Brendan Coyne / The New Standard – 2005-06-04 23:33:01
(June 3, 2005) — According to a lawsuit filed in New York Tuesday, government agencies failed to fulfill requests for study data on whale deaths that might be related to the Navy’s use of Sonar equipment.
The lawsuit, filed in the Southern New York US District Court by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), an environmental group, charges that two government agencies repeatedly failed to turn over information requested under the Freedom of Information Act.
The NRDC asks the court to require the National Marine Fisheries Service and US Department of Commerce to provide all requested records within 20 days and compensate the NRDC for attorney and court costs.
Opponents of using mid-frequency Sonar point to an increase in whale strandings as possible evidence that the marine mammals are adversely affected by use of high pitched noises to scan the ocean. Many nations in Europe and elsewhere have banned naval exercises involving mid-frequency Sonar.
Though consensus on the issue has yet to be reached, scientists have published articles in Nature, The National Geographic and other journals documenting increased incidences of beaching, forced surfacing, decompression and bends in several species of whale nearby to naval Sonar exercises.
Papers published as part of a 2004 study by the Scientific Committee of the International Whaling Committee said whale “behavioral responses are complex and poorly understood,” but noted that “recent mass strandings of beaked whales suggested that these species… are prone to stranding following exposure to high intensity sound that is associated with naval operations and seismic exploration activity.”
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