Navy demolition exercises raise questions

Two leading environmental groups appear to have a little egg on their faces today, but it should not take away the important watchdog work they usually do.

Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility and Wild Fish Conservancy filed a lawsuit against the Navy over exercises that explode demolitions and kill fish in the process. It turns out that the groups did not know that the Navy had agreed to protective measures and that those measures were endorsed in a biological opinion June 30 by the National Marine Fisheries Service.

The fisheries service has been negotiating with the Navy over the issue for several years, trying to find a compromise that would meet the Navy’s operational needs with the least harm to sea life.

“What is it that the Navy is going to do that has eliminated National Marine Fisheries’ concern, which they held for years now?” asked Adam Draper, staff attorney for PEER in today’s story by Kitsap Sun reporter Ed Friedrich.

“We’re hopeful the measures are going to be fairly stringent to make sure more stresses aren’t placed on these stressed endangered species,” he said. “If so, it’ll be great and we’ll be quite happy. If not, we will amend the suit.”

I suspect the groups will be amending the lawsuit. The agreement allows for 61 training detonations a year — 52 off Whidbey Island, five at Port Townsend and four at Bangor. The detonations will be smaller when migrating salmon are present, and Navy officials will scan the water from a boat to make sure no marine mammals or seabirds are in the area.

Still, up to 5,094 juvenile chinook and 50 adult chinook salmon could be killed or injured by the operations, along with 1,022 juvenile and 101 adult Hood Canal summer chum and 182 juvenile and 20 adult steelhead. All are listed as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act.

As mitigation, the Navy has agreed to restore a former salt marsh at Crescent Harbor and an intertidal beach in nearby Oak Harbor to boost salmon production.

To read the biological opinion, go to the National Marine Fisheries Service Web site.

One thought on “Navy demolition exercises raise questions

  1. “…The agreement allows for 61 training detonations a year — 52 off Whidbey Island, five at Port Townsend and four at Bangor. The detonations will be smaller when migrating salmon are present, and Navy officials will scan the water from a boat to make sure no marine mammals or seabirds are in the area….”

    Has the Navy also agreed to post the training dates and times for everyone to track their missions and training?

    Why wouldn’t the group DROP the lawsuit, not amend it?

    If it is true today’s Tribes routinely rip the salmon eggs from the fish and toss the salmon to rot… why haven’t the two groups sued the Tribes …words escape me …at the callous indifference to starving people who could use the salmon. Their ancestors used every bit of the salmon that gave them life so their descendants could ruthlessly discard the salmon generations later.
    Sharon O’Hara

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