Low Frequency Active Sonar (LFAS)
Significant LFAS events are listed by date.
1985-1995 - Navy defines new, more silent submarines as a threat because passive listening devices deployed on ocean floor cannot detect them. Without preparing an environmental impact statement (EIS), as required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Navy decides to develop Low Frequency Active Sonar (LFAS) to detect silent submarines and proceeds with the design, engineering, fabrication, software preparation, hardware manufacturing, ship leasing, and other components of a full-scale development program. Without an EIS, formal consultations with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), or permits under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) and Endangered Species Act (ESA), the Navy conducts extensive tests of LFAS in various locations in international waters. Navy incorrectly claims above laws do not apply in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of foreign nations.
1995 - Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) responds to information about planned deployment of the LFAS system by sending a letter to the Secretary of the Navy calling attention to all the environmental laws violated during the development and testing process. By this time, Navy has spent tens of millions of dollars on development and testing of LFAS. NEPA forbids such expenditures prior to the preparation of an EIS.
Navy responds to NRDC challenge by committing to preparation of an environmental impact statement for routine deployment of Surveillance Towed Array Sensor System Low Frequency Active (SURTASS LFA) Sonar. Proposed EIS does not include assessment of environmental impacts of use during threat or warfare conditions. Navy also commits to Scientific Research Program (SRP) to test effects of low-level LFAS broadcasts on limited number of whale species. Navy consults with NMFS and receives permits for testing, which include required mitigation measures and required suspension of testing, if whales behave in unusual ways such as repeated breaching, pec fin or tail slapping.
The Marine Mammal Commission discusses the Navy's LFAS in its 1997 Annual Report to Congress. In this report the Commission pointed out that if the LFAS system were made available for worldwide use as proposed by the Navy, all species and populations of marine mammals, including those listed as endangered and threatened under the ESA possibly could be affected. The Commission also pointed out that the Navy's notice about their LFAS deployment plans made no mention of the MMPA which prohibits harassment of marine mammals as a result of activities such as the proposed sonar. Finally, the Commission pointed out that the possible effects of the LFAS on marine mammals could include:
1997-1998 - Navy conducts tests of LFAS system on whales off California and Hawaii. The research does not use the full source level of LFAS. Evidence emerges in Phases I and II off California that inshore gray whales deviate from normal migration route and blue and fin whales decrease their vocalizations by 50% and 30%, respectively, in response to test broadcasts.
Phase III testing is scheduled off the west coast of the Island of Hawaii in March 1998. Working with Earthjustice Legal Defense, the Ocean Mammal Institute (OMI) initiates the first lawsuit seeking a Temporary Restraining Order to stop the testing. Animal Welfare Institute, Earth Island Institute, Greenpeace Hawaii, and Earthtrust join the lawsuit. On appeal in September 1998, the lawsuit is dismissed as moot as Navy claims LFAS testing is finished.
During the Hawaii testing, reports of changes of whale distribution and behavior emerge. Whale watch boat captains and shore observers report fewer whale sightings (see 4th lawsuit below) and OMI research team observes a humpback whale calf and dolphin calf without mothers during testing. The humpback whale calf breaches 230 times and pec slaps 671 times in four hours. Testing is not suspended. A third lone, very dehydrated melon-headed whale calf is found in the test area shortly after testing stops. This calf is rescued and taken to Sea Life Park. A snorkeler exposed to an LFAS broadcast emerges with symptoms a doctor diagnoses as similar to, acute trauma. (Documentation on snorkeler appears at http://www.ilhawaii.net/~light/reid.html ).
Na Koa O Pu'u Kohola Heiau (The Warriors of the Temple on the Mound of the Whale) file a second lawsuit challenging the tests as a violation of Hawaiian spiritual rights. The whale is considered a sacred ancestor. The lawsuit is unsuccessful.
A third lawsuit is filed by Hawaii County Green Party challenging the testing. The Navy ends the tests and amends the permit to expire before the judge can rule on the Green Party's motion for a preliminary injunction. The Navy represents to the court that the testing is complete and the underlying research complete. The judge dismisses the case as moot.
