Re: NRDC: Press Release - New Permit Would Allow Navy to Harm Millions of Mar...

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Feb 4, 2013, 2:33:19 PM2/4/13
I read the attached email with great interest as well as concern.  I remember legislation being introduced years ago in Congress to protect marine mammals from surrounding sounds that were intrusive on their well-being.  Such sounds not only could injure and kill whales and dolphins but they intruded on their mating relationships and their ability to care for their young.  What happened to that legislation, especially in light of the proposed rules?  Years ago Stanley Park in Vancouver had an excellent exhibit on the dangers of the hazardous sounds on sea life.
      While my work tends to focus on the adverse impacts of noise on the health and well-being of humans, I am very cognizant that noise negatively impacts many forms of life.  In our book "Why Noise Matters" (Earthscan, 2011) there is a section addressing the impacts of sound on mammals in the sea, even quoting NRDC's Michael Jasny.   Good luck with your efforts.
      With noise so detrimental to so many forms of life, we should make a greater effort to join forces to fight noise on a larger scale.
      Arline L. Bronzaft  
In a message dated 2/2/2013 5:03:34 P.M. Eastern Standard Time, writes:
For those concerned about marine life and their soundscape, here's a press statement from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) on, "a proposed rule to be published in Thursday’s Federal Register would permit the Navy to harm marine mammals in U.S. waters on more than 31 million separate instances between 2014-2019." Comments on the proposal can be made until March 11, 2013.

Press contact: Jessica Lass,, 310-434-2300
If you are not a member of the press, please write to us at or see our contact page
New Permit Would Allow Navy to Harm Millions of Marine Mammals
More than 31 million instances of harm are anticipated

WASHINGTON (January 29, 2013) – A proposed rule to be published in Thursday’s Federal Register would permit the Navy to harm marine mammals in U.S. waters on more than 31 million separate instances between 2014-2019. The National Marine Fisheries Service authored the draft rule granting the Navy’s request for authorization to harass, injure, and kill whales and dolphins as part of its testing and training exercises along the Atlantic coast, in the Gulf of Mexico, and in waters off of Southern California and Hawaii. The estimated level of harm is 200% greater than previously requested permits to “take” marine mammals.

“We’re talking about a staggering and unprecedented amount of harm to more than 40 species of marine mammals that should give any federal agency involved, be it the Navy or the National Marine Fisheries Service, pause,” said Zak Smith, attorney with NRDC’s marine mammal project. “NMFS has been charged by Congress to protect these mammals, not sanction their deaths.  Giving the Navy the green light to harm marine mammals 31 million times is completely counter to NMFS mission and common sense.”

A “take” refers to harm ranging from a significant behavioral impact, like habitat abandonment, to death. The proposed authorization to take whales and dolphins more than 31 million times during Navy exercises in 2014-2019, includes more than 5 million instances of temporary hearing loss; more than 13,000 instances of permanent hearing loss or other permanent injury; and nearly 350 deaths from Navy explosions, vessels that strike marine mammals, and sonar exercises.  The Navy’s Atlantic Fleet activities account for two-thirds of all injuries (nearly 22 million over 5 years) with Hawaii – Southern California activities accounting for a third of all injuries (about 9.5 million over 5 years).

Studies confirm that naval sonar has been known to cause a wide-range of debilitating problems for marine mammals. According to the New York Times, “Over the years, the Navy has been forced to acknowledge what science has clearly demonstrated: noise generated by sonar and underwater detonations can kill marine mammals, like whales and porpoises, and disturb their normal feeding, breeding and migration.”

More than 550,000 people have signed a petition at calling for an end to the killing and harassment of marine mammals by navy sonar. The proposed rules can be seen here and comments can be made until March 11, 2013.

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 1.3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Livingston, Montana, and Beijing. Visit us at and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.
Eric Leonardson
  Mobile: 773-342-5012    
  Skype: worldlistening

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