BAPAC board member Laura Habr and I met with officials of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) yesterday to discuss the IHAs (Incidental Harassment Authorizations) the agency is still considering for seismic testing permits in the Atlantic.
On July 5, 2017, BAPAC submitted comments to the agency and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) during the official comment period. Eleven days ago, three BAPAC board members (Vicki Clark, Tom Kies and Amy MacKown) joined me in meeting with BOEM officials on the same issue. BOEM is the agency that would issue the seismic testing permits if and when it receives the IHAs from the NMFS.
To both agencies we stressed that BAPAC still opposes the use of seismic airgun blasting to explore for oil deposits off the Atlantic Coast. We reiterated that BOEM made the correct decision in January of 2017 when it first denied the permits for reasons that have not changed.
However, since the Trump Administration resumed consideration of those same permit applications, we also offered recommendations to dramatically reduce the destruction to marine animals that comes from seismic testing and would result in financial harm to East Coast economies.
In our conversations with the agencies, we focused our recommendations addressing seismic testing’s impact on commercial and recreational fishing, loss of revenue to other businesses and governments and alternative exploration technology to airgun blasting.
While we were not able to discern a timeline for the NMFS on the IHAs, we were told that the agency does not have an unlimited time to decide since it under an executive order to move expeditiously. The agency has received approximately 120,000 comments that they are still reviewing.
Thanks to all who submitted comments last year and recently to BOEM opposing permitting offshore drilling in the Atlantic.
President & CEO