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 U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (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 and 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 Service received a request from Hilcorp Alaska, LLC, for an MMPA authorization to take, by harassment, small numbers of northern sea otters (Enhydra lutris kenyoni) incidental to proposed aerial survey activities over Cook Inlet, Alaska. 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 sea otters, will have a negligible impact on the species or stocks, and will not have unmitigable adverse impacts on the availability of the species or stocks 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 sea otters and their habitat. On April 26, 2018, we published a Federal Register notice (83 FR 18330) announcing a 30-day public notice and comment period on both the proposed IHA and the Draft EA, which closed on May 29, 2018. No new information was received that changed our preliminary MMPA or NEPA findings.

The Service has therefore issued an IHA to Hilcorp Alaska, LLC. We anticipate no take by injury or death and included none in the authorization. You may view the issued IHA and supporting documents here:

 Previous Actions

2017: Authorization of take by harassment of Pacific walruses and polar bears by Quintillion Subsea Operation, LLC, incidental to proposed fiber optic cable laying activities in the State of Alaska and associated Federal waters. 

2016: Authorization of take by harassment of Pacific walruses by Quintillion Subsea Operation, LLC incidental to proposed fiber optic cable laying activities in the State of Alaska and associated Federal waters.

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 was 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: June 2018