WASHINGTON (CN) – Endangered Steller sea lions and harbor seals will face noise and possible death or injury from falling missile parts, as the National Marine Fisheries Service proposes to extend its authorization for incidental harm of marine mammals from space vehicle and missile launches from Kodiak Island, Alaska.
The agency previously authorized incidental harm of marine mammals as the result of launch activities from the Kodiak Launch Complex in 2006, and that authorization ends in 2011. The proposed extension would expire in 2016.
The Alaska Aerospace Corporation operates the 3,717 acre facility on state-owned lands on the Narrow Cape Peninsula on the eastern side of Kodiak Island, approximately 22 miles from the city of Kodiak.
Stellar sea lions and harbor seals use haul out sites on Ugak Island, which lies approximately four miles southeast of the Kodiak Island facility’s launch pads.
The facility has the capacity to do between nine and 12 launches a year depending on meteorological conditions and demand. No marine mammals are known to have been killed under the previous authorization letter.