Daily Rules, Proposed Rules, and Notices of the Federal Government
Section 101(a)(5)(A) of the MMPA (16 U.S.C. 1361
Authorization may be granted for periods of 5 years or less if NMFS finds that the taking will have a negligible impact on the species or stock(s), and will not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of the species or stock(s) for certain subsistence uses. In addition, NMFS must prescribe regulations that include permissible methods of taking and other means effecting the least practicable adverse impact on the species and its habitat, and on the availability of the species for subsistence uses, paying particular attention to rookeries, mating grounds, and areas of similar significance. The regulations also must include requirements pertaining to the monitoring and reporting of such taking.
Regulations governing the taking of marine mammals incidental to the U.S. Navy's operation of SURTASS LFA sonar were effective on August 15, 2012 (77 FR 50290, August 20, 2012) and remain in effect through August 15, 2017. They are codified at 50 CFR part 218 subpart X. These regulations include mitigation, monitoring, and reporting requirements for the incidental taking of marine mammals by the SURTASS LFA sonar system. For detailed information on this action, please refer to the August 20, 2012
NMFS received an application from the U.S. Navy for four LOAs, one covering the USNS VICTORIOUS (T-AGOS 19), one covering the USNS ABLE (T-AGOS 20), one covering the USNS EFFECTIVE (T-AGOS 21), and one covering the USNS IMPECCABLE (T-AGOS 23), under the regulations effective on August 15, 2012 (77 FR 50290, August 20, 2012). The Navy requested that these LOAs become effective on August 15, 2012. The application requested authorization, for a period not to exceed one year, to take, by harassment, marine mammals incidental to employment of the SURTASS LFA sonar system for training, testing and routine military operations on the aforementioned ships in areas of the Pacific Ocean, as described in the 2012 regulations.
In compliance with NMFS' 2007 SURTASS LFA sonar regulations which expired on August 15, 2007, the Navy submitted a comprehensive report on SURTASS LFA sonar operations and the mitigation and monitoring activities conducted under the LOAs issued under its previous rule for the 2007 through 2012 period. A copy of this report can be viewed and/or downloaded at:
In accordance with the current SURTASS LFA sonar regulations (50 CFR 218.230), the Navy must submit quarterly mitigation monitoring reports; annual reports; and a 5-year comprehensive report. Under the previous two rulemakings, the Navy has not exceeded the take authorized by NMFS. Upon receipt, NMFS will post this annual report at
NMFS has issued four LOAs to the U.S. Navy, authorizing the incidental harassment of marine mammals, incidental to operating the four SURTASS LFA sonar systems for routine training, testing and use during military operations. Issuance of these four LOAs is based on findings, described in the preamble to the final rule (77 FR 50290, August 20, 2012) and supported by information contained in the Navy's required reports on SURTASS LFA sonar, that the activities described under these four LOAs will have no more than a negligible impact on marine mammal stocks and will not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of the affected marine mammal stocks for subsistence uses.
These LOAs remain valid through August 14, 2013, provided the Navy remains in conformance with the conditions of the regulations and the LOAs, and the mitigation, monitoring, and reporting requirements described in 50 CFR 218.230 through 218.241 (77 FR 50290, August 20, 2012) and in the LOAs are undertaken.