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Fish and Wildlife Service Seeks Comments on ESA and MMPA Applications

The Fish and Wildlife Service has announced it is accepting comments on a number of permit applications it has received under the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act. The applications include requests for permits to import samples of wild and captive ground pangolin to the University of Washington, export one loggerhead sea turtle to Sea Life London Aquarium, captive breed penguins and lemurs in a zoo in Minnesota, to import sport-hunted trophies of a South African antelope, and to import biological samples from wild-caught polar bears to Stanford University Medical Center. The agency is accepting comments on these applications until December 20, 2019.

FWS Seeks Comments on Endangered Species and Marine Mammal Permit Applications

The Fish and Wildlife Service has announced it has received applications for endangered species and marine mammal permits, including requests to move penguins to a zoo in Indiana and import elephants to a zoo in Texas. The agency is accepting comments on these applications until July 27, 2020.

Last Chance for Comments on Sea Lion Killing

The comment period is about to expire for a June application from a group of Northwest organizations seeking a permit under the Marine Mammal Protection Act to remove (by lethal force) sea lions in the Columbia River. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is accepting comments on this application until October 29, 2019.

NMFS and NOAA Set Final Agenda for MMPA Gray Whale Take ALJ Hearing

The National Marine Fisheries Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have announced the final agenda for a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge set to take place on November 14. The hearing will address whether the Makah Indian Tribe should be granted a waiver of the Marine Mammal Protection Act moratorium on marine mammal takings to authorize a tribal hunt of gray whales.

Bill to Expedite Permitting Under Marine Mammal Protection Act

The Streamlining Environmental Approvals Act proposes to amend the Marine Mammal Protection Act to restrict the Secretary’s ability to request further information from applicants, institute automatic approval of permits if the Secretary fails to issue a decision, and allow for auto-extensions of authorizations, among other changes.

USFWS Opens Comment Period on Multiple Applications for the Take of Sea Otters

The USFWS received three independent applications for the take of northern and southern sea otters from Titan Productions, BBC Studios, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Titan Productions and BBC Studios are seeking permission for commercial photography and videography of sea otters in California and Alaska for a period of five years, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium is seeking USFWS authorization for incidental takes related to southern sea otter research over the next five years. The agency is accepting comments on each of these requests through October 12, 2021.

Environmental Organizations Sue to Protect Polar Bears and Walruses in Alaska

Alaska Wildlife Alliance, Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, Friends of the Earth, Sierra Club, and others have sued the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, alleging that the agency violated the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Administrative Procedure Act when it granted a 5-year incidental take regulation (ITR) for the Alaska Oil and Gas Association that potentially could kill polar bears and walruses. Plaintiffs are seeking for the court to vacate the ITR and declare that FWS’ issuance of the ITR violated the MMPA and APA.

Congress Considers Legislation Allowing Importation of Polar Bear Trophies

House Bill 631 would amend the Marine Mammal Protection Act to allow the importation of polar bear trophies taken in “sport hunts” in Canada, and House Bill 630 would amend the Marine Mammal Protection Act “to allow importation of polar bear trophies taken in sport hunts in Canada before the date the polar bear was determined to be a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act of 1973.”

NMFS Authorizes Incidental Harm and Harassment to Killer Whales and other Cetaceans

The National Marine Fisheries Service has issued a Letter of Authorization (LOA) to Western Geco for the take (harm and harassment) of marine mammals incidental to geophysical survey activity in the Gulf of Mexico between January 1, 2022 and April 30, 2022. The LOA authorizes Western Geco to harm (lethal or nonlethal) and harass eighteen cetacean species, including killer whales, sperm whales, Rice’s whales, Risso’s dolphins, and bottlenose dolphins while using airguns to conduct 3D ocean bottom node surveying. FWS issued the LOA after declaring that the proposed activity would have a “negligible impact” on the affected species.

Permit Amendment Would Allow Research on Additional Elephant Seals

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have received an application to amend an existing scientific research permit to allow the applicant to tag additional elephant seals along the California coast. If the amendment is authorized, the applicant’s permit will allow her to “harass” ten additional elephant seals up to twice per year during the course of tagging, measuring, and other evaluation annually through March 31, 2024. NMFS and NOAA are seeking comments through December 20, 2021.