In the news...

December 18, 2013

Feds grant Navy permit for sonar training

Julie Watson
Associated Press

Environmental organizations filed a lawsuit Dec. 16 against the National Marine Fisheries Service to demand it force the Navy to consider alternatives to its five-year plan that will intensify its sonar use off Southern California and Hawaii.

Earthjustice, representing several groups, filed the lawsuit in federal court in Honolulu, only hours after the federal agency announced it had decided to grant the Navy permits to move ahead with its plans for training and testing in the Pacific.

Navy officials estimate its activities would have a negligible impact on marine mammal populations.

Environmentalists dispute that and favor creating zones that would be off-limits to biologically sensitive areas. They also want the Navy to avoid training in certain spots seasonally when they are rich in marine life.

The science is clear: sonar and live-fire training in the ocean harms marine mammals, said Marsha Green of Ocean Mammal Institute, which is among the groups suing. There are safer ways to conduct Navy exercises that include time and place restrictions to avoid areas known to be vital for marine mammals’ feeding, breeding and resting.

The Navy estimates that its activities could inadvertently kill 186 whales and dolphins off the East Coast and 155 off Hawaii and Southern California, mostly from explosives.

It calculates more than 11,000 serious injuries off the East Coast and 2,000 off Hawaii and Southern California, along with nearly 2 million minor injuries, such as temporary hearing loss, off each coast. It also predicts marine mammals might change their behavior – such as swimming in a different direction – in 27 million instances.

NMFS granted the permits for the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico last month. The Pacific permit was the final one.

Environmentalists won a small victory in September when a federal judge ruled the marine fisheries agency did not consider the latest science when it granted permits last year.

In the Dec. 16 ruling, the agency said it will review the latest scientific data yearly with the Navy to determine if enough is being done to mitigate the risks.

The Navy is committed to complying with environmental laws and protecting the environment, Navy spokesman Kenneth Hess said when asked about the lawsuit.

Reported mass strandings of beaked whales have increased around the world since the military started using sonar more than half a century ago. The sounds can scare animals into shallow waters where they can become disoriented and wash ashore.

Aside from beachings, biologists are concerned about prolonged stress from changes in diving, feeding and communication habits. Only in the past decade have scientists had the technology to closely monitor the behavior of whales and dolphins.

Two recent studies off the Southern California coast found certain endangered blue whales and beaked whales stopped feeding and fled from recordings of noise similar to military sonar.

Beaked whales are highly sensitive to sound and account for the majority of strandings near military exercises.

Navy officials say it’s vital to national security that sailors receive realistic sonar training, and use simulators where possible.

Environmentalists want safety zones that would guarantee no high-intensity sonar activity near marine sanctuaries and areas where blue, fin and gray whales gather seasonally.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
sikorsky-raider

Sikorsky S-97 Raider helicopter achieves successful first flight

Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., a United Technologies Corp. subsidiary, announced May 22 the successful first flight of the S-97 Raiderâ„¢ helicopter, a rigid coaxial rotor prototype designed to demonstrate a game-changing combination...
 
 
stamps2

New stamp folio to honor Vietnam Medal of Honor recipients

Nearly a dozen Vietnam Medal of Honor recipients will help the U.S. Postal Service dedicate a limited-edition stamp folio honoring them and other Vietnam heroes on Memorial Day. The “Medal of Honor: Vietnam War Forever...
 
 

Air Force launches hush-hush mini-shuttle into space

A mysterious space plane rocketed into orbit May 20, carrying no crew but a full load of technology experiments. The Air Force launched its unmanned mini-shuttle late morning, May 20. An Atlas V rocket lifted it up and out over the Atlantic. This is the fourth flight for the military research program, which is shrouded...
 

 
NG-people

Northrop Grumman appoints VP, program manager ISR division

Northrop Grumman announced it has appointed Steve Lunny, vice president and program manager for the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance division within the company’s Information Systems sector. Lunny will report...
 
 
af-medal

American Fighter Aces receive Congressional Gold Medal

Leaders from the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate presented the Congressional Gold Medal to the American Fighter Aces Association May 20 at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center Emancipation Hall. The Congressional Gold Medal...
 
 

HELLADS laser completes development

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. announced May 21 that the High-Energy Liquid Laser completed the U.S. government acceptance test procedure and is now being shipped to the White Sands Missile Range, N.M. At WSMR, the laser will undergo an extensive series of live fire tests against a number of military targets.  GAASI is a leading...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>