Representatives from the U.S. Navy updated the Council on upcoming Northern Edge 2021 joint training exercise in the Gulf of Alaska, scheduled to occur May 3-14, and the Navy’s marine species monitoring projects. The Council appreciated the presentations and looks forward to a report back on the results of the May 2021 training exercise and ongoing Chinook salmon research.
The Northern Edge exercise is a joint forces training involving Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, Army, and the Coast Guard. The exercise is biennial, occurring in odd years, and last occurred in May 2019. The at-sea Navy events occur in the Temporary Maritime Activities Area (TMAA; see map). During the exercise, there are no restrictions on civilian navigation to fishing vessels. The TMAA is beyond 12 nautical miles from the coast, and most at-sea activities occur far offshore and avoid other vessel traffic. The exercise this year is expected to be similar in size to the Northern Edge 2019 exercise. Extensive mitigations that have been developed in coordination with NMFS include:
- Use of mitigation zones for sonar and weapons activities, with trained marine species lookouts
- Minimize use of live explosive during weapons training
- No use of explosive during training activities in the Portlock Bank area
- Coordinate with regulatory agencies for adaptive management
- Conduct population surveys and other Marine Species Monitoring projects.
Presenters also described the U.S. Navy’s Marine Species Monitoring Program, and in particular, a research project on telemetry and genetic identification of Chinook salmon that overlap with U.S. Navy training area. The ongoing research identifies specific Chinook salmon populations in the training areas using genetic tissue samples, and through telemetry, provides data on Chinook salmon migration routes including on-shelf vs off-shelf migration while returning to river systems of origin (see insert).
Staff contact is Jon McCracken.