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The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Ocean Service (NOS) is the country’s leading authority on a wide variety of marine sciences, including hydrography; shoreline mapping; nautical charting; and water level, tides, and currents measurement.

Learn more about the NOS NEPA process for surveying and mapping activities, including compliance with other environmental regulations and executive orders.

NOS has prepared a Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS), in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), to analyze the potential environmental impacts associated with NOS recurring surveys and other related data collection throughout the U.S. and its territories. Data obtained from these projects are needed to produce charts and maps that are relied upon by mariners, scientists, shipping and fishing industries, and countless other users in the U.S. and beyond. The Proposed Action for the Final PEIS is to perform a wide variety of data collection field activities, including hydrographic surveys and habitat surveys (performed from crewed vessels or remotely-operated or autonomous vehicles), and to install tide gauges and other instruments and equipment. Field work may be performed by field crews from NOS program offices, other NOAA personnel on behalf of NOS, contractors, grantees, or permit/authorization holders.

Map of the action area five regions

Purpose and Need

The purpose of the Proposed Action is to gather accurate and timely data on the marine and coastal environment. The need for the Proposed Action is to provide the public and private sectors with nautical charts, benthic habitat condition maps, current and tide charts, and other products necessary to ensure safe navigation, economic security, and environmental sustainability. Select a topic below to learn more about each of these key components.

NOAA has identified 500,000 square nautical miles as “navigationally-significant waters” which are in greatest need of modern surveying. NOS uses survey data to create products that support safe navigation for commercial shipping, the fishing industry, recreational boaters, and military and government functions such as law enforcement.

Shipping on the nation’s network of coastal waterways, navigable channels, ports, and marine terminals is a primary mode of moving goods around the country and connects the U.S. to the global marketplace. Port authorities, mariners, and coastal communities depend on accurate navigational information provided by NOS to make informed decisions that support the U.S. economy.

NOS coastal and marine data also support ecosystem stewardship. Survey data enable marine resource managers to conserve, preserve, and restore ecological resources, including critical habitat for endangered seabirds, coral, fish, sea turtle, and marine mammal species.


Scope refers to both the geographic and temporal range of the Proposed Action. Geographic scope is the spatial extent of the areas potentially affected by the Proposed Action. Temporal scope is the timeframe over which the Proposed Action is evaluated. NOS determined the scope of this document on the basis of the current extent of NOS project work and the ability of NOS program offices to reliably predict their future level of activity.

The geographic scope is the “action area” for this Final PEIS. The “action area” encompasses the U.S. territorial sea; the contiguous zone; the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone; rivers; states’ offshore waters; and coastal and riparian lands for projects such as the installation, maintenance, and removal of tide gauges. This includes the U.S. portions of the Great Lakes and internal waters such as Lakes Tahoe, Mead, Champlain, Okeechobee, and parts of major rivers. The action area is organized into five regions: Greater Atlantic Region, Southeast Region, West Coast Region, Alaska Region, and Pacific Islands Region.

Map of the action area five regions

This illustration shows the five regions of U.S. waters that make up the "action area" for this proposed action.

The temporal scope of the Proposed Action covers a time period of five years, 2023 through 2027. As with any planning process, the confidence with which an agency can foresee and evaluate its actions, and the environmental effects of those actions, decreases at longer time intervals. Changes in spending levels, the environment, the data needs of the public, and technologies and field methods available to NOS can all change how surveying projects are executed. For the purposes of this Final PEIS, a specific project could take place at any time of year.