A whale watch company seeking to stop further testing and seeking damages for lost revenues due to no whale sightings for five consecutive days files a fourth lawsuit. The judge dismisses the case for lack of standing under the NEPA.
1998 - In March Dr. Alexandros Frantzis publishes a letter in Nature notifying the international community of his conclusion that NATO testing of similar LFAS in the Mediterranean caused the mass stranding of Cuvier's beaked whales on the coast of Greece in 1996. NATO convenes a bioacoustic panel to study that event. The evidence strongly suggests Frantzis is correct. The panel (SACLANTCEN) eliminates the possibility of the strandings being caused by any "natural phenomena", implying a human related event was the cause. The panel was unwilling to identify that cause as the NATO testing. No other cause is proposed.
July 1999 - Navy issues DEIS concluding LFAS is safe for deployment. Text of DEIS does not mention that all tests of LFAS were conducted at levels lower than planned deployment level and that scientists who tested LFAS state, in their review of the Hawaii tests, "it will be difficult to extrapolate from these results to predict responses at higher exposure levels" (Technical Report #1 page 10, accompanying DEIS). DEIS also does not mention reports during Hawaii tests of whales leaving the test area, lone calves in the test area or that a snorkeler was injured. Also, the relevant beaked whale stranding in 1996 during NATO LFAS testing is not mentioned. Additionally, three mass strandings in the Canary Islands in 1985, 1986 and 1989 coincident in time with visible navy maneuvers and reported in Nature (June, 1991) were not mentioned. Other deficiencies too numerous to enumerate demonstrate that the DEIS is inadequate and give the appearance of deliberately omitted adverse evidence.
August 1999 - Deficiencies and omissions in DEIS lead to call to withdraw it. Navy sends letter to attorney filing one such request acknowledging receipt of the letter and stating that the letter will be incorporated into comments on the DEIS, i.e. no consideration will be given to withdrawing the DEIS.
Navy files application with NMFS requesting a five-year Letter of Authorization for taking of marine mammals by harassment during world-wide deployment of LFAS beginning in fiscal year 2000 (beginning October 1999).
July-October 1999 - During the public comment period for the DEIS, numerous organizations, scientists and individuals file comments and questions regarding deficiencies in the DEIS.
October 3, 1999 - Four beaked whales strand in the Caribbean, one each on St. Thomas and St. John and two on St. Croix. Two of the whales die. A professor who was conducting underwater reef studies with his students on October 3rd near St. John said their work was interrupted by a series of underwater sounds so loud they had to get their heads out of the water. Dr. Antonio Manucci, head of the Marine Mammal Stranding Network in Puerto Rico said there was "circumstantial evidence of underwater sound associated with whale strandings". Manucci also said, "the Navy has requested that one of the heads of the whales be studied by an expert at Harvard University". Dr. Darlene Ketten, a specialist in auditory trauma at Harvard University confirmed she would visit Puerto Rico to join Manucci's investigation. Inquiries made to Dr. Manucci's office about results of the investigation have not been answered.
August-November 1999 - During the public comment period on the Navy's request for a Letter of Authorization to take marine mammals by harassment during deployment of LFAS, numerous organizations and individuals file comments with NMFS pointing out deficiencies in Navy research on LFAS to date. Those comments include the fact that the scientists conducting the studies underlying the DEIS have not yet completed their analysis of the results and that the full source level of LFAS was never tested.
January 2000 - A formal notice of violation is sent to Secretary of Commerce William Daley and Secretary of the Navy Richard Danzig. This notice is based on the Navy continuing to make irreversible and irretrievable commitments of resources to SURTASS LFA deployment prior to completing an EIS, which is a violation of NEPA and ESA. The notice is sent pursuant to an ESA requirement for sixty days notice to the Secretary of Commerce and the violator prior to the initiation of court action.
