Dolphin and Whale Incidental Takes East Coast Training Unacceptable


By Kirsten Massebeau Champions for Cetaceans Daily Scoop

Atlantic Bottle Nose Dolphin and Calf

The Navy has submitted their request for “incidental takes of marine mammals with NMFS/NOAA for 2012 U.S. Navy Atlantic Fleet Training and Testing Activities (AFTT). Marine mammals will suffer painful deaths inflicted by sonar, under water explosions and exposure to toxic chemicals. As can be seen in the tables below the number of whales, dolphins, and seals to be killed (harassment A) and impacted (harassment B) are unacceptable. The Navy now admits that harm will be caused yet are increasing their training program and impact on marine mammals. (Source)

REQUEST FOR REGULATIONS AND LETTERS OF AUTHORIZATION
FOR THE INCIDENTAL TAKING OF MARINE MAMMALS
RESULTING FROM U.S. NAVY TRAINING AND TESTING ACTIVITIES
IN THE ATLANTIC FLEET TRAINING AND TESTING STUDY AREA 

(September 2012  FINAL)

(Permit Source for Tables)

These numbers are unacceptable! All ocean activists need to make comments and let our voices be heard. Only we can stop the Navy from decimating whale and dolphin populations. Please follow this link and make your comment. The comment period ends on 11/05/2012. We must convince NMFS/NOAA that these incidental  take numbers are unacceptable!

March 7th Cape Cod Dolphin Stranding Correlates with Atlantic Naval Activities


By Kirsten Massebeau

As the stranding of dolphins continues on Cape Cod’s, Well Fleet so do the correlations with Naval activites in the Atlantic Ocean. It was reported that dolphins stranded on March 7th 2012. “The rash of strandings of short-beaked common dolphins along the Cape Cod Bay shoreline in the past month is rare for the decade, but marine mammal specialists cautioned Monday that in the longer view, it might be perfectly normal”.Again, just as in the months of January and February Naval activity is taking place in the Atlantic. Even government Funded IFAW Katie Moore who has denied Naval involvement despite evidence of Naval activity can no longer deny the possibility of sound being the source of these tragic deaths along the Atlantic Coastline, ”

Moore said she couldn’t rule out possible connections between the strandings and acoustic disruptions in the ocean or climate change or other human-caused factors.

“We don’t have that single answer,” she said. “We want to look into every possible cause.”

So why the denial Cape Cod? Where is the advocacy for the dolphins and whales who are having to contend with an aggressive Naval program that is only expanding. Why is this allowed to continue? Many people seem unaware that NOAA has signed permits for the Navy to “take” huge numbers of dolphins and whales as “incidental” to sonar, underwater detonations, and other Wartime activities:

This letter of Authorization is just for the Atlantic ocean alone!

This Authorization is valid for the period January 22, 2012, through January 22,2014

(i) Mysticetes:
2 (A) North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis) 1466
(B) Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) – 9244
(C) Minke whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) – 914
(D) Sei whale (Balaenoptera borealis) – 2326
(E) Fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus) – 1940
(F) Bryde ‘ s whale (Balaenoptera edeni) – 80
(G) Blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) – 1762
(ii) Odontocetes:
(A) Sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) – 21468
(B) Pygmy or dwa r f sperm whales (Kogia breviceps or Kogia s ima ) –
9644
(C) Beaked Whales (Cuvier’s, True’s, Gervais’, Sowerby’s, Blainville’s,
Northern bottlenose whale) (Ziphius cavirostris, Mesoplodon mirus, M.
europaeus, M. bidens, M. densirostris, Hyperoodon ampullatus) – 10796
(D) Rough-toothed dolphin (Steno bredanensis) 5958
(E) Bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) – 1334964
(F) Pan-tropical dolphin (Stenella attenuata) – 306474
G) Atlantic spotted dolphin (Stenella frontalis) 827824
(H) Spinner dolphin (Stenella longirostris) – 46542
(I) Clymene dolphin (Stenella clymene) – 102164
(J) Striped dolphin (Stenella coeruleoalba) – 384392
(K) Common dolphin (Delphinus spp.) – 212212 
(L) Fr a s e r ‘ s dolphin (Lagenodelphis hosei) – 762
(M) Risso’ s dolphin (Grampus griseus) – 206966
(N) Atlantic white-sided dolphin (Lagenorhynchus acutus) – 45432
(0) White-beaked dophin (Lagenorhynchus albirostris) -7590
(P) Melon-headed whale (Peponocephala electra) 3638
(Q) Pygmy killer whale (Feresa attenuata) – 616
(R) False killer whale (Pseudorca crassidens) – 1194
(S) Killer whale (Orcinus orca) 1106
(T) Pilot whales (Short-finned pilot or long-finned) (Globicephala
macrorynchus or G. melas) 280264
(U) Harbor porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) – 337658

How are these numbers acceptable. Up to 21,2212 common dolphins can be “taken” meaning killed or harassed by the U.S. Navy. What does this mean for dolphins? Each year the death and destruction will increase as sonar becomes more powerful and as the U.S. Navy continues to increase the use.

Why do government funded scientists and marine mammals specialists seem to be looking the other way when it come to the Navy? Could it be all in the name of science. It seems because this is a new area of study government funded some scientists are clamoring to get in on the data and studies.

‘A lot that we can learn’

Scientists typically advocate the rescue of marine mammals in distress, even if they are not endangered as a total population, because as humans “we value being humane to animals in need,” Zagzebski said. “There’s a lot that we can learn. They’re telling us what’s going in the ocean, in that ecosystem, and that’s an ecosystem that we depend on.”

On the West Coast, the study of stranded California sea lions and common dolphins in the late 1990s led to a better understanding of a public health risk from a harmful algae bloom, Zagzebski said. On the East Coast, a current study of how marine mammals handle deep diving could help shed light on how humans might survive in deep waters.

“It’s amazing work,” she said.
How could anyone call this amazing? This video was taken in 2003. Imagine how advanced sonar is today, louder with pings traveling farther.Thanks to scientists on the West Coast dedicated to saving cetaceans from sonar control the Navy’s sonar activities will not be swept under the rug!

