Marine Mammal Protection Act

The Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) protects all marine mammals. The MMPA prohibits, with certain exceptions, the hunting, harassment or killing of marine mammals, or attempting to do so, in U.S. waters. Exceptions to the moratorium can be made through permitting actions for incidental take. You must consider potential impacts of project activities and operation on marine mammals for all Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) projects involving marine waters, as well as the Columbia River up to Bonneville Dam.

Compliance with the MMPA

If a WSDOT project will impact marine mammals, a request for incidental harassment authorization may be required from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries. The issuance of incidental harassment authorizations under the MMPA is a federal action that requires NOAA Fisheries to make determinations under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and possibly Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). For instructions on complying with NEPA and ESA, go to:

Additional references

The NOAA Fisheries Marine Mammal ESA Section 7 Consultation Tools explain the relationship between the ESA and the MMPA, the effects of noise on marine mammals, sound threshold guidance, and other related topics. In 2016, NOAA Fisheries introduced revised marine mammal acoustical technical guidance.