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National Marine Fisheries Service, Alaska Regional Office

Bowhead Whale Management

bowhead whales
Bowhead whales. Photo: Kristin Laidre, American Cetacean Society ©

The International Whaling Commission conserves and manages bowhead whale populations worldwide under the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling.

In Alaska, the U.S. government and the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission have jointly managed the traditional subsistence harvest of the bowhead whale under a cooperative agreement since 1981. The Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission allocates the International Whaling Commission quota among the eleven Alaska Eskimo communities that hunt whales: Gambell, Savoonga, Wales, Little Diomede, Kivalina, Point Hope, Pt. Lay, Wainwright, Barrow, Nuiqsut and Kaktovik. A part of the International Whaling Commission quota is also allocated to whaling villages in Russia.

All stocks of bowhead whales are classified as protected by the International Whaling Commission. The United States has classified bowhead whales as endangered under the Endangered Species Act and depleted under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.



Subsistence Whaling

Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)

  • Final EIS, January 2013
  • Draft EIS, June 2012
    • 77 FR 49792, August 17, 2012. Notice that the Draft EIS comment period has been extended to August 31, 2012.
    • News Release: June 15, 2012
    • 77 FR 35961, June 15, 2012. Notice of Availability of a Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Issuing Annual Quotas to the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission for a Subsistence Hunt on Bowhead Whales for the Years 2013 through 2017/2018. Comment period through August 14, 2012.
    • 76 FR 58781, September 22, 2011. Notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS), in order to assess the impacts of issuing annual quotas for the subsistence harvest of bowhead whales by Alaska Natives from 2013 through 2017. Publication of this document begins the official scoping period that will help identify issues and alternatives to be considered in the EIS. The scoping process ended October 31, 2011.

Cooperative Agreement


Quotas

  • Aboriginal subsistence whaling quota for bowhead whales: 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000
  • Biological Opinion on the issuance of annual quotas authorizing the harvest of bowhead whales to the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission for the period of 2013 through 2018, December 2012
  • News Release: Whaling Commission Updates Aboriginal Subsistence Catch Limits, July 2012
  • Biological Opinion on the Issuance of Annual Quotas Authorizing the Harvest of Bowhead Whales to the AEWC for the period of 2008 - 2012, January 2008
  • News Release: International Whaling Commission renews Bering-Chukchi-Beaufort Seas bowhead whaling quotas for 2008 - 2012
  • Notice of Availability and Final EA of Issuing Annual Quotas to the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission for a Subsistence Hunt on Bowhead Whales for 2003 - 2007
  • 70 FR 36118, June 22, 2005. Proposed Information Collection - Report of Whaling Operations.
  • 66 FR 65472, December 19, 2001. Notice of intent to prepare an EA for issuing a bowhead whale subsistence quota to AEWC.

Reporting

  • 74 FR 3558, January 21, 2009. Notice of proposed information collection under the provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act. Native Americans conducting aboriginal subsistence whaling in accordance with the provisions of the International Whaling Commission must submit information about strikes on and catch of whales. Anyone retrieving a dead whale is also required to report. Comment period through February 20, 2009.

Critical Habitat

  • 67 FR 55767, August 30, 2002. Notice of determination - NMFS is not proposing designation of critical habitat for this population of bowhead whales.
  • 66 FR 28141, May 22, 2001. Notice of a petition to designate critical habitat for the Western Arctic stock of bowhead whales under the ESA.