Is the suffering of dolphins and whales from these sonar exercises worth the “data”. Is the trade off worth it? Come on world open your eyes to the terrible suffering. Together we can silence deadly sonar!
Please take a moment and contact Jim Levy in who has signed these terrible Letters of Authorization for the Navy to “take” dolphins and whales incidental to sonar use. Let him know we will not accept the increased use of sonar by the Navy! We believe homeland security is important but not when it is causing such suffering in our ocean cousins. Request information on any upcoming permits for sonar that he has not authorized!
jim.lecky@noaa.gov

Join us as we fight to silence sonar and air-guns before it destroys all the whales and dolphins in the ocean!

Follow the link to find out about sonar and the Navy’s activities in the Atlantic Ocean during the months of January and February 2012: https://championsforcetaceans.com/2012/03/07/cape-cod-dolphin-stranding-coincides-with-atlantic-naval-warfare-exercises-in-10-years/

Cape Cod Dolphin Stranding Coincides with Atlantic Naval Warfare Exercises in 10 years


Picture by Sandy Sullivan taken at Jeremy Point, Wellfleet

By Kirsten Massebeau and Edward Johnson

January 12, 2012 will always be remembered as the day the mass stranding of common dolphins began on Cape Cod’s Wellfleet. Dolphins began to strand that afternoon and continued into the month of February. Government funded non profit IFAW strand network and NOAA have continued to contend there is no connection to sonar despite the largest Naval Warfare exercises in 10 years. But the carcasses of dolphins decomposing on the Cape Cod Coastline are screaming out for an investigation into what really happened by an unbiased, independent team of scientists who are not funded by the U.S. government. It is no surprise that each and every “expert”interviewed is government funded. They want the world to believe this was a “natural” occurrence yet how can we when all the information related to the stranding is being handled by government funded agencies and scientists, a truly biased group. Dolphin conservationists are challenging the Navy to release locations of the sonar carrying vessels during these training exercises and the sonar pings and anthropogenic noise created by by underwater detonations. In addition, some of the foreign participants may have been using sonar that is not described in the Naval permit in any other way than classified:

“Active sonar Systems to be deployed along US Atlantic Coast and Gulf”

“Disturbance  The presence and movement of vessels represent a source of acute and chronic disturbance for marine mammals and sea turtles. The underwater noise generated by vessels may disturb animals when the animal perceives that an approach has started and during the course of the interaction. 6.1.2 High-frequency active sonar Several of the torpedoes and the AN/BQS-15 sonar system, which Navy submarines use for under-ice navigation and mine-hunting, produce high-frequency sounds (see Table 7). In addition, two of the active sonar systems the U.S. Navy employs as part of its mine warfare scenarios – AN/AQS-14, which is an active-controlled, helicoptertowed mine-hunting active sonar and AN/AQS-24 which is an upgraded version of AN/AQS-14 – operate at frequencies higher than 200 kHz.

6.1.3 Mid-frequency active sonar

Naval sonars operate on the same basic principle as fish-finders (which are also a kind of sonar): brief pulses of sound, or “pings,” are projected into the ocean and an accompanying hydrophone system in the sonar device listens for echoes from targets such as ships, mines or submarines. Several sonar systems are likely to be employed during the active sonar training activities the U.S. Navy plans to conduct along the Atlantic Coast of the United States andin the Gulf of Mexico, but several systems pose potential risks to listed resources (we should note that other navies that might be involved in some of the active sonar training exercises, such as Joint Task Force Exercises, employ similar active sonar systems as well, but we do not have the information necessary to describe those systems”. http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/pdfs/consultations/biop_navy_afast_loa2012.pdf

Based on Table 7, pg. 139 under disturbances which indicate that the use of these systems will be the source of acute and chronic disturbance for marine mammals and sea turtles, this permit allows ten different systems to be considered classified.  These classified systems are indicated as such for two reasons 1) Apparently at the request of the US Navy or 2) Systems that belong to a foreign government participating in some form of joint task force operation. NOAA and NMFS in others words by allowing the use of these damaging to lethal systems has basically agreed to circumvent the Marine Mammal Protection Act. The following is a list of those systems:

AN/SQS-53 and AN/SQS-56 MF Classified, AN/BQQ-5 or 10 MF Classified, MK-48 Torpedo HF       Classified, MK-46 or 54 Torpedo HF Classified, IEER (AN/SSQ-110A) Impulsive -Broadband Classified, AN/SLQ-25 (NIXIE) MF Classified, AN/SQQ-32 HF Classified, AN/BQS-15 HF Classified, ADC MK-1, MK-2, MK-3, and MK-4 ADCs MF Classified, & Noise Acoustic Emitters (NAE) MF Classified

 Conservationists are asking how such and extensive Naval operation using sonar could be be ruled out as the cause to the Atlantic cetacean strandings during January and February 2012 on the Atlantic Ocean. Government funded Katie Moore of IFAW in her article “Putting conspiracy to bed for Cape Cod’s stranded dolphins, it wasn’t U.S. Navy Sonar”, goes to great lengths to convince the reader that sonar is not the cause of the Cape Cod stranding’s. “The Navy has not conducted a major training exercise in the Northeast US within the last 24 months.  Currently there is only one active area of the Mid-Atlantic coast and according to both parties; Operation Bold Alligator 12, did not involve active sonar”. http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/pdfs/consultations/biop_navy_afast_loa2012.pdf.

Here is an excellent response by an anonymous commenter to Katie Moore’s article:

“Please don’t blithely dismiss people’s concerns about the Navy’s use of active sonar by using the word “conspiracy”. Although I respect the fact that you were a leader in this recent stranding case and I admire the work of your organization, the fact is that the effects of LFAS and MFAS on most species of cetaceans are largely unknown. What we do know is that small cetaceans will react to active sonar (Haro Strait 2003), but the Navy has a long history of not being forthright with the public, and NOAA is arm in arm with the Navy. Thanks to the work of a few brave and knowledgeable individuals and organizations, the public would not only continue to be in the dark about the Navy’s use of active sonar in its training ranges (dating back at least 60 years), but would continue to be left out of the legal and public commenting process. Let them question without being ridiculed”. http://www.ifaw.org/us/news/putting-conspiracy-bed-cape-cods-stranded-dolphins-it-wasn%E2%80%99t-us-navy-sonar#comment-51136

NOAA also made a point to dispel any questions about Sonar being involved, “Could military activities (e.g., Navy sonar or exercises) be causing these strandings? The Navy has not conducted a major training exercise off the coast of Massachusetts or anywhere in the Northeast in the last 24 months. Some animal welfare organizations have inquired about “Operation Bold Alligator, which was a combined Navy and Marine Corps training exercise recently conducted off the coast of North Carolina and southern Virginia. No hull mounted active sonar was used during “Operation Bold Alligator 12.” Activities conducted during that exercise could not possibly have affected dolphins in the Gulf of Maine and Cape Cod Bay”. http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/health/commondolphins_massachusetts2012.ht

