Last week, the U.S. Navy came out with a shocking confession. They now admit that their coastal training exercises kill or harm more marine mammals than previously acknowledged. Apparently, new data led to a recalculation about how many whales, dolphins and seals are hurt by the mid-frequency sonar and explosions the Navy routinely use in training off our coasts.
Earthjustice is challenging a permit by the National Marine Fisheries Service allowing the Navy to train in the Pacific Northwest, off the coasts of Washington, Oregon and northern California. The challenge aims to get the Navy to move its training a short distance to deeper waters off the continental shelf where marine mammal populations quickly thin out, and away from other areas where marine wildlife congregate.
Note of clarification: We agree that warfare is more sophisticated than ever before, meaning the Navy has to use more sophisticated measures to make sure enemy subs and the like don’t get close enough to the U.S. to harm us. Unfortunately, they choose to train in the same coastal waters where ocean food production is high and are thick with marine mammals.
The Navy’s new admission that it’s harming marine mammals strengthens the argument to move the training just a little farther out to sea and away from biologically critical marine habitat where a balance can be struck between the need to train and the needs of America’s seals, dolphins and whales.