The Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) authorization process is broken and antiquated. The MMPA was enacted in 1972 to help marine mammal species that were in decline as a result of overhunting, overfishing and unscrupulous trade. But today, vague language, regulatory loopholes and a lack of accountability have allowed some organizations to co-opt the Act to curtail offshore energy exploration and development. This has led to unnecessary government delay and inaction on a final decision for the Atlantic Incidental Harassment Authorizations following the completion of a thorough review process conducted by NOAA Fisheries and a 120-day decision period.
00Days of Government Delay and Inaction Since Environmental Review Process was Complete
Seismic surveying technology has been used extensively for over 50 years around the world, with no known detrimental impact to marine life, commercial fishing or tourism. Seismic surveying activity is an important component of responsible energy resource development and contributes to reducing the overall environmental footprint associated with energy exploration. Seismic surveying also assists in the planning and installation of offshore renewable facilities and provides valuable data on the dynamic processes that shape our coasts.
"To date, there has been no documented scientific evidence of noise from acoustic sources used in seismic activities adversely affecting marine animal populations or coastal communities."
- Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM)
The current regulatory process functions as a de facto ban on geophysical surveying in some U.S. waters.
There is little accountability in the current procedural requirements, meaning that MMPA authorizations are routinely delayed by the implementing agencies for energy exploration activities while research surveys are routinely authorized. The ambiguous and unclear requirements fail to prevent these unreasonable delays.
In January 2018, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report on offshore seismic surveys which found that current delays in the issuance MMPA authorizations is a result of bureaucratic dysfunction and unnecessary stalling.
The U.S. is falling behind in seismic information gathering, exploration activity and energy development due to the bureaucratic delays caused by the vague language and broken regulatory processes in the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA).
Help bring MMPA into the 21st Century by contacting your members of Congress and asking for common sense modifications.