taken only once. In addition, the mitigation and monitoring measures (described previously in this document)
that are included in the IHA (if issued) are expected to reduce even further any potential disturbance to marine mammals.
Click here to read Federal Register notice of BP IHA