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Marine Mammals; Letters of Authorization to Take Pacific Walrus and Polar Bears, Beaufort and Chukchi Seas, Alaska

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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This document has been published in the Federal Register. Use the PDF linked in the document sidebar for the official electronic format.

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AGENCY:

Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION:

Notice of issuance.

SUMMARY:

In accordance with the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, as amended (MMPA), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) has issued letters of authorization for the nonlethal take of polar bears and Pacific walrus incidental to oil and gas industry exploration, development, and production activities in the Beaufort Sea and the adjacent northern coast of Alaska and incidental to oil and gas industry exploration activities in the Chukchi Sea and the adjacent western coast of Alaska. These letters of authorization stipulate conditions and methods that minimize impacts to polar bears and Pacific walrus from these activities.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Craig Perham at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Marine Mammals Management Office, 1011 East Tudor Road, MS 341, Anchorage, AK 99503; (800) 362-5148 or (907) 786-3810.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

On August 3, 2011, we published in the Federal Register a final rule (76 FR 47010) establishing regulations that allow us to authorize the nonlethal, incidental, unintentional take of small numbers of polar bears and Pacific walrus during year-round oil and gas industry exploration, development, and production activities in the Beaufort Sea and adjacent northern coast of Alaska. The rule established subpart J in part 18 of title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) and is effective through August 3, 2016. The rule prescribed a process under which we issue Letters of Authorization (LOAs) to applicants conducting activities as described under the provisions of the regulations.

Each LOA stipulates conditions or methods that are specific to the activity and location. Holders of LOAs must use methods and conduct activities in a manner that minimizes to the greatest extent practicable adverse impacts on Pacific walrus and polar bears and their habitat, and on the availability of these marine mammals for subsistence purposes. Intentional take and lethal incidental take are prohibited.

In accordance with section 101(a)(5)(A) of the MMPA (16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.) and our regulations at 50 CFR part 18, subpart J, we issued LOAs to each of the following companies in the Beaufort Sea and adjacent northern coast of Alaska:

Beaufort Sea Letters of Authorization

CompanyActivityProjectDate issued
Alyeska Pipeline Service CompanyProductionTrans-Alaska Pipeline Operation & MaintenanceDecember 1, 2013.
BP Exploration Alaska, Inc.DevelopmentLiberty Development ProjectMarch 18, 2013.
BP Exploration Alaska, Inc.ExplorationFoggy Island Geotechnical SurveyJuly 3, 2013.
CGG Land US, Inc.ExplorationWinter Seismic SurveyJanuary 2, 2014.
ConocoPhillips Alaska, Inc.DevelopmentAlpine Drillsite ExpansionDecember 5, 2013.
ConocoPhillips Alaska, Inc.ExplorationNPR-A ExplorationDecember 5, 2013.
Eni US Operating Co., Inc.ProductionNikaitchuq Development ProjectAugust 2, 2013.
ExxonMobil Production CompanyDevelopmentPoint Thomson ProjectFebruary 1, 2013.
ExxonMobil Production CompanyDevelopmentPoint Thomson ProjectJanuary 24, 2014.
Great Bear Petroleum, LLCExplorationGreat Bear Exploration and Evaluation ProgramSeptember 30, 2013.
Olgoonik Development, LLCDevelopmentCamp Lonely Cleanup ProjectApril 17, 2013.
Olgoonik Fairweather, LLCExplorationBeaufort Sea Baseline Environmental StudiesAugust 1, 2013.
Olgoonik Fairweather, LLCExplorationMarine Fish Transboundary Cruise Environmental Studies ProgramAugust 13, 2013.
Pioneer Natural Resources Alaska, Inc.DevelopmentNuna Development ProgramApril 24, 2013.
Repsol E&P USA, Inc.ExplorationColville River Delta Winter DrillingMarch 6, 2013.
Repsol E&P USA, Inc.ExplorationColville River Delta Winter DrillingDecember 1, 2013.
SAExploration, Inc., LLCExplorationColville River Delta 3-D Seismic SurveyJuly 1, 2013.
SAExploration, Inc., LLCExplorationNorth Slope Winter 3-D Seismic SurveyJanuary 1, 2014.
VeritasExplorationWinter/Spring Dalton 3-D Seismic SurveyFebruary 1, 2013.

On June 12, 2013, we published in the Federal Register a final rule (78 FR 35364) establishing regulations that allow us to authorize the nonlethal, incidental, unintentional take of small numbers of polar bears and Pacific walrus during year-round oil and gas industry exploration activities in the Chukchi Sea and adjacent western coast of Alaska. The rule established subpart I of 50 CFR part 18 and is effective until June 11, 2018. The process under which we issue LOAs to applicants and the requirements that the holders of LOAs must follow is the same as described above for LOAs issued under 50 CFR 18, subpart J.

In accordance with section 101(a)(5)(A) of the MMPA and our regulations at 50 CFR 18, subpart I, we issued LOAs to the following companies in the Chukchi Sea:

Chukchi Sea Letters of Authorization

CompanyActivityProjectDate issued
Olgoonik Fairweather, LLCExplorationChukchi Sea Baseline Environmental Studies ProgramAugust 1, 2013.
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Shell Offshore, Inc.ExplorationChukchi Sea Open Water Marine Survey ProgramJune 28, 2013.
TGSExploration2-D Marine Seismic SurveyJune 28, 2013.
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Dated: March 21, 2014.

Geoffrey L. Haskett,

Regional Director, Alaska Region.

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[FR Doc. 2014-06976 Filed 3-27-14; 8:45 am]

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