Action Alert: Protect California’s Marine Life from Violent Military Sonar and Explosives
Navy Plans on 8.8 Million ‘Takes’ of Marine Mammals
Environmental Protection Information Center
Over the next five years, the United States Navy plans to conduct large scale training exercises involving intense sonar pulses and explosives off the California coast, which is expected to result in more than 9.5 million instances of harm to whales and dolphins between Dana Point and San Diego and extending more than 600 nautical miles out to sea.
Impacts to marine resources could spread as animals travel in and out of toxic debris leftover from explosives. In addition, the Navy’s blast of high intensity noise from mid-frequency sonar pulses can impact animals far from their source.
However, before these training exercises can begin, the Navy must ask the California Coastal Commission to determine that these activities are consistent with California’s Coastal Zone Management Act, including goals to protect, preserve, and enhance the coastal environment.
EPIC has been tracking the Navy’s proposed warfare testing along the Pacific coast and since October of 2010. Over the last few years, we have had over a thousand people take action online and nearly 2,000 people filled out post cards requesting Barbara Boxer, chair of the Environment Committee, to hold congressional hearings to address cumulative effects to marine life and to stop the unnecessary and harmful warfare testing along the Pacific coast.
The threat has not gone away, and we still need your help to speak out against these acts of violence towards sentient marine mammals and other sea life that will be affected if the Navy does not comply with environmental standards that have been put into place to protect us and all other life that depends on a safe and clean marine environment.
On Friday, March 8th, the California Coastal Commission will hold a hearing to determine whether the Navy’s proposed training activities are consistent with the Coastal Zone Management Act.
The Coastal Commission has already prepared a staff report and additional background materials on the Navy’s Sonar and Munitions Program, which can be found at: www.coastal.ca.gov/fedcd/hstt/hstt.html.
Please take a moment to ask the Coastal Commission to protect our coastal waters by requiring the Navy to implement additional measures to reduce harm to marine mammals and other coastal resources.
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We understand the need for the Navy to be well-prepared. We also understand the concerns of our local citizens who packed the Wharfinger Building a few years back when the Navy came to town explaining their plans. They were courteous, prepared, and came to listen to the public’s input with seemingly deaf ears.
Looking into the 188-page staff report, we were struck by the Natural Resources Defense Council letter on page 156. It stated in part:
The Navy’s consistency determination, along with other documents it has prepared to satisfy federal law, details extraordinary harm to California’s marine resources. That harm includes hundreds of mortalities of marine mammals and other species; numerous cases of lung injury and permanent hearing loss in marine mammals; literally millions of instances of temporary hearing loss, a significant impact for species dependent on their hearing for survival and reproduction; and millions of additional cases of disruption of vital behaviors, such as calving and foraging.
In total, the Navy estimates that its activities – including high-intensity sonar exercises and underwater detonations – will cause more than 8 million biologically significant marine mammal impacts on its Southern California Range Complex. This number represents a 1,300 percent increase over the harm estimated in the Navy’s prior five-year review, including much higher levels of mortality, injury, and hearing loss.
Unfortunately, the dramatic increase in impacts did not trigger a corresponding effort on the Navy’s part to identify better means of mitigation. Indeed, the Navy has proposed virtually the same environmental mitigation as it did in 2008 for its current five-year operations period, when the Commission was obliged to set conditions to bring the Navy’s activities into consistency…
...The Navy estimates that training and testing off Southern California will result in more than 8.8 million takes of marine mammals… including nearly 1,700 instances of permanent hearing loss or other permanent injury, 130 mortalities, and millions of instances of temporary hearing loss and significant disruptions in vital behaviors.
(Posted by Skippy Massey)