Ocean acoustics research figures in debate about protecting marine mammals

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Abstract

A recent U.S. Senate committee hearing about the re-authorization of the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 focused on one word; harassment.

Concern about whether anthropogenically produced underwater noise actually harasses or even may be involved in the deaths of some marine mammals has become a heated issue which has led to recent lawsuits and court rulings to halt or restrict some scientific research and U.S. naval operations. (See Eos, 29 April 2003).

At a 16 July hearing, Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), chair of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Oceans, Fisheries, and Coast Guard, said a balance needs to be found between research needs and military readiness on one hand, and protection of marine mammals on the other hand.