February 29, 2000 - Ten environmental organizations and an elected official file suit in Honolulu Federal Court challenging the Navy plans to deploy SURTASS LFA. Suit alleges illegal commitments of resources, lack of objectivity in the EIS process, and NMFS' improper consideration of application for authorization to harass marine mammals during deployment of LFAS given Navy violations of NEPA and ESA. (See http://go.to/lfaslawsuit or http://www.ilhawaii.net/~light/lfaindex.html)
March 2, 2000 - After asking if more tests on LFAS are planned for the future, Dr. Marsha Green, President of OMI, receives an E-mail from the Office of Naval Research, describing new plans by Navy to conduct further LFAS testing in the Azores in July-August 2000 as part of the LFA SRP and, perhaps, elsewhere later. (See http://www.ilhawaii.net/~light/gisiner.html)
March 14, 2000 - Hawaii County Green Party files motion to reopen their 1998 case based on the above Navy plans to conduct additional LFAS testing in the marine environment. (In 1998 the Navy told the court that LFAS testing was complete. This resulted in two lawsuits attempting to stop the testing being declared moot.) Motion discusses Navy position that permits are not required for testing in foreign EEZs, which can extend up to 200 miles from the foreign three-mile limit.
March 15, 2000 - Green Party learns of second E-mail from Office of Naval Research stating that permits are required for testing outside the three-mile limit of a foreign country and within foreign EEZs. This contradicts the earlier Navy position that permits were not required in foreign EEZs for LFAS tests conducted previously. (See 1980-1995)
March 16, 2000 - Green Party files supplement to motion to reopen their 1998 case bringing the above email to the attention of the court.
Week of March 13-17, 2000 - Seventeen cetaceans strand in Bahamas (seven died) at the same time Navy conducts tests and exercises using various sonar devices, including high intensity (235 dB) broadcasts. The tests are known as Littoral Warfare Advanced Development (LWAD) Sea Tests. The Bahamas test is LWAD 00-1. Navy claims stranding is coincidence. Stranded whales come from at least four different species in three families of two suborders of cetaceans. Six animals were sent to specialists in the US at Harvard and other laboratories for necropsies to determine cause of death. Similar tests (LWAD 00-2) are scheduled for late May off New Jersey coast.
March 21, 2000 - NRDC and Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) send letter to Secretary of the Navy Danzig demanding a suspension of LWAD 00-2 tests.
March 22, 2000 - Attorney for plaintiffs in Hawaii case filed in February 2000 sends formal notice to Secretaries of Commerce and Navy that Bahamian tests violated environmental laws, including ESA.
March 23, 2000 - With the sixty days from the January 14, 2000 notice of violation expired and no response from either the Secretary of Commerce or the Secretary of the Navy, the attorney for plaintiffs in the February 2000 Hawaii case files amended complaint to include three new counts of direct violations of the MMPA and ESA. Amended complaint now alleges a pattern of illegal testing by Navy, including the Bahamian tests, and a request for a court order requiring the Navy to secure permits under MMPA and ESA for any further testing in international waters.
March 24, 2000 - HSUS, the nation's largest animal protection organization, sends a letter demanding that the United States Navy suspend upcoming tests involving active sonar systems.
March 31, 2000 - Attorney for plaintiffs in 2000 Hawaii case sends letter to Secretary of Commerce calling upon the Secretary to notify the Navy that further LWAD testing without formal consultation and permits from NMFS would be a criminal violation of the ESA.
April 5, 2000 - After less than thirty days of analysis and before necropsy results are available, US Navy concludes that testing in the Bahamas did not cause strandings and deaths of whales.
April 21, 2000 - Navy issues press release again concluding that the fleet doing the LWAD 00-1 testing could not be responsible for the strandings and deaths in the Bahamas. The release does state that another passing naval fleet in the same area broadcast standard mid-range sonar signals from five ships and one submarine in the time frame of the strandings. A Navy/NMFS investigation continues.
