CSA Ocean Sciences Inc. supports a number of federal agencies responsible for protecting U.S. natural resources, including the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Additionally, CSA has also provided significant support to the Department of Defense.
Using an extensive range of skills and methodologies across aquatic environments, services provided to federal agencies include the following:
- NEPA compliant document preparation
- Ecological survey, assessment, and interpretation
- Protected species studies
- Expert witness testimony
- Habitat management plans
- Information transfer workshops
- Evaluation of habitats and ecosystems
- Habitat mitigation and restoration
- Environment and habitat protection measures
- Sampling design and associated marine survey equipment
- Water quality impact monitoring
- Permit compliance monitoring
- GeoPortal services, geographic/geophysical process modeling, and spatial data management
- Monitoring plan design and compliance
Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM)
A prominent area under which CSA assists these federal agencies is within the context of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). NEPA requires that federal agencies integrate environmental and human health and welfare values into their decision-making processes by evaluating the environmental impacts of an agency’s proposed actions, and reasonable alternatives to those actions. To meet NEPA policy requirements, the agency prepares a detailed evaluation and statement through the development of Environmental Assessments (EAs) and Environmental Impact Statements (EISs).
CSA has significant experience and expertise in assisting federal agencies in successfully preparing the required NEPA documentation. Notably, CSA has successfully conducted more than 30 large-scale studies for BOEM (formerly the U.S. Mineral Management Service) since the 1980s. CSA possesses extensive experience with and understanding of BOEM’s approach to many areas of the agency’s focus, including impact assessment and large-scale data synthesis. Recently, CSA was an integral team member in the development of the EcoSpatial Information Database (ESID) for the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf (OCS); developed the Programmatic Environmental Assessment (EA) for geological and geophysical (G&G) activities in the Gulf of Mexico; and developed the Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) for G&G activities in the Atlantic. We are currently developing the PEIS for G&G activities in the Gulf of Mexico as well as the PEIS for BOEM’s Five-Year Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Oil and Gas Leasing Program, which includes additional OCS leasing program support. CSA has extensive experience with the assessment of impact-producing factors and understands BOEM’s mission under NEPA.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE)
CSA supports the USACE, most often as an integral team member on a variety of projects. USACE projects have included a significant number of beach nourishment projects, particularly on Florida’s east coast, for which CSA provides in-field diving expertise and equipment to document potential impacts to hardbottom and seagrass communities. Projects also include maintenance dredging of federal navigation channels for which CSA provides preliminary planning support (including in-field mapping of sensitive benthic resources to note potential impacts); successful transplantation of sensitive benthic resources such as corals, sponges, and seagrasses to avoid impacts; and Marine Mammal Observer (MMO) support, to identify and minimize impacts to marine mammals and sea turtles that are potentially present in the dredging area, or to document impacts properly when they occur. CSA also supports the USACE with sand source studies as part of their ongoing beach nourishment efforts.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
CSA supports the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), particularly in some of NOAA’s marine protected areas (MPAs), including the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Projects have included assistance with a number of coral and seagrass restoration efforts associated with vessel groundings, as well as broader-scale mapping efforts of various reef fish habitats covering the eastern Gulf of Mexico.
Recently, CSA provided technical and scientific support to an interagency study sponsored by the National Oceanographic Partnership Program (NOPP) that included NOAA, BOEM, and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) focused on the exploration and investigation of deepwater biological communities, oceanographic processes, and archaeological sites (shipwreck sites and possible prehistoric sites) within and near four submarine canyons off the coasts of Virginia and Maryland.