In fact, there were not one but two Naval Exercises conducted in the “Atlantic” during January and February. It began with Comptuex JTFEX and went on to include Operation Bold Alligator. The magnitude of the Naval training exercises that took place in the Atlantic ocean during these months are mind boggling.  The U.S. Navy began Comptuex (Composite Training Exercise, JTFEX (Joint Task Fleet Exercise) on January 11, 2012 in the Atlantic ocean.”USS Enterprise (CVN 65) departed its homeport of Norfolk, Va., Jan. 11 to participate in a Composite Unit Training Exercise (COMPTUEX) and Joint Task Force Exercise (JTFEX)”The Enterprise Carrier Strike Group includes USS Enterprise (CVN 65), Carrier Air Wing 1, Destroyer Squadron 2, guided-missile cruiser USS Vicksburg (CG 69), guided-missile destroyers USS Porter (DDG 78), USS James E. Williams (DDG 95) and USS Nitze (DDG 94)”>http://mt-milcom.blogspot.com/search?updated-max=2012-01-13T06:45:00-05:00&max-results=2 The USS James E. Williams a sonar laden guided missile destroyer is pictured above in the “Atlantic” performing a live fire exercise on January 12, 2012. Exact locations in the “Atlantic” are undisclosed.

Comptuex JTFEX Crew Certification January 18th 2012

“The goal of the exercise is to integrate and assess the staff and individual units within the Enterprise Carrier Strike Group, and to grant the strike group major operations certification upon completion.http://www.navy.mil/search/display.asp?story_id=64784

“The JTFEX will test the ship’s ability, as well as that of its strike group, to operate in a complex, hostile environment with other U.S. and coalition forces”. http://www.navy.mil/search/display.asp?story_id=64784

“COMPTUEX is the last major battle group exercise that the James E. Williams will have before we deploy with the Enterprise Strike Group this spring,” said Cmdr. Christopher M. Senenko, the commanding officer of James E. Williams”. http://www.navy.mil/search/display.asp?story_id=64784

“It’s a last opportunity for the battle group to integrate, demonstrate all the mission sets we possibly may encounter on deployment, and get certification from the operational chain-of-command,” said Senenko”http://www.navy.mil/search/display.asp?story_id=6478

“Hudson and Crosby also act as evaluators who are responsible for tactically employing SONAR to find threats. When a threat is found they place the ship or ships in their control into the most opportune environment to prosecute the threat”. http://navaltoday.com/2012/01/31/usa-arleigh-burke-class-guided-missile-destroyer-flexes-undersea-warfare-capabilities/

Comptuex/JTFEX and Operation Bold Alligator Underway February 8th 2012

Operation Bold Alligator took place from January 30-February 12, 2012

“Thousands of Marines storm U.S. beaches as Operation Bold Alligator sees biggest amphibious landing for a decade”

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2097624/Thousands-Marines-storm-U-S-beaches-Operation-Bold-Alligator-simulates-international-invasion.html#ixzz1npyQiDCP

“Bold Alligator is a large-scale, multinational Navy-Marine Corps amphibious exercise conducted by U.S. Fleet Forces and Marine Forces Command. It will be the Atlantic Fleet’s largest amphibious exercise in 10 years. The 2012 exercise is centralizing planning and execution of a brigade-sized amphibious assault from a seabase in a medium threat environment. Following a decade of ground war, this event is intended to revitalize, refine and strengthen core amphibious competencies of the Navy and Marine Corps”.  http://www.globenewswire.com/newsroom/news.html?d=244896

Interestingly an article published by PBS, “Just Ask: Could Sonar Be Responsible for Cap Cod Dolphin Strandings?” PBS interviews again interviews government funded and government funded Katie Moore of IFAW and then adds the voice of government funded Darlene Ketten of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute famous for their use of air guns, blasts of sound that map the ocean floor,

“Katie Moore, manager of the marine mammal rescue effort for theInternational Fund for Animal Welfare says she’s seen no evidence of any of these symptoms in the dolphins she and her team have tried to rescue.Darlene Ketten of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, who has been studying the stranded dolphins in her lab, agrees. Research is still ongoing, she says, but lab analyses show no indication of animals suffering from issues related to acoustics”. http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/2012/02/just-ask-could-sonar-be-responsible-for-cape-cod-dolphin-strandings.html Lastly, PBS brings in the Navy, “The United States Navy has operated one marine training exercise on the East Coast this year, according to U.S. Navy spokesman Lt. Matt Allen. The exercise, Operation Bold Alligator, occurred between Jan. 30 and Feb. 12 in and around the coasts of southern Virginia and North Carolina. High frequency active sonar may have been used in this operation, Allen said. “This type of sonar is used for depth finding and mine location purposes, and is similar to fathometers, which are used by fisherman,” he said. “But it’s short range and has never been associated with marine mammal strandings.”http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/2012/02/just-ask-could-sonar-be-responsible-for-cape-cod-dolphin-strandings.html

So why the smoke screen? Where is any mention of Comptuex JTFEX? Why is it unreasonable for United States Taxpayers to question Naval activities in relation to Cape Cod or any other stranding? In reality the Navy has a permit to “take” many more common dolphins annually on the Atlantic Ocean than the nearly 180 that stranded on Cape Cod.

