Canadian Navy responds to scientists’ stop-sonar letter

This morning we received the first official response to the letter from 20 marine scientists regarding silencing sonar in the Salish Sea.  The response (below) came from the head of the Canadian Navy — Peter MacKay, the Minister of National Defence in Canada — 60 days after receipt of the scientists’ letter.  It implies that discussions have been initiated between the Department of National Defence (DND), the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), and Environment Canada.  This seems to set the stage for re-evaluating how (or even whether) the Canadian Navy trains in the habitat of marine species of concern.

Dear Mr. Veirs:

Thank you for your email of March 1, 2012,
concerning military sonar operations in
the Salish Sea. 

I understand your concerns about the conduct of
military operations and training exercises and their
effect on critical habitat and the Southern Resident
Killer Whale population. To that end, subject matter
experts from the Department of National Defence (DND)
are working in consultation with staff at Fisheries
and Oceans Canada and Environment Canada. The goal is
to ensure that the best possible practices are in
place so that our activities are conducted in a
responsible manner with relation to the Fisheries Act
and the Species at Risk Act.  

Defending Canadians is a top priority for the Government
of Canada, and the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) needs to
conduct regular exercises in our national maritime
approaches. These activities ensure RCN overall readiness
and familiarity with its primary area of operation. Being
conscious of our responsibilities to Canadians, the
environment, and its inhabitants, DND is dedicated to
continuously improving operational policies and procedures
to responsibly manage the impact of military activities.
This management will be based on the best scientific
information available at the time. 

I trust this is of assistance, and thank you for your
interest in the recovery and preservation of the Southern
Resident Killer Whales. Your recognition of the importance
of the national security role of the RCN is appreciated.


Peter MacKay
Minister of National Defence

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