April 24, 2000 - Navy submits Overseas Environmental Assessment (OEA) to NMFS requesting concurrence in LWAD 00-2 tests off New Jersey coast. With tests scheduled to begin on May 22, Navy provides NMFS less than thirty days to complete review. As with LWAD 00-1, the Navy seeks agreement from NMFS for testing based on informal consultations. Such a process confines the discussion to a Navy-NMFS dialogue with the public rarely becoming aware of the project. In this case, however, the strandings in the Bahamas brought elevated public attention to the LWAD testing program. Environmentalists secure a copy of the OEA and make that document available to people working on potential litigation to stop LWAD 00-2 and other tests. OEA reveals that Navy intends to use LFAS in LWAD 00-2.
May 5, 2000 - NMFS sends a letter to the Navy about the OEA on LWAD 00-2 stating, "we are not able to concur with your determination that the proposed action is not likely to adversely affect listed species under the National Marine Fisheries Service's jurisdiction." The letter states that additional time would be needed to complete the review. Given the short time frame available, the letter requests the Navy to postpone the operation.
May 9, 2000 - Attorney for plaintiffs in LFA litigation filed in February 2000 sends extensive comments on the LWAD 00-2 OEA to NMFS. The comments state that (1) the informal consultation process should stop and a formal process be initiated, in part to allow for public participation; (2) the events in the Bahamas and the emerging evidence of shock trauma killing cetaceans call for extraordinary caution in allowing more tests; (3) the March 21 NRDC/HSUS letter to the Secretary of the Navy provides additional legal and scientific concerns that need to be considered rather than relying upon informal consultations; (4) the OEA did not address what happened in the Bahamas; (5) the sonar broadcast of the second passing naval fleet suggests the possibility of synergistic impacts from LWAD 00-1 broadcasts and the fleet sonars; (6) the OEA is seriously deficient because there is no discussion of the Bahamas stranding, there is no discussion of the history of cetacean strandings and deaths now associated with low frequency active sonar, such as LWAD 00-2 intends to use (e.g. Mediterranean 1996), and it relies upon an inadequate discussion of available data.
May 10, 2000 - Environmental groups and scientists hold a press conference in Washington, D.C. calling for a moratorium on any further high intensity sonar testing. Ben White, Animal Welfare Institute coordinates the press conference and speakers. Joel Reynolds, NRDC Senior Attorney, introduces the issues. Ken Balcomb, Director of the Center for Whale Research, reports on the emerging evidence that the whale deaths in the Bahamas trace to some form of shock trauma. Blood in the eyes, and type of tissue damage all point to some explosive or high intensity sound source. Dr. Marsha Green, President of OMI, discusses the impact of sound on cetaceans and problems with the Navy's extrapolating from the results of tests done at low levels to conclude that active sonar deployed at much higher levels will not be harmful. Dr. Naomi Rose, Marine Mammal Scientist for the Humane Society of the United States, issues the call for the moratorium. Dr. Charles Bernard, former Navy weapons development specialist, criticizes the LFAS technology from a military perspective.
May 12, 2000 - NRDC and HSUS send a letter to Secretary of the Navy Richard Danzig urging postponement of LWAD 00-2. The letter raises numerous legal and scientific objections to the test.
May 15, 2000 - Attorney for plaintiffs in February 2000 litigation sends second set of comments on LWAD 00-2 OEA to NMFS. The comments direct NMFS' attention to evidence in the DEIS for SURTASS LFA deployment that the claims of safe levels in the OEA actually derive from the Scientific Research Program (SRP) conducted as part of the LFAS DEIS preparation. The comments suggest that the Navy's failure to directly include the DEIS information with the OEA constitutes a serious omission and that, had those documents been included, NMFS would have been required to wait to give approval for LWAD 00-2 tests because such decisions cannot be made based on draft documents.
May 9-19, 2000 - Navy pressures NMFS to not require formal consultations for LWAD 00-2 tests off New Jersey coast. Environmentalists and scientists opposed to LFAS deployment mount campaign to build support for the formal consultations recommendation.