Consistent with Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) guidance that “[NEPA documents] that are more than five years old should be carefully reexamined to determine if the criteria in Section 1502.9 compel preparation of a [NEPA] supplement.” NOS intends to reevaluate the Final PEIS to determine if the analysis contained within remains sufficient, or if new analysis is required. If necessary, this new analysis may take the form of a supplemental PEIS, a new PEIS, or more extensive project-level analysis.

four images in collage showing different NOAA vessels

NOS Surveying and Mapping Activities

NOS surveying and mapping activities use a variety of equipment and technologies to gather accurate and timely data on the nature and condition of the marine and coastal environment, including:

  • Crewed Vessel Operations
  • Anchoring
  • Operation of Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs), Uncrewed Surface Vehicles (USVs), and Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs)
  • Use of Echo Sounders
  • Use of Acoustic Doppler Current Profilers (ADCPs)
  • Use of Acoustic Communication Systems
  • Use of Sound Speed Data Collection Equipment
  • Operation of Drop/Towed Cameras and Magnetometers
  • Collection of Bottom Grab Samples
  • Use of Passive Listening Systems
  • SCUBA Operations
  • Installation, Maintenance, and Removal of Tide Gauges
  • Installation of GPS Reference Stations
Graphic of NOS surveying and mapping activities

NOS surveying and mapping activities | Transcript

Many of the NOS projects addressed in the Final PEIS include the use of underwater acoustic sound sources to perform surveys for nautical charts, underwater obstruction detection, marine debris identification and location, and benthic (sea floor) habitat characterization. Below is a short video that explains how a multibeam echo sounder and side scan sonar are used to perform a hydroacoustic survey.

A three-minute video about multibeam and side scan sonar, including a visualization that shows how sonar data is used to make products like nautical charts. | Download: Soundscapes

Fact Sheets

Learn more about the resources and impacts analyzed in the Final PEIS:

a nautical chart of Chesapeake Bay
graphic showing how sound moves in water and air
whales swimming
sea turtle
two ducks in water
colorful tropical fish and coral reef
underwater wreckage of airplane from WWII
sea ice in Arctic waters
native americans in canoe
Cliff at Greater Garallones
Two mantees
Coastal Zone
Coral Ecosystem

four images in collage showing different acoustics tools

Frequently Asked Questions

NOS is organized into eight program offices. Of the eight programs listed below, all but one (the National Geodetic Survey) perform activities that are addressed in the Final PEIS. Their responsibilities are as follows:
  • Office of Coast Survey (OCS) carries out NOAA’s surveying and charting responsibility in over 3 million square nautical miles (nm2) of U.S. waters. The program collects hydrographic data and creates and maintains nautical charts and other products to support safe navigation for commercial shipping, fishing, recreational boaters, and state and local governments.
  • Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services (CO-OPS) provides accurate, reliable, and timely water level, current, and other oceanographic measurements that support safe and efficient maritime commerce, sound coastal management, and recreation.
  • National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS) conducts and funds research in support of NOS core priorities of coastal change vulnerability, mitigation, and restoration; marine spatial ecology; stressor impacts and mitigation; and social science.
  • Office for Coastal Management (OCM) implements the Coastal Zone Management Act, the nation’s guiding legislation for keeping the natural environment, built environment, quality of life, and economic prosperity of our coastal areas in balance.
  • Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (ONMS) oversees the National Marine Sanctuary System, comprising 14 national marine sanctuaries and two marine national monuments. Together, these protected areas encompass more than 600,000 square miles of marine, riverine, and Great Lakes waters.
  • Office of Response and Restoration (ORR) provides expertise in preparing for, evaluating, and responding to threats to coastal environments, including oil and chemical spills, hazardous waste releases, and marine debris.
  • Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS) a national-regional partnership that provides observational coastal data, forecasts, and new tools to improve safety, enhance the economy, and protect the environment. IOOS provides integrated ocean information in near real time, as well as retrospectively, which improves NOAA’s ability to understand and predict coastal storms, wave heights, and sea level change.
  • Office of National Geodetic Survey (NGS) provides the nation with geodetic and geographic positioning services through a common reference framework, the National Spatial Reference System, for establishing the coordinate positions of all geographic and geospatial data.

Given the timing of the publication of the Final PEIS, the temporal scope has been reduced from six years (2022 to 2027) to five years (2023 to 2027); therefore, although the annual projections of survey efforts have not changed, the total survey effort was reduced. Projects undertaken by NOS in 2022 relied on existing NOS procedures.

