“Dr Marsha Green, head of the North American
Ocean Noise Coalition, led an international group of environmental coalitions on
an educational and informational quest about Man-Made Underwater High Intensity
Sounds to the United Nations Open-Ended Informal
Consultative Process on Oceans and the Law of the Sea Meeting at the United Nations in New
York this week. This Reuters news release highlights some of the points
they made and some of the challenges that still remain.
Coalition urges UN curbs on harmful ocean
Wed Jun 8, 2005 07:26 PM ET
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - An
environmental coalition urged the United Nations on Wednesday to take steps to
protect whales, dolphins and other marine life from the powerful sound waves
used in oil and gas exploration and by the world's navies to navigate and detect
Marine scientists believe there is a link between the use of
high-intensity sound and recent mass strandings of whales and dolphins in waters
off Greece, Hawaii, New Zealand and elsewhere around the world since 1985, said
the Ocean Noise Coalition.
In each of these cases, the strandings took
place near high intensity sonar or near the use of high-powered industrial "air
guns" used in oil and gas exploration, the coalition grouping over 120 different
organizations told a news conference at U.N. headquarters.
can also seriously injure or kill fish and drive down the catch rates of
commercial fishing operations, according to scientific studies cited by the
coalition, which includes the Swiss-based World Conservation Union, Chile's
Centro de Conservacion Cetacea and the U.S.-based Sierra Club and Natural
Resources Defense Council.
"It is time to pay attention to the studies
showing that air guns and sonar-type signals can seriously injure and kill
fish," a coalition statement said.
"The fact that several studies show
that fish catch rates are significantly lowered by noise from air guns indicates
that increasing levels of human-produced noise in the ocean can significantly
and adversely affect the food supply, employment and economies of many nations,"
the statement said.
The groups are trying to convince delegates from 148
nations to take action on the issue during their consultations this week in New
York on oceans and marine law.
The European Parliament and the
International Whaling Commission are among groups recognizing intense ocean
noise as a threat to marine life and backing international controls, they
Some governments including the United States, however, have argued
that sonar use cannot be regulated internationally as it is a matter of national
© Reuters 2005