Endangered Species Act Section 7 Consultations

  • Biological Opinion - Issuance of Incidental Harassment Authorization under 101(a)(5)(D) of the Marine Mammal Protection Act to SAExploration, Inc for Marine 3D Ocean Bottom Node Seismic Activities in the US Beaufort Sea, Colville River Delta, Alaska, during the 2014 Open Water Season, August 2014
  • Biological Opinion - Issuance of Incidental Harassment Authorization under 101(a)(5)(D) of the Marine Mammal Protection Act to BP Exploration (Alaska), Inc. (BPXA) for Shallow Geohazard Survey in the US Beaufort Sea, Foggy Island Bay, Alaska, during the 2014 Open Water Season, June 2014
  • Biological Opinion - Issuance of Incidental Harassment Authorization under Section 101(a)(5)(D) of the Marine Mammal Protection Act to BP Exploration (Alaska), Inc. (BPXA) for Marine 3D Ocean Bottom Sensor Seismic Activities in the US Beaufort Sea, Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, during the 2014 Open Water Season, June 2014
  • Biological Opinion - Issuance of regulations and a letter of authorization to take marine mammals incidental to offshore oil and gas operations at the Northstart development in the Beaufort Sea from January 2014 through January 2019, February 2014
  • Biological Opinion - Issuance of Incidental Harassment Authorization under section 101(a)(5)(a) of the Marine Mammal Protection Act to SAExploration, Inc. (SAE) for Marine 3D Ocean Bottom Cable Seismic Activities in the U.S. Beaufort, Sea, Alaska, during the 2013 Open Water Season, July 2013
  • Biological Opinion - Issuance of Incidental Harassment Authorization under Section101(a)(5)(a) of the Marine Mammal Protection Act to TGS-NOPEC Geophysical Company ASA (TGS) for Marine 2D Seismic Activities in the Federal and International Waters in the Chucki Sea, during the 2013 Open Water Season, July 2013
  • Biological Opinion - Issuance of Incidental Harassment Authorization under 101(a)(5)(a) of the Marine Mammal Protection Act to Shell for Geophysical Surveys, and Equipment Recovery and Maintenance Activities in the US Chukchi Sea, Alaska, during the 2013 Open Water Season, June 2013
  • Biological Opinion: Oil and Gas Leasing and Exploration Activities in the U.S. Beaufort and Chukchi Seas, Alaska, April 2013
  • Biological Opinion and Conference Report on the Issuance of Incidental Harassment Authorization under section 101(a)(5)(a) of the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Issuance of a Geological and Geophysical permit to ION for 2D seismic surveys in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas in 2012, October 2012
  • Biological Opinion on the issuance of an Incidental Harassment Authorization under section 101(a)(5)(a) of the Marine Mammal Protection Act to BP Offshore, Inc. for seismic surveys in the Simpson Lagoon in 2012, June 2012
  • Biological Opinion on the proposed issuance of regulations and letters of authorizatoin to take marine mammals incidental to offshore oil and gas operations at the Northstar development in the U.S. Beaufort Sea, 2012-2016, June 2012
  • Biological Opinion on the Issuance of Incidental Harassment Authorization to Shell Offshore, Inc. for Exploritory Drilling in the Alaskan Beaufort Sea in 2012, April 2012
  • Biological Opinion on the Issuance of Incidental Harassment Authorization to Shell Offshore, Inc. for Exploritory Drilling in the Alaskan Chukchi Sea in 2012, April 2012
  • Biological Opinion of an incidental harassment authorization to allow for incidental takes of marine mammals during shallow hazards survey in the Chukchi Sea, Alaska, 2011, July 2011
  • Biological Opinion on the Authorization of Small Takes under the MMPA for certain Oil and Gas Exploration Activities in the US Beaufort and Chukchi Seas, Alaska, July 2010
  • Biological Opinion on Oil and Gas Leasing and Exploration Activities in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas, Alaska, and Authorization of Small Takes Under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, July 2008
  • Biological Opinion on the DOI Minerals Management Services Liberty oil project and its effects on the endangered bowhead whale, January 2002.


