AR-News: Hearing will explore effects of Navy sonar on marine life
wolfcrest at hotmail.com
Thu Sep 25 18:46:53 EDT 2003
By Katherine Schiffner
State lawmakers will have a public hearing Wednesday to discuss how the U.S.
Navy's use of sonar is affecting Puget Sound's marine mammals.
"There's no getting around the fact that whales and dolphins in Puget Sound
are, at the very least, getting spooked by the sonar," said state Rep. Mike
Cooper, D-Edmonds, chairman of the House Fisheries, Ecology and Parks
The panel will hold the hearing in Edmonds. The Navy's sonar system has been
under scrutiny since the Everett-based USS Shoup used its midrange tactical
sonar in early May near Vancouver Island. About a dozen porpoises were later
reported beached or floating in nearby waters. Researchers are studying
carcasses to find out why they died.
A Navy representative will explain to lawmakers why the Navy uses sonar and
how sound travels in water, said Lt. j.g. Bill Couch, spokesman for Navy
"The Navy takes this very seriously, and we're actively participating with
state and federal agencies to discuss the issue," he said.
Howard Garrett of the Whidbey-Island based Orca Network said he's glad the
state is holding a hearing.
"I applaud that they're raising the profile of the issue," said Garrett, who
will speak at a Greenpeace presentation about the effect of sonar on whales
at 1 p.m. Saturday at Pier 66 in Seattle.
Representatives from the National Marine Fisheries Service, the state
Department of Fish and Wildlife and the state Department of Ecology also
"Certainly, the Navy has a pivotal mission to fulfil. This issue isn't about
assigning blame, or suggesting we get all the boats out of the water as fast
as we can," Cooper said. "But just as certainly, we want to understand what
sonar means for our marine mammals."
The committee also will discuss cleanup of the former Unocal fuel-storage
site in Edmonds. In addition, the panel will visit Everett to learn more
about the Port of Everett's proposed pier project.
Reporter Katherine Schiffner: 425-339-3436 or schiffner at heraldnet.com.
Our task must be to free ourselves... by widening our circle of compassion
to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty.
-- Albert Einstein
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