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Navy Requests LOA from NMFS for Takes Incidental to Undersea Warfare Training Range
The U.S. Navy has asked the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service to issue the Navy a Letter of Authorization under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. This LOA would authorize the Navy to take marine mammals incidental to creating an undersea warfare training range in a 1,713-square-kilometer area of the ocean. The area affected is offshore northern Florida in the Atlantic Ocean. The training in this area would include sonar use and the handling (launch and recovery) of exercise torpedoes (non-explosive) and submarine target simulators.

The Navy proposes a variety of marine mammal monitoring procedures both for mitigation and research. These measures include Tagging and passive acoustic monitoring. The tagging data will be used by the Navy to assess the marine mammal behavioral effects of anthropogenic sound:

    "Passive Acoustic Monitoring - Autonomous Acoustic Recorders (moored buoys), High Frequency Acoustic Recording Packages (HARPS), sonobuoys, passive acoustic towed arrays, shipboard passive sonar, and Navy Instrumented Acoustic Ranges can provide data on presence/absence as well as localization, identification and tracking in some cases. Passive acoustic observations are particularly important for species that are difficult to detect visually or when conditions limit the effectiveness of visual monitoring. The array of passive hydrophones at USWTR presents a relatively unique opportunity to take advantage of infrastructure that would otherwise not be available for monitoring such a large area. The Marine Mammal Monitoring on Navy Ranges (M3R) program takes advantage of this opportunity and may support long-term data collection at specific fixed sites.

    Tagging is an important tool for examining the movement patterns and diving behavior of cetaceans. Sensors can be used that measure location, swim velocity, orientation, vocalizations, as well as record received sound levels. Tagging with sophisticated digital acoustic recording tags (D-tags) may also allow direct monitoring of behaviors not readily apparent to surface observers. D-tags have recently been deployed as part of a behavioral response study (BRS-07) initiated at the Atlantic Undersea Test and Evaluation Center (AUTEC) range in the Bahamas to begin identifying behavioral mechanisms related to anthropogenic sound exposure."
There is currently no public comment period for this Navy LOA.
  • Click here to read the Navy LOA

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