FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Connie Barclay
News Releases 2007
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National Marine Fisheries Service today proposed a five-year extension
of rules protecting marine mammals when the United States Navy operates
a certain long-range sonar array. The rules require the U.S. Navy
to implement protection measures during operation of its Surveillance
Towed Array Sensor System Low Frequency Active
Sonar, or SURTASS LFA sonar. The current authorization expires on
August 16, 2007.
The U.S. Navy's LFA sonar uses a low frequency (about 450 Hz) underwater sound source to locate submarines at long ranges. The LFA sonar operates at a much lower frequency than the standard tactical sonar (approximately 3500 Hz) currently used by the Navy.
According to the U.S. Navy, the SURTASS LFA sonar system meets their need for detection and tracking of new-generation submarines at a longer range. It maximizes the opportunity for U.S. armed forces to safely react to, and defend against potential submarine threats, while remaining a safe distance beyond a submarine's effective weapons range.
Protection measures include:
The U.S. Navy requested the authorization from NOAA Fisheries Service because SURTASS LFA sonar has the potential to affect marine mammals. Section 101(a)(5) of the Marine Mammal Protection Act allows the incidental "take" or harassment of marine mammals, provided that certain findings are made.
The authorizations, if issued, will be reviewed on an annual basis. Based on monitoring and reporting records kept by trained Navy personnel, NOAA Fisheries Service will assess impacts on marine mammal populations annually, and renew, modify or suspend the authorizations, as appropriate. NOAA Fisheries Service can also immediately revoke its authorization if it is determined that impacts on marine mammals are more than negligible.
NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and information service delivery for transportation, and by providing environmental stewardship of our nation's coastal and marine resources. Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), NOAA is working with its federal partners, more than 60 countries and the European Commission to develop a global monitoring network that is as integrated as the planet it observes, predicts and protects.
Fisheries Service is dedicated to protecting and preserving our nation’s
living marine resources and their habitat through scientific research,
management and enforcement. NOAA Fisheries Service provides effective
stewardship of these resources for the benefit of the nation, supporting
coastal communities that depend upon them, and helping to provide
safe and healthy seafood to consumers and recreational opportunities
for the American public. To learn more about NOAA Fisheries Service,
please visit: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov.