WASHINGTON (CN) – The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will presume pilots dipping below minimum altitudes over four West Coast National Marine Sanctuaries have disturbed marine mammals and seabirds.
Flying below the prescribed altitudes, between 1000 and 2000 feet depending on the sanctuary, is a violation marine sanctuary regulations and may result in stiff penalties.
Under new rules adopted by NOAA, pilots will face the rebuttable presumption that they have disturbed marine mammals and seabirds. The presumption may be overcome if the pilots can prove no animals were disturbed during a low overflight.
The Federal Aviation Administration said that it will now include notations on its charts about altitude restrictions over National Marine Sanctuaries.
The Channel Islands, Monterey Bay, Gulf of the Farallones, and Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuaries are all covered under the new rules, which are effective Feb. 27.
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