Posted on June 12, 2023
The Seymour Marine Discovery Center at the University of California Santa Cruz coastal campus was the setting for a recent research and monitoring summit organized by the Navy Marine Species Monitoring program. With significant advancements in scientific knowledge and monitoring technologies during the 15 years since the program was established, the MSM program is looking ahead to a refreshed strategic plan. The first two days of the three-day meeting were dedicated to presentations on the MSM program history, projects that have been expanding our knowledge about marine species on Navy ranges, and the monitoring work conducted to meet requirements of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) for at-sea training and testing activities. The second day also included an informal tour of the adjacent Joseph M. Long Marine Laboratory to see dolphins, a Hawaiian monk seal, a bearded seal and a California sea lion who are all participating in important hearing, bioacoustics, and cognition studies.
The third day focused on discussions among Navy, National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and Marine Mammal Commission (MMC) representatives regarding the evolving science, changing climate and future priorities for ESA and MMPA compliance monitoring.
To promote a variety of perspectives, the roughly 60 participants (mostly in-person with some online) represented NMFS, MMC, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and scientific experts supporting related research and monitoring efforts. Navy participants represented Secretary of the Navy, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, both the Atlantic and Pacific fleets, multiple commands (Naval Facilities Engineering Systems, Naval Sea Systems, Naval Air Systems, Naval Information Warfare Center Pacific and Naval Undersea Warfare Center Newport), and the MSM program’s research and development partners, Office of Naval Research Marine Mammal Biology program and LMR.
The valuable input from the both the formal and informal discussions will help to direct the Navy’s marine species monitoring strategic planning process and continue the evolution of the MSM program.