A Navy military testing program that appeared headed to routine approval has hit a wall of opposition from Washington’s governor, attorney general and state agencies because of potential harm to endangered orcas in Washington waters.
The program is being assessed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which has determined impacts from the Navy’s proposed testing to be “negligible” and is drafting a final rule for implementation of the program.
Some orca scientists said they were appalled at the military testing program, particularly given how small and fragile the southern resident population already is, at only 72 animals, the lowest population in 40 years.
Deborah Giles, science director and research director for the nonprofit Wild Orca, said it makes no sense to her that the harassment committed by the Navy with sonar and underwater explosives is rated the same as the takes she is permitted scooping poop while quietly drifting far from the whales, for analysis under research she conducts for the UW Center for Conservation Biology.
“The potential for harm is too great to wager on such a small population of animals,” Giles said. “The thing that is just crazy is NOAA has designated these one of the most critically endangered animals, and for them to say these activities have negligible impact, something is not right and the public needs to know that.”
Read the full article in The Seattle Times.