Environmentalists say Hawaii sonar plans will affect millions
Environmentalists lodging an appeal against the American navy's plans to test sonar and explosives in the waters between Hawaii and California say the activities will cause millions of instances of harm to marine mammals.
Environmentalists have lodged an appeal against the American navy's plans to test sonar and explosives in the waters between Hawaii and California.
The law organization Earthjustice is representing Conservation Council for Hawaii, the Animal Welfare Institute, the Centre for Biological Diversity and the Ocean Mammal Institute.
A staff attorney says harm to marine mammals from sonar is well documented, from mass strandings to internal haemorrhage.
David Henkin says the data the navy is using to forecast the impact on whales and dolphins from its testing over the next five years is considered conservative.
DAVID HENKIN: The science going into it up to this point has been performed by navy and National Marine Fisheries Service scientists and it's their numbers that we're working on. They've estimated that in the next five years 155 marine mammals are likely to be killed, another more than 2,000 permanently injured, either by deafening them or damaging their internal organs. And there will be on top of that 9.6 million incidences in which other marine mammals will be harmed or harassed, prevented from eating, feeding, breeding, communicating.
ANNELL HUSBAND: So clearly the Navy feels that what it's doing is far more important than all of those casualties?
DH: Well, the Navy says that its training and testing is necessary to fulfil its mission and our position is that they can fulfil their mission and carry out the training and testing in ways that cause less death and destruction to marine mammals and moreover our laws, the National Environmental Policy Act, require all federal agencies, including the Navy and including the Fisheries Service, before they commit to a course of action, to examine alternatives that could be carried out with less environmental damage. The navy and fishery service refuse to do that, and that's why we're in court.
AH: So they're actually in breach of the law?
DH: We wouldn't be suing if they weren't in breach of the law.
AH: Is there, in fact, any way in which they can carry out these sort of exercises without causing death or injury to whales and other marine mammals?
DH: There's probably no way to carry out training and testing without causing any death or injury to marine mammals. It's just the nature of the undertaking is inherently dangerous and inherently destructive. So our endeavour is to try and convince the Navy and the Fisheries Service to pursue a course of action that would radically reduce the amount of collateral damage. So whether you're talking about navy sonar or talking about explosives, one of the major causes of serious injury and mortality has to do with the proximity of training exercises to where the marine mammals are present. The Fisheries and outside experts have been identifying areas within this Southern California / Hawaii training area that are particularly important to marine mammals. And all we're saying simply is that you should examine alternatives that would have you carrying out your training and at least some of these areas off-limits.
David Henkin says those mammals will not be able to eat, feed, breed or communicate.
To embed this content on your own webpage, cut and paste the following: