Navy releases EIS on training and testing - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Navy releases EIS on training and testing

Patrick Bratton Patrick Bratton
David Henkin David Henkin
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

The Navy's Environmental Impact Statements tell the National Marine Fisheries Service that training and testing over the next five years could result in more than 2,000 serious injuries to whales and dolphins in Hawaiian waters and off the coast of Southern California and more than 11,000 off the East Coast. The potential for minor injuries could reach into the thousands.

Hawaii Pacific University's Director of Diplomacy and Military Studies said the Navy's needs pit risk versus reward.

"If we don't do these tests, we don't maintain a high level of readiness and there's a crisis and something goes bad, there could be an unfortunate accident," Patrick Bratton said.

The officer in charge of the EIS said people should not be alarmed by the projections.

"While large numbers of marine mammals may be affected by sonar and explosives activities, over 99.9 percent of the animals affected will experience only temporary behavioral effects that do not result in injury," Rear Adm. Kevin Slates said.

Earthjustice attorney David Henkin said that percentage still amounts to a lot.

"There's going to be millions that are injured. There are going to be thousands that are going to be permanently injured. There's going to be over 150 that are killed. And we're talking about some species that just can't take that kind of harm to them," he said.

Henkin said humpbacks, Hawaiian monk seals and false killer whales will all be at risk.

The Navy insists the forecasts reflect a worst case scenario and don't take into account mitigation measures.

"If the Navy's not doing readiness exercises, testing its sonar, testing all sorts of other things, if there is some sort of incident at sea, the Navy's going to be blamed for that," Bratton said.

"What we're saying is that they have a legal obligation to try and reduce those impacts. So they get the training they claim they need but without the marine mammals paying such a high price," Henkin said.

The Fisheries Service is expected to make a decision on the Navy's request by October.

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