[MARMAM] NOAA Fisheries Proposed Rule for the Taking of Marine Mammals Incidental to U.S. Navy Training and Testing in the HSTT Study Area

Leah Davis - NOAA Federal leah.davis at noaa.gov
Mon Oct 2 09:06:18 PDT 2023


Tomorrow, NOAA Fisheries is publishing a proposed rule to modify existing
regulations and
Letters of Authorization (LOAs) under the Marine Mammal Protection Act that
govern
incidental take of marine mammals by the U.S. Navy in the Hawaii-Southern
California Training
and Testing (HSTT) Study Area. NOAA Fisheries proposes to authorize two
additional takes of
large whales by serious injury or mortality by vessel strike over the
remainder of the HSTT
authorization period (through December 2025). The current HSTT regulations
(50 CFR Part 218, Subpart H) and LOAs authorize the take of three large
whales by serious injury or mortality by vessel strike.

This proposed modification is based upon new information regarding U.S.
Navy vessel strikes in
southern California. In 2021, two separate U.S. Navy vessels struck
unidentified large whales off the coast of southern California on two
separate occasions, one whale in June 2021 and one
whale in July 2021. In May 2023, a U.S. Navy vessel struck another large
whale off the coast of
southern California. Based on available photos and video, NMFS and the Navy
have determined this whale was either a fin whale or sei whale. Separately,
a foreign naval vessel struck two fin whales in southern California in May
2021. Given the new information regarding U.S. Navy vessel strikes of large
whales off the coast of southern California, the proposed rule includes
a revised analysis of vessel strike in the HSTT Study Area and a proposal
to authorize two additional takes by serious injury or mortality for large
whales from vessel strikes, beyond that authorized in the 2020 HSTT final
rule
<https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2020/07/10/2020-14181/taking-and-importing-marine-mammals-taking-marine-mammals-incidental-to-the-us-navy-training-and>
.

NOAA Fisheries is seeking comment on this proposed rule for 45 days and
will consider all
information, suggestions, and comments related to the rule during the
development of final
regulations governing the incidental taking of marine mammals by the Navy,
if final regulations
are appropriate.

-- 
*Leah Davis *(she/her)
Biologist, Permits and Conservation Division

Office of Protected Resources | NOAA Fisheries

(301) 427- 8431

www.fisheries.noaa.gov
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