NMFS Seeks Comment on Navy Take Regulations for Gulf of Alaska
On October 19, 2010, the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service published Federal Register notice that NMFS has received a request from the U.S. Navy for authorization to take marine mammals incidental to training activities conducted in the Gulf of Alaska Temporary Maritime Activities Area. This Take authorization would be issued under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. It would be effective for the period December 2010 through December 2015. NMFS'
Federal Register notice proposes regulations to govern this Take and requests information, suggestions, and comments on NMFS' proposed regulations.
Specifically, NMFS seeks public comment recommending effective, regionally specific methods for augmenting existing marine mammal density, distribution, and abundance information in the GoA TMAA. NMFS also seeks comment on how to prioritize the specific density and distribution data needs in the area (species, time of year, etc.). This information will ensure the design of the most effective Monitoring Plan with the resources available.
Comments and information must be received by NMFS no later than November 18, 2010.
A copy of the Navy's Take application, as well as the draft Monitoring Plan and the draft Stranding Response Plan for GoA TMAA, may be obtained on the internet at: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental.htm#applications. The Navy's Draft Environmental Impact Statement for GoA TMAA was published on December 11, 2009
and may be viewed at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental.htm#applications. NMFS participates in the development of the Navy's EIS as a cooperating agency under NEPA.
The Navy's training activities that are covered by this Take authorization are classified as military readiness activities under the provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2004. These military readiness activities may incidentally take marine mammals within the TMAA by exposing them to sound from mid-frequency or high-frequency active sonar or underwater detonations. The Navy requests authorization to take individuals of 20 species of cetaceans and pinnipeds by Level B Harassment. Although it does not anticipate that it will occur, the Navy also requests authorization to take, by injury or mortality, up to 15 individual beaked whales (of any of the following species: Baird's beaked whale, Cuvier's beaked whale, Stejneger's beaked whale) over the course of the 5-year regulations.
Click here to read NMFS' Federal Register notice