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Endangered Species Act Section 7 Biological Opinion: Oil and Gas Leasing and Exploration Activities in the U.S. Beaufort and Chukchi Seas, Alaska; and Authorization of Small Takes Under the Marine Mammal Protection Act
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    The U.S. Minerals Management Service (MMS) and NOAA Fisheries, Office of Protected Resources, have formally consulted National Marine Fisheries Service, Alaska Region, on the potential effects of oil and gas leasing and exploration in the U. S. Beaufort Sea and Chukchi Seas, and authorization of “small take” permits under section 101 (a)(5) of the Marine Mammal Protection Act, as amended. This opinion considers the effects of these actions on threatened and endangered species under the jurisdiction of NOAA Fisheries. In formulating this Biological Opinion, NOAA Fisheries used information presented in the MMS’s 2008 Supplement to the 2006 Biological Evaluation of the Potential Effects of Oiland Gas Leasing and Exploration in the Alaska OCS Beaufort Sea and Chukchi Sea Planning Areas on Endangered Bowhead Whales (Balaena mysticetus), Fin Whales (Balaenoptera physalus), and Humpback Whales (Megaptera novaeangliae), NMFS’s 2006 Draft Recovery Plan for Fin Whales, NMFS’s 1991 Recovery Plan for Humpback Whales, NMFS’s 2008 Marine Mammal Stock Assessment Reports, reports from the International Whaling Commission along with other research relating to bowhead whales and information provided by NOAA=s National Marine Mammal Laboratory, the North Slope Borough, the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission, and the traditional knowledge of the Alaskan Eskimo community.
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