Guilty by Location West Coast National Marine Sanctuaries Rule Proposed

The NOAA’s latest proposal to limit overflight of Marine Sanctuary assumes the pilot is guilty just by being there.

SUMMARY: NOAA proposes to amend the regulations of the Channel Islands, Monterey Bay, Gulf of the Farallones, and Olympic Coast national marine sanctuaries relating to sanctuary overflights. Specifically, NOAA proposes to: amend the regulations requiring that motorized aircraft maintain certain minimum altitudes above specified locations within the boundaries of the listed sanctuaries; and state that failure to comply with these altitude limits is presumed to disturb marine mammals or seabirds and is a violation of the sanctuary regulations.

With this proposed rule, NOAA seeks to standardize the application of these restrictions by adopting a single, consistent and clearer regulatory approach regarding overflights in these sanctuaries. As proposed, the regulations for each sanctuary would establish a rebuttable presumption that flying motorized aircraft at less than established altitudes within any of the existing zones results in the disturbance of marine mammals or seabirds. This would mean that if a pilot were observed flying below the established altitude within a designated zone, it would be presumed that marine mammals or seabirds had been disturbed and that a violation of sanctuary regulations had been committed. This presumption of disturbance could be overcome by the introduction of contrary evidence that disturbance did not, in fact, occur (e.g., evidence that no marine mammals or seabirds were present in the area at the time of the low overflight).

DATES: Comments on this proposed rule may be made until January 7, 2011 .

Amendments to Marine Sanctuary Regulations Regarding Low Overflights in Designated Zones
AGENCY: Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (ONMS), National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Department of Commerce (DOC).
ACTION: Proposed rule; request for public comments.

Editor’s Note: The NOAA CORE VALUES – People, Integrity, Excellence, Teamwork, and Ingenuity Science, Service, and Stewardship – people and integrity appear to be missing in this guilt by location proposal