SOURCE: Lyn McNutt (firstname.lastname@example.org)
SUBHEAD: Deaths of marine mammals in Mariana Islands from US Navy training and testing activities.
By Staff on 19 March 2014 for National Marine Fisheries Service -
Image above: Australian Navy denied its sonar activity had the effect of standing and killing these whales in Tasmania. From (http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/fatal-shore-for-130-whales/2005/10/26/1130302827201.html).
[Source's note: This was important enough to be issued under separate cover in the Federal Register.]
[IB Publisher's note: In getting ready for RIMPAC 2014 the Navy is getting the permissions required to injure or kill ocean mammels en masse. We have taken excerpts from the National Marine Fisheries Service proposed rules for those activities. PTS are initials for Permanent Threshold Shift indicating loss of hearing or deafness. TTS is Temporary Threshold Shift. Obviously during times of TTS marine mammals could loose ability to navigate or feed themselves.]
To read full document click here (http://www.islandbreath.org/2014Year/03/140319navytake.pdf)
Background of Request
Page 3 of PDF - Page 15389 Federal Register
The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has received a request from the U.S. Navy (Navy) for authorization to take marine mammals incidental to the training and testing activities conducted in the Mariana Islands Training and Testing (MITT) study area from March 2015 through March 2020. Pursuant to the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), NMFS is requesting comments on its proposal to issue regulations and subsequent Letter of Authorization (LOA) to the Navy to incidentally harass marine mammals.
Potential Effectson Marine Mammals
Page 12 of PDF - Page 15398 Federal Register
The Navy has requested authorization for the take of marine mammals that may occur incidental to training and testing activities in the Study Area. The Navy has analyzed potential impacts to marine mammals from impulsive and non-impulsive sound sources and vessel strike...
...NMFS’ effects assessments serve four primary purposes:
(1) To prescribe the permissible methods of taking (i.e., Level B harassment (behavioral harassment), Level A harassment (injury), or mortality, including an identification of the number and types of take that could occur by harassment or mortality) and to prescribe other means of effecting the least practicable adverse impact on such species or stock and its habitat (i.e., mitigation);
(2) to determine whether the specified activity would have a negligible impact on the affected species or stocks of marine mammals (based on the likelihood that the activity would adversely affect the species or stock through effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival);
(3) to determine whether the specified activity would have an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of the species or stock(s) for subsistence uses; and (4) to prescribe requirements pertaining to monitoring and reporting.
More specifically, for activities involving non-impulsive or impulsive sources, NMFS’ analysis will identify the probability of lethal responses, physical trauma, sensory impairment (permanent and temporary threshold shifts and acoustic masking), physiological responses (particular stress responses), behavioral disturbance (that rises to the level of harassment), and social responses (effects to social relationships) that would be classified as a take and whether such take would have a negligible impact on such species or stocks.
Vessel strikes, which have the potential to result in incidental take from direct injury and/or mortality, will be discussed in more detail in the Estimated Take of Marine Mammals section. In this section, we will focus qualitatively on the different ways that non-impulsive and impulsive sources may affect marine mammals (some of which NMFS would not classify as harassment).
Then, in the Estimated Take of Marine Mammals section, we will relate the potential effects to marine mammals from non-impulsive and impulsive sources to the MMPA definitions of Level A and Level B Harassment, along with the potential effects from vessel strikes, and attempt to quantify those effects.
Non-Impulsive Sources Direct Physiological Effects
Based on the literature, there are two basic ways that non-impulsive sources might directly result in physical trauma or damage: noise-induced loss of hearing sensitivity (more commonly- called ‘‘threshold shift’’) and acoustically mediated bubble growth. Separately, an animal’s behavioral reaction to an acoustic exposure might lead to physiological effects that might ultimately lead to injury or death, which is discussed later in the Stranding section.
Threshold Shift (noise-induced loss of hearing)—When animals exhibit reduced hearing sensitivity (i.e., sounds must be louder for an animal to detect them) following exposure to an intense sound or sound for long duration, it is referred to as a noise-induced threshold shift (TS). An animal can experience temporary threshold shift (TTS) or permanent threshold shift (PTS).
Page 31 of PDF - Page 15417 Federal Register
PREDICTED RANGES TO EFFECTS AND MITIGATION ZONE RADIUS FOR MINE COUNTERMEASURE AND NEUTRALIZATION ACTIVITIES USING POSITIVE CONTROL FIRING DEVICES
[IB note: It does not appear mitigation zone includes predicted maximum radius of TTS. Charge sizes range up to 2000 lbs]
Charge size net explosive weight 11–20 lb.
Predicted average range to TTS radius 766 yards (381acre area)
Predicted average range to PTS radius 288 yards (54 acres)
Predicted maximum range to PTS radius 648 yards (272 acre area)
Recommended Mitigation Zone radius is 800 yards (415 acre area)
Missile Exercises up to 500 lb. Surface Target.
Predicted average range to TTS radius 1,832 yards (2,178 acres)
Predicted average range to TTS radius 991 yards (637)
Predicted maximum range to PTS radius 2,474 yards (3973 acres)
Recommended Mitigation Zone radius is 2,500 yards (4059 acre area)
[IB Publisher's note: With these areas of impact the Navy will never know the extent of suffering, damage and death they have brought ocean mammals in the Mariana Islands. But they will have a spreadshhet they can show to regulators to meet specifications.]
Injury, or Mortality
Page 49 of PDF - Page 15434 Federal Register
NMFS believes that many marine mammals would deliberately avoid exposing themselves to the received levels of active sonar necessary to induce injury by moving away from or at least modifying their path to avoid a close approach. Additionally, in the unlikely event that an animal approaches the sonar vessel at a close distance, NMFS believes that the mitigation measures (i.e., shutdown/ powerdown zones for MFAS/HFAS) would typically ensure that animals would not be exposed to injurious levels of sound. As discussed previously, the Navy utilizes both aerial (when available) and passive acoustic monitoring (during all ASW exercises) in addition to watchstanders on vessels to detect marine mammals for mitigation implementation.
Page 50 of PDF - Page 15436 Federal Register
Based on the analysis contained herein of the likely effects of the specified activity on marine mammals and their habitat, and taking into consideration the implementation of the proposed mitigation and monitoring measures, NMFS preliminarily finds that the total marine mammal take form the Navy’s training and testing activities in the MITT Study Area will have a negligible impact on the affected marine mammal species or stocks.
Impact on Availability of Affected Species for Taking for Subsistence Uses
There are no relevant subsistence uses of marine mammals implicated by this action. Therefore, NMFS has preliminarily determined that the total taking of affected species or stocks would not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of such species or stocks for taking for subsistence purposes.
Endangered Species Act (ESA)
There are five marine mammal species under NMFS jurisdiction that are listed as endangered or threatened under the ESA with confirmed or possible occurrence in the Study Area: blue whale, humpback whale, fin whale, sei whale, and sperm whale.
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