In This Issue

Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to Conducting the Precision Strike Weapon (PSW) Testing and Training by Eglin Air Force Base in the Gulf of Mexico

Editor’s note: The following article doesn’t have anything to do with our newsletter purpose, other than to point out that, in the United States, you need a permit, by golly, before dropping any bombs near our marine mammals!!!

National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), has received a request from Eglin Air Force Base (Eglin AFB), for authorization to harass marine mammals incidental to testing and training during Precision Strike Weapons (PSW) tests in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM), a military readiness activity. As a result of this request, NMFS is proposing to issue a 1-year incidental harassment authorization (IHA) to take marine mammals by Level B harassment incidental to this activity and will propose regulations at a later time that would govern the incidental taking of marine mammals under a Letter of Authorization (LOA) issued to Eglin AFB for a period of up to 5 years after the 1-year IHA expires. In order to issue IHAs and promulgate regulations and LOAs thereunder, NMFS must determine that these takings will have a negligible impact on the affected species and stocks of marine mammals. NMFS invites comment on Eglin AFB’s application, NMFS’ preliminary determinations on the impact of the activity on marine mammals and suggestions on the content of the regulations.

PSW missions involve air-to-surface impacts of two weapons, the Joint Air-to-Surface Stand-off Missile (JASSM) AGM-158 A and B and the small-diameter bomb (SDB) (GBU-39/B) that result in underwater detonations of up to approximately 300 lbs (136 kg) and 96 lbs (43.5 kg, double SDB) of net explosive weight, respectively.

There are 29 species of marine mammals documented as occurring in Federal waters of the GOM. Information on those species that may be impacted by this activity are discussed in the Eglin AFB application and the Draft EA. A summary of that information is provided in this section.

Editor’s further note: The full federal register article (April 22, 2004, pages 21816 – 21825) has a lot of information about the bombs and how they work, if you are in to that kind of thing….