Navy Sonar OK'd Despite Potential Whale Harm
Source: Ramona Young-Grindle
WASHINGTON (CN) - The National Marine Fisheries Service finalized regulations that allow the U.S. Navy to harm marine mammals "incidental" to its use of Surveillance Towed Array Sensor System Low Frequency Active Sonar, through five-year Letters of Authorization.
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The final regulation follows a January proposed rule.
The Navy plans to conduct the same types of sonar use they have conducted over the past nine years, according to the recent action. The NMFS has added an additional monitoring requirement for harbor porpoises and beaked whales based on comments on the earlier proposed rule, according to the final regulation.
The Navy uses the long-range sonar to detect hard-to-find submarines in its military readiness activities, but the sonar could cause behavioral disturbances and injury to 94 species of marine mammals if not mitigated, the regulation states. Fifteen of the affected species are listed as endangered and three species are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, according to the action.
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