Marine Protective Measures

The Navy uses the most current, best available science and analytical methods to re-evaluate protective measures that help minimize impacts on the marine environment.

More than 40 species of marine mammals are known to occur within the Study Area. Many of these species are considered year-round residents or are present during annual migrations into or through the area.



Protective Measures At-sea

The Navy implements at-sea protective measures to reduce or avoid potential effects on marine species, such as:

  • Aerial monitoring for activities that include explosives
  • Vessel monitoring for activities that include explosives from ships
  • Seasonal considerations of marine mammal abundance during certain times of the year
  • Location considerations for marine mammal groups and feeding activities in specific geographic locations

Protective Measures at San Nicolas Island

The Navy also implements protective measures for activities at San Nicolas Island, such as:

  • Closing the south side of the island to all activities year-round
  • Not entering pinniped haul-outs below the predicted missile path for two hours prior to a launch
  • Avoiding launches during harbor seal pupping season (February through April), when possible
  • Limiting launches during elephant seal (January through February) and California sea lion (June through July) pupping seasons, when possible
  • Not crossing missiles over pinniped haul-outs at elevations less than 1,000 feet
  • Monitoring haul-out sites for marine species during launches
  • Conducting onshore monitoring of pinnipeds
  • Limiting launches at night
  • Not flying other aircraft at altitudes less than 1,000 feet over pinniped haul-outs and rookeries
  • Closing western snowy plover nesting beaches during the breeding season (March through September)
  • Conducting weekly monitoring of beaches and rookeries near operational sites for various seabirds
  • Maintaining a native plant nursery to provide native vegetation for erosion control projects, native landscaping, and habitat improvement projects

Please see the project fact sheet for more information about the Navy’s marine protective measures.