Stop the Navy from "Taking" 295,715 Marine Mammals in the PNW

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The U.S. Navy recently applied for exemption under the Marine Mammal Protection Act for the "incidental take" of marine mammals, in order to carry out training and testing activities in the Pacific Northwest. If approved, such activities would directly impact the endangered Southern Resident killer whales while traveling through or foraging in the Navy’s area of operations. It would also impact thousands of other marine mammals that live in the Salish Sea and surrounding areas. 

Incidental take. Never have two such small, casual words held so much meaning.

Let’s first be clear on the meaning of take.  It does have a broader meaning under the law, “to [or attempt to] harass, hunt, capture, or kill any marine mammal,” and also includes, “the doing of any negligent or intentional act which results in disturbing or molesting a marine mammal feeding.” However, it’s highly reasonable to assume that take can result in the loss of an animal, even if not on the day of an event.

Incidental is somewhat synonymous with accidental but is deemed foreseeable. But despite being foreseeable—and therefore preventable— it is still allowed by law under certain circumstances.

If ever there came an abysmal time to add a source of potential harm to this population, it would be now. 2020 has been another record-breaking year of near non-attendance by these whales in the Salish Sea, legally designated as their “core critical habitat.” Not at all surprising, given that the spring return to the Fraser River of their favored prey—Chinook salmon—is at an all-time low.

The proposal allows for various cetacean species to be impacted by testing and training practices. These testing include, Torpedo Exercise—Submarine (TORPEX—Sub), Tracking Exercise—Submarine (TRACKEX—Sub), Mine Neutralization—Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD), Civilian Port Defense—Homeland Security Anti-Terrorism/Force Protection Exercises, Bombing Exercise (Air-to-Surface) (BOMBEX [A-S]), Gunnery Exercise (Surface-to-Surface)—Ship (GUNEX [S-S]—Ship), Missile Exercise (Air-to-Surface) (MISSILEX [A-S]), Submarine Sonar Maintenance, Unmanned Underwater Vehicle Training, and a lot more. The Navy also acknowledges that "acoustic and explosives stressors are most likely to result in impacts on marine mammals that could rise to the level of harassment, and NMFS concurs with this determination". Yet they still plan on going through with the proposal. 

We cannot allow this. The Salish Sea is a precious habitat for the Southern Residents and countless other marine animals. The Southern Residents cannot afford an impact on even a single individual. But yet the Navy is seeking authority to take up to 51 whales. That’s right. 51 out of an Endangered population that stands today at 72 animals. This is deemed negligible? Negligent, neglectful certainly, but NOT negligible. Sign and help us stop this! We need to use our voices to stop this. We can prevent the extinction of this species and keep thousands of other animals safe. Sign. Please. 

Thank you to Wild Orca & their volunteers who wrote most of this! They are doing incredible work & first notified us about this issue. Please go and support them