“The Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command, 1562 Mitscher Ave., Ste 250,
Norfolk, VA 23551-2457 and persons operating under his authority (i.e., Navy), are authorized
to take marine mammals incidental to Navy activities conducted as part of the Atlantic Fleet
Active Sonar Training (AF AST) in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico in accordance with
50 CFR Part 216, Subpart V– Taking and Importing Marine Mammals; U.S. Navy’ s Atlantic
Fleet Active Sonar Training (AF AST) subject to the provisions of the Marine Mamma l
Protection Ac t (16 U.S.C. 1361 e t seq.; MMPA) and the following conditions”

http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/pdfs/permits/2011_afast_loa_coverletter.pdf

This Authorization is valid for the period February 7, 2011, through January 21, 2012
(i) Mysticetes:
(A) North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis) – 733
(B) Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) – 4622
(C) Minke whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) – 457
(D) Sei whale (Balaenoptera borealis) 1163
(E) Fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus) – 970
(F) Bryde’s whale (Balaenoptera edeni) 40
(G) Blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) 881
(ii) Odontocetes:
2 (A) Sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) 10734
(B) Pygmy or dwa r f sperm whales (Kogia breviceps or Kogia sima)
4822
(C) Beaked Whales (Cuvier’s, True’s, Gervais’, Sowerby’s, Blainville’s,
Northern bottlenose whale) (Ziphius cavirostris, Mesoplodon mirus, M.
europaeus, M. bidens, M. densirostris, Hyperoodon ampullatus) 5398
(D) Rough-toothed dolphin (Steno bredanensis) – 2979
(E) Bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) 667482
(F) Pan-tropical dolphin (Stenella attenuata) – 153237
G) Atlantic spotted dolphin (Stenella frontalis) – 413917
(H) Spinner dolphin (Stenella longirostris) – 23271
(I) Clymene dolphin (Stenella clymene) 51082
(1) Striped dolphin (Stenella coeruleoalba) 192196
(K) Common dolphin (Delphinus spp.) 106106 
(L) Fraser’s dolphin (Lagenodelphis hosei) – 381
(M) Risso’s dolphin (Grampus griseus) 103483
(N) Atlantic white-sided dolphin (Lagenorhynchus acutus) – 22716
(0) White-beaked dophin (Lagenorhynchus albirostris) – 3795
(P) Melon-headed whale (Peponocephala electra) – 1819
(Q) Pygmy killer whale (Feresa attenuata) 308
(R) False killer whale (Pseudorca crassidens) 592
(S) Killer whale (Orcinus orca) – 553
(T) Pilot whales (Short-finned pilot or long-finned) (Globicephala
macrorynchus or G. melas) 140132

4. (a) The taking of marine mammals by the Navy is only authorized if it occurs
incidental to the use of the following mid-frequency active sonar (MFAS) sources, high
frequency active sonar (HF AS) sources, or explosive sonobuoys for U.S. Navy anti-submarine
warfare (ASW), mine warfare (MIW) training, maintenance, or research, development, testing,
and evaluation (RDT &E) in the amounts indicated below:
(i) AN/SQS-53 (hull-mounted sonar) – 3214 hours
(ii) AN/SQS-56 (hull-mounted sonar) – 1684 hours
(iii) AN/SQS-56 or 53 (hull-mounted sonar in object detection mode) – 216
hours
(iv) ANIBQQ-10 or 5 (submarine sonar) – 9976 pings (v) ANI AQS-22 or 13 (helicopter dipping sonar) – 2952 dips
(vi) SSQ-62 (Directional Command Activated Sonobuoy System (DICASS)
sonobuoys) – 5853 sonobuoys
(vii) MK-48 (heavyweight torpedoes) 32 torpedoes
(viii) MK-46 or 54 (lightweight torpedoes) 24 torpedoes
(ix) AN/SSQ- l l OA (lEER explosive sonobuoy) – 1725 sonobuoys
(x) AN/SSQ-125 (AEER) sonar sonobuoy) – 1550
(xi) AN/SLQ-25 (NIXIE – towed countermeasure) – 2500 hours
(xii) ANIBQS-15 (submarine navigation) 450 hours
(xiii) MK-1 or 2 or 3 or 4 (Submarine-fired Acoustic Device Countermeasure
(ADC» – 225 ADCs
(xiv) Noise Acoustic Emitters (NAE – Sub-fired countermeasure) – 127 NAEs
(b) l i the number of sonar hours, dips, torpedoes, and sonobuoys indicated in Condition
4(a) are exceeded by more than 10 percent, subsequent LOAs issued under the AF AST final rule will ensure that the total activities over five years do not result in exceeding the amount of authorized marine mammal takes indicated in 50 CFR 216.242(c).

http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/pdfs/permits/2011_afast_loa_coverletter.pdf

This Authorization is valid for the period January 22, 2012, through January 22,2014

(i) Mysticetes:
2 (A) North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis) 1466
(B) Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) – 9244
(C) Minke whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) – 914
(D) Sei whale (Balaenoptera borealis) – 2326
(E) Fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus) – 1940
(F) Bryde ‘ s whale (Balaenoptera edeni) – 80
(G) Blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) – 1762
(ii) Odontocetes:
(A) Sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) – 21468
(B) Pygmy or dwa r f sperm whales (Kogia breviceps or Kogia s ima ) –
9644
(C) Beaked Whales (Cuvier’s, True’s, Gervais’, Sowerby’s, Blainville’s,
Northern bottlenose whale) (Ziphius cavirostris, Mesoplodon mirus, M.
europaeus, M. bidens, M. densirostris, Hyperoodon ampullatus) – 10796
(D) Rough-toothed dolphin (Steno bredanensis) 5958
(E) Bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) – 1334964
(F) Pan-tropical dolphin (Stenella attenuata) – 306474
G) Atlantic spotted dolphin (Stenella frontalis) 827824
(H) Spinner dolphin (Stenella longirostris) – 46542
(I) Clymene dolphin (Stenella clymene) – 102164
(J) Striped dolphin (Stenella coeruleoalba) – 384392
(K) Common dolphin (Delphinus spp.) – 212212
(L) Fr a s e r ‘ s dolphin (Lagenodelphis hosei) – 762
(M) Risso’ s dolphin (Grampus griseus) – 206966
(N) Atlantic white-sided dolphin (Lagenorhynchus acutus) – 45432
(0) White-beaked dophin (Lagenorhynchus albirostris) -7590
(P) Melon-headed whale (Peponocephala electra) 3638
(Q) Pygmy killer whale (Feresa attenuata) – 616
(R) False killer whale (Pseudorca crassidens) – 1194
(S) Killer whale (Orcinus orca) 1106
(T) Pilot whales (Short-finned pilot or long-finned) (Globicephala
macrorynchus or G. melas) 280264
(U) Harbor porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) – 337658

