Fish And Wildlife Service News

18 Dec 2018

French Frigate Shoals: A Canary in the Coal Mine

© cartoonresource/Adobe Stock

French Frigate Shoals are located in the northwestern Hawaiian Islands, between Kauai and Midway. The atoll consists of a twenty-mile long crescent-shaped reef, with 13 coral and sand islands and the 120-foot high volcanic rock Perouse Pinnacle, named for French explorer Jean-Francois de la Perouse, who charted the atoll in 1786 and nearly grounded his two frigates. Tern Island is the largest, covering 105,276 square meters or 26 acres. Second largest is (or was) East Island, with 35…

02 Aug 2018

Analysis: Government Proposal 'Ill-informed' on Maritime Matters

© Konstantin L/Adobe Stock

On June 22, 2018, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued a federal government reorganization proposal entitled “Delivering Government Solutions in the 21st Century”. The 132-page document is subtitled ‘Reform Plan and Reorganization Recommendations’. I have not read the entire report, but I have examined those portions that relate to maritime issues. I find those portions to be uniformly ill-advised.Associate Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. once wrote: “A page of history is worth a volume of logic.”  The authors of this proposal should brush up on their history.

18 May 2017

OP/Ed: CVIDA Good for Environment & Economy

© Kenneth Keifer / Adobe Stock

I think it safe to say everyone agrees the discharge of ballast water has introduced non-native species to ports and harbors worldwide and more must be done to stop future invasions. Unfortunately, beyond that, there’s less agreement, much less. As a result, here in the United States we have two federal agencies, the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), plus, at last count, 25 states regulating discharges incidental to the normal operation of vessels, 16 of which are specific to ballast water.

02 Feb 2017

Moran Lays Keel for New USFWS Vessel

Image: Moran Iron Works

Sparks are flying on the keel of the $1.9 million, 57-foot aluminum fisheries research vessel for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), at Moran Iron Works (MIW). The project was announced in November of 2016 when the two parties met for an inaugural meeting in Onaway. Preliminary design of the vessel was performed by Seacraft Design, LLC, with MIW working to finalize the design and construction drawings. “The official laying of keel day was January 23,” said Jason Willis, project manager at MIW.

14 Apr 2016

High Correlation of Biomass to Species Diversity in Northern Chukchi Sea - BOEM Study

Last summer, researchers began a five year study to monitor biodiversity in the Arctic Chukchi Sea from an ecosystem perspective, looking at microbes, whales and everything in between. health and critical ecosystem services that contribute to human life. Monitoring it improves our ability to interpret and forecast changes. The unprecedented effects of climate change combined with strong seasonal cycles and increasing human activities in the Arctic make this region particularly important to monitor. In August 2015, the AMBON team of researchers from the University of Alaska’s School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, the University of Maryland…

06 Apr 2016

Korea's Doorae Shipping Fined $750K for Illegal Discharge

Sunrise off of Oahu. (Photo: Greg Trauthwein)

United States District Court Judge Leslie E. Kobayashi accepted the guilty plea of Doorae Shipping Co., LTD, a South Korean maritime operations company, and sentenced the company to pay a fine of $750,000, a community service payment of $200,000, and a term of two years of probation for the failure to maintain an accurate oil record book, in violation of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships, and making false statements to the U.S. Coast Guard concerning the discharge of oil contaminated bilge water.

22 Mar 2016

BOEM Proposes New Regulation for OCS

Bulldozers reconstruct the beach and dunes at Long Beach Island, New Jersey, as a dredge ship pumps sand from the Outer Continental Shelf to shore. Photo BOEM

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) today released proposed regulations that would provide additional clarity and certainty for its Marine Minerals Program regarding negotiated, non-competitive leases for Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) resources such as sand, gravel and shell. The proposed rule describes the negotiated, non-competitive agreement process for qualifying projects, and codifies new and existing procedures for using OCS sand, gravel and shell resources for shore protection…

30 Oct 2015

Oil Spills into Potomac River near D.C. Airport

Aerial view of the oil spill near the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, Oct. 30, 2015. A safety zone was established with a 1,500-yard radius from source of the spill. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Nicholas Rodriguez)

An estimated 7,500 to 9,000 gallons of Jet A aviation fuel has spilled within Washington D.C.’s Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and into the Potomac River, Friday. A Unified Command consisting of the U.S. Coast Guard; Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority personnel, including Airport Operations and Fire and Rescue; D.C. Department of Energy and Environment, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and D.C. Harbor Patrol has been established and is responding to the spill. Airport operations have not been impacted.

