Activists and environmentalists converge on KCC campus

A combined rally for peace and a call to environmental activism will be held at Kaua‘i Community College tomorrow from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Organizers are calling for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq and a diplomatic solution in Iran.

Organizers will also make a call for the military to stop the use of sonar as a cause of harm to the ocean’s mammals and fish.

The event is organized by the Surfrider Foundation, Kauai Peace Ohana and the Kauai Peace Group.

On March 16, 2000, the Navy’s use of mid-frequency active sonar in a single transit is thought to be the cause of a mass stranding of whales.

The event will address several issues.

U.S. Navy —

above the law?

• Jan. 23, 2007 — The Deputy Secretary of the Navy declares the Navy exempt from the Marine Mammal Protection Act over the next two years when it conducts naval exercises using mid-frequency active sonar. The MMPA was passed in 1972 to protect marine mammals from harm and applies to all United States citizens, federal agencies and others in U.S. and international waters — except the U.S. Navy.

• Feb. 12, 2007 — The U.S. Navy refuses to comply with a request from the California Coastal Commission to use procedures to protect marine life during proposed sonar exercises off California. Complying with its duty to protect marine life under the Coastal Zone Management Act, the Commission asked the Navy to agree to use additional safety measures to reduce harm to whales and other marine mammals during sonar exercises off its coast before giving its final approval. The Navy would not agree to the precautionary measures.

Impacts on

Hawai‘i’s sealife

The Navy plans to conduct several major exercises using mid-frequency active sonar in Hawaiian waters over the next two years, including RIMPAC 2008 n the largest war game exercise in the world. The Navy admits that in just six of these war exercises it will expose more than 10,000 endangered humpback whales to levels of mid-frequency sonar over 100 times louder than the sonar that resulted in the deaths of 17 whales of various species in a Bahamas stranding event in 2000.

The Navy claims that the exercises will have no significant impact on the whales. In addition to Hawai‘i and California, the Navy plans to expand its at-sea warfare exercises across the world, including in the Gulf of Mexico, off the U.S. Atlantic Seaboard, off N.W. Washington state and around Guam.

Mid-frequency active sonar kills marine life

• Marine animals rely on sound to navigate, find food, locate mates, avoid predators and communicate with one another. These behaviors can be impacted by the introduction of man-made noise into their world.

• The impact of intense ocean noise on marine animals ranges from behavioral disturbance to mortality. This noise also may have profound effects on the survival of some marine species and can decrease commercial fish catch rates by 70 percent.

• The oceans are becoming rapidly industrialized with ocean noise levels having doubled every decade for the past six decades in some areas.

• There is a growing list of stranding events coincident with active sonar use. Necropsy findings indicate that noise from military sonar has resulted in mortality in marine mammals by causing hemorrhaging around the brain and other areas and/or by causing embolisms. Noise may also induce a panic response which can lead to death by stranding.

Organizers call on the U.S. Navy to respect the law by obeying the Marine Mammal Protection Act, heeding the California Coastal Commission’s requests, and ceasing to circumvent the National Environmental Policy Act.

For more information on ocean noise contact Dr. Marsha Green, mlgreen@pacifier.com or go to www.oceannoisecoalition.org

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