US Navy Plans Active Sonar Range
United States: The US Navy is planning a 550-square mile permanent active sonar range off the North Carolina coast—a hotspot for marine mammal species such as the highly endangered North Atlantic right whale. The Scientific Committee of the International Whaling Commission has found that the evidence linking military sonar to stranding is "very convincing, and appears overwhelming." The United Nations, the European Parliament and the World Conservation Union concur that active sonar has detrimental effects on all ocean life. Ocean noise can even injure and kill fish; some studies show it has caused a significant decrease in commercial catch rates. The Animal Welfare Institute has provided extensive comment, along with more than 36,000 groups and citizens. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Marine Mammal Commission have also issued letters of concern. The Navy must provide some form of response to each of the comments in the final Environmental Impact Statement, due to be published this fall. If approved, construction of the sonar range is planned for next year.