Are NATO forces going to use LFAS again? (fwd)

From: Mike Williamson (pita@www1.wheelock.edu)
Date: Tue May 23 2000 - 19:50:23 EDT


Date: Tue, 23 May 2000 23:31:50 +0200
From: "A. Frantzis" <afrantzis@otenet.gr>
To: ecs-all@mailbase.ac.uk, marmam@uvvm.uvic.ca,
    Darlene Ketten <dketten@whoi.edu>, bmms@oii.net
Subject: Are NATO forces going to use LFAS again?

Dear all,

A few weeks ago, we were informed that NATO forces are going to conduct
a large scale military exercise in the Mediterranean Sea, under the name
"Dynamic Mix". The exercise started yesterday (22nd of May 2000) and
will take place in Greece, in its larger part (in time and geographical
areas). The subject could present a special interest for the scientific
community working with cetaceans for two reasons:

- To our knowledge, the Dynamic Mix exercise was always related with the
use of Low Frequency Active Sonars (LFAS)
- The last part of the exercise will take place in Kyparissiakos Gulf
(the 1st of June?), where in 1996 the use of LFAS was the only possible
cause (according to NATO!) of the mass stranding of at least 13 Cuvier's
beaked whales (Frantzis, 1998 in Nature)

During the previous days we tried to find out if LFAS will be deployed.
We also informed various departments in the Greek Ministry of Defense
regarding the hazards for cetaceans, since the particular area is known
to be an important habitat for deep diving cetacean species (Cuvier's
beaked whales and Sperm whales). The answers we got indicate that the
organisers of the NATO exercise do not realize the problem or do not
care about the potential consequences for marine mammal life. Nobody
wanted to give us a clear answer regarding the use of LFAS.
Unfortunately, our sources from the Ministry (officers who prefer to
stay anonymous for obvious reasons) as well as the sources of
independent journalists indicate that LFAS are going to be used once
more.

We are not in the position to confirm the above information and we can
only wish that the confirmation will not arrive a posteriori, when we
will have to perform the necropsy of stranded animals... We just hope
that NATO policy makers are clever enough to avoid repeating the same
error in the same place, twice.

We want to remind everybody that after the conference that had been
organized by NATO in 1998, in order to investigate the causes of the
mass stranding in Kyparissiakos Gulf, the Greek Navy declared that it
will not allow the use of LFAS in the future at least in Kyparissiakos
and NATO prepared a "code of conduct" as well mitigation measures within
the framework of its "Marine Mammal Environmental Policy".

At this moment, the use of LFAS, the sound levels and frequencies at
which they will be possible deployed, the timing, the exact area, and
the related risks for cetaceans can only be subject of speculation.
However, we believe that the scientific community should contribute in a
way that operations that are hazardous for marine mammals like the use
of LFAS, should be stopped before they lead to a desaster and not
afterwards.

Dr. Alexandros Frantzis
Pelagos Cetacean Research Institute
Terpsichoris 21
166 71 VOULIAGMENI
GREECE
tel: +301-8960108
fax: +301-8960108
web page: www.pelagosinstitute.gr

--
________________________________________________________

Dr. Alexandros Frantzis Institute of Marine Biological Resources National Centre for Marine Research Agios Kosmas GR-166 04 Hellenikon GREECE tel : ++301 / 9821354 fax : ++301 / 9811713

Personal address: Terpsichoris 21 16671 VOULIAGMENI GREECE tel : ++301 /8962730 fax : ++301 /8960108 e-mail : afrantzis@mail.otenet.gr ________________________________________________________



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