The Final PEIS has been updated to include additional mitigation measures that NOS has developed to be implemented on each project as appropriate to minimize the impacts of project activities, including reducing impacts on sensitive species and subsistence hunting and fishing. The additional mitigation measures in the Final PEIS were developed with subject matter experts and in coordination with field crews and with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (ONMS). This list of mitigation measures is included as an appendix to the Final PEIS.

Additionally, NOS is committed to incorporating the best available information into the Final PEIS. The PEIS has been revised since the draft version was published in June 2021 to reflect feedback received through interagency coordination and consultation, stakeholder input, and public comments. A description of stakeholder input and public comments can be found in Section 1.5, Public Involvement, of the Final PEIS. NOS has included responses to all public comments in Appendix C.

This Final PEIS satisfies NOS requirements for transparent and informed decision making under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The Final PEIS covers NOS mapping and surveying projects operated by NOS field crews, other NOAA personnel on behalf of NOS and NOS contractors, grantees, or permit/authorization holders. Ocean mapping activities conducted by NOAA programs outside of NOS are covered under a separate NEPA process. Although other NOAA surveying and mapping projects are not evaluated in this Final PEIS, this document may serve as a useful reference for other NOAA Line Offices analyzing activities similar to those covered by the Final PEIS.

Federally recognized tribes have a critical role in helping NOS understand the unique aspects of subsistence hunting and fishing and cultural resources. NOS will initiate project-specific consultations under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (16 U.S.C. § 470(f)) before commencing any activity with the potential to affect cultural or historic resources and will contact tribes before undertaking projects in areas of interest to the tribe.

NOS is committed to ensuring the concerns raised by federally recognized tribes regarding NOS surveying and mapping activities during this process are heard, understood, and considered.

The term “sound” refers to vibrations which cause pressure changes that travel as a wave through a medium, such as air or water. Physical differences between air and water result in the same sound having different speed, pitch, and intensity.

In general, sound travels much faster and farther in water than in air. Sound travels faster in denser mediums; however, the density of seawater varies with the water’s salinity (salt concentration), temperature, and pressure (depth). On average, sound travels at about 1,500 meters per second (m/s) (3,500 miles per hour [mph]) in seawater compared to 340 m/s (760 mph) in air. The frequency, or pitch, of a sound impacts the distance the sound travels. In general, low frequency sounds travel farther than high frequency sounds. Some sounds, particularly low-frequency ones, can travel hundreds of kilometers underwater.

The intensity, or loudness, of a sound depends on both the sound and the medium in which the sound is traveling. Intensity is typically measured in decibels (dB), a relative unit on a logarithmic scale that compares the sound pressure to a reference pressure. The reference pressure is different for different mediums. In air, decibels use a reference pressure of 20 microPascals (μPa) such that they are scaled to the range of human hearing, so by definition, a 0 dB sound in air is the lowest limit of human hearing. Humans perceive a 10 dB increase as a doubling of loudness. In water, decibels are scaled using a reference pressure of 1 μPa. Since dB in air and dB in water use different reference pressures, sound intensity reported in dB in air is not the same as sound intensity reported in underwater dB (DOSITS, 2019). (Discovery of Sound in the Sea. 2019. University of Rhode Island and Inner Space Center, in partnership with the National Science Foundation, Office of Naval Research Science and Technology, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, URI Graduate School of Oceanography, and Marine Acoustics, Inc. Available online at: https://dosits.org.)

The ocean floor changes over time; therefore, accurate and updated survey data are critical to providing products that support safe navigation for commercial shipping, the fishing industry, recreational boaters, and military and government functions such as law enforcement.

As of 2020, only 43 percent of U.S. underwater territory had been mapped to modern standards. Coordination within the ocean and coastal mapping community is facilitated through the Interagency Working Group on Ocean and Coastal Mapping (IWG-OCM) under the National Ocean Council. In addition to NOAA, other federal agencies undertake or permit surveying and mapping projects for navigation, conservation, resource exploration, and other purposes, including the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), National Park Service (NPS), Naval Oceanographic Office (NAVO), United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), and United States Geological Survey (USGS).

