The US Navy is seeking permission to be able to unintentionally hit more whales when operating in a testing area between Hawaii and Southern California.
Under current regulations, the Navy is allowed to hit up to three large whales resulting in their serious injury or death between 2018 and 2025.
The problem is, the Navy has already reached that limit.
In a notice released earlier this week, the Navy says two ships “struck unidentified large whales on two separate occasions, one whale in June 2021 and one whale in July 2021, in waters off Southern California.”
And this past May, another Navy ship struck a third large whale off Southern California, according to the notice.
Consequently, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service “reanalyzed the potential for vessel strike following the May 2023 strike and proposes to authorize two additional takes of large whales by serious injury or mortality by vessel strike for the remainder of the current regulatory period (two takes in addition to the three takes authorized in the current regulations).”
“Further, the Navy’s proposed activities remain unchanged; however, this proposed rule includes two additional mitigation measures and revision of two existing mitigation measures to further reduce the probability of vessel strike. With the exception of these new mitigation measures and revisions to two existing mitigation measures, the required mitigation and monitoring measures remain unchanged.”
NOAA Fisheries is asking for public comments on the proposed rule change.
Check out the full notice here.