Whale tracking responses due

Responses to a presolicitation notice for satellite tracking of endangered bowhead whales are due by June 8.

The Interior Department's Minerals Management Service intends to award a sole-source, four-year contract to the Alaska Fish and Game Department for obtaining research permits, tagging bowhead whales with satellite transmitters and monitoring the whales' movements. Fish and Game principal investigators Lori Quakenbush and Robert Small would collaborate with the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission, Alaska native subsistence whalers and the North Slope Borough’s Wildlife Management Department.

Government officials want to learn more about the whales' migration routes, timing and speed, in part, to balance the population needs of both native subsistence whalers and federal agencies.

The thick-blubbered bowhead, known for its robust baleen, migrates annually between the Canadian Beaufort Sea and Bering Sea. Every spring, the Inupiat hunt them for food as the whales pass by Alaska's North Slope.

According to the notice, "the study must be highly coordinated among the above parties and have a strong public outreach component, so as to minimize the chance of any impacts on Alaska native subsistence activities taking place in the study area during the time of the study."

Quakenbush and Small are both marine mammal biologists with experience in satellite tracking technology and a long track record of cooperation with the North Slope bureau and Alaska native community.

Responses to the notice must show clear, compelling and convincing evidence that competition for the contract will be advantageous to the government.

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