May 19, 2000 - Patricia Kurkul, Regional Administrator, Northeast Region, NMFS sends letter to Navy stating that NMFS is "not able to concur with your determination that the proposed action is not likely to adversely affect listed species." The letter cites the limited time given to NMFS to review the project; the deficiencies in the OEA, including a failure to include the latest research evidence available on various issues; the imprecise descriptions given of the intensity of planned broadcasts; questionable evidence, methodology, and conclusions regarding impacts on marine life; and inadequate discussion of potential impacts on turtles. The letter concludes that "NMFS recommends formal consultation under Section 7 of the [Endangered Species Act]."
May 24, 2000 - A letter signed by 52 organizations is individually delivered to each congressional office asking Congress to convene an oversight hearing to investigate the environmental hazards of active sonar devices in use or planned for future use by the US Navy. The letter also asked for an immediate cessation of all development, testing and deployment of the Navy's proposed LFAS System until such time as Congress determines it is necessary and can be used safely in the ocean environment.
May 25, 2000 - Navy cancels LWAD 00-2 tests off New Jersey coast. Instead, density surveys of marine mammals will be conducted using only commercial locators and passive arrays. There will be no use of LFAS.
May 26, 2000 - Federal Defendants file opposition to motion to reopen 1998 Hawaii case. Opposition includes a statement that the planned testing on sperm whales in the Azores will not take place in 2000.
May 28, 2000 - Attorney for plaintiffs in February 2000 Hawaii litigation files motion to supplement the earlier motion to reopen the Green Parties' 1998 case. The new motion brings LWAD 00-2 to the court's attention and argues that the Navy plan to conduct further tests with low frequency active sonar in the marine environment, possibly affecting marine mammals, is further support for the argument that the 1998 case is not moot.
May 30, 2000 - Court grants plaintiffs second motion to supplement. The court will consider the plan to conduct LWAD 00-2 as a possible basis for reopening the 1998 case.
June 2, 2000 - Attorney for plaintiffs in Hawaii litigation replies to opposition to motion to reopen noting that Navy apparently decided to cancel the Azores testing after the motion to reopen was filed and that such a cancellation is not a basis to deny the motion to reopen.
June 5, 2000 - Representatives of U.S. Navy, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Marine Mammal Commission meet to review preliminary results of efforts to determine cause of Bahamian strandings on March 15-16, 2000. Navy reports that five naval activities occurred around the Bahamas from March 12-15, 2000, and concludes that four of these activities had no probability of impacting marine mammals. Navy is now reviewing the fifth activity which involves transit of U.S. and foreign warships coincident in time with the strandings. Several of these ships used standard sonar operating within normal mid-range frequencies and power (3.5 and 7.5 kHz, 235 dB).
Biologists present their report based on microscopic examination of six animals from Bahamas stranding. Injuries to beaked whale heads are all consistent with an intense acoustic or pressure event. All have hemorrhages in or around the ears. One animal has evidence of hemorrhage in fluid space around the brain. Biologists think animals suffered vestibular effects (disequilibrium and disorientation) from an acoustic or pressure event. Postcranial tissues show minor lesions in heart muscle and minor hemorrhage in lung and kidney tissue.
NOAA says they are unable to link the biological damage to a specific source of acoustic energy or pressure. However, correlated transit by Navy ships using mid-range sonar and fact that beaked whales predominated the multi-species stranding, suggest a priority need to examine whether injuries of this nature could be caused by exposure, over time, to a combination of Naval tactical sonars. Navy agrees to investigate this issue on a priority basis. Next joint workshop to examine models of acoustic field produced by these tactical sonars will occur in mid July.
June 13, 2000 - Hearing before Judge Alan C. Kay, Federal District Court, Honolulu considers (1) defendants motion to dismiss the case filed on February 29, 2000, (2) defendants motion to prevent discovery in the recently filed case, and (3) plaintiff's motion to reopen the 1998 case. Judge hears argument and takes matters under advisement for later ruling.
Judge does present stipulation to Federal Defendants that would foreclose any further testing of SURTASS LFA or deployment of SURTASS LFA until the completion of the EIS and the expiration of time for opponents of deployment to file suit challenging the adequacy of the EIS. Federal Defendants agree to stipulation with proviso that, if national security requires, defendants can return to the judge to be relieved of the prohibition.
