Daily Rules, Proposed Rules, and Notices of the Federal Government
Section 101(a)(5)(A) of the MMPA (16 U.S.C. 1361
Authorization for incidental taking, in the form of annual LOAs, may be granted by NMFS for periods up to five years if NMFS finds, after notice and opportunity for public comment, that the taking will have a negligible impact on the species or stock(s) of marine mammals, and will not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of the species or stock(s) for subsistence uses (where relevant). In addition, NMFS must prescribe regulations that include permissible methods of taking and other means of effecting the least practicable adverse impact on the species and its habitat (i.e., mitigation), and on the availability of the species for subsistence uses, paying particular attention to rookeries, mating rounds, and areas of similar significance. The regulations also must include requirements pertaining to the monitoring and reporting of such taking.
Regulations governing the taking of marine mammals incidental to EROS were published on June 19, 2008 (73 FR 34875), and remain in effect through July 19, 2013. For detailed information on this action, please refer to that
NMFS regulations require timely receipt of reports for activities conducted under the previously issued LOA and a determination that the required mitigation, monitoring, and reporting were undertaken. NMFS Galveston Laboratory's Platform Removal Observer Program (PROP) has provided reports for Merit Energy Company's (Merit) removal of offshore structures during 2010. While Merit did not have a LOA in 2010 to 2011 or previous years, the energy company used the explosives company, Demex International, Inc., which was issued an LOA for 2010 to 2011, and renewed their LOA again for 2011 to 2012. Northstar Interests, Northstar Offshore, Ridgelake, Rosetta, and Sojitz have not conducted any EROS operations to date. NMFS PROP observers reported the following during Merit's EROS operations in 2010 to 2011:
Pursuant to these regulations, NMFS has issued an LOA to Merit, Northstar Interests, Northstar Offshore, Ridgelake, Rosetta, and Sojitz. Issuance of the LOAs is based on a finding made in the preamble to the final rule that the total taking by these activities (with monitoring, mitigation, and reporting measures) will result in no more than a negligible impact on the affected species or stock(s) of marine mammals and will not have an unmitigable adverse impact on subsistence uses. NMFS will review reports to ensure that the applicants are in compliance with meeting the requirements contained in the implementing regulations and LOA, including monitoring, mitigation, and reporting requirements.