SOURCE: Gorden Labetz (
SUBHEAD: PMRF propaganda says navy exercises not harmful to marine life, but facts disagree.

By Chris D'Angelo on 21 November 2014 for the Garden Island -

Image above: A pod of dolphins swims in front of the USNS Alan Shepard. From article below.

[IB Publisher note: Below this TGI piece is by KPBS from August 2013 that indicates the Navy has negotiated a five year agreement that would allow "takes" or killings of hundreds of sea mammals and injuring of thousands of others in exercises like RIMPAC]

The U.S. Pacific Fleet in Pearl Harbor says community concerns that the Rim of the Pacific maritime exercise and Kauai’s Pacific Missile Range Facility are negatively impacting marine life are unfounded.

In early October, after hearing from several constituents, Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard requested information about the Navy’s efforts to monitor the effects of RIMPAC and PMRF on the ocean and marine ecosystems.

“In response to concerns of your constituents, there has been no scientific evidence that RIMPAC 2014 or exercises at the Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) have caused damage to marine life,” USPF Commander Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr. wrote in a response to Gabbard.

In his three-page letter, Harris discussed the aggressive steps taken by the Navy to avoid harming marine mammals, sea turtles and corals, through the use of protective measures during training, especially with sonar and explosives.

Harris also pointed out that the Navy funded over $300 million in independent research over the past 10 years, making it a world leader in marine mammal research and monitoring.

“The Navy works with regulatory agencies, using the best available science, to obtain necessary authorizations and continues to further our understanding of marine mammals through research and monitoring,” he wrote.

Others, however, say the military exercises are harming marine life.

Katherine Muzik, a local marine biologist, said it is proven — as written about in Joshua Horwitz’s book “War of the Whales” — that sonar is lethal to whales. It is only logical, she said, that it would also have deleterious, if not lethal, effects on invertebrates, including shrimp and coral, which rely on vibrations for detecting prey, escaping predators and reproducing.

“I would bet on my life that sonar is hurting other creatures,” she said. “We don’t have the proof, but the absence of proof doesn’t mean it’s an absence of fact.”

Muzik said that with so many factors already damaging the marine environment — warming ocean temperatures, acidification and pollution — for the U.S. military to insist on purposefully, knowingly and deliberately maiming and killing marine life in the name of practice is unacceptable and tragic.

In August 2013, a pair of environmental impact statements detailed that U.S. Navy training and testing activities could inadvertently kill hundreds of whales and dolphins — an injure thousands more — between 2014 and 2018. The studies included waters off the East Coast, the Gulf of Mexico, Southern California and Hawaii.

Most of the deaths — as many as 155 off Hawaii and Southern California — would come from detonating underwater explosives, while some could be caused by sonar testing or animals being struck by ships. In addition to deaths, the EIS report said the activities off Hawaii and Southern California could cause 2,039 serious injuries, 1.86 million temporary injuries and 7.7 million instances of behavioral change.

“I think it’s bogus when they say they have a lookout,” Muzik said. “I think the truth is there are animals there, they know there are animals there, and they are allowed to take them.”

Held every two years and hosted by the Pacific Fleet, RIMPAC is the world’s largest international maritime war exercise. In total, 22 nations, 49 surface ships, six submarines, more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel participated in this year’s event, which lasted from June 26 to Aug. 1 and included live fire target practice and the sinking of the decommissioned USS Tuscaloosa 57 nautical miles northwest of Kauai.

The drills take place in the Hawaii Operating Area and several off-shore ranges, including PMRF.

Harris told Gabbard there are steps the Navy must take to minimize harm to the environment — per environmental laws such as the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act — during its trainings, including RIMPAC.

Before each RIMPAC, Harris wrote, the Navy briefs participating U.S. and foreign units about protective measures, as well as reminds service members to avoid interaction with sea turtles, Hawaiian monk seals, dolphins, coral reefs and Essential Fish Habitats. Additionally, Navy officials complete Marine Species Awareness Training and units are required to report sonar use and submit daily marine mammal sighting reports.

Prior to and during training with sonar, the Navy uses trained, qualified lookouts to search the area for marine mammals, according to Harris. If one is sighted within 1,000 yards, sonar transmissions are reduced. Within 200 yards, sonar is shut down completely.

“Safety zones are also established to protect marine life from the effects of explosive and non-explosive munitions,” he wrote.

In an emailed statement Wednesday, Gabbard said she has been “deeply concerned about the scope of devastation” of Kauai’s coral reefs, which continue to suffer from an outbreak of black band coral disease. Over the past year, she said she has reached out to experts in marine biology, local and federal officials, and the U.S. military to ask about potential causes and how the disease can be stopped.

“The broader scientific community does not point to the U.S. Navy as the cause of this coral disease,” Gabbard wrote to The Garden Island. “Rather, experts agree it likely is a combination of runoff, growing population and development, and overfishing, among other cited causes.”

Gordon LaBedz of the Surfrider Foundation Kauai Chapter, which sued the Navy over the 2006 RIMPAC exercises, described Harris’ response letter as “100 percent predictable,” and said he puts the Navy right up there will the commercial fishing industry in terms of the world’s most environmentally destructive entities.

“In my 30 years of suing the Navy, I’ve never experienced them as good stewards of the environment,” he said.

As for Harris’ comments about there being no evidence, LaBedz said it bothers him. When a whale dies, it sinks. It doesn’t float on the surface where it can be found, he said.

In his letter, Harris also addressed a situation in July in which a 16-foot sub adult pilot whale washed ashore and died in Hanalei Bay. In response, the Navy conducted an aerial survey in accordance with the Pacific Fleet’s Stranding Response Plan.

