[MARMAM] Comments requested: Proposed Rule/LOA request for the Taking of Marine Mammals Incidental to the Navy's SURTASS LFA Sonar Activities

Jonathan Shannon - NOAA Federal jonathan.shannon at noaa.gov
Thu Feb 28 07:52:12 PST 2019

NOAA Fisheries is requesting information, suggestions, and comments
concerning the Navy’s request for rulemaking and subsequent Letter of
Authorization under the Marine Mammal Protection Act to govern the
incidental take of marine mammals by the U.S. Navy’s Surveillance Towed
Array Sensor System Low Frequency Active (SURTASS LFA) SONAR training and
testing activities conducted under the authority of the Secretary of the
Navy in the western and central North Pacific and eastern Indian Oceans
beginning in August 2019.

The public is invited to comment on the proposed regulations here-

This will be NOAA Fisheries’ fourth rule for SURTASS LFA sonar operations
under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. NOAA Fisheries’ proposed
regulations and the subsequent Letter of Authorization will include
required mitigation, monitoring, and reporting measures. For training and
testing activities of the proposed action, these measures include:

·                Restricting the use of SURTASS LFA sonar such that it will
not operate in Arctic and Antarctic waters;

·                Restricting the use of SURTASS LFA sonar from within the
foreign territorial seas of other nations;

·                Restricting the use of SURTASS LFA sonar from within
Hawaiian state waters (out to three miles) and over Penguin Bank, and
ensuring that sound pressure levels (SPL) will not exceed 145 decibels (dB)
within Hawaiian state waters;

·                Ensuring SPLs will not exceed 180 dB re 1 micro pascals
(μPa) root mean square (rms) within 12 nautical miles of any emerged
features of any coastline, or within designated offshore biologically
important areas (OBIAs) for marine mammals; and

·                Minimizing exposure of marine mammals to SURTASS LFA sonar
signal received levels of 180 dB re 1 μPa (rms) or more by suspending sonar
transmission when animals enter the mitigation zone and using a highly
effective monitoring program to detect their presence.

The Navy’s activities are likely to result in the incidental take of marine
mammals by exposing them to low frequency sonar signals. The potential
takes expected for this action are Level B harassment. No level A
harassment takes (potential injury) are expected based on results from the
past 16 years of operations and computer modeling of potential takes. No
lethal takes are requested or expected for this action.

Please visit
for more information on NOAA’s incidental take program under the MMPA.

More information on the SURTASS LFA action is available here -

Best regards,

Jonathan Shannon
*Outreach Specialist*
NOAA Fisheries
U.S. Department of Commerce
jonathan.shannon at noaa.gov
o: 301.427.8431

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