Oppose expanded sonar training in Hawaiian waters

The Honolulu Star Advertiser reports “Navy seeks input on its plan for sonar use” (June 10, 2012).  The navy has released a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for training and testing with sonar in Hawai’i and Southern California. The DEIS includes new projections that the sonar could cause more harm to marine mammals than previously thought:

The Navy acknowledges that its proposed test and training plan for sonar and explosives in Hawaii and California waters might unintentionally cause more than 1,600 instances of hearing loss and other injuries to marine mammals yearly.

[. . .]

Meetings are scheduled starting Tuesday on Kauai to allow the public to comment on the draft EIS for the proposed Hawaii-Southern California Training and Testing plan, which covers the north-central Pacific area where the Navy testing and training would take place through 2019.

The environmental group National Resources Defense Council says the Navy’s new plan fails to adequately identify and assess alternatives, including ways to reduce the effects of explosives and sonar on marine mammals.


Navy spokesperson Matt Matsunaga is turning on the spin cycle:  the sonar being a necessary risk to fight terrorists and nations with submarines; sonar testing having been done in Hawai’i for decades;  and the navy has adequate mitigation measures.  He  even claims: “The fact is that sonar has not been linked to marine mammal deaths in Hawaii in the past and we don’t expect any in the future.”

I guess he disputes the 2008  beaked whale stranding on Molokai was caused by RIMPAC:

An environmental group is pointing a finger at sonar and the Navy’s Rim of the Pacific exercises in the stranding and death of a 15-foot Cuvier’s beaked whale Monday on Moloka’i, but the National Marine Fisheries Service said it doesn’t yet know what caused the juvenile male animal to enter the shallow water.

U.S. Pacific Fleet spokesman Mark Matsunaga, meanwhile, said it’s “premature, speculative and irresponsible to link naval activities to this stranding.”

[. . .]
The environmental law firm Earthjustice said the stranding came as the Navy conducted its multinational Rimpac exercise in Hawai’i waters.

Or maybe he forgot about the 2004 melon headed whale stranding in Hanalei during RIMPAC exercises:

The Navy has acknowledged that sonar was used in the hours before a pod of deep-water whales swam into Hanalei Bay. New information calls into question the Navy’s contention that the use of sonar during maneuvers off Kauai had nothing to do with driving a large pod of deep-water whales into Hanalei Bay during the Fourth of July weekend.

The information further validates a collection of evidence, which the Navy dismisses, that sonar presents a danger to marine life and buttresses arguments for some restraints.

About 200 melon-headed whales alarmed residents and marine biologists they were spotted in the bay about 7:30 a.m. July 3, swimming in a tight circle about 100 feet from the beach. These whales normally stay at least 15 miles off shore. Specialists and volunteers managed to herd the whales out to sea, but a newborn calf became separated from the pod and eventually died of starvation.

At the time, Rim of the Pacific naval exercises were being conducted about 20 miles northwest of Kauai, but Navy officials said no sonar had been used before the whales were seen in the bay. A spokesman told the Star-Bulletin that active sonar-tracking simulations had not begun until 8 a.m. while another told the Washington Post the exercises began at 8:30 a.m.

In the Garden Island reported that although NOAA could not reach a conclusive explanation for the 2004 stranding,:

“the active sonar transmissions” during that time were “a plausible, if not likely, contributing factor.”

“For them to come into the bay is definitely unusual behavior,” said Pacific Missile Range Facility spokesman Tom Clements.

[. . .]

There has been no evidence of any stranding taking place during RIMPAC’s month-long exercises of 2006 and 2008, Clements added.

Marine mammals — who use sound to communicate, travel and discover food — have attempted to avoid sonar in the past, according to NOAA documents. Four mass strandings — Greece in 1996, Bahamas in 2000, Madeira in 2000 and Canary Islands in 2002 — involved beaked whales (similar to melon-headed whales) and NOAA identified the “most likely” cause as “active military sonar.”

The Navy is holding hearings on the Draft EIS.  The Kaua’i Alliance for Peace and Social Justice distributed leaflets at the hearing.   Malu ‘Aina on Hawai’i island issued the following call to protest at the hearing on Thursday:

Malu Aina Center for non-violent education and action

Protest Navy War Plans!