The taking of marine mamma l s by the Navy is only authorized if it occurs
incidental to the us e of the following mid-frequency active sonar (MF AS) sources, high
frequency active sonar (HFAS) sources, or similar sources, for U.S. Navy anti-submarine
warfare (ASW), mine warfare (MIW) training, maintenance, or research, development, testing,
and evaluation (ROT &E) in the amounts indicated below:
(i) . AN/SQS-53 (hull-mounted sonar) – 6428 hours (an average of 3214 hours annually)
(ii) AN/SQS-56 (hull-mounted sonar) – 3368 hours (an average of 1684 hours annually)
(iii) AN/SQS-56 or 53 (hull-mounted sona r in object detection mode) – 432 hours (an
average of216 hours annually) (iv) ANIBQQ- I0 or 5 (submarine sonar) – 19952 pings (an average of9976 pings
annually)
(v) AN/AQS-22 or 13 (helicopter dipping sonar) – 5904 dips (an average of2952 dips
annually)
(vi) SSQ-62 (Directional Command Activated Sonobuoy System (DICASS) sonobuoys)
11706 sonobuoys (an average of 5853 sonobuoys annually)
(vii) MK-48 (heavyweight torpedoes) – 64 torpedoes (an average of 32 torpedoes
annually)
(viii) MK-46 or 54 (lightweight torpedoes) – 48 torpedoes (an average of24 torpedoes
annually)
(ix) AN/SSQ- l i OA (IEER explosive sonobuoy) – 3450 sonobuoys (an average of 1725
sonobuoys annually)
(x) AN/SSQ-125 (AEER) sonar sonobuoy) 3100 sonobuoys (an average of 1550
sonobuoys annually)
(xi) AN/SLQ-25 (NIXIE – towed countermeasure) 5000 hours (an average of2500
hours annually)
(xii) ANIBQS-15 (submarine navigation) 900 hours (an average of 450 hours annually)
(xiii) MK-I or 2 or 3 or 4 (Submarine-fired Acoustic Device Countermeasure (ADC»-
450 ADCs (an average of225 ADCs annually)
(xiv) Noise Acoustic Emitters (NAE – Sub-fired countermeasure) – 254 NAEs (an
average of 127 NAEs annually)
(b) I f the number of sonar hours, dips, torpedoes, and sonobuoys indicated in Condition 4(a) are exceeded by more than 10 percent, subsequent LOAs issued under the AF AST final rule will ensure that the total activities over five years do not result in exceeding the amount of authorized marine mammal takes indicated in 50 CFR 216.242(c).”

http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/pdfs/permits/afast_loa2012.pdf

So what does all this mean for dolphins and whales. The numbers of cetaceans that may be “taken” or “harassed” by sonar is huge. In addition, today’s new sonar is more powerful than ever before traveling further and covering even greater distances than ever before yet how does the Navy determine if cetaceans will be effected? By visually looking for whales and dolphins, “Lookouts shall be trained in the most effective means to ensure quick and effective communication within the command structure in order to facilitate implementation of mitigation measures i f marine mammals are spotted”http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/pdfs/permits/2011_afast_loa_coverletter.pdf  In other words any whale or dolphin diving deep that is not visually detected becomes a casualty.

A video made long ago in 2003 by Ken Balcomb cetacean scientist, demonstrates the painful and devastating effects of sonar. The viewer can only imagine how much stronger sonar and other sounds produced by live Naval warfare games are today and the effect they have on our ocean friends.

It is time to take action. Non government funded organizations and people worldwide are demanding the Navy silence their deadly sonar. The trade off is too great. It is time for the world to open their eyes to the deadly sounds being introduced into the world of dolphins and whales. The ocean is their habitat not mans. Isn’t it time we start putting the ocean and her creatures first.

What you can do?

1) Don’t just take the word of government funded organizations that continue to spread propaganda about sonar. Sonar is very real and it is deadly to whales and dolphins!

Contact the Freedom of Information Act and request location of ships involved in Comptuex JTFEX and Bold Alligator. In addition, request sonar emissions and underwater charges. In addition request necropsy level C data. 

Join us on as we continue to fight the people of the sea. We agree national security is important but at what cost to dolphins whales and all the sea creatures that call the ocean home.

Opposition to Sonar Indian Ocean


By Edward Johnson                                                       Photo provided by KPBS

Another permit for taking of marine mammals will undoubtly be approved by the Dept. of Commerce, NOAA,and the National Marine Fisheries Service(NMFS). We made a post asking others to submit similiar objections on this issue. https://championsforcetaceans.com/2011/12/13/u-s-navy-surtass-lfa-program-and-the-taking-of-marine-mammals/ This issue will not go away any time soon and will only happen when and if conclusive scientific evidence is submitted proving that the danger of this technology is outweighed by the risks to the marine community.The following is my letter submitted to NOAA in opposition to the use of multiple air guns abbreviated (SURTASS-LFA) off South Africa and listed as being in the Indian Ocean.

Department of Commerce

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration                                                                                                                   Michael Payne Chief of Permits Education and Conservation                                                                                     National Marine Fisheries Service

RE: RIN 0648-XA792Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Physical                                                                                                                                            Oceanographic Studies in the Southwest Indian Ocean

January -February 2012 Specified Activities; Physical Oceanographic Studies in the Southwest Indian Ocean,January through February, 2012

RE: Opposition to RIN 0648–XA792

In Sept of this year I opposed RIN 0648–XA507,  a similar request to conduct sonar testing in the Pacific Ocean between the Hawaiian Islands and Guam.  My intent here is to again reiterate concerns as well as add additional challenges that I have identified since that submission. The Dept. of Defense in accordance with what I assume is the MMPA has previously agreed to certain limitations regarding testing SURTASS LFA in zones adjacent to continental landmasses which I will categorize as continental shelves. The limit that has been established is 20 km or 12 miles. The mire fact that testing is no longer conducted in shallower waters is in fact an admission of the potential danger to marine mammals in these near shore environments. Previously, the navy has admitted to the wrongful death, based on traumatization of marine mammals,’ in cases that include Puget Sound and the Bahamas documented by Ken Balcomb. Granted these where mid-range frequency sonar systems and at higher decibel level sonar deployments but the proof has resulted in less invasive equipment, less area for conducting testing, and less deadly outcomes with living communities within all oceans, seas and bays.  A further indication of the potential compromising of the well-being of marine animals has been the establishment of some 20 worldwide marine reserves which are presently protected from activates such as those being advocated by this particular request.  These 20 global reserves admittedly are a small step, looking at the globe, 20 dots is hardly discernible when considering the vastness of all oceans and seas, this is really a minimal effort. What is significant is the admission that a need exists to preserve habitat that might be otherwise affected by adverse anthropomorphic activities in this case sonar testing.

