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The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process allows the U.S. military an opportunity to review and assess its activities, ensuring that the benefits of recent scientific and technological advances are applied toward minimizing environmental effects. As part of this process, scientists compile and analyze all currently available research and data, with a focus on understanding the environmental, natural, cultural and socioeconomic resources in the areas where the Navy conducts activities.

The U.S. Navy strives to be a world leader in marine species research and provided more than $100 million over the past five years to universities, research institutions, federal laboratories, private companies and independent researchers around the world to increase the understanding of marine mammal physiology and behavior. This research helps the Navy to do the following:

  • Better understand marine species distribution and location of important habitat areas.
  • Refine its methods to detect and monitor marine species before and during training activities.
  • Add to its understanding of the effects of underwater sound on marine mammals, sea turtles, fish and birds.
  • Develop improved tools to model and estimate potential effects of underwater sound.
  • Develop new programs to safeguard marine protected species.

Other scientific data and research undertaken by the military include Integrated (Natural or Cultural) Resources Management Plans, Marine Resource Assessments, sound-effects modeling, and programs aimed at promoting the use of innovative environmental technologies, such as the Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program and the associated Environmental Security Technology Certification Program.