Marine Mammals Management
Alaska Region


Incidental Harassment Authorization

What are Incidental Harassment Authorizations (IHAs)?
Section 101(a)(5)(D) of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) established an expedited process to apply for authorization for incidental take of small numbers of marine mammals where the take will be limited to harassment. The Service may issue an IHA for a period of up to one year. The MMPA establishes the following schedule for consideration of requests for IHAs:

  1. Review of application an publication in Federal Register (45 days)
  2. Public comment period (30 days)
  3. Issue or deny authorization (45 days)  

How to Apply for an IHA:

  1. Verify the following:
    1. Your proposed activity has the potential to cause take
    2. Your action will involve incidental, but not intentional taking. Activities for which take is part of the activity, including but not limited to import, export, transport, scientific research, capture, and filming, require a permit
    3. Take is limited to harassment only
  2. Contact the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Marine Mammals Management office at 1-800-362-5148 for further assistance.

Incidental Harassment Authorizations

Current Actions
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), received a request from Quintillion Subsea Operation, LLC for authorization under the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 (MMPA) to take, by harassment, small numbers of Pacific walruses (Odobenus rosmarus divergens) incidental to proposed fiber optic cable laying activities in the State of Alaska and associated Federal waters. We evaluated the effects of issuing the requested IHA and prepared a Draft Environmental Assessment (EA) for compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). We made preliminary determinations that the total take associated with the specified activity will affect small numbers of Pacific walruses, will have a negligible impact on the species or stock, and will not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of the species or stock for subsistence uses.  We specified conditions allowing these findings to be made and found these conditions to be sufficient for ensuring the least practicable adverse impact to Pacific walruses.  We issued a Federal Register notice (81 FR 40902) announcing a 30-day public notice and comment period on both the proposed IHA and the Draft EA, which closed on July 25, 2016.  No new information was received that changed our preliminary MMPA or NEPA findings.

Previous Actions
2016: BlueCrest Alaska Operation, LLC, submitted an IHA application, but withdrew the request in June 2016.  Notice of a proposal to issue an IHA was published in the Federal Register.  No IHA will be issued for this activity in 2016.

2014: Potential Impacts to Northern Sea Otters in Cook Inlet from Oil and Gas Exploration by Apache Alaska Corporation (Apache), SAExploration, Inc., LLC (SAE), and BlueCrest Energy, Inc. (BlueCrest), formerly Buccaneer Alaska Operations, LLC.


Last updated: August 2016