Wädenswil (ots) - NATO and US Navy are violating international
laws with their low frequency sonar tests in the oceans. This is the
conclusion of the Swiss expert on Sea Law Alexander von Ziegler in a
report for the ASMS, a Swiss NGO for whale and dolphin conservation.
Noise can kill cetaceans and other creatures in the oceans. The
consequences of continual exposure to military noises are disastrous.
Noise creates stress. Aircraft noise, traffic noise, settlement
noises - a continual subject everywhere. However, nobody mentionned
until now, that noise produced by humans also has increasing negative
effects on our oceans. This noise comes, above all, from boat engines
and - recently - from low frequency military sonars. Warships send
out sounds with levels of up to 240 decibel - louder than a jet
aircraft. Sound waves are spreading much quicker underwater than in
the air and are reflected/bounced off by bigger objects. This is how
foreign ships can be detected.
Naval forces, particularly the NATO and the US Navy, do not want
to renounce the use of sonar systems in the future. In order to track
quiet enemy submarines at long range, military forces plan to
permanently send out very loud low frequency signals in 80 percent of
the world's oceans in the future. With drastic consequences, as
whales and dolphins orientate themselves with the help of a kind of
natural sonar system which can be hugely disturbed by the artificial
sonar noise. The cetaceans suffer from stress, loose their
orientation and can become stranded.
During the last years, there have been registered worldwide whale
strandings in alarming frequency which occurred at the same time as
sonar experiments. Beaked whales which are not usually known to
become stranded are particularly affected: in 1991 24 beaked whales
were stranded on the Canary Islands, in 1996 12 beaked whales in
Greece, in 2000 14 beaked whales, two humpback whales and one dolphin
on the Bahamas, and 13 beaked whales in 2002 on the Canary Islands.
Evidence from autopsies on stranded whales proved the impact of sonar
noise: damage of the inner ear, hemorrhage in the brain and the
lungs, bloodshot eyes.
The US Navy admits in a study on the reasons of the strandings on
the Bahamas in March 2000: "The tactical mid-frequency sonar systems
which were used on board of the ships of the US Navy are probably the
reason for the injuries of the whales." Nevertheless, the US
government officially gave the Navy the permission to use the new
highly efficient LFAS technology (Low Frequency Active Sonar) in 75
percent of the world's oceans. Americas security comes before the
conservation of the cetaceans, states the US administration.
With this the American government is violating international law,
if the disastrous impact of LFAS systems on cetaceans is confirmed.
This is the conclusion of Alexander von Ziegler, expert on Sea Law
and private lecturer for International Commercial Law at the
University of Zurich/Switzerland, in a report for the Swiss NGO ASMS.
In his study, Ziegler is listing seven international agreements which
are being ignored. The lawyer emphasizes that this is also against
the Precautionary Principle and the binding norm of international
Therefore, the ASMS demands that the US government and the NATO
keep to the UN Law of the Sea and other agreements. Moreover, it is
to create an independent global environmental report on the impact of
the - literally - ear splitting noise of LFAS on the living in the
world's oceans. "As long as such a report will be finished and
evaluated, the use of LFAS has to be abandoned", demands Sigrid
Lueber, president of the ASMS. "There is still not enough information
and secured knowledge about the long term effects of sonar noise on
This request is supported by a current petition of the ECSO
(European Coalition for Silent Oceans). This coalition consists of 37
organisations from 12 European countries.
On June 14, prior to the IWC (International Whaling Conference),
ASMS organizes the event 'Whale Song & Noise Attack' at the Tempodrom
Berlin in cooperation with WDCS and Liquid Sound. Further information
ots Originaltext: ASMS (dolphin and whale conservation)
ASMS (dolphin and whale conservation)
CH-8820 Wädenswil - Switzerland