More than 300 people attended the meeting at Eureka's Wharfinger Building on December 15th to express concerns about the Navy’s Northwest Training Range Complex, an area proposed for a warfare laboratory which encompasses 122,000 square nautical miles of ocean from the Humboldt-Mendocino county line to the northern border of Washington. The Navy presented information about the Environmental Impact Statement (for more info on the EIS, click HERE
). The Navy’s presentation was followed by questions and comments from the audience.
Many of the questions were not clearly answered by the Navy representatives, especially the definition of 'take.' The representatives stated that the Navy was not permitted to kill marine mammals, but they were allowed to have a certain amount of 'take.' There are two types of 'take' which allow for mortality and harm (which can include death) and impacts related to behavioral changes such as migration, feeding, and reproductive behavior. After a fair amount of circular reasoning about the questions regarding their ability to 'take' marine mammals, the audience was left confused and disturbed.
The Navy also made it clear that they will be using sonar during known migration periods of our local Grey Whales and Humpback Whales, despite the fact that sonar is known to cause 'the bends' in beaked whales, and to cause injury and behavioral changes in other marine mammals.
The Navy representatives stated that this process includes “adaptive management,” meaning they could choose to change their use of sonar and other warfare testing if it is clearly harming marine mammals, so we ask that you please write to your Congressman and ask that the Navy change their protocol to not include sonar testing during known migration of the our local whale populations in the Pacific Northwest.
For more information, check out these links:
Noisy Ocean: National Geographic Magazine looks at the effects of sound on marine mammals, and what can be done to avoid harming them.
: The use of military sonar poses a deadly threat to whales and other marine mammals.
for NRDC's analysis of the impacts of noise including sonar on marine mammals.
At the request of Congressman Mike Thompson (D-Napa Valley), representatives from the United States Navy held public meetings regarding the Northwest Training Range Complex (NWTRC) on Wednesday, December 15th from 5:00-7:00 pm at the Wharfinger Building in Eureka, and on Thursday, December 16th from 5:00-7:00 pm at Pentecost Hall at 822 Stewart Street in Fort Bragg.
“I requested that the Navy come to the North Coast to provide information for the community and answer their questions regarding the NWTRC,” said Congressman Thompson. “A highly trained Navy, transparency regarding planned activities off our coast, and protection of marine life are not mutually exclusive."
The NWTRC is one of many Navy Range Complexes used for training of operational forces, equipment and other military activities. Based at Whidbey Island, near Puget Sound in Washington, the Navy has been training in the NWTRC since World War II. The bulk of the air, surface and subsurface activity takes place in waters off the state of Washington, but the scope of influence covers approximately 122,400 nautical miles and extends from Washington to the southern tip of Humboldt. Training exercises vary in scope and effect, and in California, are carried out between 12 and 250 miles offshore.
For more information contact Congressman Thompson’s office at 707-962-0933 in Fort Bragg or 707-269-9595 in Eureka.