Development in Beaufort and Chukchi Seas

  • Permits and Applications for Incidental Take Authorizations
    • 79 FR 39914, July 10, 2014. Notice of an application from SAExploration, Inc. for an Incidental Harassment Authorization to take marine mammals, by harassment, incidental to a marine 3D ocean bottom node seismic surveys program in the state and federal waters of the Beaufort Sea, Alaska, during the open-water season of 2014. Comment period through August 11, 2014.
    • 79 FR 36730, June 30, 2014. Notice that NMFS has issued an Incidental Harassment Authorizations to BP Exploration Inc. to take marine mammals, by harassment, incidental to conducting a sensor seismic survey in Prudhoe Bay, Beaufort Sea, Alaska. Effective July 1, 2014, though September 30, 2014.
    • 79 FR 36769, June 30, 2014. Notice that NMFS has issued an Incidental Harassment Authorization to BP Exploration Inc. to take marine mammals, by harassment incidental to conducting a shallow geohazard survey in Foggy Island Bay, Beaufort Sea, Alaska. Effective July 1, 2014, through September 30, 2014.
    • 79 FR 21523, April 16, 2014. NMFS has received an application from BP Exploration for an Incidental Harassment Authorization to take marine mammals, by harassment, incidental to conducting a shallow geohazard survey in Foggy Island Bay, Beaufort Sea during the 2014 open water season. Comment period through May 16, 2014.
    • 79 FR 3347, January 21, 2014. Notice that a Letter of Authorization (LOA) has been issued to BP Exploration to take marine mammals, by harassment, incidental to operation of offshore oil and gas facilities in the U.S. Beaufort Sea, AK. Effective January 13, 2014 through January 14, 2019.
    • 78 FR 75488, December 12, 2013. Final rule issuing regulations pursuant to the Marine Mammal Protection Act to govern the unintentional taking of marine mammals incidental to operation of offshore oil and gas facilities in the U.S. Beaufort Sea, Alaska, for the period January 2014 January 2019. Effective January 13, 2014.
    • 78 FR 47496, August 05, 2013. Notice that NMFS has issued an Incidental Harassment Authorization to Shell Gulf of Mexico Inc. to take, by harassment, small numbers of 13 species of marine mammals incidental to a marine survey program in the Chukchi Sea during the 2013 Arctic open-water season. Effective July 1, 2013, through October 31, 2013.
    • 78 FR 35851, June 14, 2013. NMFS has received an application from SAExploration, Inc. for an Incidental Harassment Authorization to take marine mammals, by harassment only, incidental to a marine 3-dimensional ocean bottom cable seismic surveys program in the state and federal waters of the Beaufort Sea, Alaska. Comment period through July 15, 2013.
    • 78 FR 28412, May 14, 2013. Notice that NMFS has received an application from Shell Gulf of Mexico Inc. for an Incidental Harassment Authorization to take marine mammals, by harassment only, incidental to a marine surveys program in the Chukchi Sea, Alaska, during the open water season of 2013. Comment period through June 13, 2013.
    • 78 FR 12542, February 22, 2013. NMFS received an application from ConocoPhillips Company for an Incidental Harassment Authorization to take marine mammals, by harassment, incidental to offshore exploration drilling on Outer Continental Shelf leases in the Chukchi Sea, Alaska. Comment period through March 25, 2013.
    • 77 FR 65060, October 24, 2012. NMFS has issued an Incidental Harassment Authorization to ION Geophysical to take, by harassment, small numbers of nine species of marine mammals incidental to in-ice marine seismic surveys in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas, Alaska, during the fall and winter of 2012. Effective October 17, 2011, through December 15, 2012.
    • 77 FR 49922, August 17, 2012. NMFS received an application from ION Geophysical for an Incidental Harassment Authorization to take marine mammals, by harassment only, incidental to a proposed marine seismic survey in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas, Alaska, between October and December 2012. Comment period through September 17, 2012.
    • 77 FR 40007, July 06, 2012. NMFS has issued an Incidental Harassment Authorization to BP Exploration, Inc. to take, by harassment, small numbers of 10 species of marine mammals incidental to ocean bottom cable seismic surveys in the Simpson Lagoon area of the Beaufort Sea, Alaska, during the 2012 Arctic open-water season. Effective July 1, 2011 through October 15, 2012.
    • 77 FR 27322, May 9, 2012. Notice that NMFS has issued an Incidental Harassment Authorization to Shell Gulf of Mexico Inc. to take marine mammals, by harassment, incidental to offshore exploration drilling on Outer Continental Shelf leases in the Chukchi Sea, Alaska. Effective July 1, 2012, through October 31, 2012.
    • 77 FR 27284, May 9, 2012. Notice that NMFS has issued an Incidental Harassment Authorization to Shell Offshore Inc. to take marine mammals, by harassment, incidental to offshore exploration drilling on Outer Continental Shelf leases in the Beaufort Sea, Alaska. Effective July 1, 2012, through October 31, 2012.
      • News Release: NOAA issues science-based measures to protect marine mammals during Shell's proposed oil and gas exploratory programs in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas
