FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Gordon Helm, Connie Barclay
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The National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) is seeking comment on a proposal that would authorize the incidental harassment of marine mammals during a bridge project in Humboldt County, California. NOAA Fisheries is an agency of the Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The California Department of Transportation (CALTRANS) will be retrofiting three bridges spanning Humboldt Bay. The expected construction activities include pile-driving, reinforcement and topping of pier columns, construction and removal of temporary trestles, installation and removal of cofferdams, placement and removal of silt curtains, and movements of shallow draft barges and tender boats.
Marine mammals using the nearby beach and rocks as haul-out sites may be disturbed by these activities and CALTRANS must obtain a marine mammal incidental harassment authorization under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Before issuing an authorization, NOAA Fisheries must determine that these activities will have no more than a negligible impact on Pacific harbor seal stocks and any other marine mammals that may frequent these California waters.
To reduce the potential for harassment, NOAA Fisheries will require CALTRANS to adopt measures to reduce the impact of the sights and sounds of pile-driving, construction and vessel movements on marine mammals. NOAA Fisheries would also require biological monitoring before, during and after all activities.
NOAA Fisheries will be considering public comments before making its final determination, and will accept comments on the application and proposed authorization through May 10, 2002. Comments should be addressed to Donna Wieting, Chief, Marine Mammal Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910. A copy of the application and Federal Register notice may be obtained by contacting the same office.
NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service is dedicated to protecting and preserving our nation's living marine resources through scientific research, management, enforcement, and the conservation of marine mammals and other protected marine species and their habitat. To learn more about NOAA Fisheries, please visit http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov.