Starting in 2014, the U.S. Navy has proposed increasing the scope and frequency of their testing and training in the Pacific Ocean, particularly near Southern California and Hawaii. This increased activity includes expanded use of sonar and explosives which threaten marine mammals.
According to their own draft Environmental Impact Study, "the increase in proposed testing activities...would in turn lead to an approximately 389 percent increase in predicted impacts...to marine mammals". That means almost four times as many animals will be affected by the Navy's activities starting in 2014. Harm to the animals ranges from temporary hearing loss to hemorrhaging throughout the body, leading to beachings, strandings, and death.
The Navy estimates that the "impact of sonar and other acoustic sources during training activities under Alternative 2 may expose marine mammals up to 2,524,784 times annually to sound levels that would be considered Level B harassment, as defined by the MMPA" (Marine Mammal Protection Act). These exercises would also impact several endangered species: "Under the ESA [Endangered Species Act], the use of sonar and other acoustic sources during training activities as described in Alternative 2 may affect, and is likely to adversely affect, the humpback whale, sei whale, fin whale, blue whale, sperm whale, Hawaiian monk seal, Guadalupe fur seal, and the Hawaii insular stock of false killer whale".
National security and military readiness are, of course, imperitive, but these objectives can be realized without harming more defenseless animals. Navy training drills have already been linked to mass beachings worldwide. Any increase in their sonar and acoustic activities spells doom for endangered marine mammals. Tell the U.S. Navy not to expand their use of sonar and acoustic devices in the Pacific.
- Secretary, United States Department of the Navy
- President of the United States
The Navy's own estimates indicate that over 2.5 million marine mammals will be harmed under the proposed increase in sonar and other acoustic training and testing in the Pacific Ocean. Fragile marine mammals and endangered species will be adversely impacted by these acoustic sources. Once a threatened species is gone, there is no bringing it back. There are other alternatives to powerful active sonar and explosive charges for training purposes. Do not increase sonar and other sonic tests in the Pacific Ocean. Keep our oceans quiet and teeming with life.
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