      • Incidental Harassment Authorization, Shell's Application and NMFS' Environmental Assesment
      • 77 FR 11492, February 27, 2012. Notice of availability of the "Draft Environmental Assessment for the Issuance of Incidental Harassment Authorizations for the Take of Marine Mammals by Harassment Incidental to Conducting Exploratory Drilling Programs in the U.S. Beaufort and Chukchi Seas." Comment period through March 28, 2012.
      • 76 FR 69958, November 9, 2011. Notice of an application from Shell Offshore Inc. for an Incidental Harassment Authorization to take marine mammals, by harassment, incidental to offshore exploration drilling on Outer Continental Shelf leases in the Chukchi Sea, Alaska. Comment period through December 9, 2011.
      • 76 FR 68974, November 9, 2011. Notice of an application from Shell Offshore Inc. for an Incidental Harassment Authorization to take marine mammals, by harassment, incidental to offshore exploration drilling on Outer Continental Shelf leases in the Beaufort Sea, Alaska. Comment period through December 7, 2011.
  • 2011 Study plan for the Environmental Studies Program in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas to provide to COP, Shell, and Statoil baseline information about the marine environment in their respective lease areas
  • 76 FR 46729, August 3, 2011. Notice that NMFS has issued an Incidental Harassment Authorization to Statoil USA E&P Inc. to take, by harassment, small numbers of 13 species of marine mammals incidental to shallow hazards and geotechnical surveys in the Chukchi Sea during the 2011 Arctic open-water season. Effective August 1 - November 30, 2011.
  • 76 FR 39706, July 6, 2011. Notice of a request from BP Exploration Inc. for authorization for the take of marine mammals incidental to operation of offshore oil and gas facilities in the U.S. Beaufort Sea, Alaska, for the period 20112016. Comment period through August 5, 2011.
  • 76 FR 30110, May 24, 2011. Notice of an application from Statoil USA E&P Inc. for an Incidental Harassment Authorization to take marine mammals, by harassment, incidental to a proposed open water shallow hazards survey in the Chukchi Sea, Alaska, between July through November 2011. Comment period through June 23, 2011.
  • 75 FR 49710, August 13, 2010. Notice of an issuance of an IHA to Shell Offshore Inc. to take, by harassment, small numbers of 8 species of marine mammals incidental to a marine survey program in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas, Alaska. Effective August 6 through November 30, 2010.
  • 75 FR 27708, May 18, 2010. Notice of receipt of an application from Shell Offshore Inc. for an Incidental Harassment Authorization to take marine mammals, by harassment, incidental to a proposed open water marine survey program in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas, Alaska, between July and October 2010. Comment period through June 17, 2010.
  • 75 FR 25730, May 7, 2010. Notice of an application from Shell Offshore Inc. for an Incidental Harassment Authorization to take marine mammals, by harassment, incidental to offshore exploration drilling on Outer Continental Shelf leases in the Chukchi Sea, Alaska. Comments and information must be received no later than June 7, 2010. E-mail comments must be sent to: PR1.0648-XW14@noaa.gov.
  • 75 FR 20482, April 19, 2010. Notice of application from Shell Offshore Inc. for an Incidental Harassment Authorization to take marine mammals, by harassment, incidental to offshore exploration drilling on Outer Continental Shelf leases in the Beaufort Sea, Alaska. Comments and information must be received no later than May 19, 2010.
  • 75 FR 12734, March 17, 2010. Notice of receipt of a request from BP Exploration Inc. for authorization for the take of marine mammals incidental to operation of offshore oil and gas facilities in the U.S. Beaufort Sea, AK, for the period April 2011 April 2016. Pursuant to the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), NMFS is announcing receipt of BPs request for the development and implementation of new 5-year regulations governing the incidental taking of marine mammals and inviting information, suggestions, and comments on BPs application and request. Comments and information must be received no later than April 16, 2010.
  • 74 FR 55539, October 28, 2009. Notice of NMFS and Minerals Management Service's withdrawl of their intent to prepare a Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement on proposed geophysical exploration using seismic surveys in the waters of the Chukchi and Beaufort seas. Effective October 28, 2009.
  • 74 FR 55368, October 27, 2009. Notice of issuance of an Incidental Harassment Authorization to Shell Offshore Inc. and Shell Gulf of Mexico Inc. in the Chukchi Sea, Alaska. Effective August 19, 2009, through August 18, 2010.
  • 74 FR 31011, June 29, 2009. Notice is hereby given that NMFS has issued a letter of authorization to BP Exploration, Inc. to take marine mammals incidental to the production of offshore oil and gas at the Northstar development in the Beaufort Sea off Alaska. Authorization is effective from July 7, 2009, through July 6, 2010.
