Bite-Back August 2003

Last year the Bush administration gave the US Navy permission to deploy its Low Frequency Active (LFA) sonar system over 75% of the world’s oceans despite a mass of evidence indicating that it can injure marine mammals. At close range LFA sonar can destroy a whale’s eardrums, cause its lungs to haemorrhage and even kill it. At a test 2 years ago in the Bahamas it caused mass strandings of four different species, all showing haemorrhaging around the eyes and ears, indicating severe acoustic trauma. During tests a scuba diver was exposed to 14 minutes of LFA noise at 160 decibels (the sound level 100 miles away from the source!), who experienced uncontrollable shaking in his limbs before going into a seizure that recurred for days afterwards. The National Resources Defense Council successfully got a temporary injunction to stop it, the judge agreeing that the science clearly demonstrates "the possibility, indeed probability, of irreparable injury to marine animals”. The navy are still determined to deploy it. Tell George W. Bush that the oceans and its contents are not his to destroy. president@whitehouse.gov

Japan is continuing her policy of vote buying at the International Whaling Commission. The deal is simple – a small country gets offered a huge aid package and in return they just have to join the IWC and vote with Japan to restart commercial whaling (even if they have no whaling connection or for that matter, like Mongolia, no coastline). The latest country to succumb to Japan’s bribes is Belize. For years it has led the way with eco-tourism initiatives, and good coral reef conservation measures but, at last months IWC meeting in Berlin, it dutifully voted along with Japan on every issue. Many divers are expressing their reluctance to go diving in a country showing such double standards towards the oceans. If you agree tell the Prime Minister Said Musa primeminister@belize.gov.bz and the tourism minister at tourismdpt@btl.net . However they didn’t manage to stop an initiative to at last give the IWC a conservation element. Also yet again the IWC asked Japan to stop its sham ‘scientific’ whaling and Iceland not to start it but don’t hold your breath on that one.

John Nightingale