Protest the U.S. Navy’s war games in Alaska

Two excellent articles on the situation:
http://www.earthisland.org/journal/index.php/elist/eListRead/war_games_set_to_begin_today_ in_the_pristine_gulf_of_alaska/v
http://grist.org/climate-energy/the-navy-gears-up-for-huge-war-games-in-alaska-wildlife-and-environment-be-damned/

A letter of protest to the US Navy can be sent directly from the Eyak Preservation Council’s website, with a letter that can be customized.

From the Eyak Preservation Council
http://www.eyakpreservationcouncil.org/navy-training-facts/write-letter-navy-2/

Make Your Voice Heard!

Send a letter to the Navy 

Background: In June 2015 the US Navy is going to conduct military training activities in the Gulf of Alaska to “achieve and maintain military readiness.” (Source www.goaeis.com).

The Navy is planning to use active and passive sonar for submarine exercises, plus a wide variety of live weapons and explosives (bombs, missiles, torpedoes, etc.) This area is vital habitat for many species of marine life including whales and salmon. The water here supports the most sustainable and economically valuable fisheries left in the USA.

If these trainings occur it will set a dangerous precedent for unchecked military expansion in the most pristine waters left on earth.

Please send the letter below to let the Navy know that you oppose the use of live ordnance and sonar in the Gulf of Alaska.

This letter will be sent to: 

– Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Jonathan Greenert
– Commander of the Pacific Fleet, Admiral Harris Harris Jr.

Copies of this letter will be sent to:

Alaska Command Leadership:

–       Lt. Gen. Russell Handy
–       Maj. Gen. Michael Shields
–       CMSgt. Gay L.C. Veale
Tommie Baker – Public Affairs at JBER
Jeffrey Fee – Director of Training, Readiness and Exercises at JBER
Jon Montague – Tribal Coordinator at JBER

This letter is at the Council’s link above. The letter can be customized.

Dear Admiral Greenert & Admiral Harris,

I would like to request that the Navy’s ‘Northern Edge’ combined training exercise scheduled for June 2015 be postponed until after mid-September and not use any live ordnance or sonar in Gulf of Alaska waters. There is no question that military preparedness drills are of national importance. However, I am gravely concerned about the risk and potential damage to Alaska’s subsistence, commercial and recreational fisheries, marine habitats, fish and wildlife resources, and the regional economy.

The coastline around the GOA is home to many coastal communities and Alaska Native people who rely on marine and freshwater resources. The Temporary Maritime Activities Area is 20-24 nautical miles from communities on Kodiak Island, and other communities on the South Central Alaskan coast including Cordova, Valdez, Homer, Seward, and Yakutat.

These exercises are planned during the most prolific breeding and migratory periods of the marine supported life in the region (salmon, whales, birds and more).

The waters of the GOA include Essential Fish Habitat for many species of subsistence and commercial fisheries, including those found in Prince William Sound, which has still not fully recovered from the Exxon Valdez oil spill. The area of the TMAA also supports the most sustainable and economically valuable fisheries in the USA. Commercial fishing is the largest private sector employer in Alaska, providing some 80,000 jobs as well as a healthy food source. Nearly 100% of sockeye salmon in the USA comes from Alaska. Alaska is also home to the largest wild sockeye salmon run in the world, Bristol Bay.

The Navy’s Environmental Impact Statement includes a long list of potential stressors and effects of these trainings on fish (disruption of habitat; exposure to chemical by-products; disturbance, injury, or death from the shock (pressure) wave; acoustic impacts; and indirect effects including those on prey species and other components of the food web). As the Navy states in its EIS, no studies have established the short-or long-term population-level effects of cumulative exposure of fish to any type of sound.

Given this information, I/we are extremely concerned about the potential impact the Navy’s proposed plan may have on Alaska’s fish and wildlife resources, Native subsistence activities, commercial and recreational fisheries and the regional economy. I formally object the Navy’s use of live ordnance and sonar in the GOA this June and request that all trainings be postponed until after mid September and be moved a minimum distance of 200 nautical miles offshore.

Sincerely,

 

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U.S. Navy’s massive war games in pristine Gulf of Alaska — wildlife and ocean be damned

The war “games” run from June 15 – June 26, 2015.

War Games Set to Begin Today in the Pristine Gulf of Alaska
by Sonia Luokkala – June 15, 2015
Earth Island Journal

As the Navy unleashes 6,000 personnel for training exercises, local communities protest impacts on wildlife and fisheries

Today the US Navy plans to unleash 6,000 sailors, soldiers, airmen, Marines and Coast Guard members along with three Navy Destroyers, 200 aircrafts, untold weaponry, and a submarine to converge in war games in the Gulf of Alaska. The training exercises are scheduled to continue through June 26.

The Navy’s choice of the Gulf of Alaska – one of the most pristine places left on Earth, and at the peak of migration and breeding periods of marine life – has left locals baffled and upset.

In the last month, protests have been held in Cordova, Kodiak, and Homer, Alaska. Emily Stolarcyk, a program manager with the Eyak Preservation Council, an environmental and social change organization based in Cordova, says local communities have never before united in such a way, pointing to the 100-plus fishing vessels that joined the protest against the Navy.

“It was incredible to see the commercial fleet turnout and unite like that with tons of support from people on shore as well,”
she says.

Regional tribal villages have also been vocal in their opposition, worried that the Navy’s trainings could affect their subsistence foods. Several tribes have passed resolutions opposing the trainings and others are requesting formal government-to-government consultations regarding the plans. Local people are also concerned about the possible impacts on marine life.

According to Stolarcyk, the Navy has not been receptive to these concerns. “The Navy is refusing to negotiate at all with local communities,” she says.

The Navy has conducted Northern Edge training exercises in Alaska every two years since 1994. In 2011, the Navy expanded the scope of their training exercises and the use of the highly controversial low-frequency active sonar was authorized for the first time. The 2013 training was cancelled due to the federal government’s budget crisis.

The Gulf of Alaska training area includes more than 42,000 nautical miles of surface and subsurface waters. The area of impact spans more than 8,429 nautical miles, including Alaskan Marine Protected Areas and NOAA designated Fisheries Protected Areas

Residents of Homer, Alaska have been vocal in their opposition to the Navy’s war games in the Gulf of Alaska.

The pristine waters of the Gulf of Alaska provide critical habitat for over 383 species of marine life. Its nutrient-rich waters call forth as many as 20 different species of whales every summer, including three different species of elusive beaked whales that are especially sensitive to the effects of the Navy’s active sonar.

Training exercises will be carried out simultaneously with the key breeding and migratory season for marine life in the area, including five species of Pacific Salmon that return from the ocean to lay their eggs in the rivers and streams of their origin.

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