The US Navy vs. Nature
Just catching up on the bad news that the National Marine Fisheries Service has signed off on the Navy’s plan to inundate whale and dolphin habitat, otherwise known as the oceans, with harmful sonar:
While the Final Rule is not yet available to review (the website link provided by the agency doesn’t have the Final Rule), it appears from NMFS’ release that it has adopted the course laid out in its Proposed Rule. There, it found that millions of instances of harm to the area’s whales and dolphins (including habitat abandonment, temporary hearing loss, and in some instances permanent hearing loss, injury to internal organs, and death) constitutes a “negligible impact” to the species harmed.
And once again, NMFS is finding that that the most severe impacts (temporary and permanent hearing loss and death) can be “minimized” by a Navy lookout regime that is wholly inadequate and ineffectual.
Such nonsense would be funny if it wasn’t so tragic. Scientific research developed over the last five years (the last time NMFS authorized Navy training and testing in the area) shows Navy training and testing activities are harming marine mammals far more than previously known. NRDC recently won a lawsuit against NMFS for ignoring that science when authorizing Navy training and testing in the Pacific Northwest.
This sort of testing and training is mostly a product of Cold War inertia and seems to me detached from strategic reality. Or at least serious strategic analysis. I know the phrase “national security” trumps just about all reasoned analysis. But what foreign threats justify such extensive damage to marine mammals? What increment of security is gained from live training versus simulations? Will we ever start to value other life and habitat on the planet?