Being Vegan – The Navy Is Wrong On This One
By Paul Graham
Las Vegas Informer
This past Friday was a victory for marine life and those that protect it along the California Coast. The California Coastal Commission, meeting in San Diego, after hours of public comment voted unanimously to reject the Navy’s permit to conduct harmful testing along the California Coast. This came after decades of the Navy dismissing and ignoring any mitigation requirements made by the Commission regarding sonar and explosion practices and the impact upon marine mammals. What has just happened in California, though, is going to have to be repeated over and over again around the world to truly protect marine mammals because this is part of a much bigger problem.
The U.S. Dept. of Defense has given the U.S. Navy permission to eventually cover 70% of the Earth’s oceans with their sonar systems. This would begin with five-year proposed training plan from 2014-2019, and it would threaten entire populations of marine wildlife off the East Coast, Southern California, Hawaii and the Gulf Coast. Included in these marine wildlife populations would be some of the world’s rare and endangered species such as blue whales, fin whales and North Atlantic right whales, which are barely clinging to survival. High intensity sonar can deafen, injure and even kill marine mammals. It has already caused mass stranding and deaths of whales on beaches around the world. I saw an area like this filled with beached whales and dolphins in the Canary Islands and it was heart-wrenching to say the least.
This mid-frequency sonar will bombard whales and other marine mammals with noise so intense, up to 236 decibels, it can actually cause their internal organs to hemorrhage. The Navy’s own Environmental Review conceded originally that the testing could kill more than 1,000 marine mammals, cause more than 5000 serious injuries, and inflict 5 million cases of temporary hearing lost. Other of their reports stated estimated that the testing would deafen 1600 whales and kill 1800 more and that harm would come to marine mammals more than 10 million times during the 5 years of testing off of the U.S. coast alone. The numbers that they presented to the California Coastal Commission were much lower than these original figures and the Navy was chastised by the Commission for the shoddy science behind the numbers that were presented.
Perhaps no one can fully predict the full impact of what this testing would have upon marine mammals and the ocean’s eco-systems in general. From the little we have seen so far, it would be devastating to say the least. It boggles the mind that with the amount of resources available to them that the Navy would not be able to come up with a testing program that would not harm the marine life and still not compromise our military readiness. Perhaps a new technology could be developed that could accomplish their goals without severely hurting marine mammals, sea birds and other ocean life. We can not consider the devastation to marine life in our oceans somehow as collateral damage for the Navy’s proposed testing program.
This is by no means over because every area that this proposed testing is to take place will have to fight and address this proposed testing. I have signed a number of petitions over the past few months and expect to sign many more. What we do know is that these petitions, emails and the public opinion expressed at these hearings did make a difference and I encourage you to get involved somehow to come to the aid of these magnificent marine mammals and the oceans they live in. Right now, the California Coastal Commission has to negotiate a resolution with the Navy. What we don’t want to see is the Navy to go ahead and ignore previous rulings of the Commission like they did in 2007 and 2009. For all of those that care about our oceans and the marine life in it, we cannot be bullied by the Navy or anyone else. These beautiful creatures have no voice but the ones that we provide for them. This is only a beginning. For all the good that they do, the Navy is wrong on this one. We need to continue to fight to preserve and protect the lives of every living creature. With every battle that is fought and won perhaps more people will begin to see that this fight for animals is one of the most noble and necessary that we can be engaged in.
Paul Graham was born and raised in Northern California and has lived in Las Vegas since 2004. He is a top wedding officiate, a green Realtor and writer. He has a daily vegan food blog www.eatingveganinvegas.tumblr.com which is 365 days and 365 vegan meals in Las Vegas. He can also be reached at email@example.com or www.facebook.com/EatingVeganinVegas.
Paul’s upcoming book, “Eating Vegan in Vegas” will be published by Sullivan Street Press and for more information please go to www.sullivanstpress.com.