Our Florida Wavemakers are some of the most active ocean advocates I’ve encountered while at Oceana. Recently, a St. Augustine Wavemaker reminded me that the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) will soon weigh in on a request from the Navy that could have a negative impact on marine mammals and sea turtles living off the shore of Northeast Florida.
The Navy wants authorization from NMFS for the taking of 20 different marine mammal species as a result of tactical sonar used in a proposed Undersea Warfare Training Range (USWTR) near Jacksonville. According to the Navy’s own Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), that could put humpback whales and highly endangered North Atlantic right whales in danger.
Additionally, the eventual construction of the USWTR could have a negative impact on essential fish habitat that exists on the sea floor off the Florida coast. Green, loggerhead and Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles can often be found in this habitat.
Fortunately, NMFS is accepting public comments on the Navy proposal until January 20. Many of us have long weekends ahead because of Martin Luther King Day on Monday, so take a little time to write something to NMFS and express your concern for the marine mammals and other sea life that will be affected by the Navy’s anti-submarine warfare exercises.
Email your comments to PR1.0648-XM07@noaa.gov and address your emails to Michael Payne, Chief, Permits, Conservation and Education Division, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service.