Navy testing must limit impact on marine mammals

Published: Sunday, December 1, 2013 at 17:52 PM.

The National Marine Fisheries Services, also known as NOAA Fisheries, has determined that the effects of the Navy operations would have “negligible” impacts on the species involved overall.

“Based on that determination, NOAA Fisheries is requiring that the Navy use mitigation measures and, if properly followed, expects the exercises will not result in serious injury or death to a large number of marine mammals,” the release state.

The protective measures include establishing marine mammal mitigation zones around each vessel using sonar; using Navy observers to shut down operations if marine mammals are seen within designated mitigation zones; and using the zones to ensure no explosives are detonated when animals are detected within the zones; implementing a stranding response plan; and using specific measures for the North Atlantic right whale.

However, the release states, exposure to sonar and explosives in certain circumstances have been associated with stranding of some marine mammals and injury and death may occur despite these efforts.

The final rule allows for a small number of incidental injuries to marine mammals due to sonar, explosions and vessel strikes.

The rule also includes a component that requires that the Navy and NOAA Fisheries meet yearly to discuss new science, Navy research and development and Navy monitoring results to determine if modifications are required.

The final rule is posted online at nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental.htm#afft.



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