October 29, 2004 - Press Release from Ocean Mammal Institute
On October 28th, 2004 the European Parliament passed a resolution on the environmental effects of high-intensity active naval sonars. The resolution addresses the growing public concern about mass mortalities of whales occurring during naval sonar exercises. The strandings receiving the most public attention occurred in the Bahamas in 2000, where at least 18 whales stranded and died, and in the Canary Islands in 2002 where 14 whales suffered the same fate.
The resolution of the European Parliament expresses concern over whale mortalities associated with the use of mid-frequency sonar and quotes a recent report from the Scientific Committee of the International Whaling Commission stating that there is now compelling evidence that military sonars have a direct impact on whales. It calls on member states to develop international agreements, through a Multinational Task Force, for regulating noise levels in the world's oceans, to monitor, investigate, and report mortality events associated with sonar use, and to urgently adopt moratoriums and restrictions on the use of sonar in naval operations, It also calls on the European Commission to assess the environmental impacts of current deployments in European waters.
"This resolution is a very positive first step in protecting marine life from the impacts of high intensity sonars." was the comment of Dr. Marsha Green, of the Ocean Mammal Institute and Professor at Albright College in Reading, PA, where she teaches courses in Animal Behavior and Behavioral Neuroscience. Since 2002 Dr. Green has worked with the European Parliament on the high intensity active sonar issue and in June, 2003 and delivered a petition to their Petitions Committee, requesting the Member States of the European Union to adopt a moratorium on the deployment of low-frequency active sonar until a global assessment of its environmental impacts is completed. She also worked with the Environment Committee of the European Parliament for the past year on this issue.
Representing 8.3 million people, Dr. Marsha Green and Sigrid Lueber of the European Coalition for Silent Oceans, also handed over petitions to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) during a meeting with their representatives last October. The petitions request NATO to work with the European Parliament to form a multinational task force to develop international agreements regulating noise levels in the world's oceans and adopt a moratorium on the deployment of new low-frequency sonar systems.
In June, 2004 Dr. Green, Sigrid Lueber and Andrew Wetzler of NRDC gave a presentation on intense underwater noise pollution for delegates attending the United Nations Informal Consultative Process on the Oceans and the Law of the Sea.
As Dr. Green says: "It is very important that citizens all over the globe work together to address the growing problem of intense underwater noise pollution that endangers fish, marine mammals and other ocean wildlife."
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