• NMFS Seeks Comments on Marine Mammal Monitoring Results and

    On January 26, 2011, the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service published Federal Register notice that NMFS has 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 Atlantic Fleet Active Sonar Training Study Area for the period of January 22, 2011, through January 21, 2012. This LOA is issued under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

    In the same Federal Register notice, NMFS provides notice that the Integrated Comprehensive Management Program Plan, which is intended for use as a planning tool to focus Navy monitoring priorities pursuant to the MMPA and Endangered Species Act, has been updated for 2010. In addition to providing other information, NMFS’ Federal Register notice summarizes the results of the Navy’s visual monitoring and passive acoustic monitoring for marine mammals within safety zones around sound source vessels. NMFS encourages the public to review this summary and the underlying document, and provide comments, information, and suggestions on the ICMP Plan.

    Comments and information on the ICMP Plan must be received no later than February 28, 2011.

    In the same Federal Register Notice, NMFS also announced that it is conducting important work- shops on cetacean mammal “‘hot spots'” and interrelated issues about marine mammals and sound in the oceans. NMFS’ Federal Register notice explains:

    In a January 19, 2010 letter to the Council on Environmental Quality, NOAA identified the need for two interrelated workshops on marine mammals and sound in the ocean. To address this commitment, NOAA is convening two parallel, focused, relatively small, and product-driven working groups. One will identify and map cetacean ‘hot spots”, defined as areas of known, or reasonably predictable, biological importance (i.e., for reproduction, feeding, migration) and/or high densities. The second working group will be directed toward developing a comprehensive data collection and analysis plan for describing and predicting underwater sound fields in different areas. The outcomes of these working groups will be integrated and analyzed in a broader symposium to include a larger audience of scientists, industries, Federal agencies, conservation managers, and environmental non-governmental organizations. The final products and analyses will provide a more robust, comprehensive, and context-specific biological and acoustic basis by which to inform subsequent management decisions regarding human-generated noise in our oceans. The steering committee has been convened and met for the first time in October, 2010. The working group efforts should take about a year to complete, and we expect the final symposium to be held in early 2012. The results of these working groups will be analyzed by NMFS in an adaptive management context, as related to the AFAST final rule (74 FR 4844, January 27, 2009), and mitigation or monitoring measures may be modified, as appropriate.

    Click here to read NMFS’ Federal Register notice

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