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Dear Humanitarian:

The US Government is pushing to revise the allowable levels of ocean noise
that affect marine mammals. Four public meetings are being held in the next
few weeks to present the proposal and to receive public comment, and we
encourage you to attend to show your support for lowering, NOT raising the
levels. The  meetings are scheduled for:

January 18, 2005 - 5 to 8pm - San Francisco, CA 
Hilton Fisherman's Wharf
2620 Jones Street
San Francisco, CA 94133

January 20, 2005 - Seattle, WA
NOAA Western Regional Center, Bldg. 9 Auditorium
7600 Sand Point Way NE
Seattle, WA 98115

January 25, 2005 - Boston, MA
New England Aquarium
Conference Center
Central Wharf
Boston, MA 02110

January 27, 2005 - Silver Spring, MD
NOAA Auditorium
1301 East West Highway
Silver Spring, MD 20910

All meetings are 5pm to 8pm local time.


The National Marine Fisheries Service (NFMS) has a duty under the Marine
Mammal Protection Act to regulate those who emit noise into the ocean. This
includes the military, with their use of ordinance and sonar; the oil and
gas industry with their seismic explorations; and research scientists who
use seismic energy to study the oceans. The current maximum noise  level
that NMFS use in their authorizations is 180dB SPL.

The Issues:

NMFS is looking to revise the noise level criteria, upwards. Key arguments
against this move include:


Since 1997 when NMFS started using 180 dB SPL, the following
strandings coincide with the use of sonar or seismic airguns: the U.S.
Virgin Islands (1998, 1999), the Bahamas (2000), Madeira (2000), the Canary
Islands (2002 and 2004), Baja California (2002), and the NW coast of the
United States (2003);

The US Navy guidance for human divers exposed to noise is a level of
145 dB SPL;

According to the US Navy in their investigation into the Bahamas
stranding event, the level that the whales reacted to and died was 138 dB

Most of the scientists that are advising NMFS are navy scientist,
navy contractors, or have received funding at some time from the Office of
Naval Research;

The approach used to  determine the new criteria disregards the long
term effects of noise, does not account for noise damage to non-hearing
organs, and does not take into account recent findings that suggest that
certain whales get the 'bends' and die as a result of rising too quickly in
response to noise levels just over background;

Over the last year, strong cautionary statements about the threat
that loud ocean noise poses to marine mammals have been issued by: the
European Parliament; the International Whaling Commission; the Agreement on
the Conservation of Cetaceans of the Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea and
Contiguous Atlantic Area (ACCOBAMS); the Spanish government in relation to
the Canary Islands; and the World Conservation Union.

The marine mammals of the world need your help to protect them from this
deadly threat. You are encouraged to contact Susan Tomiak of our staff if
you can attend a meeting or have any questions at: (703) 836-4300  (collect
if necessary) and by email at:

If you cannot attend a meeting, and still wish to give NMFS your opinion,
you may submit written comments to NMFS by mail, e-mail, or fax to:

By Mail:

Michael Payne, Chief, Marine Mammal Conservation Division, Office of
Protected Resources, NMFS (F/PR2), 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD

By Email:


By Facsimile:

(301) 427-2581

Please include in the subject line the following identifier requested by
NMFS: I.D. 060804F. The deadline for written comments is March 4, 2005.

Further information may be obtained at the following NMFS website:

As always, thanks for everything you are doing on behalf of animals.

Cathy Liss
Legislative Director 

Society for Animal Protective Legislation . PO Box 3719 . Washington . DC .

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