June 22, 2000 - OMI learns the Office of Naval Research plans to conduct a "High Frequency Acoustic Experiment" in the Delaware Bay for 90 days. The Navy states the purpose of the "Delaware Bay High Frequency Acoustic Experiment" is aimed at understanding the basic physics governing the propagation and scattering of high frequency sound in shallow water. Three bottom-moored tripods would emit acoustic signals with a variable source level of 155-165 dB re 1 uPa at 1 meter with a frequency range of 500 Hz-20,000 Hz. (Note: LFAS is 100 Hz to 500 Hz).
OMI notifies other organizations and calls the Office of Naval Research to request the Environmental Assessment (EA) for the project.
June 27, 2000 - RADM Malcolm Fages, US Navy Director, Submarine Warfare Division, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, and RADM JP Davis, US Navy Program Executive Office for Submarines, gave a talk before the House Armed Services Committee Military Procurement Subcommittee on Submarine Force Structure and Modernization. In this talk Admiral Fages said that the Navy now has the ability to detect advanced diesel submarines in littoral waters using passive sonar systems, at ranges they did not think were possible in the past.
June 2000 - Scientists hired by Navy to test LFAS publish paper in Nature describing results of testing the sonar on singing humpback whales in Hawaii in March 1998. During the mating season male humpback whales sing complex songs that are believed to be sexual displays. They report humpback whale songs were 29% longer when LFAS was being broadcast. LFAS was broadcast at less than full strength. Authors suggest whales sang significantly longer songs during LFAS transmissions to compensate for acoustic interference. Scientists do not know what impact this increased energy expenditure might have on long term reproductive rates.
July 6, 2000 - OMI and others are notified by the Office of Naval Research that all requests for the Delaware Bay Environmental Assessment must be submitted in writing. Letter or fax acceptable. OMI faxes written request for EA to Office of Naval Research. As of July 2001 we have not yet received it.
New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) does not grant approval for Delaware Bay Experiment. A letter from Richard Kopp, Land Use Management Director of the New Jersey DEP, states the Navy, "has failed to demonstrate the proposed [Delaware Bay] experiment will not present more than minimal interference with marine fish or fisheries." Kopp's letter details numerous deficiencies in the Navy's application including inadequate research into the effects of underwater sound on marine life, an inadequate plan to address any marine life problems that may occur and a failure to consider alternative experimental methods such as using a wave tank. Kopp also advises the Navy to allow more time when seeking approval of future applications.
July 8, 2000 - The following public notice is published in the Hawaii Office of Environmental Quality Control Publication, "The Environmental Notice":
Individuals and organizations send comments about inadequacies in LFAS testing program and in the DEIS to Hawaii Coastal Zone Management Program.
July 10, 2000 - Judge Kay denies request to reopen 1998 case and dismisses 2000 case. Judge does note that a recently released report from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute on the 1998 Hawai`i testing contains evidence that LFAS broadcasts lead to changes in humpback whale songs, that such singing is considered to be related to mating, and, therefore, that the new study suggests severe restrictions on the use of LFAS in Hawaiian waters would be appropriate.
July 19, 2000 - 26 members of the House of Representatives sign a letter to the Secretary of Defense asking him to withdraw the Navy's Draft Environmental Impact Statement on LFAS and to reassess the assumption that LFAS poses no threat because research conducted by the Navy has been inadequate.
July 28, 2000 - Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Navy Robert Pirie tells CNN that U.S. Navy did have an operational sonar exercise in the Bahamas in March 2000, "that was closely correlated with the …strandings and that's the source of our concern."
August 14-15, 2000 - OMI hosts a symposium to discuss LFAS. The symposium was held at the College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine. The goal of the symposium was to clarify and address the very controversial issues surrounding LFAS in order to facilitate the presentation of accurate information to Congress and the public. Dr. Marsha Green, President / Founder of OMI has provided a summary of the symposium results: Symposium Quicklook: The Navy's High Intensity Sonars. For background on the speakers, see the bottom of the Symposium Schedule.