Only 43 percent of U.S. oceans, coasts, and Great Lakes waters extending from shore to the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone limits have been mapped to modern standards. The depth, shape, and composition of the sea floor are foundational data elements that we need to understand in order to explore, sustainably develop, conserve, and manage our coastal and offshore ocean resources. NOS ocean mapping and surveying provides the public and private sectors with nautical charts, benthic habitat condition maps, current and tide charts, and other products necessary for safe navigation, economic security, and environmental sustainability.

The National Strategy for Mapping, Exploring and Characterizing the U.S. EEZ calls for interagency coordination for mapping, and developing and maturing science and technology for mapping. The PEIS satisfies NOS’s requirement to assess the environmental effects of its proposed actions prior to making decisions under NEPA. Additionally, the PEIS establishes an informed decision making process that will support streamlined compliance for NOS ocean mapping projects with other statutes protecting natural resources such as the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA). Because the PEIS provides analysis of the potential environmental impacts of a more widespread adoption of new techniques and technologies to more efficiently perform surveying, mapping, charting and related data gathering, NOS will be able to support the implementation strategy for exploration and characterization activities.

The eight NOS program officse plan surveying and mapping projects well in advance and inform the public through publications on their own websites. For example, each year OCS summarizes the coming year’s survey projects in an interactive story map.

Yes, NOS underwater active acoustic equipment is different from military sonar or seismic airguns.

Military sonar is primarily used for communication and detecting objects in the water requiring higher power acoustic equipment and at a variety of frequencies depending on the communication, detection, or imaging needs. The higher power increases the communication and detection range as well as improves signal processing. Low frequency may be used for long-range communication while higher frequency sonars may be used for better resolution in detection or imaging. Seismic airguns produce low-frequency, impulsive sounds (typically ~100 Hz) used to image geological strata beneath the seabed. Airguns are typically used in arrays to increase the overall sound energy to provide greater penetration and resolving power in seismic surveys. In contrast, NOS uses active acoustic equipment to generate images of underwater features such as the sea floor, benthic habitat, and marine debris. Most of the active acoustic equipment used by NOS operates at frequencies above 200 kHz, which is above the hearing frequency range of most marine species (e.g., marine mammals, sea turtles, fish, and aquatic macroinvertebrates). NOS acoustic equipment that operates below 200 kHz is lower power than military sonar. NOS uses this acoustic equipment to direct the sound energy downward using a narrow beam width to map the sea floor and sediment layers. The low frequency acoustic equipment used by NOS produces non-impulsive sounds of lower sound energy than seismic airgun arrays.

Therefore, NOS active acoustic equipment is considered less harmful to marine species than military sonar and seismic airguns because of the differences in equipment and uses.

The Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS)

five images in collage showing people involved in various maritime activities

NEPA Process

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires federal agencies to consider the environmental impacts of their proposed actions. To meet this requirement, federal agencies prepare a document analyzing the possible impacts of their proposed action and reasonable alternatives.

In December 2016, NOS published a Notice of Intent (NOI) to prepare a Programmatic Environmental Assessment (PEA). During preparation of the PEA, NOS decided the scope of the surveying and mapping program and the complexities of the analysis warranted a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS). A PEIS evaluates the consequences of broad proposals or planning-level decisions on the environment. An EIS is the most comprehensive of NEPA documents. A PEIS may include a wide range of individual projects, implementation over a long timeframe, and/or execution over a wide geographic area. The purpose of the NOS PEIS is to:

  • Inform NOS and the public on the physical, biological, economic, and social impacts of NOS mapping and surveying projects; and

  • Assist NOS in deciding how to execute its mapping and surveying program over the next five years.

A Notice of Availability (NOA) for the Draft PEIS was published in the Federal Register on June 25, 2021 to announce its publication for public review and comment. An extension of the public comment period was published in the Federal Register on August 24, 2021 to announce an additional 90-day public review and comment period, ending on November 22, 2021.

