NATO Exercise: Trust Will Monitor Impact on Marine Life


Major naval military exercises have long been thought to cause distress and harm to cetaceans and other marine life. Over the years there have been many assertions that the stranding and death of whales and dolphins was attributable to military activity.

Finally, in 2011 the MOD admitted that the death of 19 pilot whales which stranded of the Kyle of Durness in Scotland was caused by military activity (see link):

With a large exercise (Joint Warrior JW 15-2) presently underway off the West coast of the British Isles it is therefore reassuring that a major effort is being undertaken by the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust (HWDT) to gather information on the impact of this activity on marine life

The conservation charity’s yacht will shadow the Nato’s military exercises for two weeks off the west coast of Scotland and to the north of Donegal.

The HWDT yacht ‘Silurian’ normally used for surveys of whales, dolphins and basking sharks has been equipped with new video equipment to help monitor changes in marine life behaviour during the NATO Joint Warrior.

The latest large Nato exercise involves 30 warships and submarines and also maritime reconnaissance aircraft which drop sonar detection devices.

HWDT has shadowed the exercises before, but the new monitoring equipment will allow volunteers on board to calculate changes in the speed of whales and dolphins, and assess whether they are fleeing from military activity.

The Joint Warrior exercises do not just cause environmental damage at sea in 2008 approximately 400 acres of environmentally important heathland at the Cape Wrath range was destroyed by devastating fires caused due to negligence during a military exercise. It was estimated that it would take over a decade for the heathland to recover.

Live firing and bombing exercises of the Cape Wrath coast which are also scheduled during this exercise also cause disruption and damage to both marine and bird life.

Ironically many of the NATO countries who participate have been banned from exercising in their home countries. For example the United States Navy a major participant in this exercise and one earlier in the year had to curtail live firing exercises in Puerto Rico because of protests by locals and environmentalists.

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Issued by: The Celtic News



The Celtic League established in 1961 has branches in the six Celtic Countries. It promotes cooperation between the countries and campaigns on a range of political, cultural and environmental matters. It highlights human rights abuse, military activity and socio-economic issues


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