Long Term Monitoring Plan Being Developed for Marine Mammals Related to Oil and Gas Seismic Data Acquisition in the Gulf of Mexico: BOEM Seeking Public Input

11-06-2014

BOEM, in cooperation with NOAA Fisheries, is asking for public input to help in the development of a long-term monitoring plan (LTMP) for marine mammals in the Gulf of Mexico, focusing on the potential impacts to marine mammals from geophysical seismic data acquisition. This LTMP is a required element of BOEM’s petition for a Letter of Authorization and associated rulemaking under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA). This petition would lead to a NOAA Fisheries rule authorizing non-lethal incidental take of marine mammals under the MMPA as a result of geophysical survey activities.

In addition to being a part of BOEM’s petition for rulemaking under the MMPA, BOEM takes its responsibility to minimize impacts to marine mammals very seriously. This plan would help by monitoring marine mammal populations, marine mammal behavior, and the effectiveness of mitigation measures.  The implemented mitigation measures would then be evaluated and, through an adaptive management process, may be altered depending on the effectiveness. BOEM would also use the data and information received through this public input process to feed this larger adaptive management process. BOEM is seeking input on monitoring measures to improve understanding of the occurrence of marine mammal species in the Gulf of Mexico. BOEM is also requesting information related to the appropriate scope and study objectives of the LTMP. If an MMPA authorization is issued, BOEM would implement this LTMP as a tool to assess potential long term impacts to marine mammals and to determine how best to minimize any impacts that may occur. BOEM will only consider comments that are relevant to marine mammal species resident in the Gulf of Mexico, or the potential effects of geophysical survey activities on those species.

The Request for Information on the Development of a Long Term Monitoring Plan for Marine Mammals Related to Geophysical Activities for Oil and Gas Seismic Data Acquisition in the Gulf of Mexico Comment Period will be published in the Federal Register on November 7, 2014. Comments must be received on or before December 8, 2014.

Comments should be submitted via the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov. Search for: ‘Request for Information on the Development of a Long Term Monitoring Plan for Marine Mammals Related to Geophysical Activities for Oil and Gas Seismic Data Acquisition in the Gulf of Mexico.’ Email comments should be submitted to: monitoringplan@boem.gov, subject line labeled ‘Request for Information, Gulf of Mexico Long Term Monitoring Plan.’ BOEM does not consider anonymous comments so we recommend including your name and address as part of your submittal.