The PEIS evaluates three alternatives:

  1. The No Action Alternative (Alternative A), under which NOS would continue to gather accurate and timely data on the nature and condition of the marine and coastal environment, reflecting the technology, equipment, scope, and methods currently in use by NOS at the current level of effort (i.e., the status quo);

  2. Alternative B, under which NOS would increase the adoption of new technologies to more efficiently perform surveying, mapping, charting and related data gathering; and

  3. Alternative C, which also includes the adoption of new techniques and technologies and includes an overall funding increase of 20 percent.

Alternative B was selected as the “preferred alternative” because it reflects the most likely scenario for the level of activity needed to meet NOS mission requirements. Alternative B most accurately aligns with anticipated technological needs over the five-year time span based on current and anticipated agency priorities. NOS will make an official decision when the agency signs a Record of Decision (30 days after publication of the Final PEIS).

All environmental consequences from each of the alternatives are anticipated to be adverse, minor to moderate, and insignificant, except for the environmental consequences to socioeconomic resources which are expected to be indirect, beneficial, and moderate . The primary difference of impacts among the alternatives is one of scale, with the impacts from Alternative C the same or slightly, but not appreciably, larger than those under Alternatives A and B for each impact causing factor. Among these impacts, NOS identified the potential for acoustic disturbance to marine mammals as an area warranting detailed analysis. In the Final PEIS, NOS finds that, after conducting quantitative acoustic impacts modelling, that impacts on marine mammals under all alternatives are expected to be limited to minor behavioral disturbances that would be temporary or short-term and would not be considered outside the natural range of variability of species’ populations, their habitats, or the natural processes sustaining them.

The Summary Comparison of Impacts includes a comparison of the assessed environmental consequences associated with alternatives for the Proposed Action for resources analyzed in the Final PEIS.

A Notice of Availability (NOA) for the Final PEIS was published in the Federal Register on November 25, 2022.

The Record of Decision (ROD) for the Final PEIS was signed by the NOS Assistant Administrator on January 9, 2023 to conclude the NEPA process for this program. NOS selected Alternative B because it takes advantage of newer, more efficient technology, responds to the needs of anticipated new marine sanctuaries, and most efficiently addresses the nation’s needs for coastal and marine data, while reflecting a reasonably-foreseeable level of funding.

four images in collage showing various marine animals and birds

Other Compliance Requirements

Pursuant to 40 CFR 1502.24, NOS invited several agencies to participate as consulting agencies, including the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). Both agencies agreed to provide a comprehensive technical assistance review prior to publication of the Draft PEIS. In coordinating with NOS, NMFS and USFWS participated in multiple meetings and reviews during the development of the Draft PEIS.

NOS has, to the fullest extent possible, integrated the requirements of NEPA with all other applicable environmental review requirements. NOS initiated consultation efforts with the regulatory agencies to comply with the environmental regulations and executive orders listed in the table below.

NOS will continue to initiate project-specific consultations under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) before commencing any activity with the potential to affect cultural or historic resources.

Federal Agency



Consultation Initiation/Completion

Completed Consultations

National Marine Fisheries Service Office of Habitat Conservation

Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act Essential Fish Habitat

Essential Fish Habitat Assessment

Began June 2, 2022

Completed January 5, 2023

National Marine Fisheries Service Office of Protected Resources

Endangered Species Act

Biological Assessment (integrated into the Draft PEIS)

Began August 26, 2021

Completed December 14, 2022

Office of National Marine Sanctuaries

National Marine Sanctuaries Act

Sanctuary Resource Statement

Began June 1, 2022

Completed April 17, 2023

State and Territory Coastal Management Programs

Coastal Zone Management Act

Consistency Determination Letters

Began August 2022

Completed November 20231

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Endangered Species Act

Biological Assessment (integrated into the Draft PEIS)

Began August 21, 2021

Completed December 20, 2023

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Marine Mammal Protection Act

Incidental Take Regulation (ITR) Request

Began September 12, 2022

Completed April 1, 2024 (USFWS determination that no ITR is required)

Ongoing Consultations

National Marine Fisheries Service Office of Protected Resources

Marine Mammal Protection Act

Letter of Authorization Application

Began June 3, 2022


1 - The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) initially objected to the NOS determination that the surveying and mapping program was consistent to the maximum extent practicable with coastal policies because of the potential for marine mammals to be harassed by acoustic sources, such as echo sounders. However, this objection is preempted under Section 109(a) of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), 16 U.S.C. § 1379(a).