On Thursday 6/14 from 5-8 PM representatives of the Navy will appear in Hilo to promote their Expansion Plan for war preparation exercises in the eastern Pacific and around Hawaii . While the topic is an EIS addressing potential harm to marine mammals, many see an opportunity to address U.S. war plans in a broader perspective, including the increasing use of Navy Seal Special Operation assassination squads and killer drones. Who are the real winners and losers in US military power projection in the Pacific basin and globally? Don’t be deceived that U.S. military power is about protecting “freedom and democracy/” It’s all about geopolitical control of oil and other resources to insure record corporate profits.

A demonstration with signs will be held from 4-5 pm, prior to the 5pm event start, and the attached flyer will be handed out. Anyone who wishes can participate. Bring a sign if you want but we will have plenty. We will be in front of the downtown Hilo Federal Bldg/Post Office, across Kalakaua Park from the meeting venue at the East Hawaii Cultural Center, 141 Kalakaua St.

A special thanks to friends on Kauai who did a similar protest and prepared the flyer.

Please pass the word on the Hilo protest. I encourage people to go to the Navy event and register your protest of U.S. war Plans. Give input in any way you see fit, i.e. how the money could be put to better use putting solar power on peoples homes, etc. Mahalo.



PS flyer attached—flyer

Navy Invites Public in Hawaii, San Diego to Open-House Meetings on Draft EIS

Posted on June 7, 2012 by Damon

The U.S. Navy encourages the public to attend open-house public meetings in Hawaii June 12-15 and on June 20 in San Diego to learn about and comment on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement/Overseas Environmental Impact Statement (EIS/OEIS) for Navy training and testing activities in the Hawaii-Southern California Study Area.

The HSTT Draft EIS/OEIS takes a comprehensive look at the effects of Navy training and testing on the ocean environment in Hawaii and Southern California, incorporating the latest science. Four open house public meetings will be held in Hawaii and one in San Diego, Calif., to inform the public about the Navy’s Proposed Action and to obtain comments on the Proposed Action and alternatives, and the accuracy and adequacy of the Draft EIS/OEIS analysis. The public may arrive at any time during the open house public meetings.

There will not be a formal presentation; however, Navy representatives will be available to provide information and answer questions about the Proposed Action and Draft EIS/OEIS. The open house public meetings will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. at:

Date: Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Location: Wilcox Elementary School Cafeteria
4319 Hardy St.
Lihue, HI 96766

Date: Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Location: Maui Waena Intermediate School Cafeteria
795 Onehee Ave.
Kahului, HI 96732

Date: Thursday, June 14, 2012
Location: East Hawaii Cultural Center
141 Kalakaua St. Hilo, HI 96720

Date: Friday, June 15, 2012
Location: McKinley High School Cafeteria
1039 S. King St.
Honolulu, HI 96814

Date: Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Location: Marina Village Conference Center Starboard Room
1936 Quivira Way
San Diego, CA 92109

The Navy proposes to conduct training and testing activities primarily within existing range complexes and operating areas located in the waters around the Hawaiian Islands and off the coast of Southern California, Navy pierside locations in both areas and a transit corridor connecting the Hawaii and Southern California range complexes. The Proposed Action includes the use of active sonar and explosives. The HSTT Draft EIS/OEIS updates the science and analyses needed to continue critical Navy training and testing in the Study Area. The Draft EIS/OEIS combines multiple previous studies into one, thereby incorporating expanded areas and new science, platforms and activities.

Copies of the Draft EIS/OEIS are available to the public at www.HSTTEIS.com and at the following information repositories:


. Lihue Public Library, 4344 Hardy St., Lihue, HI 96766
. Kailua-Kona Public Library, 75-138 Hualalai Road, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740
. Wailuku Public Library, 251 High St., Wailuku, HI 96793
. Hilo Public Library, 300 Waianuenue Ave., Hilo, HI 96720
. Hawaii State Library, Hawaii and Pacific Section, 478 S. King St., Honolulu, HI 96813


. San Diego Central Library, 820 E. St., San Diego, CA 92101
. Long Beach Main Library, 101 Pacific Ave., Long Beach, CA 90822

The Navy is accepting comments throughout the 60-day public comment period, from May 11, 2012, to July 10, 2012. All comments must be postmarked or received online by July 10, 2012, for consideration in the Final EIS/OEIS.

Written comments may be submitted via the project website at www.HSTTEIS.com, in person at the public meetings or by mail to:

Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Southwest
Attention: HSTT EIS/OEIS Project Manager – EV21.CS
1220 Pacific Highway, Building 1, Floor 3
San Diego, CA 92132-5190


Visit the project website at www.HSTTEIS.com to learn more about the project.


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