NMFS Issues Navy an LOA for the Marianna Islands
On August 15, 2011, the National Marine Fisheries Service published Federal Register notice that it's issued a letter of authorization to the U.S. Navy to take marine mammals incidental to Navy training, maintenance, and research, development, testing, and evaluation activities to be
conducted within the Mariana Islands Range Complex Study Area. This LOA is issued under the Marine Mammal Protection act. It is good for the period of August 12, 2011, through August 11, 2012.
NMFS' Federal Register notice contains an extensive discussion of prior Navy monitoring reports. The Navy submitted their classified and unclassified 2010 exercise reports within the required timeframes and the unclassified report is posted on NMFS' Web site: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental.htm. NMFS' notice says this about the Navy's 2010 exercises:
"During the Multi-Strike Group Exercise conducted in September, 2010,
no instances of obvious behavioral disturbance were reported by the Navy
watchstanders in their 10 marine mammal sightings totaling 39 animals. Furthermore,
safety zones were adhered to, and vessels and aircraft applied mitigation measures when marine mammals were observed within the requisite zones. There were two marine mammal sightings within 200 yards of a Mid-Frequency Active Sonar (MFAS)
source during this exercise. In both instances, the proper mitigation was conducted and
the source was shut down; no unusual behavior was observed."
The 2010 LOA required that the Navy update its Integrated Comprehensive Monitoring Plan to reflect development in three areas, specifically: (1) Identifying more specific monitoring sub-goals under the major goals that have been identified; (2) characterizing Navy Range Complexes and study areas within the context of the prioritization guidelines described in the ICMP Plan;
and (3) continuing to develop data management, organization and access procedures. The Navy's updated ICMP Plan is posted on the NMFS' Web site. To read it, click here and scroll down http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental.htm.
Click here to read NMFS' Federal Register notice