The U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service has issued four 1-year Letters of Authorization to the U.S. Navy to take marine mammals by harassment incidental to their military readiness activities associated with the routine training, testing, and military operations of Surveillance Towed Array Sensor System Low Frequency Active sonar within the northwest Pacific Ocean and the north-central Pacific Ocean. These Authorizations are effective from August 15, 2014, through August 14, 2015.
NMFS’ Federal Register notice states that the Service
“Intend[s] to evaluate new information relating to several areas for potential consideration as OBIAs [offshore biologically important areas] for mysticetes and/or sperm whales before the Navy submits their 2015 renewal request for Authorizations under the Final Rule. All of these areas fall outside the areas in which the Navy may operate under the 2014 Authorizations. Our evaluation will include the following areas:
Atlantic Ocean: southeast shoal-Grand Banks, Canada; Grand Manan Basin Right Whale Conservation Area, Canada; Jordan Basin-Gulf of Maine, U.S.; Challenger Bank, Bermuda; and nearshore waters offshore New Jersey, U.S.
Gulf of Mexico: areas in the eastern Gulf of Mexico, U.S.; Mississippi and DeSoto Canyons, U.S.
Indian Ocean: Masira Bay, Oman and the Geyser-Zelee Complex, Madagascar.
North Sea: Dogger Bank, Germany.
Mediterranean Sea: central Tyrrhenian Sea and areas in the northern Mediterranean Sea.
Pacific Ocean: South Taranaki Bight, New Zealand; the Coral Sea Commonwealth Marine Reserve, Australia; and the proposed expanded areas of the Gulf of the Farallones and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuaries, U.S.”
Click here to read NMFS’ Federal Register notice of these Navy LHAs.