Environmental Regulations

Jurisdiction: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS)

The MMPA prohibits the “take” of marine mammals; take includes the harassment, hunting, capture, or killing of marine mammals. MMPA Section 101(a)(5)(A-D) provides a mechanism for allowing the incidental, not intentional, take of small numbers of marine mammals.

Under the MMPA, NMFS is responsible for the protection of whales, dolphins, porpoises, seals, and sea lions. For species under the jurisdiction of NMFS, incidental take authorizations may be issued as either: 1) regulations and associated Letters of Authorization (LOAs), or 2) Incidental Harassment Authorizations (IHAs). LOAs are available for actions with potential to result in serious injury or mortality. LOAs are issued by region and can be valid for up to 5 consecutive years. An IHA is also issued by region, can only be valid for 1 year, and is limited to authorizing take by harassment. NOS submitted an LOA Application to the NMFS Office of Protected Resources (OPR) for the Proposed Action. As part of the LOA process, NMFS will facilitate and request additional public input.

The USFWS has jurisdiction over walruses, manatees, sea otters, and polar bears under the MMPA. For these species, USFWS may issue an Incidental Take Regulation (ITR). ITRs can be issued for periods of up to 5 years and can cover all forms of incidental take. NOS submitted an ITR request to USFWS for the Proposed Action on September 12, 2022. On April 1, 2024, USFWS determined that the proposed NOS activities are not likely to result in incidental take, including incidental take in the form of harassment, of the marine mammals under USFWS jurisdiction, and no ITR is necessary. NOS will apply the proposed mitigation measures outlined in the ITR Request.

Jurisdiction: NMFS and USFWS

The ESA regulates the conservation of endangered or threatened species and their ecosystems. Under Section 7(a)(2), federal agencies must ensure that their actions are not likely to jeopardize ESA-listed species or damage designated critical habitat. Federal agencies must consult with USFWS and NMFS when an action may affect a protected species or critical habitat. The consultation process is initiated by the preparation of a Biological Assessment (BA).

The Draft PEIS also serves as a BA. NOS consulted with NMFS OPR and USFWS under Section 7 of the ESA. Through the ESA consultation process, NOS developed additional mitigation measures to minimize impacts to sensitive species; they have been incorporated into appropriate resource section analyses and are listed in Appendix D of the Final PEIS. For NOS projects proposed in freshwater, an ESA species list will be generated from the USFWS Information for Planning and Consultation (IPaC) report system. From this information, NOS will determine if any ESA-listed species are present in a proposed project area that have not already been addressed in the Final PEIS and therefore, not part of the programmatic ESA consultation. If any such species are identified, NOS will consider possible impacts to ESA-listed species in the context of that specific project. If appropriate, NOS will then initiate a Section 7 consultation with the appropriate USFWS field office(s).

Jurisdiction: NMFS

The MSA regulates marine fisheries management in U.S. federal waters and encourages the conservation and restoration of essential fish habitat (EFH) and resources. EFH refers to all waters and substrate necessary for fish for spawning, breeding, feeding, or growth to maturity. MSA Section 305(b) requires consultation on all actions, or Proposed Actions, authorized, funded, or undertaken by the agency that may adversely affect EFH. EFH consultation is managed by NMFS’s Office of Habitat Conservation. If adverse effects are anticipated, NMFS will recommend measures to avoid, minimize, or offset any adverse impacts associated with the activity to ensure no reduction in the quality or quantity of EFH occurs as a result of the proposed activity.

NOS submitted an EFH Assessment to NMFS’s Office of Habitat Conservation and received a final response from NMFS on November 1, 2022. Through the EFH consultation process, NOS developed additional mitigation measures to minimize impacts to sensitive species and habitats which have been incorporated into appropriate resource sections and are listed in Appendix D of the Final PEIS.

