NOAA strengthens marine mammal regulations on Navy training

Published: Dec. 20, 2018 at 8:13 AM AKST
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The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says it’s issued the most protective authorizations yet on Navy Training and Testing for its impacts on marine mammals in the U.S. Pacific.

The National Marine Fisheries Service says the final authorizations for the Navy’s Hawaii-Southern California Training and Testing activities are more protective and include a larger area than those in previous and proposed regulations. The authorization area does not include Alaska waters.

The NMFS evaluates the predicted effects of human activities on protected marine species through the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act. Some of the mitigation measures included in the authorizations are:

Shutting down when marine mammals are in the area;

Waiting for animals to leave the training range prior to use of in-water explosives, and monitoring of the area post-activity to detect potentially affected protected species;

Following protocols to reduce the likelihood of ships striking marine mammals;

Imposing operational limitations in certain areas and times that are biologically important, like reproduction, migration and foraging;

Implementing a notification and reporting plan for dead, stranded or struck animals.

“NOAA has been working with the Navy for more than ten years to understand the effects the Navy’s testing and training has on marine mammals and, over time, we have steadily increased the protections in place,” said Donna Weiting, director of NMFS’s office of protected resources in a news release.

The authorizations are expected to lessen the number of injuries to marine mammals, and will be in place until December 2023.