A temporary victory, at least.

Jean

Colossal Squid
Supporter
#2
Go Judge!!! I especially liked

Just as the Army has a responsibility not to train soldiers to shoot in the middle of a crowded city street, the Navy has a duty, when it's learning how to hunt with sonar, not to choose a practice range next to a marine sanctuary.
 

monty

Colossal Squid
Staff member
Supporter
#4
at the risk of being impish, though, it's a bit sad that any opportunity to blame whale problems on a military cause gets a lot of press, but I was shocked and saddened by Steve's research that a lot of whale strandings are driven by starvation in otherwise healthy whales, presumably due to overfishing or pollution-related die-offs.

I should ask my dad about the actual discussions the navy has about these issues, since in his retirement he gets invited to consult for the Navy on sonar-related issues. I know they bring in MBARI researchers and whatnot, so it's not as if the Navy refuses to have meaningful dialogue with marine biologists...although they do refuse to have meaningful dialogue with activists, since the activists and Navy treat each other as enemies of convenience... my dad used to give money to Greenpeace for whale conservation, but stopped when he witnessed firsthand that they actually spent a lot of that money on anti-nuclear protests that had nothing to do with whale conservation (and the guy going door-to-door responded to this with "I don't know what you've heard, but I was on the Greenpeace boat and we were the victims" which was not really a good strategy, since my dad could say "well, it sure didn't look that way from the submarine...")

I can imagine that the Navy hasn't done a good job of protecting whales, but I could also imagine that the Navy is bending over backwards about it, but that conservation groups know that if they sue the Navy, they can raise more money, so they may have incentive to blow the problems out of proportion. It would be really interesting to get the inside story on these issues, but presumably what the Navy does and doesn't do with their sonar is classified...
 

Steve O'Shea

Colossal Squid
Supporter
#5
monty;100844 said:
at the risk of being impish, though, it's a bit sad that any opportunity to blame whale problems on a military cause gets a lot of press, but I was shocked and saddened by Steve's research that a lot of whale strandings are driven by starvation in otherwise healthy whales, presumably due to overfishing or pollution-related die-offs.
It is death by 1000 cuts Monty; hunger certainly will be a contributing factor to these strandings, with offshore species (such as pilot whales) driven inshore in search of food, then getting trapped/disoriented in the shallows and stranding as a consequence.

To use this sonar equipment next to a marine sanctuary is unacceptable, even if the effects of this activity are not fully understood (invoke the precautionary principle). It defeats the purpose of establishing the sanctuary, especially should it have been established to protect a unique area/flora/fauna (I don't know the politics/rationale behind this sanctuary). Moreover, I don't know the size of the sanctuary, but should it be small, centred on these islands, then there could well be an inadequate buffering area around it to protect what lies within from the effects of active sonar, rendering the effect of any possible sonar activity in the region immediate and long-lasting (I would like to see whether this activity has any effect on species of non-charismatic nature ... like what the fisherfolk refer to as 'bottom filth', the myriad inverts at the bottom of the food chain).

My understanding of a US sanctuary is that they are not reserves, but some level of extraction is permitted from them (i.e. fishing). Is this correct?
 

sorseress

Colossal Squid
Supporter
#6
Monty, if the Navy consults with nonmilitary scientists the way the Air Farce does it's "We'll listen to what you have to say,so we can say we did, then we'll do what we intended to do all along." There are exceptions, but apparently most military think about wildlife of any kind the way they do civilians in a war. Unavoidable collateral damage that they don't need to worry about. Or count.
 

monty

Colossal Squid
Staff member
Supporter
#7
Steve O'Shea;100846 said:
It is death by 1000 cuts Monty; hunger certainly will be a contributing factor to these strandings, with offshore species (such as pilot whales) driven inshore in search of food, then getting trapped/disoriented in the shallows and stranding as a consequence.

To use this sonar equipment next to a marine sanctuary is unacceptable, even if the effects of this activity are not fully understood (invoke the precautionary principle). It defeats the purpose of establishing the sanctuary, especially should it have been established to protect a unique area/flora/fauna (I don't know the politics/rationale behind this sanctuary). Moreover, I don't know the size of the sanctuary, but should it be small, centred on these islands, then there could well be an inadequate buffering area around it to protect what lies within from the effects of active sonar, rendering the effect of any possible sonar activity in the region immediate and long-lasting (I would like to see whether this activity has any effect on species of non-charismatic nature ... like what the fisherfolk refer to as 'bottom filth', the myriad inverts at the bottom of the food chain).

My understanding of a US sanctuary is that they are not reserves, but some level of extraction is permitted from them (i.e. fishing). Is this correct?
There is certainly some limited sport fishing allowed in some parts of the Channel Islands, but I don't know the details...

I'm not at all sure why they think it's useful to do the operations involving sonar there in particular, or what they're doing to attempt to mitigate the impact. My biggest concern is that it seems to me that environmental groups have an incentive to make the Navy look as bad as possible because having an enemy to point at is a large part of their fund raising strategy, and they often take advantage of the fact that the Navy can't rebut their claims because the details of how these sonar systems work are secret. I'm not really trying to say I know that the Navy isn't in the wrong in this regard, just that I don't particularly trust either side's representation of what's actually good or bad for marine fauna.

I'll see if I can report at least in the abstract about what my dad's experience has been from the Navy side... I have the impression that a lot of the submarine people actually rather like cetaceans, so they at least try to mitigate problems.
 

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