Protect Dolphins and Whales From Navy Sonar and Weapons Testing in the Pacific Ocean

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The Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC) works to protect and restore ancient forests, watersheds, coastal estuaries, and native species in Northern California. EPIC uses an integrated, science-based approach, combining public education, citizen advocacy, and strategic litigation.

About the Petition

The U.S. Navy has prepared an environmental impact statement to assess the impacts associated with a five-year authorization of military testing and training operations off the coast of the Pacific Northwest in an area that stretches from Cape Mendocino all the way north to the Canadian border, including Alaskan waters. The proposed activities are expected to injure, disturb, or kill hundreds of thousands of individuals comprising 29 marine mammal species, which are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

Proposed activities would subject marine mammals, fish, sea turtles, and other sea life to countless impacts, including mid-frequency sonar, which is noise that is billions of times more intense than natural sound. The use of sonar has been directly connected to many instances of beached whales that have died from baro-trauma after military sonar exercises. Even 300 miles from the source, sonar can be up to 140 decibels, which is 100 times more intense than the level known to alter whale behavior.

Tell the U.S. Navy to rescind the proposed training and testing activities and explore alternatives to training military personnel that do not significantly degrade the environment and put hundreds of thousands of marine animals at risk in the global commons. Please add a personal touch in the comment box at the bottom so that your comment will go even further in letting the U.S. Navy know that the public does not approve of the U.S. Navy’s destructive training operations.

To: Congressman Jarred Huffman, National Marine Fisheries Service, Secretary of the Navy, Ms. Kimberly Kler, U.S. Navy NWTT EIS Project Manager, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

We the undersigned request that the Navy rescind its proposed training and testing activities and explore alternatives to training military personnel that do not put hundreds of thousands of marine mammals at risk.

The proposed activities would result in significant harm to countless marine animals, including many species—such as humpback and sperm whales—that are listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act. Testing and training activities, including the use of explosives, weapons firing, sonar, and other acoustic devices, would result in risks that would disrupt basic behaviors of marine mammals, including activities necessary for survival, such as migration, surfacing, navigating, hearing, nursing, breeding, and feeding. For these reasons, the proposed activities would result in violations of the Endangered Species Act by placing threatened and endangered species in jeopardy.

The analysis of effects to marine mammals, especially endangered species, is severely inadequate, as the Navy does not disclose anywhere in the EIS the total number of species that will be adversely affected. The cumulative effects of this project, combined with the impacts of the Navy’s historic and ongoing operations, will significantly harm the environment and is not in the best interest of the global commons.

Activities like dumping debris on the seafloor, spreading toxic chemicals, detonating explosives, and blasting high-intensity mid-frequency sonar will significantly degrade habitat areas, including sensitive areas that serve countless species and that are critical to the health and survival of dozens of marine mammal populations.

Sonar can travel up to 300 miles and still be 100 times more powerful than the baseline that negatively affects behaviors of whales. The Navy’s proposed mitigation measures, including human lookouts on ships and fish finders, are inadequate for reducing impacts to marine mammals, as the sonar, expended materials, and toxic chemicals would travel beyond the distances that people and fish finders can detect animals.

The risk is too large; please rescind the proposed training and testing activities and explore alternatives to training military personnel that do not put hundreds of thousands of species at risk in the global commons.


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