Verification of events that have occurred in pelagic zones, simply identified as open oceans and beyond continental shelf zones, occurred last month in the Mediterranean Sea in which whales (Cuvier’s beaked whales)unknown to this area and considered pelagic stranded themselves in some cases and others washed ashore dead. After undergoing necropsies the determined cause of death was similar to what had previously occurred in the Canary Islands. http://aeinews.org/archives/1698/comment-page-1#comment-429 . The point that just because we think something is true does not mean it is the absolute truth.  The implication here is it was thought that pelagic zones adjacent to shallower water would not funnel sound from deeper to swallow. Based on what was reported the sound was heard at waters edge by those involved in rescue attempts during the actual stranding. Here is the actual quote from that article, ” rescuers in two separate locations during the initial strandings report hearing a “whistling” noise at 10-15 second intervals; it’s quite likely that this sound was what drove the animals ashore. While rare, this is not the first time that humans above the water have heard underwater sound transmissions during stranding events.”   The actual video with Ken Balcomb is included here because of the factual presentation of what really happens. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=O9gDk29Y_YY  Granted events such as these will no longer happen because of the restrictions on sonar in Puget Sound as well as the Bahamas. However as I have mentioned the new occurrence in the Mediterranean resulting in the deaths’ of Culviers beaked whales and the fact this testing was conducted in pelagic waters bring new questions on this technology. Specifically bathymetric parameters must be considered even in deeper ocean waters adjacent to land masses. At this time I have no knowledge if such conditions are found within the identified areas of Southwest Indian Ocean where this research will take place. It would be most important to postpone this and all permits of this nature until the reoccurrence of similar events can be eliminated.

The following are lifted directly from the permit application and have been selected as points of contention that deserve diametric comments.

“Acoustic stimuli (i.e., increased underwater sound) generated during the operation of the air-gun array may have short-term behavioral disturbance for marine mammals in the survey area.”

My Comment: The wording,  “may have short-term behavioral disturbance,” is greatly oversimplified based on the preponderance of evidence claiming the opposite. The mire posting of the story from the Mediterranean last month provides factual evidence that seismic sounds most certainly can cause behavioral changes. I previous have mentioned Ken Balcomb and have found the following statement which too me expose the real danger of LFA.

“Therefore, based on two significant mass mortality events (Greece and the Bahamas) the body of evidence indicates that not only is resonance with LFA and sonar frequencies a problem for beaked whales, the sound pressure level of 180 dB RL is demonstrably not safe, and it is probably not safe for other cetaceans (two minke whales and a dolphin also stranded in the Bahamas incident). Aversion and/or physiological damage evidently and repeatedly occurs in beaked whales at levels of somewhere between 150 and 180 dB RL (probably nearer the former) of either low frequency or mid-frequency sonar signals in the whales=92 normal habitat. Clearly, the impact of high-powered rapid-rise acoustic energy (such as sonar), particularly at airspace resonance frequency, on these animals is occurring at significant distances well beyond the current mitigation distance (1-2.2 km) used by the Navy. These impact distances can be easily calculated, and they are more like 20 to 100 kilometers, and more well over the horizon of shipboard observers.” Copied from http://www.acousticecology.org/oceanlfasbalcomb.html   Here again we not only have proof that damage will occur but well beyond distances attributed as safe. At some point the applicant insinuates that the height of the boat above the water line (42 ft.) will allow for save observation of approaching whales. Based on the above the listed distance at which 160 db, will be heard is in fact more than a factor between 10 at the least to as much as 50 greater than the distance damaging sound waves will be heard . What the Navy needs to do is build ships with observation towers basically 10 to 50 times as high. This is ridiculous so this entire premise should be retracted or eliminated.

“Take is not expected to result from the use of the multi-beam echo-sounder (MBES), subbottom profiler (SBP), or ADCPs, due to the narrow and directional acoustic beam field of the MBES, the attenuation rate of high-frequency sound in seawater, and the motility of free-ranging marine mammals.”

My Comment: The term motility implies free swimming , to move spontaneously and actively. Again this is greatly oversimplified based on the preponderance of evidence claiming the opposite. Within your own documentation I have found that some species of whales will avoid those areas ensonified and in other species stop communicating when encountering ensonification.

I appreciate that individuals have the opportunity to make comments on projects that will impact marine populations. In this particular case the ocean has been contaminated by sounds which have interfered with the ability of sea creatures to survive. NOAA must stop awarding permits to the U.S. Navy and Ocean Research companies, that are injecting into the ocean, intrusive sound waves into an already confusing and damaging array of anthropogenic created wave forms.

This was submitted on Dec 21, 2011 just prior to the deadline.

U.S.Navy Surtass LFA program and the taking of Marine Mammals


By Stephen Hambrick

A Dead Humpback Whale That Stranded

Send all comments on latest permit RIN 0648–XA792 request to use sonar/air guns  to NOAA e mail at ITPCody@noaa.gov.org 

The U.S. Navy has recently applied for a permit authorizing the incidental taking of up to 94 species of Marine Mammals over the next five year period beginning in August 2012 thru August 2017,being incidental to its testing of low frequency sonar under it’s Surtass program.70 Cetaceans and 24 Pinnipeds during what it calls military readiness activities.The Navy has stated that it will not exceed 180 decibels of sonar ping,in prior years and over the last 50 years the acceptable level of decibels was classified at 120 to comply with safety issues regarding Marine Mammals.The Navy’s application for permit with the NMFS states that it will not use this sonar testing within 12 miles of any coastline,and that such tests will not be performed within the Arctic Ocean or Antarctica,or any biologically recognized breeding areas of Marine Mammals.

The Navy will operate these exercises in the Atlantic,Pacific,and Indian Oceans and the Mediterranean Sea.Outlying within the permit application,the Navy states that the probability of taking Marine Mammals through levl “A” harassment is at 0.001 percent,yet because it is not scientifically predicted to attain a rating of 0 percent,that is the basis for requesting level “A”.

Whales and other Marine Mammals rely exclusively on hearing for their basic life functions.Such as orientation and communication,feeding,finding pod members and calfs,how they mate with each other,and how they navigate the seas.

