Quiet-List 1997

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Acoustic deterrent devices on fish-farms



Text of a letter I wrote today to the Georgia Strait Alliance, which is 
attempting to have open-cage fish-farms banned from the coastal waters of 
British Columbia. Although they mention "harassment and dispersal of whales 
and porpoises by loud underwater sound blasts," their chief concern is the 
pollution of the water by fecal matter and the threat of disease and 
parasites spreading to wild stocks.

==========================

Georgia Strait Alliance
195 Commercial Street
Nanaimo BC
V9R 5G5


We were very happy to see in your full-page advertisement in today's 
Times-Colonist that, among other reasons for stopping the farming of 
salmon, you mentioned the problem of "acoustic deterrent devices" or 
seal-scares.

Would you please add our organization to the list of those supporting your 
cause.

I might just mention that we believe it is wrong to focus entirely on the 
effects of ADDs on large mammals. Hundreds of thousands if not millions of 
other marine creatures, many of them very sensitive to noise and vibration, 
are affected as well. Filling the marine environment with noise, as is 
being done increasingly not only by fish-farms but by research scientists, 
is simple cruelty to animals.

I'm enclosing copies of letters I wrote some time ago to the federal 
minister expressing our concerns.

 =======================
(Enclosures)


February 21, 1996

Hon. Fred Mifflin
Minister of Fisheries and Oceans
Ottawa ON
K1A 0E6

Acoustic harassment of marine life

We are writing to express our concern that the use of noise-generating 
devices to keep seals away from fish farms is going on unchecked, according 
to a Canadian Press article appearing in today's Times-Colonist, of which I 
attach a copy.

The danger these devices pose to the whale and dolphin populations of 
coastal waters has been well documented. We would like to direct your 
attention to a much wider environmental issue: of the sanctity of the 
natural marine environment, and of the cruelty to animals inherent in the 
use of noise for deliberate harassment.

I would suggest that if anyone set up loud klaxons in a wilderness area on 
land, capable of disturbing wildlife over a large area 24 hours a day, the 
SPCA and similar organizations would quickly raise an outcry against such 
inhumane treatment of animals. Yet the same thing is going on in our seas, 
apparently with the connivance of your officials.

Please try to imagine what it would be like if your home were subject to 
this kind of harassment. Now imagine what it must be like for whales and 
dolphins, with their very acute hearing. Multiply by the effect on all the 
other creatures living in the area - and remember that sound carries 
through water much farther than through air. Are crabs and ling cod any 
less entitled to a safe, quiet environment than people or other land 
animals?

Noise pollution is every bit as real as chemical pollution, and besides 
posing a threat to the health of any creature exposed to it, is simply 
cruel. We urge you to put an immediate stop to the use of noise as a weapon 
in our coastal waters.

====================================

Hon. Fred Mifflin
Minister of Fisheries and Oceans
Ottawa ON
K1A 0E6

Acoustic harassment of wildlife

Thank you very much for your letter of March 8, responding to our concerns 
about the use of acoustic deterrent devices in aquaculture.

As much as we appreciate your reply, I must say that we are by no means 
satisfied with the actions you propose, such as allowing operation of these 
devices only during actual predation, or the use of "sound masking 
devices".

We are absolutely opposed to the use of noise as a weapon against wildlife. 
It is simply cruel. Even if the very loud noises generated by these devices 
could be contained within the fish farm itself - and I doubt the 
practicability of that very much, given the sound-conducting properties of 
water - what about the effect on the captive fish, and on the seals?

Noise is a form of pollution every bit as harmful as noxious chemicals. It 
is vital that your ministry act to prevent the acoustical pollution of our 
seas, rather than sponsoring it.

I understand that the SPCA has no jurisdiction over wildlife, but as this 
is a matter that concerns the welfare of captive fish as well, I am taking 
the liberty of forwarding this correspondence to them.



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