While LaBedz said he is convinced that whale died as a result of sonar, Harris said, “To date, there is no evidence of a connection to Navy.”

When asked how someone would obtain the scientific evidence referenced by Harris, and what that evidence might be, or look like, Pacific Fleet spokesman Mark Matsunaga wrote, “The Navy uses the best available science in its environmental analysis and lists these references at the end of each resource section of our EISs,” and referred TGI to a series of websites, including

Navy Plans to Kill Marine Mammals
SUBHEAD: Navy five year plan expects to kill hundreds of dolphins and whales and injuring thousands.

By David Wagner on 30 August 2013 for KPBS -

In two reports published August 30th, 2013, the U.S. Navy acknowledges that bomb testing and sonar use over the next five years will likely kill hundreds of marine mammals and seriously injure thousands more.

In two reports published Friday, the U.S. Navy acknowledged that bomb testing and sonar use over the next five years will likely kill hundreds of marine mammals and seriously injure thousands more.
To get permits for these training exercises, the military is required to report on the environmental impact of its proposed operations.

By the Navy's own count, training procedures from 2014 through 2019 could result in the deaths of over 340 dolphins and whales.

Most of those deaths would be caused by bombs the Navy plans to detonate off the East Coast, in the Gulf of Mexico, and between Southern California and Hawaii. But some deaths—as well as "behavioral changes" for millions more susceptible marine mammals—could stem from the Navy's active sonar use, which environmentalists have been criticizing for years.

"Mid-frequency sonar is an intense noise source that propagates through the ocean at the frequency that certain whales and dolphins are most sensitive to," says Giulia Good Stefani, an attorney with the Southern California office of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Researchers are still trying to fully understand the effects of sonar on marine mammals, but they've found connections between sonar and recent mass whale strandings. Sonar has been known to damage hearing in marine mammals, which can prove fatal for creatures that rely on echolocation to move through the ocean and find food.

But the Navy contends that bomb training and sonar operation are crucial to national security and cannot be simulated. In a video statement, Rear Admiral Kevin Slates describes these as "perishable skills that require training at sea under realistic conditions."

"We don't argue that the Navy doesn't need to train," counters Stefani. "We simply have asked the Navy to try to reduce the impact it's having on marine mammal populations.

See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: RIMPAC Impact Postmortem 10/22/14
Our congresswoman Tulsi Gabbarb seeking information from Navy on their methods of protecting ...
Ea O Ka Aina: RIMPAC 2014 - another whale death 7/26/14
It's not like this has not happened here before. The Navy washes off the blood and wears white.
Ea O Ka Aina: RIMPAC 2014 in Full March 7/17/14
Even if RIMPAC didn't harm wildlife or the environment these war games are pointless.
Ea O Ka Aina: RIMPAC War on the Ocean 7/3/14
The unseen wars on the Pacific Ocean lead by the United States Navy is cranking up this summer.
Ea O Ka Aina: The Pacific Pivot  6/26/14

RIMPAC is only a small piece of a huge, systemized federal project of destruction in the Pacific.
Ea O Ka Aina: RIMPAC IMPACT 6/8/14
If you think that RIMPAC 2014 will be anything but harmful to Hawaii you are delusional.
Ea O Ka Aina: Operation Dominic & Hawaii  6/3/14
US nuclear tests on Johnson Island tell us that this year's RIMPAC will be more of the same destruction to the Pacific Ocean.
Ea O Ka Aina: RIMPAC Now and Then 5/16/14
The history of RIMPAC exercises tells us that this year will be more of the same. Destruction to life in the Pacific Ocean.
Ea O Ka Aina: Earthday TPP Fukushima RIMPAC 4/22/14

Excuse us while we turn the Pacific Ocean into a radioactive ashtray.
Ea  O Ka Aina: An Ugly Dance  - The Asian Pivot 12/5/13
It's a feeble attempt by USA to outplay Asia in the game of who can destroy the planet the fastest.
Ea O Ka Aina: End RIMPAC destruction of Pacific 11/1/13
Pacific Rim countries led by the US Navy take part in exercises in death and destruction in our ocean.
Ea O Ka Aina: Sleepwalking through destruction 7/16/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Military schmoozes Guam & Hawaii 3/17/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Pacific Resistance to U.S. Military 5/24/10
Ea O Ka Aina: Shift in Pacific Power Balance 8/5/10
Ea O Ka Aina: RIMPAC to Return in 2010 5/2/10 
Ea O Ka Aina: Living at the Tip of the Spear 4/5/10
Ea O Ka Aina: Guam Land Grab 11/30/09
Ea O Ka Aina: Guam as a modern Bikini Atoll 12/25/09
Ea O Ka Aina: GUAM - Another Strategic Island 11/8/09
Ea O Ka Aina: Diego Garcia - Another stolen island 11/6/09
Ea O Ka Aina: DARPA & Super-Cavitation on Kauai 3/24/09
Island Breath: RIMPAC 2008 - Navy fired up in Hawaii 7/2/08
Island Breath: RIMPAC 2008 uses destructive sonar 4/22/08
Island Breath: Navy Plans for the Pacific 9/3/07
Island Breath: Judge restricts sonar off California 08/07/07
Island Breath: RIMPAC 2006 sonar use feared 5/23/06
Island Breath: RIMPAC 2006 sonar compromise 7/9/06
Island Breath: RIMPAC 2004 Strands whales in Hanlei 09/02/04 
Island Breath: PMRF Land Grab 6/5/04 


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