Daily Rules, Proposed Rules, and Notices of the Federal Government
An electronic copy of the Navy's application may be obtained by writing to the address specified above, telephoning the contact listed below (see
Sections 101(a)(5)(A) and (D) of the MMPA (16 U.S.C. 1361
Authorization for incidental takings shall be granted if NMFS finds that the taking will have a negligible impact on the species or stock(s), will not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of the species or stock(s) for subsistence uses (where relevant), and if the permissible methods of taking and requirements pertaining to the mitigation, monitoring and reporting of such takings are set forth. NMFS has defined “negligible impact” in 50 CFR 216.103 as “* * * an impact resulting from the specified activity that cannot be reasonably expected to, and is not reasonably likely to, adversely affect the species or stock through effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival.”
With respect to military readiness activities, the MMPA defines “harassment” as: “(i) any act that injures or has the significant potential to injure a marine mammal stock in the wild [Level A Harassment]; or (ii) any act that disturbs or is likely to disturb a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild by causing disruption of natural behavioral patterns, including, but not limited to, migration, surfacing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or sheltering, to a point where such behavioral patterns are abandoned or significantly altered [Level B Harassment].”
On April 13, 2012, NMFS received an application from the Navy requesting two letters of authorization (LOAs) for the take of 40 species of marine mammals incidental to Navy training and testing activities to be conducted in the AFTT Study Area over 5 years. The Navy requests a 5-year LOA for training activities and a 5-year LOA for testing activities, each proposed to be conducted from 2014 through 2019. The Study Area includes the following range complexes: the Northeast Range Complexes (consisting of the Boston, Narragansett Bay, and Atlantic City Ranges Complexes); the Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division, Newport Testing Range; the Virginia Capes Range Complex (VACAPES); the Navy Cherry Point Range Complex (CHPT); the Jacksonville Range Complex (JAX), the South Florida Ocean Measurement Facility Testing Range; the Undersea Warfare Training Range; the Key West Range Complex; the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Panama City Division Testing Range; and the Gulf of Mexico Range Complex (GOMEX) (see Figure 1-1 in the Navy's LOA application for a map of the AFTT Study Area). In addition, the Study Area includes Navy pierside locations and areas on the high seas where maintenance, training, or testing may occur. These activities are classified as military readiness activities. The Navy states that these activities may expose some of the marine mammals present within the Study Area to sound from active sonar, underwater detonations, and pile driving and removal. In addition, incidental takes of marine mammals may occur from ship strikes.
In the application submitted to NMFS, the Navy requests authorization to take marine mammals incidental to conducting training and testing operations that involve the use of active acoustics and underwater detonations. These non-impulsive (sonar) and impulsive (explosives) sources would be used during the following training and testing activities: amphibious warfare; anti-surface warfare; anti-submarine warfare; mine warfare; naval special warfare; Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) testing; Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) testing; Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) testing; and Office of Naval Research (ONR) and Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) testing. Detailed descriptions of these activities are included in the LOA application.
Interested persons may submit information, suggestions, and comments concerning the Navy's request (see