We have referred to the ongoing major NATO exercise however should also highlight the very real disturbance to marine life and mammals from such large military exercises. This is a grave problem despite attempts by the military to minimise it. Indeed the hazard posed to civil ships and aircraft is less potent than that which is inflicted on marine life.
Concentrations of warships such as that of the Isle of Man’s south coast yesterday deploy powerful sonar which impact cetaceans ability to navigate.
Additionally life firing plus sonar devices dropped from aircraft exacerbate the problems.
The issue is well documented so rather than post endless links just do a search online and you will find evidence. Celtic League as part of military monitoring have raised the issue periodically over the years with the MOD. The concentrated military activity abated following the end of the cold war but in the past decade has ramped up again.
Areas like the West of Scotland and the Irish Sea are trying to develope whale study and watching (eco-tourism) as an asset and resource whilst trying as far as possible not to impact the natural environment. This is probably at its most advanced in Ireland’s attempt to develop its eco-tourism ‘Wild Atlantic Way’ project from Donegal to Kerry.
Exercises such as ‘Formidable Shield’ and the ‘Joint Warrior’ exercises held twice yearly drive a coach and horses through those efforts.
Ironically live firing exercises such as these are opposed or have been proscribed in many of the NATO members home countries – hence the West of Ireland, Scotland and Irish Sea become a military facility that is even more utilised. Areas such as Cape Wrath off N Scotland have been devastated by decades of this type of exercise.
Image: One of the worst incidents involving a number of pilot whales in 2013 which led to a major enquiry:
pp Celtic League