  • 74 FR 26217, June 1, 2009. Notice of receipt of an application from Shell for an Incidental Harassment Authorization to take marine mammals incidental to an openwater marine survey program in the Chukchi Sea. Comment period through July 1, 2009.
  • 74 FR 7589, February 18, 2009. Notice is hereby given that CGGVeritas Land, Inc. (Veritas) has withdrawn its application for an Incidental Harassment Authorization (IHA).
  • 73 FR 77623, December 19, 2008. Notice of receipt of an application from CGGVeritas for an Incidental Harassment Authorization to take small numbers of marine mammals, by Level B harassment, incidental to conducting an on-ice marine geophysical research and seismic survey in the U.S. Beaufort Sea. Comment period through January 20, 2009.
  • 73 FR 66106, November 6, 2008. Notice of issuance of an IHA to take small numbers of marine mammals, by harassment, incidental to conducting a marine geophysical program, including deep seismic surveys, on oil and gas lease blocks located in the Beaufort Sea and in the Northern Chukchi Sea, has been issued to Shell Offshore, Inc. and WesternGeco. Effective from August 19, 2008 through August 18, 2009.
  • 73 FR 49421, August 21, 2008. Notice that an Incidental Harassment Authorization to take marine mammals, by Level B harassment, incidental to conducting open water shallow hazard and site clearance surveys by ConocoPhillips Alaska, Inc. (CPAI) in the Chukchi Sea has been issued.
  • 73 FR 46774, August 11, 2008. Notice of an Incidental Harassment Authorization to take marine mammals, by Level-B harassment, incidental to conducting open water shallow hazard and site clearance surveys by ASRC Energy Service in the Chukchi Sea.
  • 73 FR 45969, August 7, 2008. Notice that NMFS has issued an Incidental Harassment Authorization to PGS Onshore, Inc. to take, by harassment, small numbers of six species of marine mammals incidental to an exploratory 3D marine seismic survey in the Beaufort Sea, Alaska. Effective July 30, 2008, through July 29, 2009.
  • Federal district court decision to uphold NOAA's issuance of an incidental harassment authorization to Shell Offshore, Inc., July 2008
  • Endangered Species Act Section 7 Consultation Biological Opinion on Oil and Gas Leasing and Exploration Activities in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas, Alaska, and Authorization of Small Takes Under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, July 2008
  • 73 FR 40512, July 15, 2008. Notice of issuance of an IHA to BP Exploration, Inc. to take, by harassment, small numbers of six species of marine mammals incidental to a 3D, ocean bottom cable (OBC) seismic survey in the Liberty Prospect, Beaufort Sea, Alaska during July and August, 2008. Effective July 8, 2008, through August 25, 2008.
  • 73 FR 38990, July 8, 2008. Notice of issuance of a letter of authorization to BP Exploration, Inc. to take marine mammals incidental to the production of offshore oil and gas at the Northstar development in the Beaufort Sea off Alaska. Effective from July 7, 2008, through July 6, 2009.
  • 73 FR 36044, June 25, 2008. Notice of receipt of an application from Shell Offshore, Inc. and its contractor WesternGeco for an Incidental Harassment Authorization (IHA) to take small numbers of marine mammals, by harassment, incidental to conducting marine geophysical programs, including deep seismic surveys, on oil and gas lease blocks located on Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) waters in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas. Comment period through July 25, 2008.
  • 73 FR 31816, June 4, 2008. Notice of receipt of application from Shell Offshore, Inc. for an Incidental Harassment Authorization to take small numbers of marine mammals, by harassment in the Beaufort Sea off Alaska. Comment period through July 7, 2008.
  • 72 FR 36427, July 3, 2007. Notice of extension of comment period for the Draft Programmatic EIS for Seismic Surveys in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas. Comment period extended until July 30, 2007.
  • 72 FR 33221, June 15, 2007. Notice of Availability the Final EIS for the Chukchi Sea Planning Area Oil and Gas lease Sale 193 and Seismic Surveying activities in the Chukchi Sea. Wait period ends July 16, 2007.
  • 72 FR 26788, May 11, 2007. Notice of extension of comment period on the Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for Seismic Surveys in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas. Comment period through June 29, 2007.
  • 72 FR 17117, April 6, 2007. Notice of Availability of a Draft Programmatic EIS for Seismic Surveys in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas. Comment period through May 14, 2007.
  • Shell Offshore, Inc. Open Water Exploration and Appraisal Drilling Program (external link)
  • Endangered Species Act Section 7 Consultation Biological Opinion on Oil and Gas Leasing and Exploration Activities in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas, Alaska, and Authorization of Small Takes Under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, June 2006


bowhead whales
Bowhead whales. Photo: Kristin Laidre, American Cetacean Society ©

Additional Information


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