07 Aug 2015

Inspectors Vigilant over Shell’s Arctic Drilling

Photo: BSEE

Shell’s drilling operations in the Chukchi Sea are being overseen 24/7 by inspectors from the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) to ensure compliance with federal regulations and safety standards, BSEE said. BSEE said its inspector boarded the semi-submersible drilling unit Transocean Polar Pioneer before it began drilling the top section of the well at Burger J on July 30, and a second BSEE inspector is on board the drillship Noble Discoverer at Burger V, even though the Discoverer is not permitted to conduct drilling operations while the Polar Pioneer is operating.

25 Jul 2015

Shell Gets APD for limited Arctic Drilling

Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) personnel conducted inspections of Shell Oil Co. marine vessels Noble Discoverer and the semi-submersible drilling unit Transocean Polar Pioneer in Dutch Harbor, Alaska

After extensive review and under a robust array of safety requirements, Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) Director Brian Salerno today announced that Shell has received conditional approval of two Applications for Permits to Drill (APD) to conduct limited exploratory drilling activities in the Chukchi Sea offshore Alaska. Specifically, the APDs limit Shell to drilling only the top sections of wells and prohibit Shell from drilling into oil-bearing zones. Shell currently is not permitted to drill into oil-bearing zones because…

04 Jul 2015

U.S. Draft Recovery Plan for Threatened Polar Bears

Polar bear Photo WWF

U.S. wildlife managers released on Thursday a draft plan for stemming the decline of polar bears threatened by melting Arctic sea ice linked to global warming, but the proposal hinges on reductions in greenhouse gas emissions that are far from assured. Under a plan to be officially submitted on Monday for public comment, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is urging cutbacks in carbon dioxide and other atmospheric pollutants generated by the burning of fossil fuels. The draft proposal…

01 Jul 2015

Shell Steps Closer to Arctic Drilling

Arctic Challenger Photo Greenpeace

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service authorized the nonlethal, incidental, and unintentional take of small numbers of polar bears and Pacific walrus that result from Shell’s exploratory drilling activities in the Chukchi Sea. The agency gave authorization despite finding information gaps regarding walrus and polar bear behavior in offshore environments, the immediate and long-term responses of these animals to drilling operations, and the subsistence hunting activities of several Native villages.

30 Jun 2015

US Issues Potential Setback to Shell's Arctic Drilling

The Obama administration issued a potential setback to Royal Dutch Shell's  Arctic oil exploration plans on Tuesday, telling the company that established wildlife protections prevent it from drilling two rigs simultaneously within 15 miles (24 km) of each other, as it had planned.   The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued Shell a permit on Tuesday that said that under existing federal walrus and polar bear protections, Shell must maintain a 15 mile buffer if it plans to drill two rigs simultaneously. In Shell's 2015 Arctic drilling plan, no two of its wells are more than 15 miles apart.     (Reporting by Timothy Gardner; Editing by Sandra Maler)

28 Jun 2015

Shell's Arctic Drilling a Threat for Pacific Walrus

Pacific Walrus

A number of environmental groups are asking the Department of the Interior to rescind permission Shell has been granted to begin exploratory drilling in the Arctic this summer because the company's plan would not protect the walrus. Shell's plan would violate federal rules limiting how closely a company can drill multiple wells, Earthjustice argued in a letter to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, sent on behalf of 10 other groups. The rules, issued in 2013 by the Fish and Wildlife Service under the Marine Mammal Protection Act…

23 Jun 2015

Environmentalists: Walrus Population at Risk in Arctic

Green groups urged the U.S. Department of Interior on Tuesday to revoke the agency's conditional approval of Royal Dutch Shell's 2015 Arctic oil exploration plan, saying it runs counter to established protections for walruses. A 2013 rule implemented by the Fish and Wildlife Service, a bureau of the Interior Department, prevents energy companies from exploring for oil simultaneously at wells in the Chukchi Sea off Alaska that are within 15 miles (24 km) of each other. The rule is meant to protect walrus populations that are sensitive to the noise and disruption of drilling in their habitat. But Shell's exploration plan for the Chukchi…

22 Mar 2015

Conservation Efforts in Revised ESA Listing of Green Sea Turtle

Green sea turtles are found around the globe in tropical and subtropical waters. (Credit NOAA)

NOAA Fisheries and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed today to reclassify the green sea turtle under the Endangered Species Act, and list turtles originating from two breeding populations currently considered endangered as threatened due to improvements in their populations. After a review of the global status of green sea turtles, the agencies are proposing to reclassify the species into 11 Distinct Population Segments (DPS) under the ESA, which maintains federal protections…

27 Jun 2014

Salvage for the Greater Good

Coral Transplants - Global Diving’s coral restoration specialist carefully relocates live corals from the HUI FENG #1.

