The Council received an overview of the proposed Northern Edge 2019 joint training exercise, which is scheduled for May 13-24, 2019, in the Gulf of Alaska. The exercise occurs biennially, dating back to 1975, and provides comprehensive and realistic training on joint interoperability tactics, techniques, and procedures. John Mosher, from U.S. Pacific Fleet, and Lieutenant Colonel Vaughn Brazil, from Eleventh Air Force Headquarters, gave a presentation on the exercise. The 2019 exercise will be similar in size and scope to Northern Edge 2017, but with more emphasis on the air component. The largest portion of the naval component will occur far offshore, toward the center of the Temporary Maritime Activities Area (TMAA; see map), which minimally overlaps with groundfish fisheries management areas and has no overlap with salmon management areas. There are no restrictions on commercial fishing activity or civilian vessel navigation in the TMAA during the exercise.
Protection measures to minimize the effects of the naval exercise on the marine environment were developed in coordination with NMFS. As noted in the presentation, one of the protection measures is to minimize the use of live explosives in the TMAA during weapons training, and prohibit the use of explosives at the Portlock Bank. Another protection measure is to limit the use of active sonar frequency to the mid-range that is not heard by shellfish and most fish species, including key commercial species such as salmon and groundfish. The GOA Navy Training Activities Supplemental EIS/OEIS information is located at the project website: goaeis.com. Mr. Mosher and Lt. Col. Brazil are scheduled to provide the Council an after-action presentation at a future meeting. Staff contact is Jon McCracken.