Jurisdiction: USFWS

The MBTA is the primary legislation in the U.S. established to conserve migratory birds and requires the protection of migratory birds and their habitats. It implements the U.S. commitment to four bilateral treaties or conventions with Canada, Japan, Mexico, and Russia for protection of a shared migratory bird resource. The MBTA prohibits, with certain exceptions, pursuing, hunting, taking, capturing, killing, or selling migratory birds or any part, nest, egg, or product of migratory birds. Migratory birds protected under the MBTA include those that are native to the U.S. which are listed in 50 CFR § 10.13.

The Final PEIS assesses the potential incidental effects of NOS activities on federally protected birds.

Jurisdiction: States and Territories

The CZMA encourages coastal states, Great Lakes states, and U.S. Territories and Commonwealths to proactively manage their coastal resources for the benefit of the state and the nation. Section 307 of the CZMA is known as the “federal consistency” provision and requires federal actions that affect any land or water use or natural resource of a state’s coastal zone to be consistent with the enforceable policies of the state coastal management program (CMP).

In August 2022, NOS initiated coordination for federal consistency with all coastal states and territories with approved CMPs pursuant to Section 307 of the CZMA. A Consistency Determination was sent to each coastal state and territory. The Determination evaluated the coastal effects of proposed activities according to the relevant enforceable policies to make a consistency determination under CZMA.

As of November 30, 2022, NOS completed coordination with the federal consistency provisions of Section 307 of the CZMA. Through the CZMA process, some states requested that NOS follow state-specific best management practices (BMPs) involving pre-survey notification and mitigation for any land disturbance. Where requested, NOS agreed to take these steps.

Jurisdiction: State Historic Preservation Officer/Tribal Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO/THPO)

The NHPA regulates the management of historic properties. NHPA Section 106 requires federal agencies to consider the effects of their actions on historic properties. Agencies must identify and consult with the appropriate SHPO/THPO if actions could affect historic properties. While NOS may consider developing a Programmatic Agreement (PA) for multiple undertakings in the future, currently NOS will initiate project-specific consultations under Section 106 of the NHPA before commencing any activity with the potential to affect cultural or historic resources. In addition to the NHPA, NOS invited tribes to consult after publication of the Draft PEIS pursuant to EO 13175, Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments. This EO ensures that all Executive departments and agencies consult with Indian tribes and respect tribal sovereignty as they develop policy on issues that impact Indian tribes.

Jurisdiction: Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (ONMS)

NMSA regulates the management of areas of the marine and Great Lakes environments. NMSA prohibits injury to national marine sanctuary resources such as biological and cultural resources. NMSA Section 304(d) requires consultation to be initiated by the submittal of a sanctuary resource statement (SRS) to ONMS that describes the potential effects of a proposed activity on sanctuary resources. NOS submitted a Sanctuary Resource Statement (SRS) for consultation with ONMS that includes a programmatic-level evaluation of impacts from the NOS Preferred Alternative (Alternative B) on each sanctuary. The consultation was completed on April 17, 2023. In the course of the consultation, ONMS and NOS agreed to a suite of mitigation measures to protect sanctuary resources. In addition, NOS will coordinate with ONMS, as appropriate, to determine whether any ONMS permit or authorization is required for a project. NOS will always notify ONMS when a project is being conducted in or near a sanctuary.

four images in collage showing native art on rock, seabirds, marsh, polar bear

Executive Orders

Infographic Transcript: NOS surveying and mapping activities

This graphic depicts a coastal waterway and shows many of the various surveying and mapping tools or activities used within U.S. waterways, to include:

  • Continuously operating reference stations
  • Water Quality Monitoring
  • Buoys: Ocean chemistry, wave sensors, water temperature gauge, meteorological sensors, harmful algal bloom monitoring
  • ATON mounted acoustic doppler current profiler; bottom mounted acoustic doppler current profiler
  • Single beam sonar, multibeam sonar
  • Glider or autonomous underwater vehicle