When sounds emit making more noise than a jet aircraft fills their ears,the results can be tragic and deadly.Whether the sounds emit from air guns used for oil exploration or from ships and submarines emitting sonar,Man made sounds can drown out noises Marine Mammals rely upon for their very survival,causing injury and death.At 140 decibel sound ping as far away as 300 miles from it’s source,The intensity impact on Marine Mammals has been shown to be 100 times the recorded statistics to alter the behavior of Marine Mammals.The current Navy application for permit requests NMFS to approve up to 180 decibels ping. ” There is no question and has been scientifically proven,that sonar injuries kill whales and dolphins” stated Senior Attorney Joel Reynolds of the National Resource Defense Council. Many of the Whales affected by the testing have suffered Bleeding of the brain,ears,and other tissues and have caused large bubbles within their organs.Scientists also believe that mid frequency sonar blasts drive certain whales to change diving patterns that are harmful to their bodies,further causing severe injury or death.Naval sonar has also proven to be detrimental to feeding and other behaviors causing whales and dolphins to panic and flee their habitat. The U.S. Navy has admitted that it estimates increased sonar training will significantly harm Marine Mammals more than 10 million times during a five year period.

In 2006,after a Surtass exercise,more than 200 whales stranded on Hawaii beaches,and in 2000,when the Navy conducted testing in the Bahamas,13 whales from 4 separate species were stranded on beaches,The Navy denied responsibility initially,But a federal investigation revealed that Navy mid frequency sonar was indeed the cause of this stranding.Directly following testing in this area,the populace of the Cuvier’s beaked whale nearly disappeared from their habitat,which led scientists to believe they had either fled or died at sea as a result.Similar mass strandings have also occurred in the Canary Islands,Greece,Madeira,U.S. Virgin Islands and Hawaii as a result of low frequency sonar testing by the U.S.Navy.And also as a direct result,many calfs have been separated from their Mothers.

In 1998 The SRS conducted research off Hawaii under a permit issued by NMFS, Numerous reports from whale watch captains and observers stated that Humpback whales fled the area during testing,And it was also reported that a Humpback whale calf,and dolphin calf appeared and were separated from their mothers.A seperated Melon Whale calf also appeared abandoned during this testing.When this program originated,the Navy conducted secret testing of LFAS known to be harmful to cetaceans,without filing for permits and violating environmental protection laws.When the program caught the attention of the general public and the national resource defense council,the Navy only then conducted minimum research studies and only concentrated on a few of the effects that sonar had on a limited number of oceanic species. When adverse effects became public knowledge,which led to litigation and a congressional call to suspend the program,the Navy suspended funding further research.The NMFS and the Navy cooperated with Dr.Peter Tyack of the Woods -Hole Oceanographic institute,to disguise the nature of the program, and permitted research to be conducted outside of U.S.territorial waters,and limited mandatory reports of such research to once a year,ensuring that individuals and organizations opposing the program would not have the benefit of reviewing such reports.LFAS Surtass started off as an unlawful and classified secret program,and the Woods-Hole Oceanographic Institute collaborated with the Navy and NMFS in keeping the program at a secret level to avoid further public exposure.

Latest proposed permit:

DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE
National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration
RIN 0648–XA792
Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to
Specified Activities; Physical
Oceanographic Studies in the
Southwest Indian Ocean,January through February, 2012

Take Action!

Comments must be submitted by Dec. 21, 2011

You may voice your objections and enter your commentary,and or request a public hearing be conducted before the granting of said permit.The permit application and access to public commentary please write to : P.Michael Payne -Chief of permits,conservation and education division-National Marine Fisheries Service, 1315 East-West highway,Silver Spring,Maryland.20910-3225 or e mail at ITPCody@noaa.gov.org

Action Alert!! Whales and Dolphins Threatened by Seismic Testing!


By Kirsten Massebeau and Edward Johnson meika observes stranded pilot whales
Picture by Caitlin and Greg’s Mad Adventure Flickr

On August 29th, 2011 the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will decide if they want to grant the Scripts Institution of Oceanography and others, a Incidental Harassment Authorization to impact or take up to 19 ocean species of whales and dolphins. Only last year NOAA granted the Navy a Incidental Harassment Authorization to impact 2.2 million marine mammals in the Pacific Ocean with the expansion of their Northwest Training Complex. Despite the protest of people living on our coastlines, and around the world the permit was granted.

From November to December of 2011 Scripts Institution of Oceanography and others plan to engage in seismic testing in the western tropical Pacific Ocean. For two months the cetaceans and all sea life for 100’s of miles will be exposed to this ear shattering sound. The seismic testing ships use air guns that are dropped into the water and towed while omitting continuous bursts of air that are bounced off of the sea floor. The magnitude of the sound created by the air guns can be lethal to cetaceans who already have to live with the sounds of man’s invasive activities in the ocean, “Shipping is the most omnipresent source of anthropogenic noise in the sea, though not nearly as loud as sonar or airguns; overall, shipping is blamed for a 10-20dB increase in the background noise in the sea throughout the world since 1950 (which translates to a 100x to 1000x increase in the intensity of background noise).  Meanwhile, seismic surveys utilizing airguns create noise nearly as loud as the military sonars, but continuing every 10-15 seconds for days or weeks at a time”. (Acoustic Ecology Institute, Air guns, August 7, 2005).

Humpback Whale Seismic Survey Interaction (A humpback whale trapped behind a ship during a seismic survey in the Bay of Bengal) RJWOODCOCK, YOUTUBE

The Scripts Institute of Oceanography claim this survey is to determine the earths crust during the Jurassic period, approximately 145 to 180 million years ago. (http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/pdfs/fr/fr76-45518.pdf).
By coincidence mapping for oil can be done in the same fashion although there are other options. Regardless of their intentions when will the impact of sound on cetaceans and all ocean life be weighed against what is to be gained. Should we destroy our future on this planet to learn about the past?

Listen To The Power of the Seismic Survey!

A Seismic Survey in the Bay of Bengal kayacy2005,Youtube

Their permit states this is a level B harassment, and that most likely, no whales or dolphins will be killed by their blasts of sound. NOAA is allowing the public to comment on the issue. NOAA’s permit process is very elusive making it almost impossible to make a comment. It seems they really don’t want to hear our voices but they must. We need to let NOAA know that this is unacceptable. The impact is too great to whales, dolphins and other marine life that depend on sound transmission in the ocean and their sonar to navigate and hunt for food. Noise reduction is essential if we are to save our oceans.

DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration    Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Low-Energy Marine Geophysical Survey in the Western Tropical Pacific Ocean,  November to December, 2011  SUMMARY: NMFS has received an application from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO) for an Incidental Harassment Authorization (IHA) to take marine mammals, by harassment, incidental to conducting a low-energy marine geophysical (i.e., seismic) survey in the western tropical Pacific Ocean, November to December, 2011. Pursuant to the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), NMFS isrequesting comments on its proposal to issue an IHA to SIO to incidentally harass, by Level B harassment only, 19 species of marine mammals during the specified activity.  

