January 30, 2012

Navy sonar threatens marine mammals

Groups Sue Over Navy Sonar Impacts on Marine Mammals

By Dan BacherA broad coalition of conservation groups and American Indian Tribes on January 26 sued the Obama administration for failing to protect thousands of whales, dolphins, porpoises, seals, and sea lions from U.S. Navy warfare training exercises along the coasts of California, Oregon, and Washington.

Earthjustice, representing the InterTribal Sinkyone Wilderness Council, Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of the Earth, Friends of the San Juans, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), and People For Puget Sound, filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the District of Northern California challenging the National Marine Fisheries Service’s approval of the Navy’s training activities in its Northwest Training Range Complex.

“The lawsuit calls on the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to mitigate anticipated harm to marine mammals and biologically critical areas within the training range that stretches from Northern California to the Canadian border,” according to a statement from Earthjustice.

“These training exercises will harm dozens of protected species of marine mammals—southern resident killer whales, blue whales, humpback whales, dolphins, and porpoises—through the use of high-intensity mid-frequency sonar,” said Steve Mashuda, an Earthjustice attorney representing the groups. “The Fisheries Service fell down on the job and failed to require the Navy to take reasonable and effective actions to protect them.”

The groups said the Navy uses a vast area of the West Coast for training activities, including anti-submarine warfare exercises involving tracking aircraft and sonar; surface-to-air gunnery and missile exercises; air-to-surface bombing exercises; sink exercises; and extensive testing for several new weapons systems.

“Since the beginning of time, the Sinkyone Council’s member Tribes have gathered, harvested and fished for traditional cultural marine resources in this area, and they continue to carry out these subsistence ways of life, and their ceremonial activities along this Tribal ancestral coastline,” said Priscilla Hunter, chairwoman and co-founder of the InterTribal Sinkyone Wilderness Council. “Our traditional cultural lifeways, and our relatives such as the whales and many other species, will be negatively and permanently impacted by the Navy’s activities.”

“Both NMFS and the Navy have failed in their obligations to conduct government-to-government consultation with the Sinkyone Council and its member Tribes regarding project impacts,” Hunter emphasized.
Comment:  For more on Indians and whales, see Native POV in Big Miracle and Whales vs. Ocean Pollution.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Re: Indians and whales, I think it's best to point out that modern society screws the whales more than Indians ever could. Besides this sonar, there's pollution in the ocean, the plankton-killer known as global warming, and in the case of predatory whales, overfishing their prey.

Compared to that, a whale every now and then is nothing. Surprised? Don't be.