It’s been a long time between news alerts! Apologies but the last few months have been havoc with the battle to stop PG&E carrying out months of seismic surveys destined to create havoc in the marine environment.
The Coalition was able to bring to the attention of the California Coastal Commission the little known information that the highly endangered Western Gray Whale was well documented to be in the seismic survey area at the time of the proposed surveys. Not only had the Californian agencies ignored or forgotten about the Western Grays but the Environmental Impact Statement completely excluded the California Gray Whales.
Given that the timing of the surveys co-incided exactly with the migration of Gray Whales and their newborn young on their way to the Mexican lagunas, the potential for major damage to the whales was very high. Previous lawsuits which our Australian ally had run in the San Francisco District Court demonstrated that the levels which PG&E intended to use could disrupt communication between mothers and calves. Fortunately, the California Coastal Commission denied the permit.
In March, 2013, the Commission also denied the Navy a permit in to harm marine mammals in the waters of Southern California and Hawaii on more than 31 million separate instances between 2014-2019 causing 5 million instances of temporary hearing loss; more than 13,000 instances of permanent hearing loss or other permanent injury and nearly 350 deaths.
Yes, that sentence is worth reading again.
What possible threat could justify such a damaging permit?
The Coalition believes the Navy vastly under-estimated the death rate. Given that underwater noise and its cumulative impacts create a nightmare in the water for marine mammals, fish, coral, eggs, larvae, sharks, stingrays and even the small benthic organisms, it’s almost beyond comprehension why the Navy would seek to impose this torture on already stressed marine ecosystems.
Underwater noise can impact reproduction, ability to find prey, communication, creating major stress which can inhibit a healthy immune system – the list is endless.