Newsletter - Animal Writes sm
From 29 December 1999 Issue

California Says No to Marine Fisheries Service Plan to Blast Sea Lions with Underwater Noise
Press Release from The Natural Resources Defense Council

SAN RAFAEL (December 10, 1999) Coastal Commission officials today unanimously voted down a National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) permit request to test a pulsed power generator designed to deter sea lions, citing insufficient evidence exists to support NMFS claims that system would not harm marine mammals. NMFS was seeking a permit to begin testing off the San Diego and Imperial Beach coastline as early as next spring and would have conducted tests for up to five months.

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the California League of Coastal Protection and the U.S. Humane Society also objected to the NMFS plan. Representatives from the groups testified that the pulsed power generator wouldn't deter sea lions away from recreational fishing vessels and that exposing sea lions to intense undersea shock waves could cause serious injury or death.

"We're very pleased that the California Coastal Commission has taken a strong stand to protect marine mammals against the proliferation of these dangerous devices," Michael Jasny, consulting attorney to NRDC.

"What NMFS was proposing here was not science," said Susan Jordan of the California League of Coastal Protection. " In denying this proposal, the Coastal Commission took the responsible path and refused to allow NMFS to do a field trial with a device that's never been tested for impacts on sea lions or marine mammals."

The NMFS pulsed power generator is the latest in a series of increasingly intrusive acoustic harassment devices used to keep marine mammals clear of commercial and recreational vessels. Underwater acoustic devices have been deployed in various forms over the years to harass and frighten off marine mammals trying to snatch fish from the hooks of anglers. But according to NRDC, use of underwater sound in this way has yet to demonstrate results. NRDC marine experts were especially concerned because the proposed pulse power generator would employ short bursts of high frequency sound 1,000 times more intense than previous harassment devices, along with a shock wave that could cause internal injury.

The Natural Resources Defense Council is a national non-profit organization of scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists dedicated to protecting public health and the environment. Founded in 1970, NRDC has more than 400,000 members nationwide and offices in New York, Washington, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Visit NRDC at web site:

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