October 24, 2000 - Ocean Mammal Institute first became aware of the House of Representatives letter, to the Secretary of Defense, sent July 19, 2000.
January 2001 - The Navy releases the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for SURTASS LFA. There is a thirty-day review period. The Navy must also obtain permits and Letters of Authorization from the NMFS under the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act.
February 23, 2001 - Ken Balcomb writes a letter to J.S. Johnson, SURTASS LFAS Program Manager. In this letter Mr. Balcomb address for the first time "resonance frequency" of the airspaces in the Cuvier's beaked whales in the stranding of the beaked whales in the Bahamas in March 2000. He states that the Navy has not adequately considered how loud noise from sonar may resonate within air chambers located in the whales' skulls, tearing apart delicate tissues around the brain and the ears. He goes on to state that the U.S. Navy has known the resonance frequency of airspaces in Cuvier's beaked whales since 1998. (See Ken Balcomb's Letter.)
March 8, 2001 - Dr. Marsha Green and Dr. Linda Weilgart both sign a letter responding to the House of Representatives letter to the Secretary of the Navy. In this response they dispute many of the claims made by the Navy as to the safety of LFAS.
March 19, 2001 - NMFS announces three locations for public hearings in order to receive comments from the general public on the U.S. Navy's application for a Letter of Authorization for the take of small numbers of marine mammals by harassment incidental to Navy operations of the LFAS. NMFS also announces an extension of the comment deadline to May 18, 2001in order to allow the public sufficient time following the close of the public hearings to submit written comments.
April 3, 2001 - NMFS receives a letter from members of Congress to requesting an extension of the comment period and public hearings on the Navy's proposal to "take" marine mammals with their LFAS.
April, 2001 - NMFS extends its deadline for comments to on LFAS to May 3, 2001.
April 26, 2001- NMFS 1st public hearing on LFAS held at Los Angeles, CA
April 28, 2001 - NMFS 2nd public hearing on LFAS at Honolulu, Hawaii.
May 3, 2001 - NMFS 3rd and final public hearing on LFAS at Silver Spring, MD. Dr. Marsha Green, President / Founder of OMI and Joyce O'Neal, Chief Operations Manager of OMI both make statements at this hearing. Both Dr. Green and Joyce O'Neal meet with several Congressional Offices to discuss LFAS and request specific action.
May 22, 2001 - Dr. Marsha Green and Joyce O'Neal of OMI, Naomi Rose and Richard Patch of USHS, Faith Weiss of NRDC, Erich Pica of FOE, Adam Roberts of the Society for Animal Protective Legislation meet with the Maine Delegation staff to discuss LFAS. LFAS Navy hired scientists and Naval personnel are also present at this meeting.
June 17, 2001 - Two beaked whales - an adult female and a younger male - beached themselves north of Vero Beach, Florida. The larger whale, a 13-foot - 2,000-pound female, was dead by the time would-be rescuers got there and the smaller, a 10-foot - 1,500-pound male, was in such poor condition he was put to death.
June 18, 2001 - The heads of the two beaked whales beached on Vero Beach, June 17, 2001 were sent to the Woods Hole Marine Institution in Massachusetts for high-tech MRI examination. There was early speculation that Navy ``shock testing'' -- underwater explosions -- conducted earlier this month in the Atlantic east of Jacksonville may have damaged the whales' sensitive navigation system. There were three shock tests in just under a week, ending June 11, a Navy spokesman said. ``There is absolutely no indication right now that the death of these two whales had anything to do with any kind of Navy activity,'' said Chris Smith, spokesman for the Southeast Region of NMFS.
Underwater Noise Pollution is an international issue since acoustic energy does not recognize boundaries. Therefore, since 2002 we have refocused our efforts on educating and working with key international organizations including the European Parliament, the United Nations, and NATO on mitigating the impacts of intense underwater noise on marine life. You can read about our work in the international area at OMI International Actions.
Prepared by: Lanny Sinkin and Marsha L. Green, Ph.D. President OMI. Permission granted for distribution which is encouraged.
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