ECO May 2015 : Page 25

Background Although a little ­ known feature of the northern Chukchi Shelf, Hanna Shoal captured national attention in late January when President Barack Obama announced the with ­ drawal of 9.8 million acres of Beaufort and Chukchi Sea seabed from future oil and gas lease sales. The announcement caught many by surprise since the withdrawals, including small areas of the Beaufort and a 25 ­ mi buffer along the Chukchi Coast, were already deferred from oil and gas leasing in the Department of Interior’s draft 5 ­ year plan, and this action added Hanna Shoal. The Hanna Shoal withdrawal is about 1.6 million acres, or some 300 lease blocks, located just north of Chukchi Sea Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Lease Sale 193 (Figure 1). Figure 1: The location of Hanna Shoal and stations occupied in the northeast Chukchi Sea during summers 2009, 2010, 2012, and 2013 for the COMIDA program in relation to oil and gas tracts from Lease Sale 193. Water depths are in meters. Graphic credit: Susan Schonberg and Tim Whiteaker. eco MAY 2015 25

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