Groups Stage Street Theater Enactment of Navy Authorization to Flood World's Oceans with LFA Sonar

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Silver Spring, MD -- This Thursday the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) and Citizens Opposing Active Sonar Threats (COAST) will stage a colorful enactment outside the headquarters of the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration Fisheries Division (NMFS).

The "LFA Street Theater Spectacular," will mark NMFS' issuance of a rulemaking and Letter of Authorization allowing the Navy to use Low Frequency Active (LFA) sonar in over 70 percent of the world's oceans for the next five years. Military active sonar has been implicated in a slew of marine mammal deaths and strandings and the groups are appalled that the Administration's lust for military dominance is taking precedence over responsible environmental stewardship.

"Currently, the Navy is restricted by a court ruling in its use of this incredibly loud and pervasive sonar, but after Thursday, it will be able to use it pretty much where it pleases," said Russell Wray of COAST. "In the trials for LFA, short-term tests were done on only four baleen whale species, who were exposed, for the most part, to lower received levels of sonar, yet the Navy and NMFS chose to dismiss or ignore significant behavioral reactions to the noise, and have improperly extrapolated those results to apply to all marine mammals in the world's oceans."

LFA sonar has a source level of 215 decibels (dB) -10 million times more energy than the 145 dB level that the Navy claims is safe for human divers. LFA sonar has a low wavelength and consequently can travel for many hundreds of miles, a property used by some whales in their vocalizations to communicate with each other over huge ocean expanses.

"The uncontrolled widespread use of LFA sonar threatens to change the make-up of our seas forever," said AWI Marine Animal Research Assistant Serda Ozbenian. "We cannot let this milestone go by without making our disappointment in our government known."

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Media Contact:
Serda Ozbenian, AWI,
(202) 337-232

AWI, based in Washington D.C., is a non-profit charitable organization founded in 1951 to reduce the sum total of pain and fear inflicted on animals by humans. COAST, headquartered in Maine, is a citizen's group that was founded in 2000.