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.

In the Study Area, there are 20 endangered or threatened species of marine invertebrates, fishes, birds, sea turtles, and marine mammals. 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 is committed to being a good steward of the environment and strives to minimize impacts on the marine environment from at-sea testing and training activities. The Navy follows strict guidelines and employs measures to reduce potential effects on marine species while testing and training. 

  • Establish mitigation zones: Mitigation zones are areas at the surface of the water within which testing or training activities would be ceased or modified to protect specific biological resources if observed near or within the mitigation zone. The size of a mitigation zone is determined by each specific activity as well as the ability for the area to be reasonably observed. 
  • Post qualified Lookouts: Navy Lookouts are highly trained individuals who visually observe for the presence of marine species and specific biological resources within mitigation zones. In the Study Area, Lookouts help reduce potential impacts on marine species from testing and training activities, including those that involve:
    • Acoustic stressors, like weapons firing noise.
    • Use of explosive and non-explosive munitions.
    • Vessel movement.
    For more information, please view the Navy’s Marine Species Awareness Training video.
  • Observe the area: From a ship, small boat, or aircraft, Lookouts monitor for marine mammals, sea turtles, and, in some cases, sea birds before and during certain activities. This serves as an additional layer of protection for endangered or protected species. If spotted, Lookouts are required to immediately communicate sightings of specific biological resources. 
  • Modify or cease actions: If an animal is sighted near or within the mitigation zone, the Navy is required to implement prescribed mitigation measures, including ceasing the activity until the animal leaves the area. 

Protective Measures at San Nicolas Island and Naval Base Ventura County Point Mugu 

The Navy implements protective measures to minimize impacts on protected species, such as nesting birds.

  • Closure of some areas year-round and during species’ breeding season.
  • Restriction of location, altitude, and time-of-year of missile launches and aircraft overflights. 
  • Species monitoring near operational sites and before and during missile launches.
  • Avoidance of protected species whenever possible.  
  • Maintenance of native vegetation.

Naval Base Ventura County Point Mugu 

  • Restriction of location and altitude of missile launches and aircraft flight paths. 
  • Restriction of year-round beach access.
  • Coordination of equipment placement.