Comments and information must be received no later than August 29, 2011.

Address: howard.goldstein@noaa.gov

Here is a sample letter. You can just cut and paste it into an email.

I am writing in regards to Scripts Institution of Oceanography’s request for an Incidental Harassment Authorization (IHA) to take marine mammals, by harassment, incidental to conducting a low-energy marine geophysical (seismic) survey in the western tropical Pacific Ocean,  November thru December of 2011.

Last year you gave the Navy a permit to harass or take 2.2 million marine mammals with the expansion of the Northwest Naval Training Complex. Since that permit was given for the five year period several fatal incidents have occurred as evidenced by the explosion of five dolphins, and multiple strandings along our coastlines along with many we are not even aware of.

I urge you not to give the Scripts Institution of Oceanography this permit to do seismic testing. The cetaceans of the western tropical Pacific Ocean already have so many obstacles to their survival from the impacts of pollution, sonar, fishing nets, ship collisions, and noise produced by ships. Isn’t it time we started reducing sound pollution in our oceans not adding to it. The whales and dolphins are essential to our oceans health and safety. Is learning about the past worth destroying our future. Without our oceans this planet will die. Please take my comment seriously and do the right thing, do not give SIO the permit.

Sincerely,

http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/pdfs/fr/fr76-45518.pdf

Save Columbia River Sea Lions


California sea lion

Image via Wikipedia

By Edward Johnson

Killing Sea Lions below the Bonneville Dam on the Columbia river is not the answer.

During the past month I have tried several times to write a post on the proposed killing of the California sea lions who  have the audacity to consume fish from their territorial Columbia River. During my searches I continue to find overwhelming objective data that supports allowing these marine mammals to do what they do the best, fish. Thankfully, the Humane Society United States (HSUS) continues to be the backbone of opposition to this unnecessary slaughter by employing a more than qualified person to search out the truth and present the facts relative to this issue, Sharon Young Marine Issues Field Director HS. The arguments she made in Support of the Sea Lions before the US House subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans and Insular Affairs are compelling. The subcommittee was chaired by State of Washington Congressmen Doc Hastings. Not only is he chairmen of the committee but he along with fellow congressional representative from Washington State, Norm Dicks, co-sponsored H.R. 946 (which would amend the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972) to allow the Secretary of Commerce to grant permits for the “lethal taking of California Sea Lions.”

You may ask what has changed since 1972 that would allow tossing out a part of the Marine Mammal Protection Act in exchange for brutal force. Federal protection as often is the case; can enable  a decimated species to regenerate it’s  populations and eventually flourish. Thanks to federal protection the number of sea lions has increased. In the 1920’s seal lion populations off the west coast were decimated to a population in the thousands,  due to fur harvesting.  Today the sea lions numbers have increased to almost  three-hundred-thousand thanks to conservation efforts and federal protection.

Unlike the California seal lion whose populations have recovered, the Alaskan sea lions numbers have continued to decrease. Several factors seem contributing to their demise due to the over fishing of two species, cod and mackerel. In that situation, National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has proposed very restricted fisheries to helping the Alaskan sea-lion populations to recover. Some suggest that killer whales are the culprits as their diet now includes sea lions because the whale populations are so depleted.  I mention over fishing and the plight of the Alaskan sea-lion because there are similarities. Could over fishing on the West Coast be a factor driving the sea lions up the Columbia River?In essence we have dichotomies within nearly adjoining waters with the same agency NOAA and the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) in the cross hairs of controversy.

I mentioned Sharon Young Marine Issues Field Director HS earlier.  Included is her objective data and profound observations, to help convince any doubters of her arguments, and objections to the slaughter of the Columbia sea lions. If only the members of HSUS which number 23 million would come on board and bombard their Congressional representatives, this House resolution would quickly disappear. In the meantime I have reviewed her testimony and will high light significant points that she made before the subcommittee. She was a member of the pinniped (seals) task force which that  made recommendations on salmon predation prevention. From the outset of her five-page rendering she made it clear that the problem of declining salmon runs had little to do with the sea lions and more to do with loss of habitat and poor management practices. Solidly grounded arguments made by Young demonstrated the impact of 1) hatchery fish,  2) the intentional introduction of non-native species, Walleye, and 3) fisheries both sport and commercial as mitigating and contributing factors to the slow recovery of salmon runs. She completely discounts the contention that the sea lions are an active threat to Columbia River salmon populations. Passage of HR 946 will not only allow “vigilante,” style killing of the sea lions, but will also undermine the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972.

When looking at the mainstream media coverage of this hearing, agency folks made the mistake of trying to establish the presence of sea lions on the Columbia River as a recent occurrence rather than citing the truth, that the California sea lions were first observed by Lewis and Clark on their famed visit to the Pacific Northwest 200 years ago. At one time the sea lions terminal point for migration was Cello Falls, some 180 miles upstream. Indian fisheries at these sacred falls witnessed seal lions the Columbia river,  and shared their catch with these fish hunters.  Today the journey of the sea lions ends at Bonneville dam, as it obstructs their natural migration.

Young used information submitted by NOAA and the Army Corp of engineers to piece together data that validated her contention that sea lion consumption of salmon had not changed, and may have even declined on a percentage bases. The number of returning salmon has increased leaving the quota by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFs), “Overall abundance of Chinook and steelhead potentially impacted by pinniped predation [has] increased or stayed the same since the last status review was conducted prior to 2005.” Using their figures she denotes the percentage decline of predation over the last three years stating with 4.2 percent in 2007 when the states’ first applied to kill sea lions; in 2008, the predation rate was 2.9 percent of the run; in 2009, it was 2.4 percent of the run; and in 2010 it was only 2.2 percent of the run. Preliminary wrap-up report for 2011 summarizing seal lion predation on the Columbia River, states that an estimated 1.4 percent of the run was consumed. The goal was to have been 1% and this year WITHOUT KILLING A SINGLE SEA LION THE GOAL WAS NEARLY ACHIEVED! On total numbers of fish consumed the government argues that the raw numbers have increased seven fold since 2000, when actually the percentage of the run consumed is the lowest since 2002.  As you can see we are witnessing another shell game at the expense of a potential death sentence for long term river residents.
sea lion

Please visit the following link and sign this petition:

“Save Our Sea Lions” 

http://www.change.org/petitions/save-our-sea-lions