Incidental Take Authorization: U.S. Navy Operations of Surveillance Towed Array Sensor System Low Frequency Active (SURTASS LFA) Sonar (beginning in 2019)
NOAA Fisheries has received a request from the U.S. Navy for authorization to take marine mammals incidental to the use of Surveillance Towed Array Sensor Systems Low Frequency Active (SURTASS LFA) sonar systems onboard U.S. Navy surveillance ships for 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 August 2019. The Fiscal Year 2019 (FY19) National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), signed on August 13, 2018, amended the Marine Mammal Protection Act to extend the maximum authorization period of permitted incidental takings of marine mammals under section 101(a)(5)(A) in the course of specified military readiness activities by the Department of Defense from five to seven years. Therefore, the authorization, if issued, would be in effect from August 2019 to August 2026. The Navy’s activities are considered military readiness activities pursuant to the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), as amended by the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2004 (FY 2004 NDAA).