Preserving pristine Coral Reefs in a remote location is no small task, but also of big importance. Global Diving & Salvage shows how it is done. On June 19, 1991 officials with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration were notified of a 121 foot long fishing vessel shipwrecked and hard aground in the coral reef on the Western Terrace of Palmyra Atoll. The wreck of the Taiwanese long line fishing vessel HUI FENG #1 lay deep into the reef in 20 feet of water, about one…

30 Mar 2014

Coast Guard Matagorda Bay Responds to Further Oil Pollution

Beach, Matagorda Bay: USCG Photo

The US Coast Guard informs that clean-up and response teams from the Matagorda Bay Incident Command Post are responding to sightings of oil near North Padre Island and along sporadic portions of Mustang Island in Corpus Christi. Additional sightings also include tar balls in the area, although it is not clear whether the tar balls are the result of the March 22 spill near Texas City. However, response teams from Miller Environmental, who are engaged in combatting that incident, have mobilized to contain and collect those tar balls and oil in newly impacted areas as well.

20 Mar 2014

Georgia Increases Funding for Port Deepening

The $35 million in additional port deepening funds proposed by Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal has been approved by the state legislature and now awaits the governor’s signature. Along with previous funding, Georgia has now allocated $266 million, fulfilling the state’s portion of the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP). “Lawmakers across Georgia recognize that improving the Savannah Harbor is critically important to the continued economic health of this state and region,” Deal said.

07 Mar 2014

Hazmat Transported from Shipwreck for Proper Disposal

Daiki Maru 7 (U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Matt Knight)

By Jesse Leon Guerrero, U.S. The U.S. Navy, in partnership with the U.S. Coast Guard and civilian contractors, safely removed 49 55-gallon drums filled with hazardous materials from the grounded Japanese commercial fishing vessel Daiki Maru 7 at the Spanish Steps on Naval Base Guam (NBG) March 6. The Navy-led unified command consisting of representatives from the base, U.S. Coast Guard Sector Guam, Guam Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the responsible party have worked together daily to secure the site and coordinate removal of the hazardous waste since the vessel ran aground Feb. 13.

19 Feb 2014

Fuel Removed from Grounded Fishing Vessel

U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Matt Knight

The U.S. Navy, in partnership with other federal and local agencies, removed approximately 540 gallons of the remaining diesel fuel from the grounded Japanese commercial fishing vessel Daiki Maru 7 in outer Apra Harbor Feb. 18. On Feb. 16, about 50 gallons of fuel was removed and an additional 540 gallons was removed Feb. 18. The diesel fuel was pumped into containers on shore and then staged in an environmentally safe containment zone for disposal. Additionally, four marine batteries and several fishing nets were safely removed.

17 Feb 2014

Navy Rescue Fishing Vessel Crew, Prevent Guam Wreck Pollution

Wreck of Daiki Maru 7: Photo courtesy of USN

Sailors from Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 25 conducted a search and rescue operation and rescued 10 fishermen from a sinking commercial fishing vessel that ran aground in Apra Harbor near Spanish Steps, Guam. Subsequently Navy personnel removed environmentally hazardous materials from the wreck. "Through the efforts of HSC-25 and the U.S. Coast Guard, we were able to successfully meet our first priority, which was to rescue the crew members," said Capt. Mike Ward, commanding officer of Naval Base Guam. The U.S.

22 Jan 2014

An Examination of USCG Sonar Expansion

A civilian contractor steadies a M18 Mod 2 Kingfish Unmanned Underwater Vehicle (UUV) as it is lifted with a crane onto the deck of an 11-meter rigid-hull inflatable boat. The Kingfish uses side scan sonar to search and discover objects of interest. This marks the first time these UUVs have been added to mine countermeasure operations in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.  (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Blake Midnight/Released)

The U.S. Coast Guard is planning to widely use sonar to support its maritime security and marine environmental protection missions. The agency currently has limited capability to detect objects below the water’s surface and relies on others (such as the U.S. Navy or the commercial sector) when such detection is needed. Sonar is an acronym for Sound Navigation and Ranging. The principle is similar to radar, used in the atmosphere. While radar uses radio waves, sonar relies on sound waves, which propagate much better than radio waves do in water.

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